I rose from a deep sleep atop my Pocahontas sheets and kicked off my covers. I retreated to the bathroom where I brushed my teeth and prepared for another weekend in the neighborhood. I, at seven years old was the oldest on Terrace Street, and had assumed my position as the neighborhood club leader because, well, every club needed a fierce and courageous leader, especially when it came to the recent conflicts that had arisen involving the kids on Promenade Road.
I walked past my dad watching TV in the living room, and I recognized the man on the news as President George Bush, but that was all I particularly knew about him at the time. I grabbed a cinnamon Pop Tart for breakfast, and raced outside to the Terrace Street clubhouse to meet with my crew, which consisted of my three younger brothers, their friend, and three other girls who lived on our street. We all arrived at the entrance to our clubhouse in the woods at 9 am sharp, as planned, only to find that our sacred hideaway had been absolutely torched.
Our archenemies, the kids of Promenade Road, had really outdone themselves this time. We were used to the typical neighborhood pranks, such as ding-dong ditch, but this time the Promenade kids had taken it too far. Branches were covering the walkway, the plastic chairs we had brought were melted and misshapen, and all that was visible on our bulletin board was the date, September 11, 2001.
Chaos ensued, my little brothers started crying, and my girl friends started throwing the now useless plastic chairs in fury.
I knew that this was my time to take a stand, for the justice of the Terrace Street kids. “Everybody calm the H-E-double hockey sticks down.” I screamed. “We know who did this to us, and now we have to take a vote to decide what we should do about the Promenade Road kids, it’s club rules.” The Promenade Road kids and the Terrace kids had a ridiculous ongoing rivalry over who “owned the neighborhood”. The fact that we were all enrolled in karate classes at the studio down the street didn’t help tone down the aggression and seething rivalry between us, which was ultimately, for no apparent reason, beside giving us a common cause to work against. I salvaged whatever paper I could from the charred bulletin board, and handed each club member a piece of paper. They passed around a marker, and wrote one of two options on their scrap: war or no war. War won by two votes, and now it was time to gear up for the battle to (hopefully) end all battles.
One thing I now theorized was that the Promenade kids had weapons of mass destruction. Okay, they were grill lighters, but they got the job done. Our first plan of action, was to give Chris, the leader of the Promenade kids an ultimatum. Chris, like me, arranged order within their club, and was ultimately the biggest influence on his street’s decisions of rivalry against us. Personally, I think he had a little crush on me. He had to surrender within two hours, or face our wrath. We dropped the letter off at his doorstep, rang his doorbell, and ran. The letter stated that he had to resign as leader, and if he did so, he had to tie a white rag to his front porch. We camped out across Promenade Road, out of view and impatient.
The two hours crept by as slowly as the caterpillars my baby brother started collecting out of boredom, and when Chris didn’t surrender, we understood that it was time to bring out the big wheels. We ran home and hopped on our big wheels, you know, those lowered tricycle things with the huge back wheels, and kicked dust on the way to the Promenade kids’ clubhouse, where we suspected Chris was hiding, meeting with his crew. Within thirty minutes, we had looted and torn up his clubhouse, under my foolish command, with no sign of Chris. It appeared he had gone into hiding and left his other club members to fend for themselves. We gathered his club members into our tree house, and pushed the ladder away so there was no way for them to escape. Little did we know, other neighborhood children had heard of our situation, and had formed two groups that began fighting with sticks on Promenade Road, and one kid eloquently jammed a stick through another’s bike spokes as he was riding it, causing him to be thrown face first off of his bike and into the street. This caused uproar, and a riot broke loose between all of the kids in the neighborhood.
Mind you, some of these kids were older, with access to things like spray paint, and during this whole conniption, none of the Promenade kids even realized that they were destroying their own street, their own clubhouse, and their own parent’s houses. At this point I realized that I had seriously lacked a plan to rebuild all of the things we had damaged, and with the Promenade kids’ club leaders trapped in our tree house, there was a serious shortage of help to turn this situation around before any parents found out. Luckily, it appeared that all of the parents were quite preoccupied with whatever was going on on the news. I decided the only thing I could do at this point, was search for the original weapon of mass destruction, the grill lighter, to no avail. As the neighborhood parents subsequently began pouring out of their graffitied houses, it became clear to me that I had lost everything, and that the grill lighter was nowhere to be found.