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We All Fall Down

Boxer on the mat

© Tri Le / TheDailySportsHerald.

I watched him siphon gas out of the car.  It was a lesson in physics. Apparently, once you get the gas moving up out of the tank, the flow of gas down and out the other side of the hose creates a pressure imbalance that allows the liquid to continue to flow and seemingly defy gravity.

The only problem is that if you really commit to siphoning gas with your mouth as the initial source of suction, you’re going to end up with a mouthful of gas.

I’d watched him spit gas out of his mouth quite a few times.  I remember asking, “Does that taste bad?”

“It doesn’t taste good.”

Fifteen years later, I’d be wondering if that’s what killed him.

Not just the mouthfuls of gas he took over the years, but that approach to life in general — did that eventually kill him?

I remember watching him build fires and move the logs around while the flames and sparks danced all around his hands.  I thought he didn’t feel pain — or maybe he just couldn’t be hurt.

One time, he was racing around the sand lot behind our gas station on a street motorcycle that his brother brought down from Maine. The wheels skidded out from under him on one particularly sharp turn and he went bouncing (he was pretty fat at this point) about 20 feet. I thought it looked fun, although the engine noise did scare the shit out of me.

I asked him afterwards, “Did that hurt?”  All I remember is that he said “Yes.”  I don’t recall him providing anymore detail than that except that he answered me with that tone that I heard quite a few times over the years, which said, ‘you’re pretty dumb but you amuse me.’

I remember whenever one of us kids fell down he’d say, “What’re you doing down there?”  This question always pissed me off until I realized that he knew what we were doing down there.  That was one of his life tactics: Do not treat things like a big deal. You fell down? Big deal.  We all fall down. Get up and we’ll laugh about it.

My brother James and I shared a room for awhile when we were kids.

It occurs to me now that some of the best times in life are when you’re forced to share a room with someone.

It’s a bond that forces the breakdown of any bullshit facade. The only two examples I can recall right now are when I was a kid and college. The quicker you can break down those bullshit barriers, the quicker you can really connect with someone.

My brother and I used to stay up until…I have no idea how late because time doesn’t matter when you’re 5 years old and you’ve got tons of baseball cards to look through. Every card had to go into it’s own clear, little, plastic pocket. It didn’t matter if you were the $1,675,000 a year Wade Boggs or the $62,500 a year Kevin Romine. If you were a baseball card in our room that night, you got a plastic pocket of your very own inside our big faux leather binder of baseball cards. Welcome to the show.

One night as we got ready for bed, my brother said something that made me laugh hysterically.  I was, of course, naked, and when the laughter hit its peak, I fell back on my bed and sent pee squirting 10 feet in the air. I rushed to the bathroom and was crying to my Dad that it was an accident. He put me at ease saying:

“It’s ok. Peeing is like saying the alphabet, once you start, you just can’t stop.”

I was so relieved, in multiple ways, that I never stopped to analyze whether peeing really was like saying the alphabet until years later when I would tell the story to friends in college.

There are sayings of his that come back to me to this day, and for the first time I realize what the hell he was saying.

I greatly appreciate any feedback or memorable stories from your own childhood. It’s good to relive some of that stuff by writing it out. I genuinely appreciate you sharing this with the world if you liked it at all. Feel free to also get in touch here.


Photo by The Daily Sports Herald

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William W Barnes

Creating and evangelizing world-changing products. I like Lions and Cows.
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