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Around the Corner: Harkening back to my wasteful youth

Kyle Mills

With the toilet paper aisles empty in pretty much every store in the community, I cannot help but think of how wasteful I was in my youth.

Like most adolescents who grew up in a quiet rural community, my friends and I spent countless hours and nights tossing roll after roll of Charmin over the eaves of classmates’ houses every weekend.

I can’t imagine what my parents must have thought as they had to restock the house supply of TP on a weekly basis.

While most teenagers were out drinking or partaking in illicit behavior, I ran with a group of close friends that pulled pranks, gags and sometimes just walked around the empty streets of Jerome, Idaho, playing fun games to keep one another entertained.

Being part of the good kids club meant we had fun without damaging property or breaking any laws. We might have pushed the line between mischief and mayhem a few times, but it was all in an effort to occupy our idle hands and minds. 

It all began as little pranks of maybe filling the tree in the front yard of one of the cute girls we grew up with, with a dozen rolls of bath tissue, but it escalated quickly.

Nothing was of limits, from homes, a car, to yard ornaments. You name it, we probably wrapped it in TP.

We even had a home base in the local park where we would meet, plot and set out from on the way to our next target.

We would run reconnaissance missions, marking our next target, planning the best way to attack, and always looking for our next opportunity.

Like most rural towns we had only one stoplight, right in the center of town.

One night, on a return trip through the heart of J-Town after another successful mission, one of my friends blurted out we should TP the intersection.

As we loitered in front of a prominent insurance building scheming about how we could complete the task, a police cruiser stopped at the red light after leaving the station just a few blocks down the street.

I have no idea who said it, but all I heard was someone ask — what would they do if we ran. Without another word, we all took off, and sure enough they came after us.

I wasn’t blessed with the ability to run fast, but I could be elusive at times. Our group was made of mostly high school football players. I was on the team as well; to this day when people ask me what position I played I tell them — Left Out.

On that night my slipperiness prevailed, and I returned to our rally point where most of our group was waiting unscathed.

We did a head count and noticed two members were missing. As we all caught our breath, out of the corner of our eyes rolled up that same police cruiser.

Sitting in the back of said cruiser were the two missing members of the club.

The officers did a great job keeping a straight face, as did our two friends acting like they were cuffed as they got out of the car. Turns out the officers were bored as well and just wanted to have a little fun with us.

The encounter did however convince us to lay low for a bit. It took us a month or maybe less to stockpile our supplies, before we decided to carry out the plan, which was to cover the intersection with as many brands of bath tissue as we could find.

With two to three people on each corner, we chucked rolls of tissue back and forth to one another trying to clog the intersection with as much toilet paper as possible. 

The screeching of tires and blaring sirens rushing towards us shattered the silence of the crisp fall night, less than 20 minutes into our elaborate plan.

Like the pellets in a shotgun shell everyone scattered.

Unlike our last brush with the law my elusiveness didn’t pay off, as one officer cut me off as I took a shortcut between buildings, nearly sliding under his vehicle as I put on the brakes.

When I jumped all I heard was “freeze!” Like I was carved in stone, I didn’t move an inch.

I and the other slowest member of the group were the only two nabbed, and to make sure we didn’t get any ideas of trying the prank again, the officers made my cohort and me pick up every single piece of tissue we had left at the scene.

And of course that was the only time there was traffic, a line of cars sat idling at the intersection, watching and laughing as we tried to gather all the tissue strewn across the road and on the light poles. 

As I sit here, having lost track of how many days I have been working from home, keeping my trips out as limited as possible for a journalist. All I can do is watch our supply of bathroom tissue dwindle day by day, and wish I had not wasted the stockpile I did in my youth.

I find myself telling my family to limit their use — 3 to 4 square limit please, I catch myself yelling as they head for the bathroom.

kmills@postindependent.com 


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