Once we reached the busy street, Linda made a dash for the other side. Like the fool I was, I did the same.
Now that we were on that other side of the street, we walked and skipped along to the neighborhood that started two blocks away. The neighborhood didn’t have any stores, just houses with green lawns. When I asked Linda where we were going, her answer was that we were going to Big Top for our gum.
Big Top was a convenience store close to the shopping center (now days called a strip mall). The shopping center was approximately three miles away from the street where Linda and I lived. Neither one of us would get home in time for dinner because of the route we were on to get there. We should have walked down that busy street until we got past the highway. I was suckered and I knew it.
At this point I just stood there on the sidewalk. I knew better than to go along with whatever Linda wanted to do. I had been warned several times about the trouble I would get into because of situations like this one. I turned around and started to walk home.
Of course, Linda stopped me saying, “We’ll get home on time. We’re going across the highway. It’s a shortcut.”
I peeked through the bushes. The highway looked so wide, almost as wide as my street was long. Maybe we could do it without getting hit by a car, or maybe we couldn’t. There wasn’t a soul on the highway at that particular moment. I looked to my right, and then to my left. One car was speeding towards downtown.
Either I do it or I don’t do it. Linda was already at the edge of the roadway. Would she do it without me?
After that one car had passed she was sprinting across the highway. Loyalty kicked in, or maybe it was more stupidity. I went dashing after her. By the time I got to the other side, I realized that the highway wasn’t as wide as it looked. Both of us were panting and giggling. (Just so you know… back then, the median of a highway usually didn’t have the short cement wall, and, instead, had grass and bushes.)
The Big Top was only three blocks away now. We ran, skipped and just plain walked to the humongous doors of the convenience store. We quickly got our spearmint gum, paid for it, and started back home.
As we walked along the street where the cranes, rental equipment, and plumbing stores were, Linda decided to tell me that we had just done something illegal. What?! My feet started dragging. What if my mom asked where I have been? What if, somehow, my mom just knows I had done something wrong? At the age of nine, this is always possible.
As we rounded the corner to our street, I heard my mom calling for me. I spat the gum out of my mouth, put the other four pieces in the small pocket of my peddle-pushers, and yelled, “I’m coming!” I ran home and went straight to the bathroom.
When I came out, my mom asked, “Did you wash your hands? Dinner is almost ready.”