Today marks week 4 since Craig passed from this life, and I have been intending to tell some good Craig stories. So here goes!
When we moved to New Jersey in the summer of 1998, I was beginning my senior year, and Craig was starting his freshman year in high school. I had fulfilled my Texas language requirements in taking Spanish, which was my only language option at Terry HS in Rosenberg. But ever since 8th grade, I had been fairly interested in both German and Russian, and suddenly German was an option. So I took it, as did Craig.
Craig and I were sat in tandem - me on the front row, and him directly behind me because of alphabetical arranging. So, for 1st period, the two new long-hairs with weird accents and strong opinions on everything were sat together in German. The class was taught by Herr Lovelle, a Frenchman from Alsace-Lorraine who spoke flawless English (and German, French, Italian, Spanish, and perhaps some others). Herr Lovelle had a weird sense of humor that I swear only Craig and I got. He purported to be fascinated with communist East Germany, Deutsche Demokratische Republik (probably horribly misspelled, and I am not even going to look it up) - or DDR.
Herr Lovelle would respond to the classic, "Teachers and students, please pardon the interruption..." over the PA with a soulful, from-the-gut, could scramble the entire Luftwaffe, "NEIN!!" When students would ask for an extension on homework, he would shout something about the classroom being a little piece of "dee day day err" (the DDR), and refuse any such Kapitilist requests. Craig and I would laugh and laugh - but not so loud as to be sent to the Kuhler or to a gulag.
I am not sure where we got it, but we used to always say, "I dunno, som'in. Som'in like that." And we naturally translated that directly to German, which at least began with, "Ich weiss nicht. Etwas." We felt as though our German training was lacking in the regard of epithets and mockery, so we made up our own based on our limited vocabulary. Our favorite was to call people Fliegenaffen - flying apes. Dummkopf - dumb head - was another favorite. Knowing German would only get you so far in understanding Craig and me since we extrapolated plenty.
Also, at the beginning of the year, we were able to choose Deutsche names, and I chose Juergen, and Craig chose Wolfgang. We rarely used each other's given names ever after. He would answer my phone calls by shouting "Juerrrrrrgeeeeenn!!" sounding like he was gonna throw in an, "in the hizzie" after. I later heard from my BYU German professor from Germany that those names have a connotation of being of the alternative lifestyle set like adding -lyn to a girl's name in America implies stripperness. Oh well, what do you do?
Craig and I loved music - and we listened to a lot together. He used to laugh any and every time I would do my AC/DC "You Shook Me All Night Long" impression. But that was only because I had it NAILED. We used to jam the Toadies album Leatherneck on a regular basis. I have tried to remember other stuff we listened to together, and I know there were a lot of representatives from my favorite year, 1994. We would listen to Nirvana's unplugged album, Offspring's Smash and Ixnay on the Hombre. I remember one time he got a Pantera album, and I remember being afraid of it. Even before I heard it, I feared its extremeness.
Craig helped me set up my combination receiver/turntable/8-track player wired to a single huge speaker. We used to listen to Pierre Robert [sic?] on the classic rock station together. He was with me when I bought my first Stevie Ray Vaughan cd.
Craig was my number 1 wingman for adventures as a kid - mostly in Texas, but it carried over to NJ, as well. We would go to the Old House together - a creepy rundown house in a wooded clump in the middle of some fields. The rumor was that the farmer who owned all the land around was born in that old house. At the time, though, the roof had mostly fallen in, the floor had mostly collapsed, the walls were as much negative space as they were naked wood. There were generally various animal skulls hung on trees all around, and a little old corral with a small clearing of trees in its midst. Shotgun shells and holes abounded. Craig always wanted to go into the house, but I would stop him if I was there, because it was pretty freaking scary. I was sure the floor would collapse, Crag would fall in, get attacked by all the various dangerous wildlife available, and be killed. But it made for a good couple-hour journey via bike or hike.
Riding our bikes on the "farm roads" was some pretty serious exercise. It is no wonder that we never became too acquainted with having our wheels leave the ground. Those paths for the tractors were so lumpy that speed was basically out of the question. Come to think of it, I am not sure why we bothered bringing bikes most places.
The Gar Hole was another favorite destination. Some enterprising individual with access to earth-moving equipment had carved a dirt bike track out of the overgrown landscape just across the creek from the end of the runway from whence the crop dusters came. When we discovered it, we took our bikes there often, and would ride around on the track. Again, we weren't BMX racers, so we didn't exactly exploit the jumps the track could have afforded. Once though, I did have a bit of a spill that left a pretty intense gash on my gut from the exposed end of my handlebar. Craig mocked me at first, which was warranted, but he was pretty cool about at least being concerned after. There wasn't much to offer by way of help that far from home.
I have only ever been involved with two car accidents in my life, and Craig was in the car both times. The first was Memorial Day, 1998. We were coming home from John and Jordan's house down Rice Field Road. We were coming from the east into the S bend, and John was coming in a bit hot. As he started turning in to the left, the back end started coming out. He actually applied some opposite lock (I had been int he ditch in his car before due to his NOT knowing how to steer in the case of fishtailing, and he got some verbal "encouragement" for next time), at which point we started heading off the road. So he applied positive lock again, rotating the car still further. By this point, we were off the road sliding sideways on the middle section of the S-bend's shallow-grade ditch which had recently been mowed. I was riding shotgun, and it was pretty intense looking out my window and seeing us going toward what should have been our 3 o'clock. Craig was right behind me when suddenly, the recently mowed grass was in my window, then the windshield, then the opposite side's window, and then we stopped right-side up. I had to do a bit of kicking to open my door, but mine was the only one with difficulty. The only injury was from Jordan flailing in the back seat unrestrained and hitting Craig and giving him a bruise. I think Craig would have preferred to do it again.
The second one was nearly 2 years later in New Jersey. We were headed to 6 Flags, I think with Eliot Omanson and Mike Mojjica. They were up front with Craig and me in the back - me on the driver's side. I was the only putz not wearing a seatbelt, and at one point on Route 70, Eliot was looking down at the cd player changing the (Kid Rock) song when the lady in front of us was slowing to take a left. When Eliot looked up, he slammed on the brakes and tried to steer left around the lady, but she must not have known what was going on because she turned anyway. We slammed into her left side, and left her facing the wrong way on Rt 70 looking east, while we careened into a deep ditch. I had kinda popped forward with my face between Eliot and Mike, and I pushed myself back into my seat just before dropping into the ditch where we slammed into the far bank. The airbags deployed, and I was thrown forward again. Craig hit his shins on the seat in front, and got a minor bruise on each. I thought the car was on fire from the airbag smoke. Craig stretched the truth a bit to the paramedics and police on the scene and said he had nothing wrong whatsoever, so he didn't have to go to the hospital. Eliot and Mike both had the weakest of injuries, so they were taken in. I remember Mom and Dad not being real pleased as if we should have done something differently. I have despised Kid Rock all the more since that day.
I will have to tell my story of Craig being a cop magnet later.