When you’re a kid nothing beats summer break, except maybe Christmas break. There’s no school, no getting up at the ass-crack of dawn and playing outside is a daily job. For my brothers and me it also meant plenty of time for our next misadventure. One summer will live in infamy for “The Roasted Bananas Debacle.”
Our bedroom had a window two feet from the ground; a fact which we took advantage of many nights. On this particular outing we decided to camp in a wooded lot down the street.
It was a known fact my brother Adam was a thief and a damn good one. So we sent Adam to the kitchen to pilfer food for the trip, while Joe and I gathered everything else. We needed to move with absolute stealth and speed, but when Adam didn’t come back for about thirty minutes we began to worry.
We had prepared to roast hot dogs and marshmallows. You can imagine our surprise when after half an hour, our burglar brother came back with a bunch of damned bananas. We were pissed, but we were short on time and needed to get going. We were going to roast something, if it had to be bananas well, so be it.
We made our way out the window trying hard not to make any noise, but we woke every damn dog for three blocks. It was a good thing that most of the neighborhood was used to dogs barking at night, including our parents, or we’d have been busted on the spot. When we made our way to what we thought was the center of the woods, we prepped the area for a small fire.
None of us had ever attempted to make a camp fire before; we gathered pine, lots and lots of pine. For kindling we used pine needles. What we didn’t know and what any fire aficionado will tell you is that pine, especially the needles, smoke terribly when burned.
So there we were down on all fours lighting a bunch of pine needles, blowing into them with our eyes burning and coughing like men who had tuberculosis. But we were proud of ourselves for pulling all of it off, meanwhile our fire was smoking like a factory stack.
Happy with ourselves, we started sharpening roasting sticks for the unskinned bananas. As we were getting ready to skewer the bananas a car pulled up to the edge of the woods and stopped. Being veteran troublemakers we knew immediately no one but a cop would be out at that hour. Our fire was small, but the smoke could not be missed.
The cop flashed his spotlight at the edge of the woods while my brothers made a frantic whispered scramble to stomp out the fire. I rose to help, banana still in my hand, and the cop’s spot light hit me right in the eyes. I panicked and froze, crouching down in the undergrowth, praying I was unseen. I was so scared I began to squeeze my banana.
It began with a long fart, which was so loud I know the cop had to have heard, then the tell-tale heaviness in the pants. I knew I had soiled myself. My brothers and I had an escape route through a deep drainage ditch which ran all the way down the back of the wooded lot and let out not too far from our house. Lacking a flashlight, we ran through the woods tripping over roots and rocks until we reached the ditch. I of course, was bringing up the rear with banana all over my hand and a load of crap in my pants.
Just as we broke out of the woods, the headlights of the cop car hit us and we had to run like hell to get home. We vaulted the backyard fence like a herd of deer, sliding under the deck just as the cop passed. We managed to get back in the house undetected. I threw away my soiled clothing to hide the evidence of my lack of bowel control.
In the aftermath I learned some lessons which have served me well. The first; don’t use pine for a fire, unless you’re in a survival situation. The second; life puts you in some uncomfortable, even downright embarrassing situations, but if you can handle running with banana on your hand and crap in your pants you can hack just about anything.