To set this up I have to reveal a few things, but they are most likely things that long time readers of this blog have already figured out.
Basically the fellow who goes by the moniker “Dadman” on this blog is my best friend all the way back to high school, where we met over 30 years ago. I give Dadman a lot of credit for how my own life turned out (but none of the blame, of course). When Dadman and I met I was a seriously messed up kid going through the mess of my parents’ divorce and my dad remarrying the wrong person for the wrong reasons.
The previous few years before meeting Dadman were pretty rough years, and like many young boys struggling through family difficulties, I had begun to adopt a “streetwise” and “troublemaker” persona. I smoked cigarettes, drank beer, stayed out late and was not completely innocent of some of the accusations of neighborhood vandalism thrown my way. But I was not happy adopting the “punk” persona, and when my dad remarried and I moved to a new house in a new school district, I made a conscious and determined effort to develop a new and more positive group of friends.
Dadman was one of the first guys I managed to strike up some sort of friendship. Dadman was funny, he was talented (unicycle rider, juggler, artist), he was interesting and he had a beautiful and loving family. I used to enjoy visiting his house just so I could get an idea of what a true nuclear family was like. Dadman and I also hung around with some other straightlaced classmates, allowing me and Dadman to cater to whatever lame “bad boy” impulses we had without delving anywhere near the depths I had so recently been descending into. Dadman was also a naturally likable fellow and as such I was (in some cases reluctantly) adopted into a larger circle of friends than I would ever otherwise have mingled with.
To use an analogy, I was Dadman’s sidekick. Dadman was the instigator in almost all of our shenanigans. With the angst and stress I had at home every day at that time, I was simply not equipped for the process of instigating shenanigans, and I was more than willing to let Dadman do all the hard work of actually initiating things, so long as I got to go along.
One of the things Dadman instigated was participating in a yearly event at the Louisiana State Fair known as “Dr. Blood’s.” Dr. Blood was run by a theater personality in Shreveport named Drew. I have forgotten his last name, but I’m sure Dadman will remember. (UPDATE: his name was Drew Hunter I believe.) Drew was a member of the Shreveport Little Theater and every year he managed to scrape up the money to rent a portion of the State Fair ground buildings to create a Halloween Experience. In general it was a “House of Horrors” sort of thing, and Dadman had been a part of the previous year’s production and so invited me to join him as a member of the Dr. Blood’s cast. That sounded like fun, so I was happy to join. As a result I met the second girl in my life that I got romantically entangled with, and whom I dated for two years afterwards.
That girl drew me deeper into the local theater and music scene (she played cello on the Shreveport Orchestra), and as such she invited Dadman and me to a weekend retreat taking place at a boy scout camp located south of Shreveport called “Camp Forbing”. (Or at least that’s what my memory says.) The event was some sort of weekend camp, but I don’t even recall the purpose of it, only that the boys and girls were separated, and most of the people there were people Dadman and I had met through Dr. Bloods, the Little Theater or the Shreveport Orchestra.
Of course they separated the boys and girls into separate buildings and gave us dire warnings about sneaking out in the night. Warnings Dadman and I promptly decided to ignore. So after a day of camp activities (which may or may not have involved bows and arrows, but DID involve folk dancing and singing), my then GF and I parted ways while Dadman and I plotted how to wreak some havoc on the night’s calm.
So we managed to sneak out after dark, when all the youngsters were supposed to be safely in bed for the night, and began roaming the wooded darkness making “Legend of Boggy Creek” noises. But that got boring and didn’t seem to elicit the response we were looking for. I don’t remember whose idea it was, but since most of the ideas at that time were from Dadman, I’ll lay the blame on him. It was thus that we began roaming the woods loudly reciting verses from Shakespeare. We would sneak up to the girls rooms and act out scenes from Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet and when the adults scampered out to find the culprits, we would dash off and hide, then we would move on to the next hut and repeat the process.
For some reason we found this hilarious. After maybe 30 minutes of Shakespeare in the Dark, we finally returned to our rooms. I don’t even remember if we got caught, but I do remember that my then GF thought it was such a cool thing.
I probably didn’t tell her it was all Dadman’s idea.