TRAVEL BUG TALES: THE DAY I GOT ONE UP ON LENNY LOUD
So, I’d been on the road for less than a day and the trip was already memorable. From our overnight in St. Louis we headed on to Racine, Visconsin. That’s not a typo. That’s how some of our hosts pronounced the name of their state. They also drank “mulk” and ate “shrump.” And they say people from Texas have an accent!
The bus the church chartered for the trip was set up well for traveling. Not only did it have a potty, but the center section was set up with tables and facing seats in the center of the bus. That’s where all the action was. Someone had started a game of spades soon after we got started and we kept it going throughout the trip.
As he was in almost every other situation, Lenny Loud was the center of attention at the spades table. Lenny was the King of Nil-o. Nil is what you bid when you think you’re not going to get any tricks, but we called it nil-o. (We were completely unaware of the nasty meaning which sounds the same but is spelled differently.) Blind nil-o is what we bid when we were desperate. Believe it or not, it’s actually harder than you think to avoid getting any points. Lenny was infamous for calling nil-o almost every hand – even when he had aces and kings. Needless to say, he did his fair share of losing, so out of desperation he’d end up bidding blind nil-o a lot too, because that was worth 500 points. He was also lucky, so he spent a lot of time at the spades table.
Time for Lunch
Picking on Lenny was one of my favorite pastimes. I was just clever enough to pull one over on him from time to time. At our lunch time break, I got lucky. We were a rambunctious crowd, but we stopped just short of food fights. That didn’t stop us from being obnoxious, anyway. We were in fine order that afternoon.
At the end of lunch, I suppose they weren’t clearing the tables quickly enough to satisfy us, so we started stacking plates. Then someone told a horror story about restaurants re-serving food, so we decimated all the scraps to make sure none would ever get served again. There was a one-up-man’s-ship to it that quickly got out of hand. Each of the various tables tried to mix up a grosser mess of leftovers.
Once the raw material in the plates was finished with, I got an idea. Lenny’s latest thing was to order a suicide with his meal. I have no idea if kids drink suicides now, but suicides were created by mixing together various sodas and flavorings – a little of everything that might be available at the soda fountain. So, I started pouring everything I could find into a glass, including a little salad dressing and anything else that wasn’t solid. Then I challenged Lenny to drink that suicide, since he seemed to like them so much.
Mr. Stud-muffin said he would if I did. I’d already anticipated that he’d say that. We’d been at our game of cat and mouse for a while by then. So I said, “If I drink some of it, will you finish it.” To which he agreed. I couldn’t believe he’d bought that con. I’d learned it from my Cousin Patrick many years ago.
So, I drew some of the mess up into the straw, but left my tongue over the hole, so none would get in my mouth. Then I made a big deal of swallowing while I made awful faces. I pretended to be seriously grossed out and then handed the glass to him, with some comment like, “You’re going to be sorry.”
Lenny threw down the straw, opened the his mouth and poured the mess down his throat. I congratulated him on keeping up his end of the bargain. I can’t remember whether I savored my moment of victory in secret or let him know he’d been bested, but I know I thoroughly enjoyed the moment of triumph. I felt completely content that I’d paid him back for whatever his last jab at me had been and there were a lot of them.
By the end of the day we were in Racine and were being distributed between the homes of the church members. One wonders if they knew what they were getting into. Come back next week and I’ll tell you more of our teenage escapades.