I Was A Teenage Werewolf
May 15th, 2014
Many of you don’t remember Michael Landon. That’s okay. That’s because he was from before your time, or because you can’t remember much of anything, and you’re amazed at what shows up, uninivited, in your memory.
I can relate.
Before he was Little Joe on Bonanza and in little houses on prairies – before he was much of anything – Michael Landon was a teenage werewolf.
Again, I can relate.
As published in The Daily News, May 16, 2014, and in The Memphis News, May 17-23, 2014
MEMORIES OF PARKING. AND FULL MOONS.
Last week, if I remember correctly, I mentioned CRS – that remarkable condition that blocks the knowledge of what one had for breakfast but allows a clear and concise image of something that happened in, say, 1966.
This week, I find myself recalling one of those lost arts that there’s simply no application for any longer, one that I was, modesty aside, damn good at – like smoking – all those hours practicing popping my jaw to blow perfect smoke rings wasted, the ability to light a cigarette on a golf course in a 50 mph windstorm wanting a purpose.
But this time the memory was parking.
Not the kind where you stop your car in a brightly-lit space and get out of it to accomplish something, but the kind where you stop your car in a dark place and stay in it to accomplish something. Those that came before had bench seats, a wide and level playing field. My generation was the first to face the challenge of bucket seats in full-size cars and the obstacle of center console gear shifts, the combination requiring Cirque du Soleil acrobatics by those involved, moves that would require hospitalization if attempted today.
This particular memory was prompted by a drive through my old east Memphis neighborhood and by a certain cove – full of houses today but home to only a few when I parked there on a certain night in 1966 under a full moon.
My date and I were talking, just talking, and somehow the subject of werewolves came up – maybe the moon – and she confided that she was particularly frightened of that prospect. Being the sensitive guy I am, I immediately started acting like a werewolf, including jumping out of the car and running around in a crouching and, evidently, convincing snarl.
She locked the doors. And screamed. And again.
One of those houses in that lonely cove heard and called the cops. In no time at all, bouncing flashlights with a cop behind every one of them were rushing towards us across a vacant field. In no time at all, I was facedown on the car’s hood with my hands behind me, trying to explain my excellent werewolf imitation, made more difficult because my date was still screaming, now scared by all those guys with guns.
In a couple of minutes – felt like a week – she calmed down, unlocked the doors and corroborated my story. We never went parking again, but we’re still friends, which would not be the case if I shared her name.
All the cops but one started walking away. He took me aside, gave me a practiced withering glare, and said, “Son, don’t fool with things you don’t understand.” He reached down to his gun belt, pulled a silver bullet from one of the loops and showed it to me, then turned and joined the retreating flashlights without another word.
I’m a Memphian, and many of my Memphis memories are solid gold. One is pure silver.