I can hear you now, asking what on earth this post is about? I think it’s about growing up and the naughtiness that can occur, especially when you’re a teenager.
Who Was Scatty Boo
For some reason, I always gave my friends nicknames. Some stuck with them for the rest of their lives, which sort of pleased me, while others sank without trace. Needless to say, Scatty Boo was a name I called my best friend, Mark. It got shortened to Boo over the years and was with him until his untimely passing in his forties. If I ever asked or talked about Mark, no one knew who it was, but mention Boo and everyone knew him.
We Met At School
We had met in our early years at primary school and I was the quiet one while Boo was the leader and dominating force. We were often in trouble, nothing serious, but it was enough for my mother to try and ban me from ‘hanging out’ with Boo. That was never going to happen, there was way too much fun and naughtiness to be had. That’s where the peashooters come into play.
Most people my age will remember the Saturday morning matinee’s at the local picture house (the movies in the U.S.) where the place was usually packed to the rafters with screaming kids of all ages. Boo came up with the idea of purchasing a couple of peashooters. They were only pennies and the ammunition (dried peas) was cheap too. Being protected by darkness in the pictures, we could go on the rampage with these things, blowing them randomly at other kids who were at least half a dozen rows in front of us. The hardest part of the plan was not laughing and giving yourselves away when the innocent victims would let out a shriek and immediately turn around and look for the culprit.
So Much Fun
We had so much fun on those Saturday mornings and never once got caught. The two of us had become quite expert at picking out targets and hitting them with the accuracy of a deadly sniper. After a couple of weeks, the fun started to wear out, probably because there wasn’t much of a challenge left. So, instead of packing the peashooters away with the rest of the junk in our bedrooms, we hatched a plan. What if we could get into the ‘grown-ups’ film shows and start pea shooting adults? Wow!! Now that was going to be fun.
Grown Up Film
The film that we were to make our debut at was ‘The Towering Inferno’ which had a UK rating at the time of A. This was similar to today’s 15 rating which means you have to be accompanied by an adult if you’re under 15. We managed to get into the show, even though we were underage and took our positions. We chose a busy Saturday night, the first showing for the week of the film. Our positions were set up in the back row seats downstairs in the stalls. These were usually used by various amorous lovers who had little time for watching the film. About 10 minutes into the film, out came the peashooters, ammunition loaded and targets chosen.
Unlike a matinee of screaming kids, most adults watch a film and the only sound you hear is the odd rustle of popcorn or a throat-clearing cough. Imagine our surprise when the first pea landed on the back of the head of our first unsuspecting target about 7 or 8 rows away when he let out an almighty ‘Arrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhhhhhh!’ We thought we had killed him, the scream was that loud. Within seconds, the manager was down with his assistant to see who what the commotion was. There were lots of ‘sushes’ and things settled down. We were quite scared by the ferocity of the initial shouting. So much so that during the interval we moved seats to the other side of the stalls, but still at the back.
Once the shock had worn off, we both laughed really hard, that stupid adolescent giggly laugh. Come the second half and a new target, it was my turn to blow a rock hard pea. I just went random and fired it off into the dark. Again, ‘Arrrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh!’ only this time the film was stopped and the lights went up. It was so hard not to burst out laughing, but we both knew, even a little snigger would have given the game away. This time the manager and two assistants turned up, checked the victim was ok, made their apologies to everyone else before putting down the lights and continuing the film. My oh my, we laughed! We didn’t fire any more peas that night and left it until the following night.
It was costing most of our pocket money going to the cinema so regularly. Sunday night soon came and so did another target. We only managed one hit as again there was more arrrrrrgggggggghhiing and shouting and this time the manager made an announcement that whoever is responsible will be found out and dealt with. Itching to have another go we knew we daren’t as we would probably be lynched. So we waited until Tuesday night before we went back to have more fun. We paid for our tickets and made our way through the foyer to the entrance to the stalls. We were immediately stopped at the doorway by a couple of burly doormen and the manager.
“Sorry lads,” said one of the doormen, “but we need to search your pockets before we let you in.” Uh Oh. The game was up and we had been rumbled. Not only had we lost the bag of peas and the peashooters, but we got a life ban to the cinema and lost the ticket money for that night’s performance. They could have called the police or even taken us home to our parents, but they just let us go telling us never to darken their door again. I often think back to those days and although we were naughty (please don’t try this at home) it was still more of a prank than anything malicious and if I’m honest gave us many hours of self-made laughter.
For information about the film Towering Inferno