My Funny/Yummy Food 4 Thought Column 13

             The Kilrooney Kid Shootout and the Jolt of My Life!   

In my last column, I introduced you to Timmy and Jackie Kilrooney, two reckless kids my brother and I grew up with in Connecticut around the time they were building Stonehenge. (Not the Kilrooney kids. They didn’t build Stonehenge. They were strictly a wrecking crew.)

I mentioned their infamous use of BB guns—shooting everything and everyone in sight, including my brother and me, no ifs, ands and definitely in the butts. One of Timmy’s greatest thrills was to shoot out the streetlight in front of our house, which he did three or four times. My mother didn’t know Timmy was causing the light to go out constantly. She liked that light in front of our little house so whenever it went out, she called Southern Connecticut Power and Gas to come and fix it.  

 “Why can’t you people make a light bulb that lasts for more than a few days?” my mom scolded. Someone from the power company would listen, apologize dimly, then send some guy – sometimes the same guy – out to put in a new bulb. 

A couple of weeks later, Timmy would shoot it out again. My mom would call and the guy would show up to fix it. It was kind of a dance they did, my mom following Timmy’s insistent lead. It was all relatively harmless so it’s surprising that the “Light bulb shoot at the Ardito corral” should have sent 10,000 thousand jolts of permanent truth rippling though my body when I was ten years old, but it did. And it happened on a hot summer day when not much else was buzzing.

Timmy had put the light out once again and the repairman had arrived to fix it. We all gathered around the telephone pole to watch and wink at each other because we knew the secret shootout truth. Our whole gang was there—me, my brother Dave, Timmy and Jackie and Howie Larson. We were all gathered together on this hot morning in early June when our summer vacation still lay in front of us like a large, unopened gift. .         

It wasn’t even in August, which I loved and hated simultaneously—loved because it was the month of my birthday – hated because my birthday was August 27th,  just a heartbeat away from the end of summer and the start of school.  In those days, I wanted to get older. Age  seemed to have its privileges like staying up as late as you want and walking into a bar and ordering a beer.  

 “You fixin’ to change that light bulb again?” asked Timmy Kilrooney with a knowing smirk.

“Yeah,” said the repair guy unenthusiastically, as he started climbing the pole from one spike to the next. There were no cherry-pickers in those days; his ascent was strictly 50’s American-style, pulling yourself up rung by rung.

Suddenly, the repair guy stopped.  “Amazing how much this light goes out,” he said looking down at Timmy, “almost as if somebody’s knocking it out on purpose, eh kid?”

“What are you talking about?” said Timmy with the obnoxious innocence of Eddie Haskel from Leave it to Beaver.  “We can’t help it if your lights don’t last very long,” he tossed in for yuks.

I changed the subject. “Can you get electrocuted if you touch those wires?” I asked.

The repairman must have decided to have fun with us because he said, “Kid, these wires have as much electricity flowing through them as the electric chair. If I touch the wrong wire, ZAP!, I’ll start shaking and get fried like a burnt piece of toast!”

“Wow!” said Jackie Kilrooney, inferring that it would be amazingly cool if this really happened.

 The repair guy pondered our whole group. “So what are you kids going to do all day?” he asked from his perch.

 “Not much,” I answered. “We’re just kind of hanging around and goofing off.”

 “Yeah,” sighed the repairman, “hanging around and goofin’ off. There’s the perfect ‘to do’ list, absolutely nothing!” Then he added, “Do any of you kids realize how you’ve got it made? Lemme’ tell you right now, once you’re grown up, you’re not going to be able to do ‘nothing’ ever again.”

This did not sound good at all. He pressed on. “I’m doing you a favor and telling you the truth so you’ll enjoy what you’ve got right now. Check it out for yourself.  Look round. Tell me the next time you see any grownups yuking it up on a regular basis!”

 That was all. He ended his diatribe, finished climbing, changed the bulb and never came close to getting fried either.

I just stood there thinking about what he had said. He wasn’t giving us a lecture, or spouting off to complain and I believed this man, this pole climber, this guru sitting on top of the great Mount Neverest that loomed before him… and me. And I knew in my heart that there was a good chance that I was going to be trudging up that mountain everyday when I grew older too, along with the rest of the schlepping Sherpas of Adultville.  I wasn’t completely bummed out by that, or devastated, but it did pretty much change me for good. From that June day in the 10th year of my life, I never wanted to be older by a single second and I didn’t want my birthday to come, not on that August 27th or ever again.

I was perfectly happy being 10-year-old Jimmy Ardito surrounded by his gang on a warm day with summer’s glass in front of us filled to the brim with ice cold lemonade and nothing for us to do but chug that sweetness down. 

I looked up at the repair guy.  “Goodbye,” I said. “Thanks.”

“So long, kid,” he answered back.

“Hey,” I said to the gang, “let’s go play guns over on Red Rock Terrace!” “Yeah,” everybody shouted and we ran for the hills. And I’m sure, if he could have, that repairman would have charged off to Red Rock Terrace with us —  into that summer day that was so bright and fresh and young.

                   The Betta’ Bruchetta Recipe

              (Damn Delicous Tomato Saucy Bread)

This fabulous bruchetta recipe is a cool accompaniment to any meal on a hot summer day. Two things are a must—baking the seasoned bread first and, of course, using summer’s freshest ingredients.  

My delicious cousin, Donna introduced this bread to me on their cozy farm in New Jersey on a summer evening eons ago. The bread, along with the company and food, was unforgettable. I thoroughly pigged out thanks to the incredible festa her husband, Amos served. Holy Ronzoni, did we eat macaroni and shrimp and other famous Amos delights long into the warm, inviting night. Thanks, Donna dear, we miss you.

 

What  Youza Need

3 medium vine ripe, chopped tomatoes c

1 loaf crusty Italian bread sliced nice

4-5 Tbls olive oil

4  cloves garlic minced

2-3 Tbls each chopped, fresh oregano, basil

4 Tbls Parmesan cheese

Salt, black pepper, hot pepper flakes to taste

What Youza Do:

Pre-heat oven to 350º. Brush bread slices with olive oil. Salt and pepper each slice, plus add  oregano, basil, a little minced garlic.. Bake for 15 minutes and remove; otherwise they’ll burn to a crisp like the guy on the telephone pole.   

Put chopped tomatoes in a bowl and season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, 2 Tbls oregano, 2 Tbls basil, 2 cloves minced garlic. Stir and when bread is done, spoon mixture on each slice and top with parmesan cheese. It’s amazing how this bread stays crunchy and delights everyone with a slice of summer.

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