August 21, 2009

Stone Free

As a young RoBeast, I grew up on the Jersey Shore, in an area with many man-made lagoons. Not a lot of the properties in my area had the ability to grow much of a lawn, so most people opted for stones instead. Tons and tons of stones.

Some people had smooth rounded white pebbles that felt gave a nice massage to bare feet in the summer. Others had small bluish-gray spiked rocks that may as well have been landmines. Just like with grass, these masses were alive and required regular maintenance. Cars parking and feet walking moved the stone lawns like liquid. Spreading stones with a shovel or a rake made a sound that resembled the waves at Seaside.

I preferred to do my part by picking up an obsession with throwing them instead. I threw them over power lines into the unknown woods while waiting for the bus. Sometimes I aimed for fences, mailboxes, and telephone poles. You could write with a rock on a well-paved road and then toss it away when you lost the inspiration. Kicking them was fun too. So was hitting them like a baseball with pieces of rebar lying around at my grandfather's house. Most of of all, I loved throwing them into the water. Skipping them was a competition, but throwing them in by the handful was making music--different sizes at different times produced different chimes.

I was constantly being told not to throw rocks, but I couldn't help myself. At summer camp, I accidentally hit a kid (Something-Fusco) in the hand with a jagged stone and gave him a nasty gash. Another time, I overestimated my arm and watched the rock arc directly into a large window across the street. I was trying to clear the house entirely and sink it into the next lagoon over. For my failure I had to pay the neighbor (Norman-Something) for a new window.

The incidents ceased when I eventually traded in the rocks for racquet balls at recess (Wall-Ball saved my life!), but I can't say I ever really grew out of the obsession. It's really a good thing that I wasn't born in India, or else I'd probably be one of the many proud idiots injured today in their annual stone-fighting celebration.

It's better luck to get hit in the head with seagull shit anyway.

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