Bushwhacking

19 11 2010

This last weekend I decided that I have to do something to overcome the lethargic psychologic and physical condition that has beset me over the last few weeks here in Princeton.  The situation with my mother and the end of Daylight Saving Time have combined to diminish any ambition I had left to stay active.  Back at Broken Plow I would be cutting firewood, raking and composting leaves, etc at this time of year.  Here in Princeton it is actually more of a waiting game and our lives being on hold.  That, in and of itself, is depressing.

Anyways, I decided to start walking a mile or so each morning with grandiose plans of maybe getting back in shape enough to do a sprint triathlon sometime in the the Fall of 2011; time will tell on that one.  What I do know is that I am fifty pounds over what I would like to be and need to take charge of my health.

With those motivations I decided to find a location where I could begin my literal and figurative trek.  The road that runs beside my Uncle Bill’s house seemed like a likely route to explore.  My mother’s house and my uncle’s house are side-by-side but still in a rural setting.  The road I planned to walk along is approximately fifty yards from my mother’s house.  It runs north and south and rarely has traffic on it; ideal for a safe walking/running route.

About a quarter of a mile into my walk I came across a spot that use to be a dirt lane that ran back off into a field where an oil well stood back in the late 1950s and early 1960s; only the barely noticeable cut in the shoulder of the road remains. The oil well and tanks and lane have long since been replaced by cultivated corn and soybean fields.  Still, I knew that this was the place once referred to as Lovers’ Lane.  It was common knowledge that this little lane going back to the oil well was frequented, especially on weekends, by couples seeking some privacy.

At this point, I should disclose that I have always been a fan of good practical jokes. I define a good practical joke as something that causes no property damage, physical injury or permanent shame.  In addition, to elevate a good practical joke to a great practical joke the instigator must be able to physically see the target of the joke bamboozled and the instigator’s identity must never be confirmed.  Throughout high school and college, I was the victim of several unproven accusations about my participation/involvement in pranks.  Those unfounded accusations were just that–unfounded (remember the definition of a “great” practical joke).  For the purpose of this blog posting I will admit to the following:

My cousin, David, and I came up with the idea of playing practical jokes on the couples who frequented Lovers’ Lane.  During the summers back in the day, David and I would tell our parents that we were going frog gigging at a nearby pond. Occasionally, we would actually gig some frogs to add some credence to our cover story.  However, most of the time we went “bushwhacking.”

Bushwhacking involved sneaking up on a parked car once the windows got steamed up and the car started to rock.  When things were going strong, we would turn on our frog gigging lights and flash them into the car from a safe distance.  We knew not to get too close to the cars since that could result in getting caught by some excited guy (notice the play on words) who intended to beat us to a pulp.  Before the occupants of the car could regain enough composure to realize what was going on, we would turn off our spotlights and fade into the fields and fencerows.  We huddled in the brush trying to restrain our giggles as the car sped away.

Eventually, as with all practical jokers, the urge to up the ante was just too much to resist.  No longer were David and I satisfied with just scaring the hell out of young lovers.  We decided that a little public embarrassment would be a nice touch.  We refined and embellished our bushwhacking technique to include David crawling up to the back of the park car and attaching a cardboard sign with a message that left no doubt what the occupants were doing.

Like in most small towns, Princeton had an established route for doing laps.  You know, that time-honored ritual of driving back and forth between two spots in hopes of seeing and being seen.  In Princeton, the two turnaround points were Dick Clark’s Drive In and Winkler’s Drive In on the north and south ends of town respectively. More than once, a couple who only a few minutes earlier had been on Lover’s Lane were driving their final laps before going home for the evening.

This was great fun for my cousin and me.  Although I never actually saw any of the “marked” cars making laps I did hear stories about them and the reactions of the people who read the signs on the back of the trunk lids.  We must have pulled that prank half a dozen times each summer for a couple of years.  Those were the two years before I got my drivers’ license and a steady girlfriend.  It’s kind of odd how your perspective on what is funny and what is not funny can change so quickly.

-gw-

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