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Ever done something strange, silly, or downright stupid? Like grab a piece of metal in metal shop, ten minutes after it was red hot? (Junior High) Or ride a skateboard down Hillsborough Street, dur- ing midday weekday traffic? (College) Or don an Elvis outfit and cruise the mall on the anniversary of His death? (Two Years Ago) I have and, friends, I have the lumps, bumps, and been-there-done- thats to prove it. (Still haven't leaped onto a moving train... yet.) While attempting to amuse myself on a wee road trip this we- ekend, I dredged up the following factoids from my gloriously mis- spent youth. (Hey, *you* try moving from Minneapolis to Morehead City without wigging out!) Maybe they'll make good autobiograph- ical bits for a future novel. Or, better, maybe they'll make *you* think of something that's worth writing about. Go ahead, tell your tales. I promise I'll laugh. Yewt ==== For most of my life, the answer to the question "what do you want to be when you grow up" was "a fireman." For a while around age ten or eleven, the answer changed to "a photographer for Playboy." As a youth, I'd walk anywhere and everywhere to visit a- nother fire station. As a teen, while visiting a mili- tary base, I tried to reach one by crossing a runway in front of a waiting jet. The pilot was reportedly not amused. At the age of fifteen, this future headbanger once asked of an AC/DC album "How can people listen to that stuff?" Four years later, said snob bought a Judas Priest album and inadvertently played it at 45 RPM. My reaction to the chipmunk vocals was "That's interesting." In high school, on the first day of a friend's first car, I asked for a ride home. I also suggested he drive fast. We hit a tree in my front yard. Months later and having yet to learn the relationship between speed and vehicular control, I sideswiped a wooden pole while racing through the school parking lot. At a high school football game, I became intoxicated for the one and only time in my life. Two "long" beers left me both happy and highly susceptible to suggestion. La- ter that evening, I agreed to be a young lady's homecom- ing escort. As a high school senior, I once was suspended from all after-school activities for performing a striptease dur- ing half-time at a basketball game. The Assistant Prin- cipal encouraged me to "save that stuff for college." Higher Learning =============== The very first song of my very first shift as a college disc-jockey was George Thorogood's "Bad to the Bone." Being the broadcast professional that I wasn't, I acci- dentally cut power to the turntable midway through the song. Before becoming a disc jockey, I also worked as a news- caster at the same station. I was told to refrain from smirking or sounding sarcastic while saying names like "Jesse Helms." Air names for Yours Truly included "Mad" Mike, Mike Love, and "Rip" Hunter, AKA "The Ripper." The latter was used while hosting "Chainsaw Rock," a Saturday-night heavy- metal show that occasionally inspired threats of violence from listeners who really wanted their songs played. I occasionally reviewed classical music concerts for the college newspaper and often commented on the rude behav- ior of audience members. Or, as I wrote, "those gradu- ates of the Fred Flintstone school of etiquette." When attending said classical concerts in Reynolds Coli- seum, I usually sat in an unoccupied broadcast booth. This allowed homework-doing and/or nap-taking during the less-interesting pieces. I rode a skateboard on campus and sometimes hitched a ride with a slow-moving vehicle. When I tried this with a van full of students, they accelerated and attempted to shake me off. First, the board gave way. Then, I let go. Then, I went to the infirmary. As a college senior, I won an election for the presidency of our residence hall council. My campaign slogan: "If elected I will be president." To the best of my limited knowledge, I was the only elected official on campus who wore a fire helmet to fire alarms. After losing my temper in class while student teaching, a parent told me three things: "One, when you insult my daughter you insult me. Two, I'm going to do everything in my power to prevent you from teaching in Wake County. Three, Jesus loves you." Oddjob ====== While working as a traffic reporter, while filing my one and only airborne traffic report, I became sick. When I attempted to heave-ho through a window... a certain sub- stance was blown back into the plane. While working as a firefighter, I tried training a pump- er truck's deluge gun on a tree, to hasten the falling of fall leaves. It worked, but the resulting wet-raking was a bitch. Also while working as a firefighter, I had an operation that increased my sense of smell. This was verified on my first day back, while riding in an ambulance with a patient who had lost control of a certain bodily func- tion. I once received a citation for assisting an accident vic- tim off-duty. Crouched in a puddle of broken glass, I helped a woman hanging upside down in a car. Years later I attempted a similar feat, this time while wearing flip- flops. I was lucky I didn't need stitches. While working as a teaching assistant during a second stint in college, I noticed a faculty member peeking into the computer lab. I asked to see some ID. He provided same and left. The students then informed me "that was the Dean." After scoring exceptionally high on the federal air traf- fic controller's exam, I declined an interview with the FAA. The position required multiple months of training in Oklahoma City and starting in a smaller city, like Kinston or New Bern. No thank you. Life is Colorful ================ While honeymooning in the Caribbean, we were warned to watch for cars, because the sidewalks were really travel lanes. I stepped into one and was immediately struck by a moving vehicle. There were no injuries or damage. Also on our honeymoon, we visited each island's fire sta- tion. At my request. On St. Thomas, when I told the na- tive firefighter that we were from North Carolina, he ex- claimed "Tarheels! Basketball!" As a younger driver, I once attempted to pass another car on the left, as the car was *turning* left. $800 damage. As an older driver, I once received a ticket for entering an intersection with an open newspaper. I didn't see the State Trooper behind me. A brief history of personalized license plates: PRIEST, BLAZE, FIRECHSR, 1LLBBACK, SAWELVIS, and 634-5789, the latter the title of a blues tune. "If you need a little lovin', call on me." For some years, I also sported a front tag designed to be read in a rear mirror: 3MTA3. I've been a finalist in a country music line-dancing competition. I won prizes for doing the "Tush Push." I've also competed at an Elvis impersonating contest. I won $50 and the privilege of singing over the Wal-Mart intercom. I was the only contestant. At the age of 32, I performed at the Hollywood Bowl. I sang showtunes to an audience of one. At the age of 34, I made my Broadway debut at a performance of "Phantom of the Opera." I helped flick the house lights at intermis- sion. Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
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Copyright 2021 by Michael J. Legeros