Spitting Image

A couple of fellow ten year-olds and I were coming home from school one afternoon in 1968 when we spontaneously decided to see who could spit the furthest, in a kind of round-robin tournament as we walked. A car drove past us and then pulled over to the curb. A guy got out and stood on the sidewalk, waiting for us as we approached. He was in his twenties, and he was black. As we nervously got within a few feet of him, we could see that he was upset, but maintaining his composure. “A lot of things that used to be funny aren’t funny any more”, he told us. At first, we briefly (and feebly) tried to explain that our spitting contest had been misinterpreted by him, but we quickly just offered our regrets and all parties continued with their day. I have never forgotten that encounter, and I suspect that Chris Conroy and Larry Ponsi never forgot it either.

Thanks, Dr. Martin Luther King. You did your level best to show that a few carefully chosen words can have as great an impact as actions dictated by blind rage.

Comments

  1. Larry Ponsi says:

    Hey Jeremy,
    Congrats on all your success and a belated welcome back home. Oak Park? Wow, that’s on the dividing line. That prompts THE question: Cubs or Sox? Please don’t say Yankees.
    Yikes, don’t go to Vegas with that bet, maybe Chris Conroy remembers the spitting contest but I can’t recall it.
    I called home from work last night to tell my wife that I was on my way home, when she asked me “do you remember a spitting contest with anyone?”
    I said “when, with who, give me some more details”. She said “do you remember having a spitting contest with Jeremy Kahn and Chris Conroy?” I said “how can I remember one spitting contest? Boys have spitting contests all the time, I probably had spitting contests with all my friends, every one of them, boys can write an encyclopedia (Wikipedia?) on ways and places to spit.”
    My favorite was off the edge of either of the two bridges over the two ravines on Sheridan Road next to Moraine Park. Bombs away!
    I continued “considering both Chris and Jeremy were especially hyper(mostly Chris) funny(Chris and Jeremy) guys, yeah, we probably did that.”
    Larry

    • Wow, Larry….great to hear from you. To answer your question: I am a Cubs fan. Now and forever. I’m dying to know how your wife happened across my blog post about our ill-fated spitting contest.

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