“The life of every individual is really always a tragedy, but gone through in detail, it has the character of a comedy.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer
The last time I saw Tink we were sitting on my parent’s porch back in the hood, and he was sobbing. I hadn’t seen him in literally years, and his catch up story went in reverse chronological order and was glum to say the least. He had fallen in love with his parent’s neighbor’s wife, and she had just died from a bee sting as she was greatly allergic. Tink had quit drinking and using drugs. He was no fun whatsoever in his maudlin mood, either. All I could think about was how to get rid of him. I never even told her I loved her, he kept saying. He drove my parents off that porch in under a minute.
The only reason we hung out with Tink was because he was always well supplied with transportation conveyed by internal combustion engines. Bikes are only cool until someone ganks up the street spitting fumes, making noise, wearing sun glasses and sporting a smoke. Mini-bikes had arrived, and Tink was first in line. As sick as it may seem, everyone yearned to ride bitch with Tink that summer, if only in the hopes of once driving it solo. Ronnie cornered the market early, but I got my fair share of rides, as well.
Although Tink’s father was a strapping measure of man, Tink was basically a squirt. His own cousin is the one who dubbed him, Tinkle Grunch, and this is where I learned a nick name can stick with but a single dubbing. After that, only Tink’s parents used his real name. Only when Tink learned about how many fun things a girl could do for your body did he protest his whimsical handle. Girls are smart enough to know not to screw a guy named, Tinkle Grunch, even where we come from. In retrospect, this is probably a good thing.
While illegally hunting a pair of ducks one day in the pond behind Tink’s home, the pellet gun jammed and we couldn’t get a shot off. Me, Ronnie and Tink were present. The ducks were getting away, but this is not what mesmerized me at that time. Tink was actually looking down the barrel of, and simultaneously pulling the trigger of, that rusted old pellet gun while Ronnie lit a cigarette and watched. Not since an episode of the Three Stooges had I seen this done. Tink proceeded to shoot his own eye out that day, and I could not fucking believe it. When we got him back to the crib his father said, “Too bad it wasn’t your shotgun.” Amazingly enough Tink did not lose the sight in that eye that day.
Tink is also an epileptic. I don’t imagine any doctor or medical professional ever told him not to climb trees, but how could you not know this? Like any other children, we were wild for tree climbing, especially when we learned the tops of trees is an excellent location to smoke cigarettes and sometimes bomb cars with sour apples. The very first time I embark on this sort of endeavor, with Ronnie and Tink again, somehow disaster was not averted. You’ve probably already guessed Tink lit up a smoke, leaned back just a bit, went into an epileptic fit, and fell thirty feet to the ground below. He must have hit a dozen branches on the way down but when he landed that cigarette was still clenched between his lips. I about shit bricks, but Ronnie said it happens all time. Just give him a minute, Ronnie says, he’ll be alright. And, in fact, he was.
Another of Tink’s friends, Dennis, accidently rammed Tink with his Ranchero while boondocking around in the field next to that aforementioned pond. Tink was on the Honda 125 motorcycle his father had just given him. He suffered a compound fracture of the femur bone, and multiple cuts and abrasions. We visited him in the hospital one day and that same Dennis guy, to be funny or something, “adjusted” Tink’s traction weights a might too aggressively and without proper authorization. It sounded like he had re-snapped Tink’s leg bone again, but it just caused tremendous pain and misery for Tink. When he had recovered fully, which took a whole year, his dad bought him a Honda 175 motorcycle. I have always wondered about that man.
Tink also had a flesh colored, Mercury something convertible. We were riding in that convertible one Halloween night with Ronnie and Donnie and Danny. Our job was to throw eggs at people and drink beer, which we were doing just fine at as well as enjoying ourselves immensely. I was in the back seat, behind the driver, with Ronnie and Danny. Donnie rode shotgun. Ronnie and I became involved in our refreshment inventory when suddenly Tink shouts out, “Get Shelly!” With a practiced hand I did snatch an egg and began my throw with my arm before aiming that throw with my eyes. I had been doing this all night and could get an egg out of the driver’s side window of that Mercury, from the back seat, and into my intended target in less than .5 seconds with a ninety-five percent accuracy rating. And that is what I did right then and there. Tink had not advised us he rolled his window up at the time. Needless to say, egg went everywhere. Not wanting to reveal my error to Tink, I blamed Shelly for throwing that egg, from outside the car to inside the car through rolled up windows, and Tink bought it hook, line and sinker. He burst forth out of that car, wrestled Shelly to the ground and did fill her mouth with Gillette shaving cream. Then, he got back in that convertible Mercury and drove off, none the wiser. The unwritten rule, of course, was never to tell Tink shit that might result in him going sideways and screwing up any festivities. Tonight would be no exception.
Pickup truck surfing is when some guys get in the bed of a pickup truck, and try to stay alive while the driver does every stupid thing conceivable to eject them. Since I owned that 1961 pale green Chevy half ton pickup truck, I was automatically the designated driver for this event. Ronne, Tink and Kenny were the surfers. The entire championship of the world for pickup truck surfing came down to this one run. We were equally stoked up on beer and other inebriants when I grabbed the steering wheel and fired that mother up. The surfers, braced anyway they could, and awaited my deliverance. Somebody shouted, go, and we was off, only with a twist. This time, instead of taking off forward, I shoved that Chevy into backward and dumped the clutch. I knew right away I had won. All three of those idiots hit the back of my cab with a resounding thud and were immediately concussed, but that does not stop a driver of my caliber. I jerked that shifter into forward and punched the gas, and instantly the three surfers were slammed, once again head first, into the steel tailgate of that Chevy. And then it was donut city interrupted only by brake slamming and runs through the ditches in our immediate area. Finally, after about five minutes, I was overcome by all their screaming and hollering and carrying on, and nudged that Chevy to a complete stop. It was then I learned Tink had a seizure, and that Ronnie and Kenny wanted to retire from pickup truck surfing for good. A few minutes later, however, Tink wanted to give it another go.
I supposed I could continue on with many more tales of Tink’s disasters, but I won’t. I’ll just stop here and let your imagination run wild.