Max and the New Kid

Posted: September 16, 2016 in Childhood Memories, Humor, Kids
Tags: ,

Yeah. Like this.

Growing up in a small southern Ohio town in the 60s was pretty idyllic, really. Sure, a lot of the country was being torn apart by civil unrest, whether it was caused by race, the war in Vietnam or the Battle of the Sexes, but here in Bourneville we were relatively untouched by all that upheaval. Sure, my older sister Karen, rabble-rouser that she was, eventually turned me onto what was going on on our country (man, did Dad hate that peace sign she taught me to exchange with her), but that was towards the end of the decade. For a large part of the 60s I was just an innocent kid enjoying life.

I have a ton of stories from those days, the most famous being Harold, Max & Me, a story that folks seem to enjoy because of its sheer insanity. I also told a story of a kid named Grungy who, although we teased him mercilessly, turned out to have a good heart. That story was called Grungy’s Revenge. Max was the central figure in another childhood escapade as well, in the story entitled The Bicycle Wagon Train Was A Bad Idea. And believe me, it was.

The story I’m about to tell involves both Max and Grungy, and I’ll steal from my own writing to describe each. Let’s start with Grungy:

We had a kid in our neighborhood when I was growing up that was, shall we say, lacking in the looks department. Ah, what the hell, he was the ugliest SOB I’ve ever seen. He had a bulbous nose, elephantine ears, beady eyes, and his complexion was so bad it looked as if his face had caught on fire on somebody’d put it out with a rake.

God, I can be mean. But seriously, this dude’s parents had to tie a steak around his neck to get the dog to play with him.  I swear he had to sneak up on a glass of water to get a drink. Hey-O! I could go on forever.

In addition, he was really big for his class at school. Alright, so he’d been held back a couple of times. But he was still big for his age, and not just big-big. Humongously fat-big. Add some long greasy hair to the mix and I think you get the visual. Oh, and when Grungy got mad you best run for your life. Dude was a badass.

Next, my description of Max:

Max? Max was my age, small for his age and a Bourneville badass. I can never remember him not smoking, he always had a cig in his mouth from the day I met him, which was when we were probably around 6-years old. Max could whip any kid’s ass and was a con-artist deluxe. He’d have his friend’s mothers eating out of his hand, then turn around and cuss like a sailor around the rest of the kids in Bourneville.

So there’s your visuals for two of the principal subjects of my story. There were others, including yours truly, which you’re about to hear about . . .

One hot summer day a few of us Bourneville rapscallions and ne’re-do-wells were hanging around Max’s family garage, just shooting the breeze and probably planning our next hijinks.

The cast of characters included myself, Max, Grungy, Scratch, Fred, Ted, and a new kid in town we’d inexplicably christened with the name Drano.

Like I said, we were all sitting around the perimeter inside the garage, talking about God-knows-what. Max was sitting beside one of those big fish fryers that his family owned, and it had about 6-inches of nasty grease at the bottom. Max’s older brother said they never cleaned it because it made the fish taste better.

Anyway, sitting between Max and Fred was the new kid Drano, and I was sitting across the garage with Grungy, Ted, and Scratch. At some point Max, the ultimate instigator, decided it would be a good idea to reach in the fryer, grab a big glop of grease on his finger, and casually flipped it across the room toward us.

I think I was the only one who actually saw him do it, and as I recall the dollop of goo seemed to fly in slow motion through the air, directly toward its intended target . . . the prodigious cranium of Grungy.

As I watched in horror, the grease-ball made a soft plop, directly on the bridge of Grungy’s humongous schnozz. Everyone looked up, and for a few seconds there was silence as we contemplated the terror to ensue.

Grungy just sat there, and it would have been hilarious had we not been aware of the big man’s penchant for anger when tormented.

Slowly, he reached up and wiped the offending lard from his nose, flicked it away, and glared across the room, trying to figure out who committed the deed. Of course, the first guy he looked at was young Max, who silently pointed at the new kid sitting beside him.


Poor Drano. He’d been in town for maybe a week and made the fateful mistake of sitting next to Max.

As Drano stood shaking his head no, waving his arms and basically looking like a kid staring down a charging rhinoceros, Grungy advanced across the room methodically and with a single purpose on his mind.


As we looked on in terror, Grungy picked up Drano like a rag doll, flipped him upside down, and unceremoniously dunked his head into the grease.

Stunned, we watched as Grungy held his head there for what seemed like forever, then slowly twisted his head in even deeper.

When he finally pulled him out and sat him back down, Drano’s hair looked like, well, like he had the first-ever mohawk, except greasier. The funny thing was, Drano just sat there, afraid to move.

Then Grungy just walked out of the garage and went home.

Of course, Max had to have the last word:

“See Drano, I told you not to make Grungy mad.”

PS: I distinctly recall handing Drano a dirty old rag from the corner of the garage, nice guy that I am. He proceeded to try and rub the gook out, only succeeding in making matters worse. Then his hair stood up all over, making him look like he was perpetually frightened, which incidentally he was from then on.


Gimme a holler.

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