I remember the exact day I realized that it was going to be very difficult to ever ‘get one over’ on my Mom. Well, not the exact day, but I know it was in the fall of 1975 and I was 12 years old. 12 going on 19- or so I thought. My ten-year old brother Richie and I were home on a sunny Saturday morning doing what we were best at- being royal pains in the ass.
We were bouncing all over the house, making a mess in every room sounding like a herd of wild boars. This behavior although fairly common for us, was reaching new heights on this particular morning. This was due in part, thanks to a new T.V. show that we had seen earlier in the week. Being kids, September was, of course, our least favorite month of the year. Summer was over and we now had to go back to our local prison (school). But the ninth month did have one redeeming quality. The new fall T.V schedule was upon us. And now as of the past Tuesday, we had a new all-time favorite show.
S.W.A.T. - a brand new police show about the San Francisco Special Weapons And Tactics squad made its much anticipated debut. It had everything a kid loves: cops and robbers, guns, explosions and not a whole lot of dialogue to get in the way. From the opening credits we were both hooked. The typical loud police show music followed by each member of the squad doing barrel rolls and three point combat stances –as their names and ranks flashed across our huge 15-inch television set.
“Street!! Luca!! T.J!! Deke!!”-screamed their captain, Hondo. We were psyched because having a grandfather and three uncles on the NYPD, there was something special about the cops and robbers shows for us. So on this particular Saturday we were reenacting that first exciting episode- much to the dismay of my Mom. After about two solid hours of systematically wrecking each room of the house, and after ignoring the numerous warnings to “Quiet down” “Get off the furniture” “Cut it out” (and my personal favorite)-“I Am warning you two…”-we had finally gotten on my Mom’s last nerve.
“THAT IS IT!!!!!” My Mom bellowed. Both my brother and I started scurrying towards the door because even as little kids we knew by that tone that the game was now over. “GET OUT! GET OUT OF THIS HOUSE-NOW!! GO OUT AND PLAY! DINNER AT 5pm. GET OUT”. Now we also knew that we were going get a little something more than the yelling. As my Mom stood by the dining room door waiting for us to go out, we both knew what was next- a parting gift in the form of a slap to the back of the head. There was no getting around it at this point. My brother, Richie goes out first and takes his medicine. But as I move towards my fate, the craziest notion comes into my silly little head. For some inexplicable reason I decide that I was not going to take my comeuppance today. So in a fit of genius, right before I get to my Mom and the door, I decide to mimic my new hero TJ from S.W.A.T. and I execute a perfect barrel roll under my Mom’s backhand. She misses me completely- nothing but air. I then scrambled up and bolted out the front door, into the afternoon sun. Of course, I half expected my Mom to come after me but I think she was too shocked by my brazen attempt to escape her justice. Anyway I was probably out of the front gate before she even knew what happened.
As I caught up to Richie who was already a half block away, trying to climb up onto the roof of our local library, I proudly told him what I had just done. And in his much older than his 10 years manner he just said. “Sweet move- wish I had done it” Let the games begin as we both head into the afternoon having no plans and really no idea what the day ahead holds for us. That was one of the greatest things about being a kid back then- time sort of stood still, when we were out together every day. Well not really- fast forward about 4 or 5 hours later. Richie and I have been out and about the neighborhood involved in various games of skill (Basketball, Baseball, Football) and chance (Apple ‘borrowing’ from various neighbor’s trees; annoying the local library guard-Vinny Cannucci) when we are suddenly told in no uncertain terms by the church bells, that it is 5PM, and time to get home for dinner.
So we bound back towards the house-very hungry and very, very dirty. All the way home we try to guess what we are going to have for dinner. I am hoping for Roast Beef and mashed potatoes and Richie says he’s in the mood for Baked Ziti. We slam through out front gate towards the door. There was always a great feeling going back home for dinner after a good, long day at play. Only today along with dinner, I would have a revelation. So I splashed through the dining room door and asked loudly; “Hey Mom, we’re home- what’s for dinner?”
I was greeted. No words- just a solid backhanded to the noggin. As I spun around to protest indignantly “HEY WHAT WAS THAT FOR…?”, I stopped. I turned to see my Mom standing there with her arms folded and a slight grin on her face. And all she said to me were these three words: “Thought I’d Forget?” I had forgotten- the blissfully ignorant and short term memory of a 12 year-old. And as I stood there looking at my Mom with a new found admiration, I realized that it was going to a very long time before I would ever be able to get one by her. There would be no more barrel rolls for me and I would forever remember those words of wisdom from another one of my favorite cop shows-‘Baretta’: “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”. It wasn’t all bad that night. We did have Roast Beef and mashed potatoes for dinner.