I Didn't Mean To Be Mean - 04.20.98

When I was around the ages of 13 to 15, my dad lived across the street from a kid who was about two years younger than me. Although he was kind of nice, I didn't hang out with him a whole lot because I felt like I was too old for him. Sometimes, though, none of my usual friends would be around and I would go over and see what he was up to. I was never mean to him on purpose, however, and several times, we actually hung out and had quite a bit of fun. Through a couple random occurrences, though, he probably came to think of me as one of the biggest assholes he had ever met.

One of these instances took place one summer day out on the cement pad next to his house. His dad had set up a basketball hoop, and instead of the regulation 10 foot height, he had lowered it down to about 7.5 feet. We were busy playing a game of horse and I was having quite an easy time of it since the hoop was much lower and lower to shoot at. Eventually, I won the game and we sat down in the shade by his house.

After a few moments, I hopped up with the ball and decided that I would try to imitate some of my favorite NBA players. I ran about 10 steps without dribbling the ball once, jumped up with the ball cocked behind my head, and slammed it through the hoop. When I came down on the rim with both hands, I heard a crackling noise and quickly jumped back. The backboard of the hoop was broken in half just above the rim and the bottom half of it was just sort of flopping there, hanging on with a few remaining shreds of wood.

My friend looked at the hoop, and then back at me in a mad and confused way then went inside to tell his dad. I sat there on the patio and told him I would pay for a new one. The bottom half of the board fell off later that day and soon the allowance that I had saved up had a dent in it.

Although I felt bad about the hoop, I didn't think that it had caused too much of a riff in our strange friendship. He had a new, fiberglass backboard up on his garage in less than two weeks and the incident wasn't even mentioned any more.

During the middle of a blistering heat wave about a month later, I came out onto my porch and was headed over to see what he was doing. I had just rode my bike down to the local store and bought a bag of water balloons, and I was going to see if he wanted to cool off with a small battle. As I came out the door of our house, I saw him sitting peacefully in front of his garage door, eating a piece of pizza in the shade.

My devious side took over immediatley and I went back into the house and got a water balloon from the fresh package and filled it up in the sink. After sneaking out the back door and around the side of our house, I spied him in the same location and readied myself with the one red balloon. I ran out from behind our house with a full head of steam and before he knew what had happened, I yelled out his name and launched the water balloon in his direction.

Once it was in the air, everything seemed to go into slow motion. He looked directly at me and then up at the balloon sailing at him. I watched it arch through the air toward him and I could see that he was looking to get out of the way. My smile faded as the balloon went 3 feet over his head and crashed through one of the four windows on his garage door.

At the sound of the breaking glass, he looked even more startled, and before I could say a word he was around the corner and inside his house. By the time I made it up his driveway, he was out of the house again and his dad was right behind him. I again told him that I would pay for it and he said some harsh words to me about watching myself a little closer.

After that incident, we never really hung out again. The window was fixed on the same day, but my small error in water-balloon trajectory had managed to finish off what was left of our friendship. I don't blame him, he probably thought that I'd just end up blowing up his house or something.