Irish Confetti

A car had stopped in the intersection of Willets Point and 149th street but I hadn’t noticed it at first. My friends noticed.

I was in front of the mediocre pizzeria, on a strip of stores, that we lazily just called, the stores. Park Seafood, the pizzeria, a liquor store, Mama’s, a little asian run candy store, Mccarron’s Pub (now Parkside Pub) and an eternally shitty deli.

Back then, our motley crew were easy to find, too easy sometimes, and at any point in time we were at Memorial Park, 21 Park, Bleecker, between the schools or at the stores. All within close proximity to each other. Down the street and around the corner.

A kid was outside of a beat up car, the passenger car door wide open and yelling in our direction. That kid is now deceased, and I feel pretty indifferent about it. I’m unaffected. I feel that way about most people and things.

I think it should be stated that most beef, not all but most, is dumb and typically over something trivial and insignificant. A stolen bike or girlfriend could do it. A single horizontal line of spray paint could also do it. An event sparks a provocation, and then the consequences get out of hand and the beef builds and intensifies. This kid talked shit to us, and without really knowing him as a person, I absolutely despised him and wanted to inflict bodily harm on him and his coterie.

It is irrelevant now what their reason for the animosity was but I suppose it was a culmination of bad encounters, and we were just little kids, easy targets. I don’t care much for harboring ill will towards old enemies, maybe I’m maturing, maybe I’m lying, aside from a handful of people I could stand to be in the same room with them and behave like a normal adult. There are those special people who in the event of their death I would smile and celebrate, those who in my mind did unforgivable shit, and majority of unforgivable shit tends to involve sharp objects.

“What’s up,” said the kid, with his arms up, shouting out the name of his wack crew.

Keep in mind the distance between this particular rival park and ours was a quarter mile. An eight minute walk. We lived and played so close and yet we fucking hated each other’s guts. Mortal enemies. It’s pretty ridiculous, but that was how it played out.

We were observant lads and we paid attention to detail. We were aware of our surroundings, but we had to be, and we counted the cars that drove by, looking to see if they were packed with kids. A fine line between being alert and paranoid. We also studied the behavior of the older MPB kids and one page we copied from their book was that we saved all of our beer bottles, and stored them on the tagged checker tables or on the floor next to the tagged metal trash cans. We placed the empty bottles within reach if needed, and more often then not they were needed. Archers! Truth be told, throwing stuff is fun, but throwing bottles is a lot of fun.

Irish confetti is defined as a rock or a brick thrown during a fight, but we can expand that definition to include any object used as a projectile.

We launched bottles at the asshole and the car, which some other asshole was driving. Bottles shattered against the car and onto the street, which now the idea of a parent having to walk his children over broken glass would piss me off, but we weren’t thinking of anyone else or their safety. The foes sped off but taunted us by circling, passing by quickly and shouting at us from the car. We spread out across the intersection and when they drove by, we let the bottles fly again and a few garbage cans as well.

Was this not a normal occurrence during your adolescence?

A blue and white police car from the 109th precinct pulled up swiftly with the cherries lit across the street diagonally from where I was positioned. Most of the crew were on that corner whereas three kids and myself were on the side of the park in an attempt to flank the beef.

When the cops arrived the impulse was to depart, employing the adage, “cops come, gotta run.” As our friends were lined up along the brick wall of the corner house on 149th street, we made our escape up 25th avenue. But not so fast.

Two large men were walking directly at us, and as soon as we made eye contact, they drew guns on the four of us. Uh oh. It was all happening quite quickly and my 14/15 year old mind was drunken and slow to process.

All I remember saying was, “Oh shit.”

Both men looked like typical undercover detectives, same close cropped haircut, bulky crew neck sweatshirts and blue jeans. No badge was ever shown and they never identified themselves as police to us but cops rolling up on us was routine, it was commonplace aside from the extra bit of aggression I was about to receive.

“Hands up,” he demanded. I stood up against the fence and the larger detective frisked me and a kid that used to be down with us but switched up a few years later. The other detect handled the two other kids further down the street along the same temporary construction fence.

We were clean. The detective pulled my right shoulder to turn me to face him and rocked me in my nose. He was at least 6 foot and I was about 4’11 and a hundred pounds so you could say it was pretty even. The sucker punch wasn’t necessary but I get it he was intimidated by me and wanted the advantage of surprise. It worked. The dude dropped me, then while I was on the floor holding my bleeding face, he did the same to my old friend. The detective was pretty pissed off, and he grunted something about his mother’s trash can as he took turns furiously punching and kicking the both of us. The only thing he caught that I didn’t was a nasty wedgie, which I found hilarious and still do.

It is possible that one of the reasons this kid stopped hanging out with us was that I constantly reminded him that he got a vicious wedgie and I did not. That and having to always look over you shoulder.

The other detective didn’t harm my friends. The uniformed police were not in cahoots with the detectives and were in the process of getting identification for the distribution of summonses when they ran over to the commotion to see what the fuck was going on. The spectating detective addressed the police and the pugilistic detective stopped assaulting us. It seemed to just end and nothing came of it. A good old fashioned ass kicking instead of a summons or a trip to the holding cell on Union street, I was a juvenile and not old enough for Central Bookings.

Honestly, as a teen I would opt for a beating over a night in jail any day, not that I was ever given a choice.

When I went home with my nose busted, and my eyes blackened and dried blood on my face and clothes, which was not the first or the last time that happened, my mother’s second question was, “What were you doing?”

Now that is something that is lost today; accountability.

Of course that cop was an asshole, and police brutality is foul but I don’t think that one member of law enforcement represents all police like I don’t think my friends and I represented all teenagers. And no matter how much it sucked, the harsh truth is, I was in the wrong and I kind of deserved it, to a degree. We are quick as a society to overlook the initial action and then focus on the response, but I grew up in a world where you were held accountable for your actions, you were even held accountable for your friends actions, but that was the way and it was not for everyone. I’ve thrown a lot of Irish confetti since that single encounter, so I didn’t really learn any lessons that night but I can breathe a sigh of relief that my boxers weren’t torn to shreds and pulled over my head by that son of a bitch.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: