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Jr. Tales: The Pitfalls of Summer

Rivka Small

I’d be doing something he thought was the best idea ever while thinking, This is the dumbest thing ever. But I’d still be doing it!

Wednesday, July 06, 2016


"I've got a great plan for tomorrow morning"

I yelled “Awk!” so loudly I even scared myself, as I tumbled into the large, still shallow (thank G-d), freshly dug pit that would someday be someone’s basement. We were at the construction site at the end of our block. 

“Menachem!” Shuey hissed. “Don’t make so much noise! 

Oh yeah, why would I think that concern in his face was for me, when it was really about the unwanted attention from passersby that my cry of pain might cause? I should have known. 

“I’m okay,” I reassured Shuey — and myself. I stood up, dusted myself off, and picked up what I’d been carrying. Why was I in a pit? Shuey, of course. 

Shuey was the kind of kid who could make you take the lead in his harebrained schemes, even though you knew they were harebrained. I’d be doing something he thought was the best idea ever while thinking, This is the dumbest thing ever. But I’d still be doing it! 

Shuey was already giving me loudly whispered instructions. “Just stick the firecrackers in the ground. Not too deep, or they won’t go off when the truck drivers take their smoke break tomorrow. No – no! Deeper, or they’ll notice them before they start digging.” 

That’s when we heard the voice from the other side of the pit. “Hold it right there!” 

It was a deep, male voice meant to be scary. Behind Shuey was the site foreman, a tall, broad man about my father’s age. Even Shuey could tell there was no way to run for it.

Photo: Shutterstock

“Let me see what you have there!” he ordered, staring down at me. I opened my arms to reveal three firecrackers — the kind boys who have rocks instead of brains light on Purim. As the foreman gazed down at me, I started to shake, and my hands suddenly got so damp, I almost dropped them. 

“Do you have rocks for brains?” the foreman asked, almost in disbelief. “No one with sense even touches those things. Don’t you like your hands? Do you want to just blow one of them off? What do you have to say for yourself?” He was looking at me. Which made sense, because I was the guy caught holding the things, while Shuey looked like an innocent onlooker. 

“I know,” I squeaked. 

“What?!” His eyes bored into mine, but his raised bushy eyebrows were even scarier. 

“I mean, I know it’s true I must have rocks in my head to touch these things. I don’t know why I did it.” 

The foreman’s scary expression softened a little. He muttered a little to himself, as he thought about what to do with us, then he said, “I’m going to let you off this time because as a kid I also did a bunch of things that weren’t too smart, but I learned from my mistakes. But if I ever catch you at this site again for any reason or hear that you did anything like this elsewhere, I’m going to make sure you get what’s coming to you!”

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