On this night, I was strolling in the middle of Sussex Avenue, a block from my house, chatting with a few friends about the usual. Nothing or next to nothing. Oh, maybe we talked logistics. Such as how many more streets we wanted to hit and whether we had enough soap to last us. And when we should ditch our little brothers and their pesky friends, all of them light years beneath our level of sophistication (except when we needed them to fill out a baseball team). As we walked and talked, a few of the younger kids with us darted up to houses and smeared a bar of soap on large, living-room windows.
Suddenly, we were startled by a storm door banging open, springing an angry homeowner who leaped off his porch and jumped over his bushes in full stride. The foot chase was on! It was like a hungry tiger pursuing a herd of frightened
wildebeests on Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom.” One by one, bug-eyed kids peeled off and vanished into the night. The snorting man was closing in on the remainder of the herd, which – as I soon discovered when I glanced behind – consisted of just me.
I veered off into a dark lot between two houses and promptly turned my ankle on the side of a rock or something sticking up out of the ground. Maybe a hand reaching up from a grave? (Hey, consider the ghostly holiday and the cumulative volume of Saturday afternoon horror double features I saw at the local Atlas Theater over the years.) I fell to the dirt of someone’s garden, half-crawled to a chain-link fence, climbed up and fell over into an alley, where I turtled up. Not a muscle moved.
Hmmmm. Dark clothes, dark night, no streetlights nearby. Maybe the guy wouldn’t notice me. Unable to look, I held my breath as I heard the predator come up to the fence, breathing heavily just a few feet from me. Trying to get a whiff of his prey. Or see some shadowy movement. And pounce.
I waited. Waited. And waited some more. Finally, I heard footsteps, again. They left the fence and faded away. It worked!
I waited a few extra moments just to be sure I was in the clear, then, at last, I exhaled, picked myself up and limped to find my friends. Later, I hobbled home, where my story was received in the usual way: “Michael, Michael, Michael.” And, a day later, I received a leg cast for my broken ankle.
That plaster cast should have served notice. Perhaps there is a “klutz” gene that runs in the family. After all, my Uncle Eddie (Dad’s brother) also hurt himself around Halloween. As a kid, Eddie threw a stink bomb into a tavern, giggled and was hit by a car while making his getaway dash across a street. Everybody recovered – the bar patrons from the stench, and Eddie from his bruises.
NOTE: “Michael, Michael, Michael: Confessions of
an Outrageous, Contagious Klutz" is a
collection of humorous anecdotes that have left
people shaking their heads from Detroit to
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Mike McCarty is a
writer, entertainer and a menace to OSHA and other
safety groups. You can order your copy today on
Amazon by clicking here.