The Worst Best Friends I Ever Had:
I moved around a lot when I was a little red headed jerk. By the time I was 10, I had changed houses, neighborhoods, schools and consequentially, best friends 9 times. This story is about best friend number 8, Bobby Pumpkin Face Gunderson.
He seriously did look like a pumpkin, his fat head was huge and entirely orange with a moon shaped smile complete with missing teeth. He even had a squash-like smell. Maybe he was the worst best friend I ever had.
The Lizard and The Cow
The Lizard and The Cow
(Bobby's Folks)Bobby's step dad at the time, (step number 4 I think) was a skinny, veiny, sinuy, dark haired, baby bird / lizard like man with a slightly foggy, slightly leaky, glass eye. It was impossible to tell who he was talking to, not just because one eye might be pointed at you while the other one pointed at the fish tank or the pile of dirty clothes, but because he often actually did talk to the fish tank or the pile of dirty clothes (unless my nick name was "Socks"). Bobby's step dad smelled like beer, cigarettes and transmission fluid and he was always covered from head to toe in motor oil, black grease and --- what might have actually been poop.
He was the shittiest mechanic of all time.
He always had a truck or two up on cinder blocks on the perpetually crispy brown front lawn. Typical was the day that an extremely loud grinding, crunching, skidding, metal twisting sound echoed through the neighborhood , knowing the source of sounds like this, all rushed to the street in front of Bobby's house where a big lifted 4x4 ford pickup truck was at war with itself attempting to rip itself in two by playing it's own internal game of tug of war. The front wheels were fervently driving forward while the back wheels were rebelliously driving backward. It was quite a show, with smoke and everything. The best part was Bobby's step dad running around screaming "turn it off dammit!, turn it off dammit!" but nobody knew who he was talking to due to the lazy glass eye thing.
The show ended with a loud crack, a dying squeal, sparks and a final jolt followed by quarts of black oil and transmission guts spilling out onto the hot asphalt. As usual, the bewildered neighbors stared with jaws agape. And as usual Bobby's dad yelled: "What are you looking at?". And as usual, the bewildered neighbors wondered the same thing about Bobby's dad. Just what was he looking at? Glass eyes are really bad for group interrogations. Glass eyes creep me out. Fuck glass eyes.
Bobby's mother provided young Bobby with at least 80% of his amazing pumpkin DNA. She was also orange, weighed about 300 pounds and had a decidedly squash like countenance. She always wore a flowy bathrobe moomoo type thing with scrambled egg stains on the front. I never once saw her in daytime clothes. She was very nice, a little too nice, she would actually hug me when I came over, none of my other friends mothers ever hugged me, and that was fine by me. She, like her little pumpkin son, also smelled squash like or like warm milk or unwashed sheets. Her legs looked like either giant, bruised, stretched out pears, or long clear stretchy plastic bags filled with wet bread and mashed potatoes. Her hugs lasted way too long, way, way, way too long.
My Knobbies are Bobby's Knobbies
Welding a FriendshipHow I picked Bobby Gunderson as my best friend that year had more to do with bikes than anything else. Our bikes were the closest thing to independence we had. Bikes were our world. The BMX craze was sweeping the neighborhood. The gay ass girlie disco street bikes we all had simply had to go. These new bikes could fly. They were light and durable and covered in pads on every surface. They had big fat knobby tires specifically designed for dirt and rocks and ditches and mud and mars and driving over dead second graders. They were cool. They were awesome. They were totally necessary. They we're totally out of our price range.
That's right, the people in my part of town were broke ass poor. But what we lacked in money, we made up for in welders and tools. My neighborhood could weld the fuck out of anything, even wood and dirt.
I guess my friendship with Bobby Gunderson was born out of this welder/tool convenience. Bobby's garage door was always open and his fathers tools were always dumped out all over the place. It was a complete fucking mess. It wasn't necessary to put tools back where you found them, because unlike my step fathers garage where you'd get an ass kicking and six days of garden weeding duty if tools weren't put back in their place, at Bobby's house you could just throw the tool back into the greasy dirt. As long as Bobby's step dad could find some vice grips and a hammer, he had what he needed -- shitty mechanic glass eye freak.
We spent days converting our super heavy curvy Schwinn street bikes with long chopper style handlebars and slick street tires into heavy, unwieldy fake dirt bikes with straight forks and fat knobby tires. --- Basically we'd convince one of our step dads to weld a crash pad bar across the handlebars and it was done. Then we'd get all the pads and the special handle bar grips from the bike shop. You see, street bikes came with sparkled flat hand grips --- these were just totally out of style and gay. Dirt bike grips were big scaly, spongy, rubbery alien type things and you just had to have them to ride on the dirt. Why? Who cares? What are you a homo? The fact was that we needed them so we'd save all of our money to buy them. But bike grip technology was really changing quickly in those days, just as soon as you thought you had the best grips available, some assface would show up to the dirt hill with something cooler --- more grippy. You'd have to get them -- period. Seriously, don't press me here unless you wanna get punched.
I saved my money and bought the most gripptastic grips in the world -- big bright yellow ones - you could see them from space. They were way better than Bobby's wimpy grips -- what a loser.
Now a friendship based on mutual interests ain't such a bad start, but when the interest is really just bike grips -- well maybe trouble looms, but still, I didn't see the next part coming at all.
The Lying Monkey and The Bloody Pumpkin
The Lying Monkey and The Bloody Pumpkin
An Actual Pumpkin Would Have Been Smarter
There was this kid at our school named Kenny Montoya. He was a Mexican kid with one of those Mexican hairlines that actually blends into the eyebrows and creeps to within fractions of an inch from the middle of the uni-brow. His parents didn't speak any english but since he was born in Utah, he spoke just like anyone else, except everything he ever said was complete bullshit. He was a liar and a manipulator and a no good monkey boy, everyone knew it. He was always saying stuff like; "I went parachuting" or "I know Darth Vader" or some load of crap. Everyone knew he was full of shit. In fact his nick name amongst many was Kenny Montoyeah right. It was a crappy nickname for sure, but we were in fourth grade. You come up with a better one for a lying Mexican monkey boy named Kenny.
Anyway, One day Kenny Montoya came up to me and said:
"Bobby Gunderson said he can kick your ass."
"Yeah right, I said. Bobby Gunderson is my friend, he didn't say that. You're making it up. You're just trying to get us to fight after school like you did to Dale Nashton and Kenny Payne last week. Go lie to somebody else. I'm not stupid -- monkeyhair.
So he did. Minutes later I saw him talking to my pal Bobby Gunderson.
"Oh great" I thought. I hope Bobby is smart enough not to fall for his crap.
He wasn't, Bobby was dumb as a pumpkin. He immediately started looking at me like he wanted to kill me.
We went to an elementary school where the classrooms were all open with a big area between them. You could see people in other classes from across the way but there was no way to communicate with them besides facial expressions or sign language if you knew it. I didn't know sign language so I was doing my best to communicate with just my face,
"Ken - ny - Mon-toy-a - is - ly-ing, he - said - the - same - crap - to - me, - don't - fall - for - it. we're - fr- iends" I attempted to say with my face.
But that's a lot to say with just your face. It wasn't working. It may have even been counter-productive as his big orange face was saying loud and clear;
"I - want - to - kill - you - and - I - am - a - talk - ing - pump - kin"
I should have ignored him. You try saying what I had to say with just your face. No matter what you do, it ends up looking like you're taunting or ridiculing. Boy, if Kenny Montoya planned it like this, perhaps I mistook him. Maybe he was a genius.
The bell rang, school was over. I looked over to find Bobby so I could straighten out this Kenny Montoya mess, but he was gone. I gathered my books, got my Pittsburgh Steelers coat and exited the school.
Out on the lawn I saw a whole group of kids huddled around one area and everyone knows what that means.... There was a fight in progress. Great - I loved fights, nothing more fun than watching a fight after school............ But wait, why were they all looking at me? And then it became clear, standing in the middle of the crowd was a big fat pumpkin head, my friend Bobby Gunderson. Did I mention that he looked like a pumpkin?
"You think you can kick my ass?!!!" He yelled.
"I didn't say that. Kenny Montoya is lying." I yelled back.
Suddenly the whole crowd moved to where I was standing on the lawn. Bobby and I stood there in the middle of the circle. I liked watching the fights but this was the first time I was the one in the middle of the circle.
"You think you can kick my ass?!" he asked again.
"Look, Kenny said the same crap to me, he's just trying to get us in a fight. he's lying, he always lies, everybody knows that.
"Do you think you can kick my ass?" he asked again.
"Well I never really thought about it. We're friends, why would I wanna kick my friends -- ummm butt? ( I was a good mormon kid then -- cursing wasn't yet an option.)
"So you DO think you can kick my ass."
"I didn't say that. I said; why would I want to."
"Well, what if you wanted to? Do you think you could?
"I don't know, this is ridiculous."
"Why don't we just see if you can kick my ass."
Then he kinda slapped my cheek, you know how those fights get going. My adrenaline, having already kicked in when the circle formed, immediately caused me to lunge at him with my arms outstretched to push him. I connected and he fell back. His butt hit he ground flinging his big fat pumpkin head backwards right into a lawn sprinkler. Tears filled his eyes, he grabbed the back of his head, his face tightened up, his mouth opened up, he sucked in a big long gulpy sounding breath and then:
Geez, crying was one thing, but Bobby was amazingly loud. That was probably the loudest cry I have ever heard. Everyone was amazed at how loud Bobby cried. Nobody even laughed like they usually did when someone cried. Mostly every one was just stunned at the sheer volume. ------ but then ------ came the pumpkin seeds, actual pumpkin seeds started coming out of his head, pumpkin seeds and guts were glooping out all over the place, it was incredible he really was a pumpkin after all. --- Okay, not really, the reality was worse --- it wasn't pumpkin guts, it was human blood ---- oh the blood, lots of it. The wound wasn't really that big but heads bleed like nothin' else. He had blood dripping down his arms and soaking his stupid orange hair.
"I'm in trouble now." I mumbled.
Just then my ear was yanked up to the heavens. Mrs. Green, another orange head, was on the scene and she was pissed. Bobby was taken gingerly and sympathetically to the nurses office. I was hauled off by my ear to the principals office. Turns out winning a fight ain't always the best deal. Bobby was cleaned up and pampered like a little faggot baby. I think he even got a back rub and powder on his butt. He didn't even need stitches or a Band-Aid -- what a gay-bob. The principal made us apologize to each other and told us we'd each have to stay an extra half an hour after school for the next week. This seriously wasn't my fault. but I didn't argue and I even apologized. I felt it was appropriate due to all the blood and the loud crying. I explained the Kenny Montoya situation to the principal and Bobby and they both seemed to understand that Pumpkin Head had been fooled. The principal must've seen that we were actually friends because he let us leave together and he didn't even call our parents. We rode our bikes home and we probably talked about bicycle grips or something. The whole thing was resolved, we were back to being friends even though he still had some globs of blood in his stupid orange hair.
Get a Fricken Grip!!
The next day was saturday, I did all my chores around the house and then bailed out the front door to play. Maybe I'd go see how Bobby was doing and try to look at the awesome injury I gave him. My bike was on the front lawn just where I left it --- except ------- my spongy yellow grips were gone. My handlebars were exposed, naked, just metal tubes with no grips -- they looked retarded. My Grips were STOLEN!!
Who did this? What thief? What low life would steal my fabulous new yellow grips? I looked around. I looked up , I looked down, left, right, where, who, how, why? Well I knew why..... they were spectacular grips.
Was it something else? I thought I had done a fine job pretending to look at his freak ass step dad's good eye --- (I just looked at the beak between his eyes -- it works). I always hugged his squishy mom against my better judgment, and I even kinda stood up for him when people called him Bob-O-Lantern. This theft was un-warranted un-called for and unexplainably stupid. It must be a joke. Surely it must be a joke. Either that or my beating had turned Bobby into a retard. He didn't even bother to hide them from me, nope he just plopped his bike with my yellow spongy grips right down in his yard in full view of mine, what a total idiot.
It only took about thirty seconds for me to bike to his house on my homo gripless bike. As I pedaled, I imagined a scenario where I'd show up and say.
"Hey Bobby, how did you like trying out my new grips?
And then he'd say "They were great. -- Thanks for letting me try them out -- buddy."
I thought that approach might be diplomatic. I mean, it was so entirely blatant that maybe he really was just "borrowing them", maybe he rang my doorbell when I was in the back yard weeding. At any rate. I shouldn't just jump to conclusions right? After all, he was my best friend, even if I did prove that I could kick his girlie ass yesterday.
I laid my bike on his crispy brown front lawn and I walked right past my grips on his bike. I could have just slid them off and went home, but I was interested in getting to the bottom of this mystery -- maybe Kenny Montoya got to him again. Anyway, I walked up to his door and rang the door bell even though the door was wide open (all except the ripped screen door anyway). I stood there and waited. The fish tank bubbled, some dirty laundry in the pile wiggled in the breeze -- the smell of motor oil and coffee wafted as usual, but nobody came to the door.
Now it wasn't unusual for people to leave their doors wide open in those days, but something was odd that day. There was a bowl of half eaten macaroni and cheese with weenies sitting on the coffee table and blaring from the crappy TV was the Gilligan's Island episode where Gilligan fucks up the rescue and it was only halfway over, but that wasn't the unusual part, one could count at least five half eaten bowls of macaroni and cheese with weenies from where I stood any day of the week, and Gilligan always fucks up the rescue, that's just the way it was. But this particular bowl of macaroni and cheese with weenies was still steaming and the love beads that adorned the hallway to Bobby's room were still swinging. It didn't take a genius to figure out that somebody was still home. Bobby's favorite show, Bobby's favorite meal, love beads to his room still swinging, my spongy yellow grips on his bike right outside the door. Hmmmn I wonder who?
Ding dong ding dong ding dong -- I rang three times and waited. Nothing. No sounds other than a bubbling empty fish tank and Gilligan fucking up the rescue.
"Bobby --- are you home? --- Misses Gunderson? Helllooo --- Bobby?" Still nothin'.
"Well I guess I'm gonna have to just skip the explanation part" I muttered as I hopped down the steps and approached Bobby's bike.
I twisted and turned my grips back and forth slowly until they came loose and, with a lovely little bottle popping sound -- boop, they were freed from the bastard bars of Bobby's stupid excuse for a bike. Sensing little danger, I proceeded to twist them gently onto the handle bars of my beautiful bike. All was going smoothly, all was restored -- no harm no foul, I really had only been without my grips for maybe an hour or so. I could probably overlook the miscommunication and go about my business. After all, I did kick his little crybaby ass yesterday. Maybe I wouldn't even bring it up.
Smash, Slap, Crash! The sound of a broken screen door flying open came from behind me ---- I turned to see a giant angry pumpkin face descending upon me as if it was hurled by the headless horseman himself.
"Give those back!! It screeched -- Give those back right now!!"
I knew he was home.
"What do you mean? They're mine. What is wrong with you? Are you kidding Bobby? These are mine, you were with me when I bought them."
"Give'em back, they ainch yers anymore -- they're mine now"
He was actually wrestling me to get them back. I had not expected this violence, but my instinct to protect my spongy grips kicked in and it turned into a full fledged tug-o-war. He would twist a grip while I tugged at the bike to make him loose his grip -- so to speak. Just tugging twisting, no punching or fighting really, just having a tug-o-war with the bike. As in our fight the day before, I was winning, not as triumphantly maybe, but every time he'd almost get a grip loose, I'd yank the bars away and smack the grip back on with the palm of my hand... thud thud thud thud.--
Then suddenly again;
Smash, Slap, Crash! The sound of a broken screen door flying open came from behind us. It was Bobby's freak ass, glass eye, pirate step dad.
Gee whiz, he was home all this time too?
"Whew", I thought, "an adult" This was good, adults are good at resolving disputes between kids. I was getting tired of the tug-o-war anyway. I already proved my Bobby ass kicking abilities yesterday.
"KICK HIS ASS BOBBY!!!" his step dad screamed as he looked at the tire on the lawn with his glass eye. "KICK HIS FUCKIN' ASS!!"
For a second I looked at the tire too. That fucking glass eye thing is really confusing. Wait a minute. What the? Dads aren't supposed to encourage fighting. They especially ain't supposed to act like a lizard cheerleader.
Our tug-o-war progressed out into the middle of the culdesac and, in accordance with Bobby's step dad's ability to put on a show, a crowd soon formed. We struggled for a grip on the grips for what seemed like forever. He'd almost get one twisted off, I'd yank and pop it back on. I'd try to mount my bike to escape, Bobby would pull it out from under me. Onlookers took sides. Most were with me. I was not a pumpkin head and my step dad was actually a good mechanic with an organized garage. And of course God was on my side, but shit, Satan puts on a good fight, or at least he cheers well from the porch. Stupid glass eye Satan.
Suddenly a giant lukewarm moomoo enveloped our makeshift wrestling ring and the smell of unwashed sheets and scrambled eggs rushed up my nostrils. It was Bobby's mom.
"Bobby you let go right now." She said in a voice that sounded like she was about to cry.
You mean she was home too? Were they all hiding from me?
"You get in the house this instant."
Not surprisingly, he did exactly as he was told. Bobby really really loved his mom. Perhaps that's why he turned out to be such a mammas boy. Dejected and defeated, Bobby disappeared, gripless, into the house. The glass eye lizard pirate cheerleader on the porch suddenly looked like a kid who got caught pooping in a bag (I got caught pooping in a bag once, that's how I know). He stared off in another direction which caused his glass eye, for the first time ever, to look directly at me..... creepy.
To the Winner: a Warm Yeastie Breeze.
Victory Smells Like Breakfast
"Are you ok honey?" she asked as everybody watched and I realized that she had always loved me a little too much.
"Geez, I think I would have rather kept fighting. This don't do shit for my reputation." I thought.
Anyway, that was the end of my friendship with Bobby Gunderson, I'd still see him everyday for the rest of the year that I lived in that neighborhood. Eventually, we got to the point where we'd say "what's up" and stuff, but I was glad to be rid of that fat pumpkin head. I could have taken vengeance and joined in on the pumpkin head stuff all the other kids gave him, I mean every one saw me turn him into a bloody crying wuss, but seriously, the guy had like six other weird step dads after the glass eye lizard pirate cheerleader. The dude had it hard enough already.
Somebody told me they recently saw Bobby shuffling toilets around as a fork lift operator at The Home Depot. I bet he looked really ridiculous with that orange uniform.