BUSTED: As a punk kid, I got caught at everything
And how it made me a man.
Early on, my older sisters recognized my unfortunate modus operandi as a scheming suburban kid: I did all of the dumb, outlandish things young rebels did back in the day.
There was just one thing, they said.
I always got caught.
Yep, sigh, it was true, all of it.
They nailed it.
Get plastered underage? Sass teachers at school? Smokin’ in the boys room?
Buy and sell a wee bit of weed?
My poor parents.
Once, my overworked father returned from his job and my mother met him at the front door. He didn’t even have time to take off his tie.
“You’ve got to whip him,” she said of me, her voice breaking. “You’ve got to whip him within an inch of his life!”
When I was fighting with my younger sister as we got ready for school, my mother suddenly couldn’t take it anymore She put down her iron and let out a primal scream that stopped us in our tracks.
Another time, when as a sixth-grader I called my teacher Mrs. Hudson “an old bag” to her face, my mom couldn’t wait for the old man to get home. She grabbed a belt and started swinging at me.
It was pathetic, in a way. But I couldn’t laugh.
In fact, I had to grovel and cry fat crocodile tears because I knew that if I didn’t, there would be worse hell to pay once my father got home.
He hit harder.
Around our house, shit went south early on.
When I was around 11, my father bowled in a weekly league, usually leaving my younger brother and I at home to shift for ourselves.
The winters in Syracuse were brutal, with snow drifts hiding our house. The only thing that relieved the boredom was Tuesday’s Hockey Night in Canada.
This was all before cable and my brother and I devised a way to pick up Channel 11 out of Montreal to watch the Habs slap around whomever came to their home arena.
We had an antenna on the roof of our attached garage, but here was the deal: With the antenna in position to pull in all the local stations our family watched, faraway Montreal came in fuzzy and snowy, like the blizzards lashing us outside.
So we hatched a plan.
I suited up and climbed out my father’s second-floor bedroom window, the only access to the roof. As my brother called out from the living room, I would swivel the antenna until Channel 11 came in crystal clear — or at least watchable.
The problem was that all the local channels were unwatchable. So as soon as the was over, I’d hustle back up to the roof, trudging through the snow, to return the antenna to its old position.
Problem was, I could never get it perfect.
So my father would come home, sit down to watch the local news, and see fuzz.
Man, was he pissed.
He couldn’t figure it out. Until suddenly he looked at me, accusing me to my face of foozling with the antenna.
I denied everything, of course. I was no fool; I saw that belt.
Until he hauled me up to his room by my ear and showed pointed to the footprints on garage roof.
There were other escapades.
As a second-trader, I knocked over gravestones in the local cemetery with my two cronies. We all got caught and my pals fessed up to their roles. But I denied any role, saying the two brothers pushed me into a stone, which fell over.
My father took me aside and grilled me.
But I stuck to my story, until he threatened to take me to the police station for lie-detector test, then I sang like a red-headed canary.
I went to Spain with a a group of 11th-graders from my high school and are chaperones sent a letter home saying they’d left with what they considered to be 41 young adults, but returned with 39 adults and two children.
I’d stirred up some shit.
I think my father swing a pool cue at me after that one.
One night after he’d left for his bowling league, I whisked my girlfriend Joni up to our empty living room for some high-school sexual hi-jinks.
But I’d mistimed my move.
As as we drove up to our hour in my 1972 Dodge Tradesman van with the blue shag carpeting, red velvet curtains, ET mag wheels and bumper sticker that read, “I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you,” we passed my Dad.
Our asses hadn’t been on that couch for 30 seconds before he walked into the living room and told Joni he didn’t think her parents would appreciate the idea of her being alone in an empty house with the likes of his son.
And he was right.
So there was one time I didn’t get caught, but just barely.
As a high-school senior, I’d scored some pot my my friend Floyd, whom everybody called Pink, and we smoked some of it before I stuffed the baggie into my underwear and woozily drove home.
I must have dropped into bed and forgotten all about my illegal cargo.
The next morning, a Monday, I showered first before heading for school.
My father went in next and as I got dressed, my mouth suddenly dropped in horror.
I looked everywhere, and finally figured that it had dropped to the floor as I took my shower.
It seemed like forever before my father gave up the bathroom and I hurried into that steamy little sauna and found my pot, lying there on the floor.
Not this time, baby!
Although there would be numerous incarcerations, divorces and nervous breakdown to come.
John Michael Glionna is a Former Big City Journalist turned Sojourner. His web site is JohnGlionna.com