Dan and I–we decided to play frisbee golf. Frisbee golf is awesome, so leave your snide comments at the door. If you know of another way to walk through the same trail in the woods three times in one afternoon, I’d love to hear about it. Oh, you don’t? What’s that? You’d feel silly walking on the same trail three times in one afternoon unless you had a handy excuse for doing so? That’s what I thought.
Dan and I–we decided to play frisbee golf, but first we had to go to the sports store to replace my frisbee, which had broken down the middle in multiple places during its last deployment. I blame, of course, Emma, for using it as a paint tray for all of her artwork. Dear Emma, you broke my frisbee six months before it finally broke. Dear Emma, you owe me ten dollars.
(No you don’t).
The frisbee golf course is in some woods behind a school, eighteen holes of perfection. Pars two, three, and four: very fair, but by no means a walk in the park. The scene was thus: thirteenth hole, par two, and I’ve just thrown my drive over a little knoll, and Dan and I are coming up over the knoll when what to our wondering eyes should appear, but two middle-school-aged kids who should probably be in a classroom, but are instead in the woods. Go figure.
Main kid: long brown hair, thirteen years of age or so. His comrade: red headed, maybe eleven or twelve, eyes bloodshot, as though he’d just been crying.
Main kid: “Hey, man,”–first, and I can tell already, you are too lackadaisical, main kid; and second, you are too forward–“have you seen two kids smoking pot up here?”
“Nope,” I say, grabbing my frisbee.
“Hey, what’s that?” he says, pointing to the beer in my hand.
“It’s a drink,” I say.
“Is that Scotch?”
And here is the part where I get really confused, because a thirteen year old kid should not be asking me if the beverage I have sheathed in a brown paper bag is Scotch. He should be asking me if it’s Pepsi. So I tell him the truth. “No, it’s not Scotch.”
“Can I have some?”
“No. It’s not Scotch.”
“C’mon, man. What is it? Why not?”
“Because you can’t.”
His red-headed frightened-looking friend comes to his side, and I ask the red-headed friend directly–because he looks so terribly fucked up and frightened–“Do you guys need any help?” But the red-headed frightened-looking friend, instead of replying, turns around and begins to run away. Off into the forest! Running! Part of me worries, part of me feels bad, but mostly I’m relieved, because one less fucked up tween makes getting on with the game of frisbee golf that much easier.
The leader of the two asks me if I have any cigarettes, and I lie and tell him that I don’t, because I wish deep down that when I was his age people didn’t give me the cigarettes that I asked them for.
And then he too suddenly up and leaves. Just goes. Not running, like his friend, but going. And going–crucially–away. Says that he needs to look for those kids smoking pot in the woods. Says that he’s got his eye out for them. And that’s that. He ceases to be my problem. He disappears.
It’s kind of like a miracle.
Dan and I finish our round. We tie. Miserably.
And then a funny thing happens, and the main-too-lackadaisical-kid-who-did-not-leave-by-running-away-but-instead-left-at-a-leisurely-pace-after-concocting-a-whopper-about-trying-to-find-some-kids-smoking-weed-in-the-woods comes back up to us as we emerge from the woods after our first round. He says, “Hey, man, where’s the booze at?” and at this point, I’ve decided that I’ve got to be a sympathetic adult figure, not just a dismissive prick. So I say, “We don’t have any booze, and you should probably be somewhere else” which is, for what it’s worth, true on both counts. We don’t have any booze. We each had a 22 during the first round, all we brought. And he should probably be somewhere else. Because it’s a school day, and he looks like he just took every pill in the medicine cabinet.
But he’s persistent. “Aw, c’mon man,” he pleads.
Cue sympathetic adult Tom: “Look, dude, you’re obviously fucked up, right?”
“Not really,” he says.
I laugh out loud.
“So, good,” I say. “Here. Dude. Some advice. First of all, go find yourself a sweatshirt”–dude is wearing a t-shirt, and it’s November–“and second of all, find somewhere safe to spend the next couple of hours. You’ll be glad you did.”
He’s not listening. But he’s shivering.
“Man, you have any weed?” he says.
“No, dude, I sure don’t.”
“C’mon, man, you must have weed.”
I shake my head.
“Can I have a cigarette, then?”
He’s thoroughly confused. But he’s thirteen years old, and that’s par for the course. And at any rate the sun’s working its way west, I’ve given up, and I want to play some more frisbee golf. So I turn around, and Dan and I start walking toward the tee for the third hole.
“Well, why can’t I just follow you guys?”
“Because that would be creepy,” I tell him.
That would be creepy, right?
It would be.
Anyhow. Little guy leaves again. Anyhow, I’m not sure that I’ve done all that I could again.
Anyhow. Point of the story?
Kids these days.