When I was a kid, around seven or eight, I saw a mohawk for the first time. MTV. Lars Frederiksen. I didn’t know who he was. I didn’t know what a mohawk was. But this mother fucker had dinosaur spikes ON HIS HEAD. It was red. It was cool. It was the shit.
You see it.
I wanted to get a mohawk then. But I didn’t. I was afraid it would look stupid and I’d get made fun of on the playground by the baddest little boy on the block, John “Duckins”. John Duckins always had a cool shirt on. He was prone to challenging the other boys to see who could pee higher on the wall in the bathroom. And he would call people “Dickwads” and had a propensity for punching those people. One time, John Duckins was on a warpath.
See, on the playground, there were four options every day. Option one, my best friend Cody and I would assume the role of these two anthropomorphized Australian Dodo Birds and act out serialized goings on with that. It ran for a few years, and had some real ups and downs, with the introduction of new friends as new characters and the departure of beloved ensemble members when their parents moved them away.
It eventually kind of got out of hand when we started reading comics and incorporating alien wars these Dodo Birds had no business interacting with, and one day had its secret final episode, because we all got really competitive at tether-ball. That was option two.
Option Three was to attempt to talk to the girls, but I had already lost recess for a day earlier that year because I had given a girl a note, and as Mrs. Smith said, ”School’s not for passing notes.” And what are words spoken if not notes unwritten?
Option Four was Power Rangers. If you’re a person of a certain age, you know that means we would gather and re-enact the most recent episode of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. It was very similar to what Cody and I were doing at option one, just without all the copyright infringement. But pretend fighting with a compelling storyline is fun, and Cody was out sick that day, so Power Rangers it was.
At a point, all of us children who had any interest in playing Power Rangers had sort of come to an understanding that whoever calls a role first gets it. “Dibs” as it were. Typically, I would assume the role of the Blue Ranger, Billy. He was into science, and his zord had dinosaur spikes ON ITS HEAD. but most pressingly, Billy was the Blue Ranger, and Blue was my favorite color. I often wonder how much that choice of vanity influenced my life trajectory, but then I remember I’m not, nor was I ever, a teenager who builds flying cars and teleporting watches. Anyway, I got out there late, and the Blue Ranger had been dibsed.
As had the other boy rangers. And the girl rangers, but given that this was the 90s, I wouldn’t have dared play a girl ranger. And as it turns out, all of the villain roles were taken as well. In an effort to maintain my business in the future, the other kids had a solution: I could make up my own character. Who wasn’t a main character. And wouldn’t speak or interfere with the carefully remembered work of the Saban writers room. But who could have a name and a backstory if I wanted. So I, at the bottom of the proverbial call sheet, decided to be a “Mad Weiner Dog”. Ya know, a Daschund. With Rabies. But in a charming way.
It did not take long to realize something was up. Joe, our Red Ranger for the day (and de facto leader by proxy(?)) was shifting the area of the playground we inhabited at every opportunity. Joe was an interesting cat. He used to brag about his dad picking up cigarette butts off the ground and smoking them. He had once floated the idea of, instead of Power Rangers, we play Walker: Texas Ranger. After the first prompt of, “OK, we just caught you with cocaine, run!” we all thought better of it, because we didn’t know what a lot of the words he was saying were.
He also pissed through his sleeping bag onto my floor at a sleepover, but you can’t be mad about biology. Unless you’re the baddest lil boy on the block, and you lost a literal pissing contest where money (we’re talking tens of cents here) was on the line. The 90’s were wild, man.
We didn’t know that. Or I didn’t. The others may have. But suddenly, we were going into a hybrid of today’s episode and some free form Dodo Bird shit. I was beckoned by Joe, “Hey, John’s playing now, and he’s trying to invade the command center! Mad Weiner Dog, get him!”
From the moment I had started barking around the general play area earlier in the recess, I had prepared to spread my rabies across the evil hordes, or die trying. This was the moment I had waited around 10 minutes for. I galloped away, because it was close enough to what dogs do.
John Duckins rolled four deep. Like any gang of ne'er do wells, the deep four were some permutation on a theme presented by their leader, in this case John Duckins in a cool, slightly worn shirt and pants that were a little too big, and a camouflage coat. Years later, it would become apparent that all of these boys came from homes of lesser privilege, and channeled their anger through bullying. But again, I didn’t know that. I was just a seven or eight year old barking and galloping like a king, with orders to stop the invasion.
“Look out! *bark* There’s a Mad Weiner Dog on the loose! *bark*” I *bark* barked *bark*
“I don’t give a crap, dickwad!”
I hadn’t ever been punched before. I did not care for the sensation of all of the wind escaping my body and choking on the lack of oxygen. I did not care for my legs giving out beneath me. And I did not care for the realization that John wasn’t actually playing a modern take on yesterday’s Power Rangers, and moreover, that Joe had been using the guise of fun as a shield from violence.
And so, no. I wouldn’t ask my mom if I could get a mohawk. The risk of being punched was too high.
But I have a mohawk now. Get Fucked, John Duckins.