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(Plagiarizing Myself on….) When kids “entertained THEMSELVES”!

Leslie Brown

One of those days…oy! Internet tower is down where I live; TWENTY miles outside of town! So, I had to go “into town”. It’s not like I can go to the neighbor and borrow a cup of INTERNET ha ha! Soooo…I’m going to PLAGIARIZE myself from the book I’m writing, since I have a limited amount of time before an appointment.


When I was a kid, adults used to have “dinner parties” at each other’s tidy and tastefully appointed homes. Adults ate, talked, maybe fondue’d and consumed adult beverages; kids were to stay BEHIND the “Dutch” door where we might be treated to some appetizers, an occasional cursory look, but hopefully not THE look. We were not to disturb said adults unless it was a compound fracture, or pupils were “fixed and dilated”. We had to shockingly ENTERTAIN OURSELVES!

This was back before “Pong” or “Slime” even, so we would play a game of Monopoly that would go on for days, “house” with a blanket over a card-table or Barbie. I always thought that Ken was a golf-pants-wearin’ sissy boy who could probably not even change his own oil or unclog a toilet. I have been known to “borrow” a neighbor boy’s G.I. Joe so Barbie could have some variety and we could get a messy love triangle going on. My Barbie always picked G.I. Joe. Somehow after G.I. Joe had been played with by icky girls, the boys acted like Joe had somehow been defiled and they would tenuously pick him up using but the tips of their gamey, booger-encrusted fingers as if he were a soiled pair of underpants. Kleenex boxes were either a vehicle or a bed, depending on need, which dictated whether the box was used right-side up or upside down. Kleenex’s were the sheets. Duh. Glass headed sewing pins stopped just shy of poking out of Barbie’s face on the other side, so they made marvelous earrings to match most any ensemble.

We actually played outside as kids, unafraid of Chester the Molester. We rode glittery orange banana-seated bikes with streamers, and pretended they were horses who never paused for an awkward “dump” or tried to knock you off under a low-hanging branch. The “cool” kids clothes-pinned a playing card to their bike wheels striking the spokes thus making a rather surprisingly, authentic “motor” sound. We made “grenades” out of mud balls with a grass or twig “pin”. We played with bouncy balls and “jacks”; which are about as fun to step on in shag carpeting as a Barbie stiletto. We drank “Fizzies” which were pretty much an Alka –Seltzer sans medicinal properties. Somehow just “spying” on some unsuspecting victim was pretty fun too.

Outside games included “Red Light/Green Light”, “Red Rover”, “Spin the Statue”, and ever popular hide and seek. Games were played barefoot on cool summer grass and if you were about to be tagged “it” your heart would be pumping as if being pursued by a machete wielding mad man. “Slip and Slides” were conjoined between houses to make one long water slide which left the grassy soggy and sorely in need of a French drainage system. One time the neighborhood girls and I staged a play or show in the garage of the Pierce’s house because their garage, yard and home were always immaculate, AND the automatic garage door opener could double as our high-tech “curtain” being raised at the beginning of the show. If we could have read the thought bubbles of the parents who compliantly sat on the driveway in their aluminum and orange-webbing lawn chairs, we probably would have seen things like, “Let me die, let me die now”, “When is this frickin’ thing gonna be over” and “I’m missing the new Columbo”.

Gone is the joy of prank phone calling since that pesky Caller I.D. came along. So much for; “Is your refrigerator running? Well ya better go catch it”. I wonder if kids still ring a doorbell and then run for cover giggling away behind a convenient boxwood hedge. The last neighborhood I lived in as a child, was devoid of any little boys except the retarded, oops, “mentally challenged” little brother of one of the girls. He was kept inside for some reason. Always. Never saw him. Once. What with the lack of boys, our escapades were pretty tame. About the naughtiest we ever were was stuffing an outfit of clothes to appear as a “body” and leaving it in the middle of the street at dusk for some hapless motorist to have squeal to a stop, get out of their vehicle, only to find the “body” had never possessed life, and then survey the area for the culprits who were about to pee their pants laughing in the bushes. (Aren’t y’all dying for more?)

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