Put a helmet on… and finish that fucking cookie

We all have fucked-up parts of our childhood that left little marks (if we were lucky) or deep scars (catholic school). Sometimes you spot someone with the same marks, and you know they are dealing with the same bullshit as you. Welcome to my tribe, son.

A while ago, I’m walking toward a tennis match, and Gibson looks me in the eye, puts his finger in my face and growls out: “Put a helmet on and go out there and hurt somebody.”

He hit a mark. I’m back in Akron playing a 5th-grade football game. I smell the dead grass and mud and the pot in the air (yes douchebag millennials this was the 70’s and someone was always smoking a joint in the park).

The blood is flowing through my neck, splitting off and spewing into my forehead and the top of my head. My “coaches” yelling those exact same words, with both hands grasping my shoulder pads and the spit flying in my eyes. There was no strategy, no talk of technique. It was grown men screaming at 90-pound children to assault each other. Awesome character building.

In that split second 45 years later, I absolutely want to hurt somebody. But I don’t have a helmet anymore. I’m just standing there in orange-speckled shorts with a “matching” reflective orange shirt the Bear liked. I look like the only thing I could hit is one of the traffic cones I should be putting across the road.

Gibson lets a grin slide across his narrow kangaroo face. He grew up in Ohio, and he clearly has assaulted other children before. It might have been a different man, but we basically had the same coach. Welcome to my tribe, son.

Sometime later in Texas (that’s another set of stories), Gibson and I are sitting at a table with 6 or 8 other people. It’s a buffet. We are both on our 3rd maybe 4th plate, when Joe Rogers shows up with a small plate of cookies.

Like the diet books say, Joe carefully breaks off a small sliver of a single cookie and slowly nibbles at his sweet treat like a baby squirrel with his first nut. He stops eating.

“Are you going to finish that fucking cookie,” I say.

Joe grew up in Arizona or California or some place where they raise real “pussies.” He looks confused and amazed. He has never assaulted other children before.

Normally, I would think “not my tribe” and move on — not this time.

“That cookie, Joe. Are you going to finish it?” Gibson says. No verbal response. Just a childish expression of complete bewilderment.

I can feel the blood flowing and my heart rate spiking, as Gibson and I spiral into our childhood bullshit. “I can’t believe he is not finishing that fucking cookie.”


half a cookie

If this is how you eat dessert, you are just a fucking pussy.


Gibson knows the rules. “You can’t leave a cookie — or cake,” he says. ‘What’s the matter with this fucking guy.”

We threaten Joe a few times. The entire right side of my body wants to punch Joe in his fat little face. But he doesn’t eat his fucking cookie. The others at the table look at Gibson and me like we just escaped from the zoo. They try to change the subject, we are not having it, and they move off to save their own sanity.

Gibson and I finish the cookies. I was already full. I didn’t want them, and they didn’t taste good. But fucking Pussy Joe doesn’t know the rules — cookies must be finished.

If I have to explain the rules to you, you do not have the “wasting dessert” mark. Not your fault, you’re probably just as fucked up in a completely different way.

But I’m telling you, if you take a cookie in front of anyone who grew up in Ohio, you better eat the whole fucking cookie. I’m looking at you Joe Rogers, you goddamn, quarter-cookie eating, little fucking pussy.

OK, maybe this dessert thing is more of a scar than a mark after all…