Chapter 37 – “I Drink Midget Piss and I’m Gay”
While wandering around the Shahbag protests, there was no shortage of faux deceased Jamaat-e-Islami members with ropes strapped around their necks as they dangled from trees and streetlights. There’d also been, sketched out in sidewalk chalk on the blacktop of the streets, renderings of demonic men in Muslim garb having the life strangled out of them by pieces of rope that, through mass distribution, to this particular group of people had come to symbolize justice, freedom and independence. And pinned to the sides of trees, fences and buildings had been political banners of all shapes and sizes on which caricatures of these men with devil horns, pitchforks and nooses had been depicted.
Although politics in general make me wanna gag, I have to admit that those signs specially printed to demand death be brought on fellow human beings were decidedly more fun than the ones spread across the lawns of homeowners every November in Chicago suggesting to all whose gaze happen upon them that they should do their part to elect one dried-out douchebag over another for alderman, judge, state representative, mayor or any other position that actively validates our sociological enslavement. I always hated those fucking signs as well as everything they stand for and, as a teenager, took great pleasure in running up and down the streets of Edison Park, bashing them in with golf clubs. Although the times we destroyed these popularity contest catalysts had been plenty, there was one instance in which they went on to serve a higher purpose and were transformed by yours truly into something beautiful. Allow me to hold your hand as I guide you along this trip down memory lane…
During high school, I spent a lot of weekends hanging out with my friend Bill. Bill was and is a fantastic artist that sees the world differently and always seems able to find beauty in even the ugliest of things. Before he got any official recognition for his talents and eventually received a full ride to U of I for doing what he loves to do, Bill was always down for some good old fashioned pranking around the neighborhood.
Although many of our gags had been quite juvenile and Jackass-inspired, whether it was gluing life-size homemade renderings of Rick James on public property, stealing a bunch of parking cones from a local valet company and using them to spell the word “FAG” in huge letters on the lawns of local residents, driving around and taking close to a hundred pumpkins off people’s porches around Halloween and then carrying them all up and throwing them off the fire escape at the local public school or pumping gas and renting movies from Blockbuster Video while wearing nothing but jock straps, I’d say that pretty much everything we did had elicited some sort of confusion from the general public whose perception of reality we loved to distort.
One time, Bill and I had gone out driving around on a Saturday night, armed to the teeth with sidewalk chalk and yellow tape that read, “CAUTION: POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS.” That night, there hadn’t been any snow on the ground, but it was one of the coldest I ever remember feeling. It was so bitterly frigid, there hadn’t been any people around; everyone abandoned the streets. The outdoors were as silent and still as can be. It felt like we were the last people on earth. And for whatever reason, it had been our impulsive mission that night to go around making fake crime scenes on Chicago’s Northwest side.
When we got to a place that we thought would be a funny spot to do our thing, one of us would lay on the ground and the other would trace the outline of “the deceased’s” body. Using stolen parking cones or sticks that we’d been able to jam into frozen ground nearby the concrete on which we’d sketched the body, we’d rope off the scene with police tape and call it a day. I don’t have an exact number, but we did a handful of ‘em that night – one of which had been in front of an entrance at an all-girls institution known as Resurrection High School and another by the front door of our buddy Grego’s house. The one in front of Grego’s had also contained the message “MUNG ME.” For those of you who live under a rock, “munging” is the act of wrapping your lips around the vagina or anus of a dead person while a friend jumps up and down on the stomach of the departed, sending a rush of rotten, mushed-up organs into the munger’s mouth.
Come Monday, while sitting near Grego in one of my classes…
“So Tim, you know how my dad works with crazy people at the mental hospital, rehabbing them until they’re determined able to rejoin society, right?”
“No,” I shook my head. “I did not know that.”
“Yeah, well, he does. And on Sunday morning when he got up and went to grab the newspaper, my dad found a fake crime scene right outside our front door. And you know what he thought?”
“No. What’d he think?”
“He thought that one of the crazy guys he used to treat found out where we lived and set that shit up to send him a message that he was going to kill our family.”
“Hmm, that sounds kinda scary.”
“Well, it was for my dad who immediately called the police and had them over investigating the scene by the time I woke up and went downstairs.”
“Haha, for real?”
“Yeah. And when I went out to have a look at the crime scene, you know what I saw?”
“You saw the crazy man that was hunting your family, wielding a big rusty chainsaw?”
“No, I didn’t see that. I saw the message ‘MUNG ME’ written on my fucking sidewalk and I could tell right away who was behind it.”
“Yes!” I burst out laughing. “So what’d ya do?”
“Well, I fuckin’ told my dad that it was my friends and that no one’s out to kill us – that he can relax and get rid of all the cops.”
In addition to Grego’s father freaking out, Bill got word from his cousin who attended Resurrection High School at the time that the place ended up going on lockdown Monday morning because some random girl, upon seeing the scene, claimed that it was done by her crazy ex-boyfriend who’d been stalking her and was probably hiding out somewhere on the premises waiting for the right time to kill her.
And, pertaining to the aforementioned political signage, one Monday at school when we were sixteen-years-old, I saw Bill and we had a little chat that went roughly as follows…
“So, uh,” I began, “was it you who left the little present on my lawn Friday night?”
“What present?” he grinned.
“Oh, you know, the hundred or so stolen political signs scattered in front of my house. Does that ring a bell?”
“Yeah, more or less.”
“Aw dude, my mom came in my room on Saturday morning and woke me up saying, ‘Tim, I know it was one of your friends who did this. You need to get all these signs off our lawn right away before the police see ‘em’ and this and that and the whole rest of the paranoid mother spiel. And I go downstairs and look out the window and see a rainbow of those fuckin’ things – every fucking color, so fucking many of those stupid fucking signs with stupid jag-off’s names on ‘em – set up all over my lawn.”
“Yeah, they’re so stupid,” he said. “They’re the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. And that’s why I needed to do something with ‘em. Me and Jack drove around takin’ ‘em off people’s properties and just decided to throw ‘em all in front o’ your house.”
“Yeah. Thanks for that.”
“You’re welcome. So, where are they now? What’d ya end up doing with ‘em?”
“Well, at first I was just thinking of recycling the prank and throwing them on fuckin’ Grego’s lawn on Saturday night but after I’d brought ‘em all in my basement, I organized ‘em by color and got this idea that I could use my cutting board, T-square and exact-o knives from Mr. Cleland’s design class to cut each one into a different letter and use ‘em to spell a message – ‘cause they’re pretty big, y’know. I’d say three-feet by a foot-and-a-half or somethin’ like that.”
“Yeah? What’d you write?”
“So, there were four main colors – red, blue, yellow and green – in addition to the occasional purple and whatever other colored signs for obscure candidates no one’s ever heard of. I just threw those in the trash. And when I was sitting there thinking about what I wanted my message to be, I came up with, ‘I drink midget piss and I’m gay.’ Since there are seven words in the phrase, I decided to use three of the main colored signs twice and the fourth just once – alternating, of course, so there’s distinction between each word.”
“Naturally. So where’d you end up hangin’ ‘em?”
“Well, again, I was thinking of setting it up on one of your guys’ properties but after it’d taken me about three hours to trace and cut out all those letters, I wanted to put ‘em in a spot where more people would see the message and be scratching their heads at it. And I started thinking where that might be – a place in or near our neighborhood where people are constantly coming and going. And I decided the parking lot behind Wendy’s in Niles – you know that big brown fence behind the drive-thru?”
“Yeah, I thought a dark background like that would provide the perfect juxtaposition for those brightly colored letters. And people are constantly going through Wendy’s drive-thru so everybody would see it. It seemed like the perfect spot.”
“And, uh, how’d that turn out for ya?”
“Shit. Not as well as I imagined. I stand by the fact that it was an awesome idea and all but we executed it horribly. It was a disaster.”
“Really?” he laughed. “What happened?”
“Well, I called a couple Juliana’s guys (St. Juliana was the grade school I attended) to help me bring the plan to life and I dunno, we all have early curfews and shit, so we couldn’t do it at an ideal time – like, in the middle of the night or something – and instead tried to pull this shit off around nine-thirty when hoards of people were still going through the drive-thru.”
“So they saw you while you were doing it?”
“Yeah, unfortunately. You know how on the other side of the fence from the Wendy’s parking lot there’s the dead end of that sleepy side street that you can only get to off Milwaukee Avenue?”
“Yeah, okay, so, I drove my car in over there and turned it around so it was facing Milwaukee and we could hop in and go as soon as the job was done. And from there, we entered the Wendy’s parking lot through the gate that’s over behind the dumpsters and laid the letters on the ground in order directly below where I wanted to nail ‘em to the fence so there’d be no confusion and fumbling for the next letter or fucking up the spacing or anything like that.”
“Holy shit, you were nailing ‘em up? Don’t you think a staple gun would’ve been way more efficient?”
“Uh, yeah,” I nodded, “retrospectively, yeah. But that’s just not the way the cookie crumbled. What happened was, I started nailing ‘em up while another guy held and handed me the next letter and Barrett stood back and videotaped the whole thing. And while we were doing this, some dude from one of the cars who’d been barking his order into the electronic box told the employees what we were doing out there.”
“‘Oh shit’ is right. So I kept going as fast as I could. But that message contained over twenty letters that I needed to nail up and some letters – the letter ‘M’ especially – required two nails so they wouldn’t be off-balanced and tilt to the side. And while I’m hustling faster than I’ve ever hustled before, the manager is walking right towards us. He was a real fat motherfucker. I could feel the earth move when he walked.
“‘Hey, whattaya think yer doing!?’ he shouted. And I’m like, ‘Oh fuck, this is not good.’ But since he was such a fucking fat-ass, it took him quite a bit of time to get over there and, just before he got to us, I was able to tack on the final ‘Y’ in ‘GAY’ before running back through the gate and over to my car.
“This is where I fucked up. I should’ve left my car running or, better yet, I shouldn’t have even brought a car at all. It’s so stupid to bring anything that people can use to identify you. It was a bad decision. But, uh, after fumbling with my keys, I finally got the thing started and drove away while the fat fuck waddled into the street pointing and yelling at the back of the Bonneville.”
“Did he get your license?”
“You bet he did. But I’ll get to that in a minute. Right after we turned off that side street back onto Milwaukee, I looked at Barrett in the backseat to ask him how the video turned out.
“‘Oh yeah,’ he said, ‘I deleted it as soon as I got in the car because that guy was coming after us.’
“And I’m Iike, ‘You did what?’
“‘Yeah, I uh, deleted the evidence so we wouldn’t get in trouble.’
“Aw dude, I swear to god, I was so pissed I could’ve fucking pulled the car over, dragged him out and killed him right there on the spot. I really wanted that video, y’know. But I didn’t kill him. And I instead decided to go drop my car off at home. But as soon as I pulled onto my street, I could see an entire fleet of Niles police cars in front of my house with their fucking flashing lights going like there’s been a fuckin’ murder or something.”
“Niles cops can come into Chicago like that?”
“Fuck. I didn’t think so. I thought it was out of their jurisdiction. But there they were, standing on the porch of my house talking to my parents. So I aborted the plan and drove away, not having any idea where I was gonna go. And then a couple minutes later, my phone began to ring. It was my mom telling me I needed to go report to the Niles police station and turn myself in.”
“Shit. Did you guys get in trouble?”
“Yeah, well, I drove over there and it was totally gay. They talked to each of us separately the way they do on Law & Order to see if our stories conflict in any way and were asking us if the quote unquote ‘derogatory message,’ ‘I DRINK MIDGET PISS AND I’M GAY’ – which was hilarious to hear a cop say, by the way – had been directed at anyone who worked in Wendy’s. Am I’m tellin’ the guy that it was totally random and that I don’t know anyone who works at Wendy’s that might happen to be gay and/or drink midget piss. It was just something that I thought would be funny to hang up on the fence for everybody to see – to mess with their heads and shit. And when hearing this, the guy seemed totally unable to comprehend my motive for doing such a thing.”
“You get charged with anything?”
“Yeah. We each got two tickets. Think they were for like, ‘disturbing the peace’ and ‘criminal mischief’ or somethin’ like that.”
Few photos from our high school era of jag-offery…