Crab apple: (n) a small, sour, wild apple
His name was Page McClain.
It really was.
I will further strain your belief by telling you that his middle name was Unus, which you may not know is the Latin word for “one.”
Page One McClain.
As you can imagine, his parents were quite colorful. They were hippies living in a town which didn’t believe in hippies.
Page was unique. He was the most intellectual ten-year-old boy I’ve ever met. I think he liked me because I was the only person in the school who liked him. Everyone else thought he was too small, too odd or that his parents were probably Communists, which made him too dangerous.
My parents were reluctant to have me play with him, and it took me a solid two weeks to convince them to permit me a sleepover at his house. But one night I caught them in a good mood, asked them in just the right tone of voice, and had just finished mowing the lawn (which was such a rare occurrence that it always brought tears to their eyes).
They agreed to let me go.
Page did not have much to play with at his house. His parents were poor (which may surprise you since they were hippies and all). When it was time for lunch, he opened up a can of kidney beans and handed me a spoon. (I had often complained about kidney beans in a bowl of chili. Now, coming face-to-face with their point of origin, I was shell-shocked and nearly immobile. But since Page ate them, I ate them, too.)
The only thing Page had available at his house was an apple tree with crab apples on it. They were tiny, red and just perfect for throwing. Many of them had fallen to the ground and were fairly soft. So we picked them up and started aiming them at tree-trunks and, to my embarrassment, passing cats and dogs.
We soon grew tired of this and began throwing them at each other. It turned into a full-fledged crab apple battle. Soon the ones on the ground were used up as ammunition, so we started pulling them off the tree. These were harder. When they hit you in the face, it not only smarted, but also left a red residue from the crab apple itself.
Later that day, when my mother picked me up, she was convinced that my face had been attacked by a chain saw. She actually drove me to the doctor. He was our family doctor—old, sometimes grumpy, but often a bit whimsical. After carefully examining me, he turned to my mother and said, “I think your son has been hit by an apple pie, but somebody forgot to peel the apples.”
The doctor thought this was hilarious. My mother was baffled.
And I was busy in thought…wondering if I had been the winner at the great crab apple war.