Saturday, April 17, 2010

Back Yard Surgery

Coming from a very chaotic and crazy household, I guess it was natural that most of my friends would have odd home lives as well. Some were better, some might have been worse. The “normal” kids that I got to know might as well have lived on Mars compared to my house. I always thought that was just the way things were…until I learned otherwise. Most of my dealings with “those” kids were pretty normal. Most of my time however was spent with those more like me. If you’ve read anything older you already know that I was pretty much unsupervised until later in middle school (junior high back then).

Sorry about the long lead in…
Sometime in sixth grade, several of the other neighborhood idiots and I ended up with bb guns. We used to do a lot of target shooting with them. Of course the targets were usually other people, almost always each other. We lived in North Long Beach, an old neighborhood with alleys and many short cuts from street to street. We had some pretty good running bb gun battles. Yup, bb’s hurt like hell if they hit your bare skin. We had many of these wars, and nobody ever lost an eye or got seriously hurt until…

Now wouldn’t you know that the one kid who did get hurt was the one who wasn’t supposed to have a bb gun in the first place? In fact he wasn’t even supposed to be playing with us. His parents were very mean to him (in a physical way), and if they found out he was playing with bb guns, he would have hell to pay. And then his parents would deal with all of ours, and we’d each have our own personal hell to pay.

So we are having our normal stupid fun and somebody shot him from close range right below his left earlobe. I’m not saying it was me who did the shooting, but it was a long time ago and I don’t remember clearly.

The bb not only broke the skin…it penetrated the skin and dropped down at least an inch into that hollow spot below his ear on the side of his neck. Go ahead feel there…

He’s freaking out because he knows what is going to happen to him when he gets home. He’s going to have to go to the doctor to have it removed, and then probably have to go back to the doctor after his dad is done with him. We came up with about a hundred different scenarios that he could tell his parents and maybe not get killed. He said none of them would have worked. So there appeared to be only one option that made sense. Surgery…

He wasn’t thrilled at all about the idea. But we convinced him that a regular band aid on the side of his neck was explainable. A bb lodged in his neck wasn’t.

Of course there were no adults home at my house so we went there to try and get the bb out. If it had just stuck in his skin it was no problem; just dig the darn thing out and be done with it. There were five of us trying to decide how to get this done. We tried to push the bb back up towards the entry point but it wouldn’t go high enough. He’s not happy at all. He’s sweating and he’s afraid because he has to go home soon. So some genius in the group figures out that if we push the bb up as high as it will go, make the entry hole bigger with a razor blade, we can “reach” in and grab it with my mom’s tweezers. Well the kid is simply shitting bricks now. We tell him that his neck is so sore by now that he won’t even feel it. He reluctantly agrees to move forward. His first scream came when someone “enlarged” the hole with the razor. First step complete, only two to go! Push up the bb and then insert the tweezers. So we are pushing the bb up and he’s not a happy camper cause he’s in a lot of pain. The first scream wasn’t nearly as loud as the one that came after the tweezers were inserted. No, “inserted” is much too delicate of a word to describe what happened. We had to hold him down and force them in… Three people are holding him down, one person is pushing up on the bb, and the other one is trying to find the bb with the tweezers. I think at one point he kind of passed out.

After what seemed like an hour, but was actually only a minute or two the bb was found and removed. Now of course, he had a big gaping hole in the side of his neck. I’m sure he should have had stitches. Hell, what he really needed was a tetanus shot! Nobody even thought about washing our hands, the razor blade, or the tweezers.

So he went home without a band aid, but with a solid story! He was riding his bike on the side walk and got too close to the edge and he crashed against a chain link fence and one of the pointy things on top stuck him under his ear.

When all was said and done I’m not sure that the damage and pain we inflicted on him was any better than what his dad would have done if he just went home with a bb in his neck. It was a scary incident, but one of those great things that we all joked about for a couple of years whenever we saw each other.
My kids were never allowed to have bb guns...


  1. You'll put your eye out!
    Is this fiction or did it really happen?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Somehow I deleted my own comment!
    Anyway, nobody lost an eye I'm happy to say.
    The story is real. I do have some fiction to post but I'm not going to do so until I empty out my head of memories.
    thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. OH MY GOD, that was your best recollection yet. You just have that way of making even the most painful stories so damn interesting. I still can't believe you did surgery on this poor kid. But I think your assessment of the situation was right. You helped him avoid the spanking. So you can hold your head up high and know you were heroic when it counted.

  5. Ouch!!! Poor kid, in so many ways...

  6. Jesse - Thanks! I remember it like it was yesterday. I was truly a wild time. Seems like I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or something like that...I have no idea what happened to any of those kids. Maybe I'll do some digging.

    Nat - Believe me, he got off lightly. His dad would have hurt him worse if he knew he was playing with us. I wish I had a camera as a kid! LOL

  7. We had an alley behind our house -- and that is where the metal trash cans were placed for the garbage man...and they made excellent cover in our almost-daily bb gun fights. The bb's made a nice ting as they hit the metal cans, so we could easily envision a Roy Rogers gun battle amongst wilderness boulders. No eyes out. Lots of red skin spots.

    No, my kids weren't allowed to have bb guns either.

  8. Wow! You are so right Jerry! The same thing with us.

  9. I have to share this post with my husband...
    My brother had a bb gun and loved metal trash cans, just for the ping and ricochet. But one day he was playing bows & arrows, and he shot a kid's ear lobe right off with a sharp arrow. Maybe you knew my brother??? !!!1

  10. Oh dear God, the poor kid could have been killed! Oh Pat, this is so sad, on so many levels. My da bought a BB gun once, had great sport shooting my ma with it (in front of the kids, of course, kinda' maximised his fun)..

    I am sorry this isn't fiction, but it is an extremely well-written piece, without sentiment, yet searing.

  11. Brenda - Ouch! I used control the local snail population in our

    Shrinky - Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it! In the scheme of things in my childhood, it didn't cause us much stress... I'm glad it was the other guy though, instead of me!

  12. Lol..That was just great...I haven't stopped laughing yet...

  13. See, they were right. BB guns really are dangerous. Seems obvious doesn't it?

  14. Bendigo - thanks for reading and commenting! I wish I still knew at least one of those guys now.

    Randon Thinker - you really will "put your out!"
    We were just stupid wild kids. We were lucky somebody didn't get badly hurt.

  15. LOL...make that "put your EYE out!"


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