By Michael J. Legeros

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.


    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

    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

    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."


    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-

    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-

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros


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