I could blame the lack of indoor plumbing. I could blame William Shatner. I could blame the Holiday Drive-In. But I know, to quote Jimmy Buffett, "this could be my fault." I would like, on the occasion of my older brother's birthday, to apologize to him for the injustice that I perpetrated upon him oh-so-many years ago.
It was in the back end of my older brother's Toyota pickup truck that we all sneaked into Boulder's only outdoor movie theater. We went, ostensibly, to see "The Devil's Rain," but we were really there to see how long we could stay awake. Our parents were out of town, and the keys to the kingdom fell to my older brother. Just before dusk, we packed up our coolers and lawn chairs and headed to the north end of town. Five of us held very still and stifled our giggles underneath the bean bags that were loaded into the back of the truck, inside a camper shell. We could hear my older brother say, "just the two of us," when he pulled up to the ticket booth and was asked how many tickets he needed.
Once we parked and darkness began to fall, we poured out of the back end and began to set up camp. In those days, the drive-in was never completely full, so we were able to spread out, using a number of speakers from the poles around us to provide us with ample sound for our movie-going experience. As the evening wore on, I became immersed in the story of rural Satanists, led by Ernest Borngine. I understood that I was watching a B movie, but it creeped me out. My brother and his friends were less impressed, and when that feature was over and William Shatner had succeeded in melting all the bad guys, including the Borg, it was decided that we would hop the fence, and take in the second feature on screen number two. We took our chairs and the cooler, locked the truck, and went off into the night.
It was past midnight when the second feature finished next door, and my older brother sent one of his friends back over to drive the truck to us where we could commence the load-out. When the little red Toyota appeared, we went around to the back end and noticed that there was something trailing behind: The pole from the speaker that was still attached to the passenger side window. We hastily shoved the pole, speaker and all our accoutrement in the back and closed us all up inside.
We drove into the early morning hours up into the mountains to the cabin where my family spent our summers. It was dark, and all of us stood around and waited for my older brother to light a kerosene lantern, but first he told us, he needed to make a pit stop. That meant we all stood around a little while longer while he went out the back door to water some of the trees. It was dark enough, quiet enough, and late enough that the memories of the Satanic rituals in the woods I saw on the drive-in screen started to make their way into the back of my mind. That great tub of cola I had consumed earlier in the evening was now weighing heavily on me. I needed to go to the bathroom. The outhouse. Outside.
I took a flashlight and left my little brother standing in the relative safety of my older brother's friends. We had a rule that even if we were going to relieve ourselves al fresco, that we should be at least fifty yards from the cabin. I knew how far that was, and started making my way toward the aspen stump that marked the safe zone. I never made it.
From behind a tree my older brother leaped. He may have hollered or yelled or growled, but in my agitated state, the large, moving shape was what scared the wits out of me. Or nearly. My instincts took over and I launched the flashlight at the center of the dark mass that was making its way toward me. The sound I remember was the stream of cursing that I heard coming from that dark mass that I now easily identified as my older brother.
I ran back to the cabin. Now I wasn't afraid of what might happen. I was afraid of what I was certain would happen. The good news was that when my older brother pulled himself together enough to make his way back inside, the rest of us were all having a good laugh at his expense. There was no reprisal. I got away with plunking my older brother squarely in the -
Well, that was years ago, and maybe we all remember things differently, but I do know that I owe my big brother an apology. I'm sorry I threw a flashlight at your privates. I had an awesome time that night. It was a night I haven't forgotten all these years later. Thanks for letting me survive that night. Happy Birthday.