Friday, August 10, 2007


Isn't it funny how a little thought can gain momentum in your head and soon become a full on memory?

Yesterday I saw an abandoned shopping cart on the side of the road. First I thought about how I'd heard about some stores in the metro area having trouble with people taking their carts out of the parking lots. So much so that they had to install them with an alarm which would go off when the carts were taken outside the perimeters.

And then I thought about how expensive shopping carts are and wondered if it were general knowledge how expensive the carts are if people would still leave them, abandoned, on the side of the road.

Then it came, the memory.

{Cue dreamy music and wavy vision}

Johnny Davis was bad. Very bad. For one thing, he smoked cigarettes in the second grade. His hair was greasy and slicked back. He wore stained t-shirts and dirty jeans. Every other word was a bad one, even when he talked to teachers. He was in a fight every single day, doling out nosebleeds and bruises. He laughed a sneaky little laugh, like a villain on a cartoon. He was bad. Very bad.

In the Summer of 1981, Johnny Davis got a new hobby. In addition to picking on girls with big frizzy hair, he started taking shopping carts from Safeway. One by one, he'd take a cart, push it down the alley by the Yarrington's house and, with one great shove, deliver it into the creek.

My brother and I often fished near the site of the great shopping cart pile. We first discovered a problem when our hooks got snagged and broke, always in the same place. And then one day we caught him red handed. Bad, bad Johnny Davis. Badest man in the whole damn town.

We hid in the bushes and waited for him to come again. What was he doing? Why was he dumping the carts in the creek like that?

After a while of doing this every day, many times aday, the proof began to emerge from the water. The tip of the shopping cart iceberg.

Johnny Davis was eventually caught and sent straight to jail. Well, maybe not jail but he was sent away. And everyone talked about how expensive those carts were. More than anything though, we were all puzzled by the senselessness of it. Why is someone driven to do something like shove shopping carts into a creek, over and over, all summer long?

Was it fun? It didn't seem like fun. It seemed like work.

The craziest part of this whole story is that Johnny Davis is now one of my brother's friends. I actually talked to him not long ago at a party but all I could really manage to do was shake my head and remind him of how bad he was.

He's so normal now...and even nice, if you can believe that. How can you go from being that bad, criminally bad, to being a nice, normal person? I suppose lots of people do it.

It would be interesting to do a follow up with all of those bullies of my childhood. Is George Case a nice, normal person now? Does he have children whom he reprimands for doing things like building nests in a little girl's hair on the school bus? Or is it a houseful of hellions, cursing and spitting and daring?

My money's on the latter. I think Johnny Davis is an exception.

Speaking of who's nice and who isn't...guess who Daisy thinks is pretty nice. Me. Awww shucks. Thanks for nominating me for the nice matters award.

p.s. My mother asked me not to use Johnny's real name. He's married now to the granddaughter of one of her churchlady friends and she thinks it's terrible that I'm "digging up all of this old dirt" about someone who's trying to lead a respectable life. I'm still using George Case's real name because old wounds heal slowly and I'm still not over that nest he built in my hair on the bus 8 second trip.


Denice said...

I think you should ask Johnny what inspired him to push the carts into the river!

jeanetta said...

you should google ole george or check myspace. funny how anyone can be found these days.
man i hated the bus bullies. i remember once i got so fed up with this older kid picking on me and my lil sis that i gave him quite a whacking with the bouquet of flowers... mums i think.... that iw as taking to my teacher that day.

June said...

Well, I am glad that Johnny is no longer the bad boy but that George guy deserves what he gets (grin). Quite interesting posting today, Amy.

I always wondered about the whole shopping carts on the side of the road thing. I know homeless people use them but I cannot for the life of me figure out why all these grocery carts dot the countryside from coast to coast.

I also have a theory about the character of people in relation to grocery carts: there are two kinds of people in the world--those who return their carts and those who don't. Nice people do, selfish and mean people do not.

Saucy said...

That was by far, one of your funniest stories!! My bully (and I will call him Trevor Larson, because his name is Trevor Larson) called me "sausage" and started fires on the roof of the school in stolen wastebaskets. Only it wasn't blazing waste, it was cute woolen mittens with strawberries crocheted on the top. He was a nightmare.

I saw him in the grocery store a couple of years ago and we had a simple, friendly conversation while his three children ran amok in the bakery department, handling the bulk hotdog buns inappropriately and making faces at the cake decorator behind the glass. He seemed nice, but I still steered my (expensive) grocery basket far away as soon as I could.

Dorian said...

Everyone had a Johnny Davis in grade school!

Cheryl said...'re the funniest girl in blogland! Pure comedy! I love it here!!!! hugs, cheryl :)

Cerri said...

I'm sorry someone built nests in your hair! Maybe he really had a crush on you and did not know how else to handle it? :0)

On the more serious side, I think that children that bully are often bullied at home. Johnny was probably acting out in the only way he felt he could. Looking for someway to feel powerful....I know that was not what your post was about, it just made me think about it.... :0)
~Cerri xoxo

Elaine said...

Great story. Jerry White and Todd Keiser. REAL names.

cruststation said...

You always have a great story to tell, so sorry about the nest in your hair from a long time ago.

Annette D said...

My husband used to be a "bad" boy in school, he was middle-overlooked child seeking attention.

Now he is the most wonderful, kind, generous and loving person I've ever met. He's 52 years old, but he still likes to tell "bad" stories about himself.
Thanks Amy for sharing your story with us!

Bari said...

Well, Amy, you are nice. A well deserved award.

Your story had me cracking up. I just love the way you wrote it. I wish my childhood bullies turned out nice. I found out at my 20 yr reunion last month that some of them get bald and fat. That made me smile.

katydiddy said...

This is a fantastic entry!

Yummers! said...

Loved your story. I can hear the words sung to some country ballad music. But, I'd rather read it!

karimck said...


Doojie said...

I loved this post!!! What a great story teller you are! Thank you for the laughs and memories. Did he REALLY smoke cigs in 2nd grade? That made me laugh so loud that Matt said, "What's so funny?", but, going into 5th grade without having become a smoker, I didn't share with him.

I'll bet your George Case is somewhere hanging out with my Clyde Clark. I hope their giving each other their just deserts!

Thanks again for the laughs and fun, and I love your new main menu! Love, Stephanie