Baby Frogs and the F*cking Tunnel, (creative nonfiction, 531 words)
Baby Frogs and the F*cking Tunnel
The freeway junction next to the housing tract I grew up in is one of the most congested in the United States, the infamous junction of the 405 and 605 freeways. And I remember the freeways being built. That was way back in the early 1960ís. I was just a young boy. The area was strictly off limits but, in reality, a fascinating playground for all the young boys in the tract. Heavy machinery parked when not in use, huge mounds of dirts, ruts the size of small canyons. I, being a good boy, never actually visited the area. My father forbid it. Bit I did hear stories.
I will relate but two. Ponds of water filled the ruts of the construction zone during the winter rainy season. And in the spring these ponds became verdant: dragon flies, mosquitos, grass hoppers, butterflies, and, my favorite, small baby frogs. Brooks, who was my older brotherís age, lived in a house on the edge of the tract. His backyard fence fronted the freeway construction zone. He had easy access and a lithe body and could slip into the construction zone at a moments notice. And he sold baby frogs. A penny a piece, baby frogs he caught in the spring pools of the tractor ruts. I would buy them and play with them on our backyard dichondra lawn. Dichondra was the sod of choice in the 1950ís and early Ď60ís. All of those suburban houses with lawns of deep green, misshapen clover-like leaves. One day while playing with about five baby frogs, a whole nickel of my allowance, I only counted four. I looked and looked, upturned every dirt clod, searched, and searched. Finally, in desperation, I stood up. There it was. Flattened and stuck to my knee.
Another, more sinister landmark of the construction zone was the F*cking Tunnel. The tunnel was a source of fascination to my buddies and I, the subject of bathroom conversations, playground gossip, and stories told late at night on sleep-overs. I never actually visited the F*cking Tunnel so it loomed larger than life in my imagination. I didn't quite get the gist of it. I was only about seven or eight. I knew I had a member but didnít quite yet know its function except for pissing. My father never had the ďtalk" with us so, of course, sex also loomed large in my childhood imagination. A tunnel and f*cking, put the two together in a childís imagination, and you can guess the thoughts and ideas it generated. It wasnít until I was in my thirties that I realized the tunnel was a trysting place, a forbidden escape where teenage exploration took place. In my childís imagination, there was just my member and dirt holes, and, like a missing piece in a jig saw puzzle, it wasnít a fit. Nor was it in anyway appealing. So, although I heard countless mysterious stories, I never visited the F*cking Tunnel. As I enter full middle age, thinking back on those early freeway days, Iím kind of sorry I didnít.