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At the Iranian Revolution with Obama in my Backyard
June 26, 2009


It was the Iranian Revolution at 22 Parker Rd. crowds showed up in 2's and 3's and 4's and 5's, some of the more eager protesters clenching bundles of chopsticks, as was tradition in Iranian Revolutions, with which they would gouge their opponents' eyes out, or pierce their hearts. It made the game a scary endeavor.

There were two sides to the revolution, which fittingly was designed to move ambidirectionally, clockwise and counterclockwise, around the block. Those who travelled in one direction would confront those who travelled in the opposite. It was custom to crouch among the bush to avoid being seen, but once visible, hand to hand combat was expected. I was really not keen on the chopsticks.

this had nothing to do with state or religious authorities; it was about one side of the people against the other. I wanted to avoid fighting. Somehow I made all the way around the block without engaging in heavy fighting. The event actually reminded me of passing through high school corridors with the kind of elation one feels on the first day of school, when the game is too new for bullies to pull any bullshit.

I made it back to my square one, the front yard. The same front yard with car tracks in it. The same yard with a brick walkway, a couple bushes, and the beach tree. I was there with two friends now, Eric Laurits and Greg Anderson. We were in our skimpy bathing suits, the ones we would wear to swim meets. I was self conscious.

Eric Laurits ran up against the beach tree and did a back flip. It was impressive, but coming from Eric, who was typically gifted, I saw no reason to praise. Then Greg tried to emulate but did something wholly unique. He ran up against the beach tree to attempt a back flip but finished rolling on his back. It was still a very fluid move, and I praised him. I tried it myself but was unable to perform anything memorable.

The Iranian Revolution was back on. Voices were heard getting nearer, and we scattered. Not again, I thought. I decided to duck out and climb the beach tree. No one would find me there. In reality, I had climbed the beach tree so many times that I knew every move like a monkey. Now though, my movements were cumbersome. I was overgrown. The spaces between branches seemed smaller. The branches themselves were thicker and had shifted place over time with the help of wind.

I saw someone approaching, and goddamit, they were climbing the beach tree to reach me. How did they see me? I climbed a little higher and looked down again. It was Will.

"You cant stay here, Stephen."

"Why not?"

"In an Iranian Revolution, if they see two men in a tree, they will kill them."

I descended from the tree and together we ran towards Stacy's house. It was Will's idea to duck into Stacy's backyard instead of going around the block. This shortcut was known to almost no one. Dick Pietrafitta was in the backyard watering something, and he looked upon Will and me blah-ly, with no suspicion as he recognized us immediately, even though we were crouched and scampering diagonally across his yard. I wondered if he knew about the Iranian Revolution going on. I assumed from this lack of surprise that he knew.

We opened the gate near the shed slowly, peered out into our backyard, and towards our driveway. There were people up there, some going our way, some coming towards us. The general direction of traffic was from the dirveway through the backyard to the Adlers' driveway, so Will and I approached the battleground from the side, and, continuing to crouch among the bushes, hoped we would not have to engage in too much fighting. The bushes were clearing though, and the open space of the backyard, much wider now than in reality, became populated with people. Many of them were fist fighting with chopsticks. I was worried that some of the chopsticks may have been broken in the first round, which would make them more lethal now.

Here my rule of clockwise and counterclockwise bent. People approached us from ahead whom we were expected to either fight or ward off, but there was also a couple people from behind us, traveling in the same direction, who began to antagonize. One threw a plastic sailable airplane at me. It was about the size of a football. It looked like a little B52 replica, superglued together. It flew well for a piece of plastic. I caught it and hesitated. Do I throw it back at him, or at the oncoming opponents? I threw it. It went sideways and, while slightly distracting one opponent, was mostly ineffectual.

David and Keith from Six Feet Under were in the clearing. They were supposed opponents, but Will had a crush on David and he wanted to get into a confrontation with him to give him "noogies", which he did.

Further on Obama appeared, from the opposite direction. An opponent? He was all grins, sauntering with Michelle, who was carrying their child upside down as children sometimes like to be carried. The child was not Malia or Sasha - it was the youngest manifestation of Maya in Six Feet Under. Chubby cheeked smile, thin hair, hanging up side down in Michelle's arms. The season had changed. The ground was now covered in snow and shining in the sunlight. Will and I stood in the middle of the snow-covered battleground with Barack Obama and his family. I have never been good with kids but I felt intuitively warm towards Obama's child.

"heyyy" I petted her head and smiled.

Obama pointed to his shadow being cast in the snow. It was a light shadow, shapeless, barely visible.

"That's Freddy Kruger" he said to me, grinning.