Five minute asphalt egg
Bubba Hanks was the biggest kid in Mrs. Crabtree’s third-grade class. In fact, Bubba was the biggest kid in all of Mt. Olive Elementary school. Some say it was due to his fondness for Mrs. Wilma’s sticky buns. Wilma was the head lunch lady and for an extra nickel, you could get an extra sticky bun.
Bubba had a lot of nickels.
Others said Bubba’s largeness was because of a kidney infection in the first grade that put him in the hospital for a week and home in bed for three months. Which caused him to be held back a year. That meant an extra year of eating sticky buns.
I think, like most things, the truth fell somewhere in the middle. Besides, I really didn’t care how big Bubba was because he was something else. He was my friend.
Like most of us, growing up, Bubba was rushed to the hospital more than once. The summer before we started the fourth grade he took an ambulance ride because he ate an egg. Some asphalt too, but mostly egg.
And in my defense, I told him he couldn’t eat it. Looking back, I guess a true friend would have said that he shouldn’t eat it.
That July it was hot, but by August it was even hotter. Two weeks before school started back, and at noon the temperature was already 98. We were hot, bored out of our minds, and the city had just finished paving Flamingo Street. It almost proved a lethal combination for Bubba.
After an hour Neighbor Thomas had tired making balls out of the left-over asphalt. You can make just so many before your hands start sticking to everything. And even though Goofy Steve never got hit, he wore himself out playing dodge the asphalt balls.
After 30 minutes, he was laid out on our front lawn gasping for air. His sides heaving in and out looked like one of those pine tree lizards after you chased them down. Except his side weren’t brown and blue. At least I don’t think they were.
What does any of this have to do with Bubba eating an asphalt egg? Be patient, I’ll get there eventually.
Now during that day we had alternated between watching them finish paving, and cooling off plunges into Ice Blue.
Ice Blue was the name we had given to the coldest swimming hole on Flamingo Street. The rope swing was tied to a huge oak branch from a tree that had grown right out of the bank. Flips, cannonballs, and the infamous, arms-flapping-screaming-because-you-just-got-hit-with-a-dirt-clod-dive were common that day. The water was so cold it took your breath away.
The bottomless ice blue pit was formed by a bend in Cripple Creek located down at the cul-de-sac right behind Old Mrs. Crabtree’s house. I don’t know if it was the arms flapping or the six of us screaming for three hours, but by noon Mrs. Crabtree had had enough. Seems Old Mrs. Crabtree didn’t get paid to listen to kids scream during the summer. She still had two weeks before school started back. So she ran us off.
That’s how we found ourselves in front of 110 Flamingo Street playing with asphalt and bored out of our minds. We were all wondering what to do when Goof regained enough breath to say, “It’s so hot, I bet you could fry an egg on the street.”
See, I told you we’d get back to the egg.
I ran back inside and got two eggs from the refrigerator. Why two? So I could throw one at my twin brother, of course. Lucky for me, Mark wasn’t as fast as Goof when it came to dodging things.
The egg hit him square in the back of the head and stuck like glue. After a short chase we collapsed on the front lawn and watched as Goof proceeded to crack the egg to test his theory.
In less than five minutes we had one street-fried egg. That’s when Goof dared Bubba he couldn’t eat it.
I learned years earlier never bet against Bubba Hanks when it came to food. No longer bored, we got a plate, fork and napkin from the house and watched as Bubba downed the greenish looking egg. Unfortunately he also downed bits of freshly laid asphalt stuck to the bottom.
Not only did I get into trouble for egging Bubba on, but I was in such a hurry to get the eggs, I had left the refrigerator door open. All the food mom had just bought was ruined. And that night so was my backside.
I learned two things that day. First, you really can cook an egg on black asphalt when the temperature is 98. Second, with only two weeks left of the summer vacation, even teachers don’t want to go back to school.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is email@example.com.]