In all neighborhood kiddoms, there was a well established pecking order which was very simple to follow – grade level. It had been established hundreds of years ago and it helped to maintain order in the alley. Being the oldest didn’t necessarily mean you were the strongest in the alley, but we all respected the chain of command where it came to arguments or a minor shoving match. Never, I repeat, never did I ever witness anyone breaking this rule in the Prytania alley. The only exceptions were family fights. Following this rule helped us make sense of the world (and prevented riots).
In our game playing ranks, Randy ruled. He was the oldest, the alpha male by rank. One day however, someone decided to have a little fun ‘bending’ the rule. We were playing basketball. Randy was a good basketball player and hated it if he ever came out on the short end of a game or play. We had a pick up game going at the Beckman’s ball hoop. Nick had the ball and faked a jumper that caused Randy to over jump. Nick held his ground and Pic (Randy) came down on Nick. Nick was solid and strong. If the alley had a pecking order established by Genghis Khan or The Rock, Nick might have ended up as the alpha. Nick didn’t flinch and Randy hit the ground.
He wasn’t hurt, but the short burst of laughter from the rest of us likely damaged his alpha ego. So Randy pushed Nick a bit. Nick was in a goofy mood that day. He picked up Randy and proceeded to spin him around in circles. He must have spun him 10 times before setting him down. Nick, who didn’t seem fazed a bit, took off running down the alley towards his home while he was ‘hooping’ out the best impersonation of Daffy Duck anyone could ask for. Randy tried to chase him down but obviously was dizzy from the spinning. It was the funniest challenge of the ranks we ever witnessed.
Knowing he had bucked the ranks, and likely realizing all semblance of normalcy would be in disarray, we saw Nick stop at the end of the alley to let Pic catch him. Nick took a little minor bumping and it was all over – everything could go back to normal. For 3 minutes though, Nick was king of the neighborhood and had left us all with a funny-as-hell memory. I never will forget that dizzy look on Randy’s face as he was gently set down and then tried to gain his sense of balance so he could give chase. Still makes me laugh today….