As kids, we were oppressed. By our parents, by our siblings (younger AND older), by our teachers, even by our school janitor, who smelled strongly of those pine tree air fresheners. Of course, these same oppressors likely had oppressors of their own. However, our hellishly self-indulgent worlds would not allow such perceptions to flower.
This universal oppression festered slowly in our uneducated and hormone-steeped heads, and a dim need to exact revenge on our enemies, real and perceived alike.
Nothing satisfied this urge more than to somehow bring the machinery of oppression to a grinding halt. Of course, it was important that it would be carried out in as unobtrusive and subtle a manner as possible, so that such an act would not be traced back to us. Our self-interest was often trumped by our cowardice.
My best friend, Brad and I, somehow had a notion to string some black thread across a street, upon which a neatly folded piece of paper would be strategically placed. It is not known how this even came about, except I would make periodic forays into my mother’s sewing room for ideas. My father’s workshop was locked and off limits which is probably why we aren’t breaking big rocks into small ones in the penal system right now.
I would hasten to add that we did not have YouTube and Google as resources for shenanigans. This is actually a good thing, given our propensity to make jawdroppingly poor errors of judgment.
I would also add that even given our lack of creative resource material, we sure could have done better than stringing some thread across a suburban street.
We recruited a lot of the neighbourhood kids who were only too eager to join in, given the potential for excellent entertainment. Possibilities of displays of anger and frustration were in the offing. We called it The Trap.
This had no competition with the truly paltry offerings on TV (those without cable or a convertor (me), had 4 channels to choose from. If the wind was blowing in the right way, we might even get an American channel from Bellingham USA)
We waited for darkness to fall, which occurred early in our suburb given that our little enclave was heavily treed and artificially dark through most of the day. We strung up the thread and hanging paper, and hid in several bushes nearby and waited for the fun to begin. And waited. And waited.
This was a quiet suburban street. The only cars having any business being there were residents. Or the hopelessly lost. The bushes we hid in began quivering with pent-up energy and early onset disappointment. Strange emissions left the bushes, as well – sounds of revulsion of being in such close quarters with fellow humans, snatches of dirty songs learned from summer camp with the wrong words and out of tune.
Eventually, cars did come and, as happens in most areas of life, the result was anti-climactic. Visions of miles of traffic backed up, the drivers honking and fist-shaking, because of our sinister and clever ploy, a scenario that stubbornly persisted in our conniving minds, went up in smoke. Most cars drove straight through the thread, necessitating a resetting of the trap. A select few actually ground to a halt, to our extreme pleasure, then, slowly backed up, but then turned around in such a melancholic and defeated manner that it put a damper on the evening.
The event that stopped us from setting up The Trap was when some neighbourhood kids (16 – 18 year olds) drove up in their souped up Chevelle SS, one of the scariest cars ever built.
Not only did they stop before the hanging paper, but burst out of their car, in a very impressive, almost military manner. Next, the click of the trunk being popped and the bowel-loosening and distinctive sound of baseball bats being removed.
Most of civilization, dating back to the Iron Age, tends to recoil at the sight of a teen wielding a baseball bat. We were no different and pelted out of our hiding places and sped for home, our craven sphincters threatening to betray us.
So much for the machinery of oppression being ground to a halt. Even so, this paltry entertainment sustained us for several weekends running, although our numbers dwindled. Then, we stopped entirely, preferring to just talk about it, in the slow evenings, within a malodorous canvas tent in Brad’s backyard, like old men reliving the Great War.