When I was 19, I was quite unhinged. You never knew what I might do in any given situation. This should not surprise anyone who knows me well now, as I can still be pretty random at times. However, I guess I have matured a bit over the years as the story I am about to tell you would not happen today. I would be too shy to repeat these actions, and I would worry about looking like a dork. I mean, what if someone important saw me? Besides, today, I would also be afraid of annoying strangers. I guess these are all concerns that, did not cross my mind at age 19. This is the story of randomly shouting “poopie” out of my friend’s car, and the consequences thereof.
It all began with trying not to swear.
Back then, I had this friend (who shall remain unnamed for his protection). This friend and I hung out quite frequently, and he was just as “unhinged” as I was back then. In fact, he may have been more so than I. Needless to say, when we got together, well, wacky antics happened. I have vague memories of driving over the Morrison Bridge, threatening to moon the next car over. I also remember a time after a Good Friday service where we (along with a few others) drove all over Southwest Portland, burning non-dairy creamer.
So on one of these antic filled nights, I got into this friend’s car and banged my knee. It hurt bad, and I wanted to say “shit,” but I really didn’t want to swear either. So I said the first thing that came to my mind – “oh poopie!” We laughed – this pseudo profanity was so incredibly dorky and stupid. And then I recalled a song. Well, can I call it a song, or should I just call it a bizarre sound recording? It was on Poor Old Lu’s 1995 release of Star Studded Super Step, which had a bunch of experimental bonus tracks at the end of the disc. The track I remember was basically a girl calling her dog (named moonie). There’s really not a way to explain the track, so have a listen to it:
Like I said, I remembered this song as I said poopie. It didn’t take long till I imitated the song, with a substitute of “poopie” for “moonie.” As we drove down the road, I started yelling “poooooopie” at random people on the street. I stuck my head full out, of the vehicle, and probably scared the crap out of some poor, innocent soul. It’s a wonder that no one called the cops!
My friend, (again, just as unhinged as I), imitated me. And so began the tradition of yelling poopie at complete strangers as we drove the streets of Portland. People would turn their heads like…what? Are they calling a dog or something? Is this a joke? What the hell did they just say? Do I have poopie on my back? Damn stupid kids, they’re going to get in an accident!
Shouting “poopie” – an experiment in postmodern theater.
Like I said, yelling poopie out the car window became a pretty standard activity when the two of us got together. We were young and foolish and caffeinated. We were also relatively good Christian boys who didn’t chase women and didn’t drink (much) – so I guess we were probably kind of bored. Whatever, it probably gave people something to talk about when they got home. I imagine someone walking in the front door and saying, “honey, you’ll never believe what I saw today – two idiot teens yelling about fecal matter while driving on the highway!”
I remember a conversation about how we we provided a “postmodern experience” to those who saw and heard us (our definition of postmodernism in this specific case involved those that experienced the “art” to bring their own meaning to the “art”). Yeah sure, we tried to give our actions some sort of intellectual justification – even though there really was none. Yelling “poopie” out the window of a moving vehicle was just freaking fun to two young and dumb kids who didn’t drink (much).
The Poopie Crash.
A year or so later, we went out to lunch with a bunch of people after church. Afterwards, my friend gave me a lift somewhere. I sat in the front seat, his sister sat in the back, and of course, we rolled the windows down and started shouting “poopie” – or rather “poooooooooopieeeee” as we drove up East Burnside. We cruised through the stoplight at 28th, and my friend had his entire head out of the window. Yes. He’s driving, and he’s got his entire freaking head out of the window, facing the sidewalk instead of the road in front of him.
The exact sounds in the car were something like….pooooopie…..OH SHIT! SMASH. My friend drove straight into the back of an SUV stopped in front of us. We’re sitting there in total shock. The bumper of the SUV was a little bent, otherwise the vehicle in front of us got out of the accident alright. My friend’s car, however, was totally smashed up in front. Still drivable, but smashed!
What seemed like an eternity passed, as we sat in silence. The car in front of us checked in, as did a nearby cop. Everyone was ok – thankfully – but my friend was not in the best mood (understandably). As we sat there, waiting for the officer to instruct us, the events of what happened played inside my head. I really couldn’t believe it! Yet there we were – sitting in the middle of Burnside after crashing into the back of an SUV.
All of a sudden I found the situation, despite the damage to both the car and my friend’s emotions, kind of funny. I tried so hard not to laugh, but yet laughter escaped. I think I can count on one hand in our 25 years of knowing each other in which my friend got mad at me. As I laughed, however, he turned to me and gave me the dirtiest look I’ve ever seen on his face. Of course I deserved it – I mean, there’s a time to laugh and that was not the time. I just couldn’t help myself I guess.
Shouting “poopie” and the aftermath thereof.
Kids – just like the burning of non-dairy creamer, don’t try this at home. Or rather, don’t try this on the road. Seriously – we were freaking lucky we didn’t get hurt while plowing into that SUV.
We’re also lucky my friend didn’t get arrested for reckless driving. We of course never told the cops that we were shouting “poopie” out the window. I think my friend mentioned we were goofing around and not paying attention mind you, but the true nature of our crash never found their way to the ears of the police. The statute of limitations has expired, so I’m free to admit it now – but we kept a tight lip on this fact for quite some time.
Like I said, my friend’s car was totaled. I am sure his dad was not happy (I don’t actually remember). I’m sure the insurance payments went up as well. On my end, I have always felt guilty about this incident. Sure, my friend was driving and did not have to stick his head out the window – but I did invent, encourage, and endorse this behaviour. Again – I was young and dumb. Literally no excuse can cover my actions, these were just the facts of the matter.
I guess if there’s a moral of this story, it’s have fun – but don’t be stupid and unsafe about it. Both my friend and I laugh about this incident now, and my friend even gave his permission for me to share this story. I mean – it really is a good story. Besides, this happened over 25 years ago.
But again – we got lucky. Really lucky. If one of us had gotten hurt, or even died, this story would turn from a funny story to a tragic tale. Remember this when you’re up to your own antics. Don’t be afraid to be young and dumb, but don’t put yourself or others in danger. And please, remember this – shouting poopie at total strangers is not respectful behavior.