The girl lives on the corner of a street in one of the newer neighborhoods south of his. Her street T heads another street, and across that street is a large drainage ditch. The young man, Ted, and Greg are all riding in the ice-blue minivan; the young man’s mom is driving. They turn down the girl’s street and drive past her house, then take a right, then two more rights to wind back up at the side of the house.
His mother rolls the minivan to a stop. “All right,” she says. “It looks like the coast is clear, and there are no other cars driving around.”
The boys are all in eighth grade. The girl is Greg’s ex-girlfriend, and they remain friendly. Word is out that she has a huge crush on the young man. And he thinks he might like her back. It is a Friday night, and they had all been hanging out at his house, playing Nintendo and eating pizza. Greg had been talking about still liking her but being cool with it that she liked the young man instead, and that’s when Ted had suggested they give her a bit of hell by rolling her house. The young man’s mother had overheard and said, “You’ll need a driver.”
Ted had responded, “Dude, your mom’s the coolest.” They had gathered up twenty-five rolls of toilet paper, and now the moment has come.
No one moves.
“Well, go on,” the young man’s mom says. “Get it done fast.”
The young man takes a deep breath. “All their front lights are on.”
“Even their floodlights,” he says.
“So what?” his mom says. “Did you look at the windows?”
“There’s one window in the front, and the storm blinds are closed. They are never going to see you.”
“But maybe they look through the peephole or the little window by the front door? What do you think, Greg?”
“You mean the frosted window?” his mom says. “The one you can’t see out of? Or were you planning on ringing the doorbell?”
“It’s pretty bright,” Greg says.
“Ted?” the young man says.
“Ready whenever y’all are, but I ain’t going myself.”
“Oh for crying out loud!” his mother exclaims.
She puts the van in park, whirls, grabs a pack of toilet paper, rips it open, and storms out of the car. They watch in silence as she strides across the sidewalk, marches across the grass, approaches the small tree closest to the street, and tosses the first roll into the tree.
“Dude, check out your mom,” says Ted.
“All right, let’s go,” the young man says, and they all hustle out of the minivan with packs of toilet paper in hand.
Fifteen minutes later, all the toilet paper is in the trees and on the bushes. They grab the crumpled plastic bags and hustle back to the minivan. Before the side door slides close, the young man hisses, “Go, go go!” His mother shifts to drive and they pull quickly away, laughing as the side door slams shut.
“Dude, we freaking killed that!” says Greg.
“I can’t believe no one saw us. That place is lit up like a roman wedding,” says Ted.
The young man keeps laughing, and then Ted adds, “Sorry, dude, but your mom is bad ass. You almost pussed out.”
“What do you mean me?” says the young man. “I didn’t see anyone else jumping out.”
“Your mom is bad ass,” says Greg.