It's the mid-1970s, my dad was the youngest out of him and my uncle; the two being around 4 years apart in age. My dad was 9 at the time, and my uncle was around 13 respectively. Now, with the nature of where my dad and uncle grew up - a field across the street, woods behind their house, and cows to the left - you could say there wasn't much to do growing up on a backroad in Ohio. And yet it was two boys in the 1970s, they're bound to find something.
So, there weren't too many kids in the area who were my dad's age. There were a couple, who my dad politely explained were the "weird" kids no one really hung out with. Nice, dad. Regardless, my dad also had an older brother with older friends. In the end, let's be honest, which is going to make him look cooler as the little brother? Obvious choice.
Down this road that they lived on, apparently by my dad's account, it was just dirt and gravel at some point. This road, that seemingly, stretches for miles with that same ol' field on the one side and a scattering of houses on the other, also ran over a stream. Then, the stream was fuller, with more water and fish swimming through it. The road just barely goes over some piping that allows the stream to flow through uninterrupted by the altered landscape. A perfect little hangout spot, however, for fishing and smoking and drinking for a bunch of 12-13-year-old boys in the mid-1970s.
My uncle, long story short, couldn't drink - didn't drink during this day in particular. But, my uncle and another one of his friends decided they wanted to hang out under this bridge and drink. My dad, of course being the little brother, tagged along and took one for my uncle. Now, the three of them are sitting under this bridge with some booze that my uncle's friend had taken from his dad's stash, and they're having a good time throwing a few drinks back. For my dad, this would be the first time getting drunk, getting - sorry dad - pretty messed up. But! This didn't stop the next sequence of events to take place, almost surprisingly!
A few bad decisions were made, a few spontaneous ideas erupted and the gang of two - to quote John Mulaney - "drunk toddlers" and one sober friend, decided to walk the rest of the road from this bridge they had been hiding under for a bit. Now, at this point, walking was too posh for my dad. The inebriated 9-year-old had a much better idea than walking.
My dad, this man, decided to roll. Drunk, and only 9 years old, decided to drop to the ground and start rolling down this road as his mode of transportation.
Apparently walking to go tear down a neighbor's mailbox in a drunken stupor was too slow of a process. This boy needed to roll down this road to this "weird" kid's mailbox, to uproot it from its resting place. And heaven forbid anything got in his way!
At this part of the story, I was just fascinated at the fact that, with all the rolling he was doing, he didn't get sick once! And after this poor "weird" kid's mailbox was torn from the ground with nothing but alcoholic spite, my dad still proceeded to roll back down the road in the direction of the bridge again! My poor uncle and his friend, wow, apparently they were struggling to actually keep up with my dad rolling with his bad self down that dirt and gravel road.
And the second my uncle turned his head and turned back to my dad - he was gone. He was just gone. No boy rolling up ahead on the road in front of them anymore.
Needless to say, my uncle and his friend got their heads on straight pretty quick and went running forward to see where the hell my dad just rolled off to. He ended up rolling all the way to the side of the bridge and off this concrete slab that was still there when my dad showed my sister and I. Went rolling straight off into the brush right now near the stream. Thorns, prickers, anything and everything sharp and uncomfortable for vegetation ended up cutting and scraping my dad up pretty good.
The end of the story was as expected. Uncle brought him home through the backdoor, tried to get him cleaned up as best he could. Then the alcohol hit, and my dad was getting sick to the point where it actually scared my uncle and alerted my grandma as to what was happening. Both walked out of the situation alright with some disdain for certain liquors and an earful of "how could you let that happen to your younger brother?!"
But, in the end, I still find myself chuckling at the thought of my dad at 9- years old, drunk, and rolling - like rolling down a hill rolling - down this gravel and dirt road, uphill at some times! And just booking it using this method of transport.
Now, each story my dad tells tends to have some moral ambiguity behind it. Don't drink underage, don't roll down roads (although at 9 I see that as being perfectly reasonable behavior), and just generally be responsible. And yet, my dad couldn't keep the smile off his face while he was telling this story, knowing it to be a good one where it would have my sister and me on the ground in hysterics. My dad's good for that, making my family laugh. He always says: the day he can't make us laugh is the day when something is seriously wrong. It's the best medicine in my family.
And for the record, he and I are very close. The apple (me) actually doesn't fall too far from the 6'2" tree. I would never use any story, any experience against my dad and shame or make fun of him. It was a learning experience, a chance to be closer to him, and most certainly a way to laugh and enjoy one of the many interesting experiences from his childhood. And how maybe my sister and I should keep an eye on each other when we drink, make sure neither of us picked up the "rolling" habit when under the influence...
About the Creator
Young, living - thriving? Writing every emotion, idea, or dream that intrigues me enough to put into a long string of words for others to absorb - in the hopes that someone relates, understands, and appreciates.