Boom! Crash! Kapow!
My parents divorced when I was in middle school, and my dad moved into a duplex a few blocks away (such is life in a small town). The duplex was built in the 1930s, and it was huge. The owners lived in the other side, but they were old and had health issues. They finally sold the duplex, and the family that moved in brought Exploding Boy.
I never knew Exploding Boy’s name, and he was considerably younger than me so we never even really talked. But he left a huge impression on me. You see, Exploding Boy spent a lot of time in the duplex’s large front yard. He didn’t really have any friends — at least that I saw — so he mostly played alone. Most often, I would hear him stomping around the yard and sidewalk making explosion noises.
“Boom! Crash! Kapow!” he would yell, stomping with each explosion. He had a younger sister, and she seemed to be a PITA, and having an annoying younger sibling of my own I always assumed that Exploding Boy was blowing her up. But he would go on for a half-hour and sometimes longer. It wasn’t until later that I heard Exploding Boy’s likely target: his dad.
Exploding Boy’s dad was a a stereotypical bully. Loud, obnoxious and a terror to his children. Exploding Boy’s mother, from what I could tell, either lived in fear of his dad or just ignored it. So when his dad started yelling, the boy ran for the front yard and the explosions started.
I don’t know what happened to Exploding Boy. My dad bought a house when I was in college, and the family was evicted for not paying rent around the same time. I didn’t think about him again until I saw Adam Sandler’s (atrocious) Billy Madison. In one scene, Sandler’s character starts to regret making fun of a kid he went to school with, so he calls up the former classmate and apologizes. The camera pulls back to show Steve Buscemi with his crazy eyes, who slowly crosses Billy Madison’s name of a list of People to Kill. Morbid, I know, but I always wondered whether Exploding Boy would grow up to be Steve Buscemi. I mean, that guy’s funny-looking.
Still, Exploding Boy taught me an excellent lesson: You might not be able to take out your aggressions on the jerks around you, but at least you can imagine stomping them to death with a satisfying explosion. Thanks, Exploding Boy.