A couple of nights ago I sat for a candle light dinner with Jaimie and mini-mom. The house was warm as Jaimie has a propensity to turn the heat up to hell. Outside a cool wind blew and the sun hid behind a rare occurring cloud cover. It felt as though I was experiencing a early winter evening in the Midwest. It felt good.

When I was in third grade we played a game called “Black Shoe”. The game was a simple one that required only an old monkey bar and the right weather condition – rainfall. With the proper amount of rain, the hard dirt under the monkey bar converted into one of childhood’s greatest playmate – mud. Lots of mud. Two players swung to the middle of the monkey bar where the rules were very simple: The first player to knock a player into the mud without the use of their hands wins the match. So for 15 minutes we took turns venturing out to the middle of that monkey bar and played a game of mud-roulette with our shoes.

I was rather nimble and was able to avoid dirty shoes most of the time. The times that I didn’t make were the times my grandmother whooped me for “playing that silly game” and messing up my good shoes. (Old School Note 1: Back then children had school shoes, church shoes, and play shoes. Any overzealous playing in church or schools shoes were grounds for a switch)

Rain also made the football games more fun. Getting tackled in the mud was akin to being knighted by the queen. Only lightening storms put a damper on a game… and the streets lights. (Old School Note 2: Streets lights were our sun dial. The moment the lights started flickering, every kid in the neighborhood commenced their journey home. Getting home with full blown streets beaming through the dusk sky was grounds for a switch)

Then there were the puddles on the sidewalk we came across to and from school. We stomped in them. We splashed girls with them. We made little boats out of pop bottle tops and filled them with ants and sailed the ants across them. Although most met a demise of Titanic proportions, they provided ours of entertainment.

I no longer play in the rain. I don’t search for night crawlers after a rainfall. I don’t run in puddles and I don’t build boats for insects. The idea of getting a black shoe is foreign to me now. I don’t lie on the living room floor counting lightening bolts. In fact, now that I live in Los Angeles, I hardly see rain. It’s a funny thing to cherish a cloudy day and raindrops, but I do.


7 Responses to Rain

  1. Peace Says:
    Why is it that men always complain about the heat being turned up high in the house?? We are mammals! We need the heat!! If I hear my man say "what are you trying to do, melt the curls off my head?" one more time.... :)
  2. James Manning Says:

    I have no idea why Jaimie loves that fire breathing dragon so much. There are times when dial is set at 100 degrees. The only thing left to do is cover me with butter and seasoning salt and I'm ready for dinner.
  3. Sharon Says:
    This sounds like a "Tale From My Hood"! You don't sound like my mind's image of a Cali born and bred brotha...where ya from?

    I'm a midwest girl myself...St. Louis, MO and all those games were staples from my childhood and the streetlight sundial was the difference between fun in the sun and never seeing the light of day for the duration of the summer!!!
  4. james manning Says:
    Sharon, I'm from Chicago. I've only live in Los Angeles for 11 months.
  5. stuffle Says:
    peace - we don't need the heat up that high. We're mammals. We make our own heat... :)
  6. Anonymous Says:
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