I need to confess something. I mean, besides the fact that I totally missed getting a blog out to you all last month. This is far, far worse. It is this: one time, in fifth grade, my friend Ricky and I peed on his cousin. Yes. You read that correctly. When I was in fifth grade in Connersville Indiana, Ricky and I decided to relieve ourselves of the burden of his seven-year-old cousin, by relieving ourselves, on him.
It was a very scarce and revered thing in central Indiana to have a snow day, and we had been blessed with only a single one that year. I had just moved there from my hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colorado to live with my dad, and to me this was absurd. I could not conceive of anyone missing school for something that was as common to me as snow. Snow, to a resident of Steamboat- started in October and lasted until May. Normal snow levels were somewhere between just over your head, and having to crawl out your second-story window to get to school. My parents actually have pictures of the latter somewhere, and stories of my mother walking off of a path to be enveloped in snow so deep that she couldn't do anything but stare at the sky for the three hours it took my father to get home. Ski-town USA, as it's also known, lies on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies, and because of this, gets dumped on by the first snowclouds to roll through a state that is known mostly for its snow. Utah may print "Greatest Snow on Earth" on its license plates, but it is not true. It is only some middle-child, politics they have to throw out because no one on earth thinks of Utah over Colorado for skiing. Not to pick on Utah, but the prevalent thought in the state, until fairly recently, was that the brown color of Africans, came not just from having larger molecules of melanin than their mutant European cousins. Rather, it was the "Mark of Cain". This belief was widely held until the purchase of an NBA team for Salt Lake City in 1979. Thank you Karl Malone, for doing your part to topple racism. No one thinks of jazz when they think of your state, and we wouldn't even be aware that you had ski areas... unless you put it on your license plates.
So... Indiana. The concept of missing a day of school for a paltry two inches of snow, was to me, like someone had just filled our house with candy. It was snow. Not like home, but who cares when you get a day off of school.
The day started out good enough. I had called Ricky after finding out the unbelievable had come true, and decided to head across the gigantic graveyard which separated our two houses for some major Lego playing. Ricky's father had not only purchased for him an unbelievable amount of space Legos, but he had helped him construct a very elaborate moon base out of some leftover styrofoam packaging for them to be maneuvered upon. It was incredible. It seriously took up an entire card table in their living room. His family actually just let it stay there for the better half of a year, spanning the length between Christmas 1983 until the summer of 1984. In contrast, my father would have only constructed an immeasurable amount of profanities, each and every time he stepped on or found a scattered Lego piece straying from its habitat. Ricky's parents had allowed the unthinkable, so any chance I could profit from this by playing at his house, I did.
These plans were soon thwarted by the fact that it was also a snow day for the rest of our school, and this meant we were somehow saddled with the burden of watching over Ricky's seven-year-old cousin. Not because he didn't have parents, or many grown-ups to take care of him- because he did, but, I think, this was because he was annoying. This kid had problems. He was like the mutant offspring of Ann Coulter and one of the Kardashians. Everything that came out of this kid was either groundbreaking for its level of irksomeness, or just outright crying. He was killing our fun. This kid had trained hard at the Cobra Kai dojo of intense annoyingness, and he was sweeping the leg on our snow day.
The Lego playing went something like this:
Me- "Hey, Ricky, where's that Lego guy I was just playing with?"
Ricky- "Umm, in my cousin's mouth."
Me- "Oh, that must be why the pieces of this broken moon rover are wet."
So we decided to go to our friend Rob's house to get away from this... and the cousin- at the behest of everyone else in the house- followed. Along the way, he sometimes cried because we were walking too fast. He cried because he wanted us to carry him. We tried to have a snowball fight- he started crying because we wouldn't let him hit us. He cried when snowballs hit him. He cried about everything. And in between the crying came this glut of unending questions. Where were we going? When would we get there? What color is an orange? It never seemed to stop.
Our friend Rob also got tired of Ricky's cousin, so after a while, he found an excuse to go inside without us. Having nothing else to do, we started back towards Ricky's house. Connersville was a fairly small town, so we quietly began to think that if we could possibly ditch the cousin, he would find his own way home. Oh Lord, we tried. Booking it around corners, ducking down alleys, anything we could think of to make this happen we were sure to attempt. The cousin had a home somewhere nearby, we reasoned. There were parents there, or older siblings- something, for this kid to go home to. But he didn't. He kept up. And in between his bawling, this snot-nosed kid would swear at us for not waiting for him. So it just kept going.
As we crossed the graveyard, we realized that the shadows were growing long. The sun was about to pass over the horizon and end what was left of this- our only snow day. We grew desperate. Darkness meant that one of our parents would be calling the house of the other, wondering why their son had stayed out past daylight, and the promise of some punishment to follow. It meant homework, and chores, and bedtime- and it was coming fast. "We have to get rid of your cousin", I pled to Ricky under my breath. "I have to pee", he answered. "Me too," I said, turning to him slowly. Our eyes caught each other's, and we suddenly gleaned on the same thing. "Let's pee on your cousin!" I whispered.
Of all the things I had ever been punished for, every grounding and spanking, every time a privilege had been removed or a promise taken back- this has been the worst. The actual punishment for this one thing far surpasses anything my parents could ever have devised- because they never devised anything. Somehow, amazingly, Ricky's small, second-grade cousin never told anyone. My parents never knew. And so, for thirty-one years, this one thing I have done has been chewing holes in my stomach, eating at any conception that I have ever formed that I could be good. I am not good. I cannot even remember his name. There is not a season that passes when my mind does not circle back to this one point in time, where I stood laughing with my friend, at this small boy sobbing in the snow as our steaming piss bounced off of his coat until he stood there in the snow, and we walked away.
I am not a good person. I have done this. And try as I might, I cannot stop it from rattling around inside my skull, ever stabbing at the feeling that I am who people think I am. I am no one's hero. I do not deserve to be.
I know that this kid is an adult now. I hope, dear God, I hope, that this did not scar him. I am nearly positive that it did. That poor boy didn't have a friend in the world at the time, at least one that would have played with him on a snowy day. And so he had followed us for its entirety, hoping for some smattering of happiness, some small portion of brotherly love that he never received. Instead, he is now this story about the cruelest thing I have ever done. He is these black words on a white page, some metaphor you are trying to pull out of my words. I hope that he is normal. I keep wishing that his life is good. Please God, let him be okay. When I think about him, I find myself asking these things.
One thing I never wish for, is his forgiveness. I feel that at least I can give him that. The fact that I will grow old with this, this evil thing. This ghost that never sleeps, lying in the pit of my stomach- this alkaline thing that gnaws at me each time I am blessed with anything good in this world. I want it that way. I deserve it. I deserve a lifetime of this. I wish he knew this: that in my life, I cannot accept anything good without secretly hoping that somehow, God loves him more than He loves me. Please God, love him more than me.