With the possible exception of some sappy episode of “Little House On The Prairie,” NEVER were the following worlds ever spoken; “Wow, you know, that boy is only 14, but he is just filled with so much common sense and the overwhelming ability to make wise decisions!” EVER!!
14-Year-Old boys may have invented one of the most prominent Geometric Truths; “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” The one exception to the rule? When it involves jumping over the fence at the library.
Young boys will naturally always take the shortest routes; jumping fences, blasting through homework, lying about brushing their teeth, and so on.
When I was younger, we would sometimes play behind the library, or at the library. Sometimes the police would come around and tell us we couldn’t play there and we would be “kicked out.” Sometimes we would attempt to walk around the 4 inch stone ledge one story up at the library and ultimately be “kicked out.” One time, we entered the library only to be met at the front desks and immediately kicked out by the librarian. Another time…….ah, forget about it…….you get the picture.
Anyway, there was a fence around the grounds of the library. It wasn’t the exact fence as the fence pictured here from a walking history tour of Warren, R.I, but it was similar if not just as treacherous. It seemed most boys young and old who grew up in the neighborhood knew about this fence because at one time or another we all tried to jump it, and probably more than not, we suffered for it. The fence was wrought irom metal. It was higher than average, tough to scale, tight to get a foot on, always willing to snag your foot, hand, and clothes and send you down on your face. My neighbor next door told me how their son practically impaled himself to death on that same fence when he was younger.
One day after playing whiffle ball behind the library, one of the kids said “let’s go to my house.” John lived in a house whose backyard shared that same metal fence. I still remember; 8 of us starred at the fence for what seemed like a long thought to a 14-year-old boy and thinking back now, it’s almost as if some divine entity paused our brains, downloaded some safety software upgrade, and rebooted us. After that long thoughtful pause, one of the kids said out loud “let’s walk around.” “Yeah, good idea,” we all said in unison.
I now live next to the library. About 10 years after I moved in, the fence was replaced by a new “far-less-dangerous” fence.
Recently, I was working out in the back yard. Kelly was inside doing some painting for me. Kelly grew up two houses over where her parents still live. I looked up to see Kelly’s son on the library side of the fence ready to hop it into my yard. I said, “can you do it?” The young man jumped the fence with ease and began to walk past me on his way to talk to his mother. I said to him, “you know, when I was your age, that fence was the most dangerous fence to jump in the city and………..”I know he interrupted; my mother tells me about it all the time!”
Hmmmm………..somethimes, maybe 14-year-old girls aren’t so smart either!
As a side note, here is a quick video of my friend Rae Quan leaping the new fence behind my house in a flash……even though it’s 4 feet tall. I don’t think I could do that in my prime!