i was ten years old.
mom wouldn't let me see the alamo with the gang because it was too violent.
after ten minutes of kid thought, i concluded my only option was to run away.
i said, mom, i'm running away! i'm going to pennsylvania to be a farmer.
she packed me a baloney sandwich, asked if i had clean underwear on, and made me promise to write her when the potatoes came in.
then she pushed me out the door, pointing to the west.
i went around the block to walk through carteret park, my home away from home, one last time before making my right hand turn to the delaware river, which roared about 63 miles away where the hot sun would set.
i’d worry about crossing it when i got to that bridge.
as i was cutting through the park, i saw mud finnegan sitting alone on a bench carving his initials.
i stopped to talk to him because he was twelve and knew everything.
i asked, hey mud whatcha doin'?
he said, f#ck’in carvin' my initials dipsh*t! what's it f#ck'in look like?
[he had a way with words. he honed this skill at his private catholic school, holy name.]
then he asked, what the f#ck do you have in the bag?
i said, oh it's a baloney sandwich. my mom packed it for me. i'm runnin' away to pennsylvania.
he looked me up and down with those crooked eyes of his.
then he said, ya don't say?
he paused a moment then said, listen up turdball! you need some f#ck’in advice, but it'll cost ya half the f#ck’in sandwich, ya f#ck’in poor use of two good legs.
[i often thought mud could talk in half the time if he'd simply drop the f-word. but it's what made mud ... well ... mud—that and his knowledge of sex and girl stuff.]
i decided to tap into his advice, after all such deals come along quite infrequently in the life of a ten year old.
so i handed over half the sandwich and waited for wisdom with balonied breath.
he looked out over the open playground.
his brows curled.
his eyes became distant.
then he spoke slow and thoughtful-like, ya see, it's like this. you think the f#ck’in world is better in some f#ck’in other place, but the grass is still that same f#ck’in green color. ya see what i'm f#ck’in tryin' to tell ya ... ya midget f#ck?
i thought for a moment.
the only thing that came to mind was he was nuttier than a chunky bar, and this notion that he was all-knowing highly overrated.
then he said, nice f#ck’in sandwich.
i snapped to and asked, what?
he said, your f#ck’in mom makes a nice f#ck’in sandwich!
i said, oh yeah, she does.
so i hung around mud a while longer until the proper amount of big kid respect time had passed.
while mud went on and on about feeling gina mcnulty's padded bra, i concluded greener grass or not, farming wasn't my cup of tea.
it was just a dumb notion i got from watching endless episodes of modern farmer on tv before going to school in the morning.
so i sauntered home, pretty hungry and more confused than when i had entered the park.
i did learn one important lesson: running away the next time would require at least three sandwiches and no mud stop and chats.