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not my fault
by dave trawets

I think about that Summer. Oh yes I do. ha ha. It’s the flick that gets played each night before sleep spares me. Thematically it is pure fuel. I suck it down. I put it in play when my back is to the bedboard. I have many edits. I have whittled my own chessboard and I push around Mr. and Mrs. Lidzt. They’re daughter Katrina. Their son Von.

They called him Big Wheel. He had one. The little ones did. Around the neighborhood the roar of plastic over uneven sidewalks could be heard. Summer nights the bypass gave you it’s rigs, circling the town, missing the lights and the cops. I want one of those placid recordings (wind, surf, rain) to have “Trucks on Bypass.“ The intervals slightly uneven, the sound unchallenged in the Norich night.

So we have it straight. The days: owned by the Big Wheel. The night: the Semi. The Biggest Wheel was Von himself. He pedaled his louder and longer. He tried riding on the street when hidden from his house. They’re house bordered ours on the backyard. No fence, just some tall pines that formed a failed shield.

In an allotment of well-executed designs, they had the shit box. Nasty faded aluminum siding, shapeless, sickly yard (those pines blot out the sun), commercial-sized laundry posts. No one put much thought into this house, and then the Lidzt moved in. The house had stood vacant for a year. I was hoping it would revert back to the skating pond, visible on the home movies of the allotment’s progress. We lived in an allotment. Felt like it was going to run out, the word doesn’t seem to have the permanence of a neighborhood. We were the Cost Allotment, as opposed to the Grey Allotment, each named for the entrepreneurs and 50th generation Norich residents. Norich was part of the FireLands, gifted parcels to those who supported the Revolution. They made you aware that their ancestor’s homes were torched in Connecticut, they cut down the trees, drained the swamps, fought the natives, and you were living in their allotment. Occasionally in a vacant lot you would find an arrowhead which missed one of these fucker’s ancestors. Pity.

So Big Wheel is flying around the Cost Allotment. We were post Boom kids, once referred to as “Xers” until they needed to change names for commerce. We were basically a lonely crew. I had seen the very end of the days when whole allotments went to water war, 40 kids at a time. Trampolines, three-story treehouses. Candybars! Gum! We got a rock. We had to make phone calls to play, instead of simply walking out into the yard. So this Big Wheel zinging around the corner was big news. Small news actually. Little shaver was he. Big Wheel was a little kid. I was a kid. He had sandy hair, mine had lone since gone brown. He tried to run me over.

Before kids wore bike helmets and couldn’t stray from the cul de sac, we use to beat the living shit out of each other. I remember snot flying from my nose, being cognizant (“hey, snot’s flying from my nose!”), wailing on kids, etc. Fights would span generations, I and II would go behind the battles. My best friend was One-Punch Brosk who could put people down with just that. It was a treat to see. Like the lightening bug, the burped alphabet, it was glorious. Bigger, older, they went down. I could lose or win fights and had no cruel wonder of nature in my gig bag. But I still knew the rules, and when Big Wheel took a run at me in the year of our lord, 1973, in the town of Norich, in the allotment of Cost, I was obligated to beat him up. Older kids kicked ass, whupped tail, basically did everything to the ass but stick it in there, us little shavers beat people up. It’s nice and benign, no collarbones broken, heads cleaved like fresh melon. No, we just beat people up.

That’s what I did to Big Wheel. I tracked down the pitiful vehicle. Held it. Tipped it over.

Up he sprung.

His fists were ready, mine too.

I faked a punch he blocked and winced.

I tackled him. Held him down. Sat on him

My knees pined his arms down.

I punched a head that had nowhere to go. Sometimes if you did it right you could get the head to smash into the dirt, come back to you and catch it on the rebound. Satisfying.

And after I had beaten Von “Big Wheel” Lidzt, he got up, called me names and rode away. “Butt Fuck” or something pleasant. That was older kid stuff. I had just beat him up and he was calling me older-kid-nuclear-button-pushing names.

I beat him up again. Let him up again. This time Big Wheel rode away.

Now I was at least three years older than him. Bigger. I hadn’t gone whole hog on him for this reason. I took it easy. Or tried. It seemed like he wanted beat harder.

Guess who ran over my foot the next day?

Guess who stole my GI Joe that I left out on the tree stump the next day.

Guess who’s ass I whipped (I had picked that up from him) every day?

Big Wheel.

It was at the apex of our yard that I first met his sis. Katrina. I was pounding him in our yard when she throttled me from behind.

Katrina yanked me off with a choke hold. I felt boobs on my back. The appropriate ten year old feeling was eaaww. Of course, Big Wheel tried to keep fighting. I had a highly developed sense of morality and tried to explain to Katrina that he had asked for this.

“Leave him alone.”

“He’s got problems.”

Ahhh. That was a bad move. “Problems” would be reported back to One Punch Brosk. The story of her boobs too. She was renamed “Boobina.” Boobs were ridicule material in those days. Katrina couldn’t have been older than me, she had to be ninish and she had boob begginings. The circus awaited.

Back at it, Katrina explained to me that no matter what he did, I couldn’t hit him because he had those “problems” and that I was bigger, yah, yah, yah. She was asking for my help. It was odd.

SO being the little christ child I was, I gave it my best. Being a 10 year old, Big Wheel being Big Wheel, I was bound to blow it. He pushed even harder, calling me names in front of One Punch Brosk. Brosk laughed at the names. I tried to explain.

“Big Wheel shut up so I don’t have to beat you.”

“You cant’ whip my ass.”

Brosk Laughter.

“I’m not fighting you.”


“Whoa” said Brosk. He had heard this from his brother.

I knew it was bad. I knew it was basically a whip-ass word.

So I beat Big Wheel good this time. Visible damage. A real black eye.

Sitting at our dinner table, through the screen door, I saw Mrs. Lidst make her way through the backyards. Suppertime visit by a neighborhood mom. I was ruined. It was going to be the whole family, everyone to hear what I had done. Kid freeze. Your senses go supernatural while your body goes rigid.

She had my Mom’s casserole pan. Yup, we did the casserole deal in those days. Breakfast cereal topping and all. ha ha. Oh well, there’s enough shame to go around.

Looking at my mom, casserole plate in hand, Mrs. Madge Lidzt said:

“Thanks DeeDee. The kids even ate it.”

“The least we could do.” My mom.

“Could I talk to you and Dave outside?“

Dave was me. But Dave was my dad. We never set up those clever distinctions other houses did when they had the family lineage flying. Junior, or lil’ Dave or my middle name Russell. We just both leaped up.

“The three of you will be fine.”

Ohh this was drama. Right here in Norich Ohio. My mom and dad were in full parental splendor, they pulled themselves up to seven feet tall. My twin sisters looked at me with the usual mix: horror, revulsion, pity, disdain.

The three of us went to the screened-in porch.

“Your boy has been beating my boy.”

My parents gasped.

In the year of our lord 1973, I was guilty. Authority figures told the truth then, parents didn’t walk across yards unless it was true, the phrase “my child would never …” had yet to become the state motto for Denial. They also took a lotta shit they shouldn’t have, but we are on the upside here.

Then Madge Lidzt did the spare him thing: “It’s not his fault. Von brings this on himself.”

“There’s no reason ever to hurt somebody” said Dad Dave.

“Right Dave?” he said to me.


Madge tried again, I wanted to tell her it wasn’t going to work: “Katrina told Dave Von has problems”

OH MY GOD DAVE, my Mom’s thought bubble screamed, and her grip visibly tightened on the back of my neck.

Madge: “Hey, hey, listen DeeDee. Dave. Daves. Listen to me you guys. Let’s sit down.”

We sat down on the lawn furniture. Now my mom was madder cuz she wanted new lawn furniture and dad wouldn’t buy it.

Of course one sister had a nose pressed against the screen door. The other, the picture window. Our crisis intervention huddle was so intense, my parent’s missed it.

Madge Lidzt: “I can’t tell you what to do with your kid. I can’t tell what to do with my kid.

More Madge:

“Here me out.

”I am asking Dave something (looks at me) and you guys something {looks at my parents).”

“Dave, try to leave Von alone. I know he will try to provoke you the more he sees passivity”

I did my I’m-an-adult-face, I know this word.


she leans forward. I smell her perfume, which is nice, most of our moms only wear it when going to the Elks for Bridge. I get the sense she is younger. I see her boobs in her shirt move forward (no bra), I notice they are not too much bigger than Boobinas nine year old chest.

“--you can’t keep beating him.”

hand on my knee.

“It doesn’t work. If you go to a really calm place inside of you, you can do it. I know it’s tough, I have to do it all the time. But you can do it.”

My parent’s were riveted by the guru.

Now she turned toward them, but the hand stayed on my knee and she gave a pat.

“Please, it’s none of my business, none of my business how you deal with this, but please; it’s not Dave’s fault. I would ask you this for Von, my kid. For my sake. If you punish Dave, he’s just going to resent him. And me.”

“That’s not how we punish our kids” broke in my dad. Uh oh here we go. “He will understand what he did wrong and that will not carry forward one inch from this day …” and a lot of other directives and result vectors and phrases that held no sherbert for me.

Madge stood up, and tousled my hair. “I’m new here. I know”

My dad: “It’s not about that”

Madge: “It is. My kid is pushing your kids into action because he’s new, I’m asking you for favors because we’re new, look, guys. Please. It’s not Dave’s fault. Please.”

She got up and walked across the yard. I watched her walk away. No, I felt her walk away.

I was escorted to the bedroom. Past my twin sister’s sitting still stunned at the table. As if they have never left their chairs to hear all our words.

My parent’s bed was off-limits except for summits. My parents hopped up with me. My twin sister’s would soon be playing outside the bedroom window.

On that bed, with everyone being earnest and very serious, I learned that while Mrs. Lidzt was nice, I needed to know what I had done, and what it had done.

I got my last spanking.

I was ten.

I determined I would have to lie to my parent’s from now on about the world of children and whip-ass. I would have to be smarter and deceitful. They didn’t live in my world, and I did.


"The last exit in Hollywood is High Land. If you miss it, you're over the hill." I live on the western edge of our country, but every night I wander the streets of my Ohio hometown. Some unsettling things happened to me then, I have some theories, and I think the yelling will be worth it. I do not subscribe to coy endings to rough trade. I think that we have ability for the filth and the fury to live next to the reasoned approach. If you find it distasteful, rest assured, so did I.

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