The thing about rocks – don't call them a comeback, they've been here for years. Been here for ages. And by "ages" I mean "Ages". Some of those little fuckers, they were here to be stepped on by dinosaurs and shit. Hell, there were probably shat by some of the less discerning dinosaurs.
They be old enough to remember Pangaea. (Pangaea was a great idea. Too bad they broke up.) This impressed me at an early age.
"Hi rocks," I'd say. "I'm Chris, and I don't know. Tell me."
"Dude, I can't respect you," the rock would say. "You've never been forced through the rectum of a T-Rex."
"No, rock. I haven't. Tell me.
The rock would just shake his head and say, "Well, it sucks."
The kickball field at my elementary school was quite fertile, at least as far as rocks were concerned. Found an assload of Feldspar There. And Quartz. Smoky Quartz. Rose Quartz (who I would later meet at NYU.)
But most interestingly, I would find tons of this shiny bubbly black rock. The coating on the top was damn shiny. But its complexion was broken up by these sometimes large, sometimes-small bubbles busting through the surface – its pretty face broken-out with geologic acne.
So I took some samples to my second grade teacher. In my mind, she could do no wrong. She thought I was smart, and praised me for being the only kid in class who voted for Mondale/Ferraro. Lesson being – if you compliment me, I will be your friend.
"Looks like coal," she said.
I took this with a grain of salt, as I couldn't completely trust her because she was, after all, the same woman who fed us cold spaghetti and called it "fried worms" when we read "How To Eat Fried Worms" in class.
"Looks like coal?" I said. "What is coal doing on the surface of a kickball field? Don't people have to dig for that?"
"Well yes, they do," she said. "But it looks like coal."
I had read up on rocks. I loved rocks. And I knew coal. I knew how coal could be found. I knew how pressure could turn a lump of coal into an emerald, a diamond, a sapphire, or a ruby. That shit's found deep! There's no fucking way you'd find coal on the surface of a kickball field, especially when people are paid to dig for it and get Black Lung in the process.
It had to be lava rock. Had to be.
The question was, of course – what the hell was an abundance of lava rock doing in a town called Plainville, Connecticut? I town so named because, well, it's on a big fucking plain. There are no volcanoes in central Connecticut.
"You forget," the rock would say. "Some of us were here when there was only but one continent."
"And some of us are just coal."
I am a packrat. I keep everything. I carry love notes to long lost girls written on bar napkins never shared in my wallet. I have receipts for 2-for-1 packs of Camel Lights bought in Boston from 2003. I have the bar tab from the last night before the Smoking Ban when Dogg and I closed the place.
Because someday, this will all be important to no one. I will be gone, but the artifacts remain. They will say "Honky Wuz Here 2005". And my ghost will smile.
If you ever visit my parents house, and wade through the mess of life-sized teddy bears and slot machines, make your way up to what used to be my room. It doesn't look like it used to, but up on the bookshelf you can still find every one of those damn lava rocks that turned out to be merely coal. Along with every other rock I found when I was still a real live little boy.