“The Mystery of the Gridiron Chalk Phallus” by Brent Goldstein
There is an art to a good adolescent prank. A truly successful prank usually requires a deft combination of many factors, including timing, creativity, audacity, spontaneity, execution, reaction and, yes, often some alcohol-fueled stupidity.
I attended Wootton High School in Rockville, Maryland. I played on the golf team, but most of my friends were football players. Back then, most high school football games were played on Saturday afternoons. This meant that Friday nights I was often left to my own devices due to coach-imposed Friday night pre-game curfews on the football team. However, once every season, Wootton played football on a Friday night and those were special occasions, not just because of the rare thrill of playing (and watching) a game under the bright lights, but because once the game ended, my football friends were free from Friday-night curfews.
After one particular Friday night game in October 1984, I was hanging out after the game with five or six of my buddies from the football team, trying in vain to think of something to do. Unfortunately, entertainment options for teenagers in the ‘burbs were pretty limited after 10 p.m. Typically, nights like this ended with a bunch of us drinking beer on a secluded street, cranking Led Zeppelin albums from a boom-box.
This night was no different. (Yes, we were losers!) Around 2 a.m., and after strumming the air-guitar to Communication Breakdown for the third time, someone mentioned that our hated rival—Churchill High—was playing against our lesser-hated rival—Whitman High—on Saturday afternoon. This was a huge local game as Churchill was undefeated at that point and was marching toward the state playoffs.
From a football standpoint, we thoroughly despised Churchill. It was the lowest form of athletic enmity—the kind that arises from the subconscious recognition that we simply didn’t have the talent, speed or size to beat them. However, if we couldn’t beat them on the field, maybe we could embarrass them in some other small and pointless way. Fueled by one too many cans of Strohs or Schlitz or Milwaukee’s Best or whatever cheap, crappy beer we were drinking, the idea was hatched to head over to the Churchill football field and partake in a “Rambo” mission. In our vernacular, “Rambo” missions were inspired by the Rambo movie series starring Sly Stallone and involved late-night stealth adventures steeped in teenage delusions of grandeur… and often harmless mischief and gray-area vandalism.
The details are a bit fuzzy about who was sober enough to drive, and it could even have been me. At the time, I drove a big Chevy station wagon that drew its inspiration from the “Family Truckster” that amiably starred in the classic Chevy Chase movie National Lampoon’s Vacation. It was big and blue and ugly, but it could fit eight guys and was often the vehicle of choice for transporting a gaggle of idiots to points both known and unknown.
We parked about half a mile from the Churchill football field, donned dark clothing and snuck up under the proverbial cover of darkness. We climbed over the exterior fence, crept along the back of the empty bleachers and approached the storage shed in the back corner of the grounds. With our collective paranoid and inebriated minds racing, we were prepared any second for a flash of spotlights or a piercing alarm, but everything remained dark and quiet.
Arriving at the door to the shed, we were giddily surprised to find the storage door unlocked. Silly Churchill groundskeepers, storage sheds ARE NOT for kids! Among all of the equipment and supplies inside the shed were three bags of white chalk used to line the football field. Exchanging only conspiratorial nods, we removed all three bags from the shed and carried them out to the 50-yard line. Now what? As we each looked from face-to-face, one of the guys simply shrugged and blurted out the word “penis.” Nothing else needed to be said. It was perfect.
Barely containing our excitement and laughter, we proceeded to draw a giant chalk penis with super-sized testicles right smack in the middle of Churchill’s sacred football field. It was a carefully crafted penis . . . one “laid” with a reverential attention to detail! In fact, I would daresay that we were all quite cocksure that this would go down as one of the better pranks in memory. Once our masterpiece was complete, we got the hell out of there.
Unfortunately, none of us went to the Churchill-Whitman game the next day, but we heard through the grapevine that despite the Churchill groundskeepers’ best efforts to remove the image, the washed-out remnants of the giant chalk phallus were plainly obvious to all fans in attendance.
Opting for discretion over valor, we managed to keep this audacious exploit a secret until after we graduated, and we were never caught. It was truly one of the proudest moments of my adolescence and a story that has gotten tremendous traction at reunions and cocktail parties through the years! I guess I should have felt bad for plundering three bags of chalk. To ultimately atone, I plan to leave three bags of chalk to Churchill High School in my will!
Brent Goldstein is an investment advisor, occasional lawyer, sometimes freelance writer and as-often-as-possible recreational enthusiast. He has been published (not so) extensively on his personal blog (www.skibrent.blogspot.com) and has spent the last 20 years struggling to come up with a decent story for his first novel.
Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Stupid Kid,” under the chapter title “They’ll Never Know.” This book is filled with 59 silly and crazy stories by Baby Boomers who survived growing up. Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/1vpRWoW) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1FGUs1d).
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