Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gatorade Mafia

When you're a kid you make up all these secret codes and organizations and think that, above all else, the stuff that you imagine is actually legit.  The Gatorade Mafia was no exception.  In fact, you could say it was pretty much the most legit governing organization in the world during its hay-day.  It was unofficially formed in April of 2001 by The Cup and yours truly and earned its name due to our love of Gatorade and the fact that dubbing ourselves as the mafia was totally badass.  Gatorade Mafia.

Joe won the Oscar, so he could stay

What were our views?  What did we stand for?  What did we do?  Well we spent a lot of our days hanging around Highlands Park, eating junk food, talking trash to ball players behind the backstop, and generally causing mischief for everyone caught in the middle, or at least that's what we liked to believe.  In reality we were just your usual kids pretending to be more central figures than we probably were.


Me/Cyrus - During this time I was a big fan of the movie Con Air, so I thought it would be cool to name myself after John Malkovich's psychotic serial killer character, Cyrus the Virus.  Cute, right?

The Cup/Tank - The Cup was a big fan of the Matrix and Tank is a tough guy name, so it just made sense.  At some point he changed his nickname but I can't recall to what.  Maybe Neo?

Rolf Geezen - Rolf actually moved before the "formal" dubbing of the Mafia, so he's a retroactive member as he was a regular at the park and in our mischief.

Mongoose/Wayne the Pain - Mongoose was a kid I had known since kindergarten and he regularly walked or rode his Mongoose mountain bike up to Highlands and we'd talk about the important things in life, such as Goldeneye 64, The Mummy, and Cinemax.  You know, the usual stuff.

Fuxton - Ok, so this kid's last name was Buxton and I think it was one of The Cup's brothers who made the connection that "Bux" rhymes with something else, so he earned the dubious distinction.  I didn't really know much about this kid as he was friends through The Cup, but man, this dude was weird.  He would say the most bizarre things, like he attached his bike to his dad's car and rode on the freeway or something?  He was clearly a naturalized citizen from Planet WTF.

Burn - It's kinda weird how you can develop friendships with kids outside of school but when you're on campus it's like you don't even know each other.  I forget why this kid semi-regularly came to Highlands.  I guess his brother played baseball or something.  But we became pretty good pals during those Highlands days, as he, The Cup, Mongoose, and I would form the most scary gang of middle schoolers the world had ever seen.

Barry Bonds - The Home Run King's son would sometimes play ball here and occasionally he'd make an appearance with his posse of bodyguards and dogs.  One of those dogs barked at me once, so that pretty much made us best friends and close Mafia members ever since.

While we were a pretty good clique, we were unique in the sense that we didn't hang out at school...Mafia members can't be seen together in public.  But seriously, The Cup went to school elsewhere and Rolf Geezen was always in the opposite lunch period than I was so we didn't see each other during school.  But there was just something about hanging out at Highlands that brought out the tough guys in us, or at least we thought.  Maybe it was the fact that there were barely any kids  in our neighborhood that were our age, so there was no competition.  It's a kid thing.

There were weekends where we'd spend the whole day at the park as there were games starting early and ending late.  The basic weekday for us would be heading down to the park around 4:30.  Around this time the games were getting underway, people were there, and one of my favorite places ever was open: The Snack Shack.

It's that building on the left.  I don't have a close-up and the Internet has pictures of everything except that one spot.  Go figure.

We were regulars at the Snack Shack to the point where we memorized every item they had as well as the price.  I knew that a dollar would get me 20 Giant Now-and-Laters, and I'd ask for five of each flavor much to the cashier's aggravation.  Our usual meals, however, consisted of a hot dog and/or nachos and a bottle of delicious Gatorade (of course).  The baseball diamond on the right is where we usually would talk trash to the players and umpires from behind the backstop.  You know how sometimes when umpires call strikes they go like "RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHSTRIIIIIIIIIKERAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!"  Every time one would sound off we'd do the same behind the scenes.  Yeah, we were jerks.  

There was also a pay phone that's since been removed where we would make prank calls to the operator on. It was funny because when you're a kid you don't think an adult is gonna insult you, but when we would call these people up and just speak nonsense to them, it would be really funny to hear their reactions.  Some would just hang up, others would laugh, and a few would actually insult us right back.  But anyway, we'd eat, we'd be annoying, and we'd discuss how the Gatorade Mafia is the most prestigious governing power in the world and would think of ways to expand our influence.  Then we'd go home and do our homework.  

Occasionally we'd stumble upon really weird situations that even our influential politics couldn't quite figure out.  This one time after a game this little kid, maybe 6 years old, was riding his bike on the baseball diamond, no helmet, giving us the finger, and saying "haha you can't kill me!"  As if that wasn't creepy enough, this kid had a giant scar going down his face and resembled the little boy version of Chucky.  Seriously, I'm not joking.  If Chucky was born from a woman he would have grown up to be this kid.  To the day I have no idea what this kid's deal was.

And then there's the time that I was there on my own, eating some candy, hanging out.  Then as I started home this girl from the playground spoke out to me.  "Hey, is your name Eric?"  she asked.  I said no.  She responded with "Oh, too bad.  People named Eric are cute."  I walked home furiously thinking she had just called me ugly.  It took me years to finally realize what had really happened.  Look, don't play games with us. If you want to tell us we're cute, then tell us we're cute.  We don't have time for this silly Eric bullcrap.

I think above all else the Gatorade Mafia gave that sense of involvement that every kid wants.  Involvement in what?  I have no frickin' clue.  We ate junk food, we drank a lot of Gatorade, and we enjoyed spending our childhood hanging out at Highlands.  Who could ask for more?

Thanks for reading!