Sunday, January 08, 2006

Johnny on the spot

I joined the Involuntary Polar Bear Club in my neighbor’s pond when I was eight years old. My membership was expedited by the inflatable donut sled that I was riding at the time, which proved very difficult to dismount at high speed. Once the sled inadvertently turned into an amphibious vehicle, I fell into the icy slush water and was, as you might imagine, very invigorated. The pond was only waist-deep near the shore, so I waded to the water’s edge and plunked myself onto the bank like a frozen trout. Being eight years old, I was already well-versed in the arts of crying and screaming, both of which I commenced with great enthusiasm.

Fortunately for me, my buddy Johnny was there to see the whole thing. He promptly recognized the gravity of the situation and took off running like a Baywatch lifeguard, except that he wasn’t jiggling or running in slow motion, and also he wasn’t running towards me or towards my parents’ house, but off over the horizon to some unknown destination, presumably hoping that wherever he ended up, they’d have candy. By the time my parents heard the shrieking and came down to get me, Johnny had wandered into a different time zone.

This is the story that Johnny still has to suffer through on at least an annual basis. Sure, he was a groomsman at my wedding, and we’ve had innumerable other adventures in the twenty years since that day at the pond, but that is the one that sticks. If you’re going to do something embarrassing around my family, and you don’t want to hear about it for the next several decades, you should set off lively firecrackers next to your ears every time you pull into our driveway.

If you ask him now why he couldn’t find my house, which was about a hundred yards away, and which we’d come from about fifteen minutes earlier, and which had our own tracks in the snow leading directly to it, Johnny will tell you that he’d only been to my house a couple of times before that day, and that he’s not the one who rode a sled into a frozen pond anyway, so who’s really the stupid one in this story?

The bottom line is that Johnny is a good friend and a good person, and I’m fortunate to have had a friend like him over so many years. It’s just a bonus that the river of “Johnny stories” never runs dry. He is even beginning to write his own dictionary.

Johnny recently explained to me that he had just “rooftopped” his new iPod. Rooftopping is a term that should never have needed to exist, but since my friends rooftop so many of their earthly possessions, they needed a term for it, like how the Inuit need lots of words to describe snow.

Rooftopping occurs when you put something on the roof of your car, forget about it and drive off. My buddies have lost several wallets and entire CD collections to rooftopping. Here’s the best advice you’ll ever get: Never set something temporarily on top of your car. No good can come of it.

A perfect example: A couple of years ago, Johnny taught a class to college students at the University of Colorado. He collected the students’ final exams, put them in a box and promptly rooftopped them. The next day, when he asked the students to send him an email with a copy of their final exams attached, a student asked, “Why do we need to do that? You already have the printed copies.”

“I just like to have a backup,” Johnny replied, and quickly changed the subject.

I tell you this so that you’ll know that if you ever see Johnny at a gas station, you should follow him to see what goodies will fall your way. Also, if you are sending your children to the University of Colorado, maybe you can still get your money back.

You can put Mike Todd on your roof and speed away at


  1. OK OK OK OK....Johnny is now officially the dumbest person I've ever met. Someone actually put him in charge of teaching college students???? Mike, I could learn much more from your least he knows to leave his turds lying on the ground and not on the rooftop of his car before he takes off to go bang Mrs. Chopper.

    -Below Me

  2. Anonymous -- Johnny's a smart mofo. If I was going to write a "check out what a dumbass this guy is" column, I'd have done it about my buddy Josh Perlson. Holy crap, you wouldn't believe how dumb that guy is. Also, he likes really stupid movies.

  3. I think the worst rooftopping i've done is a pack of gum. But man, when you can't find your wallet and you KNOW you put it there- now THAT's scary.

    Happy New Year Mike!

  4. Great post Mike; happy new year!

  5. Poor Johnny - he must be half-deaf by now from lighting firecrackers next to his ears before going into your home. Isn't it funny how one wrong thing becomes a lifetime of laughter? The first year on our farm, my mother asked me to go give the cauliflower leaves to the pigs to eat. How was I supposed to know that an entire growing season of cauliflower was attached to those leaves? That was some mighty tasting pork that winter and I've never lived that down.

    Fun story Mike!

  6. Brrr... Your little dip in the frozen pond must have been very scary at the time, but it made for one helluva story!

    and LMAO at "rooftopping". It's abt time someone came up with a term for that! Yikes on the Ipod and term papers tho... As Homer Simpson so eloquently puts it, "DOH!"

  7. *bows in homage*

    One of the best posts I've read in a long time.

    Thanks for teaching me a new word ("rooftopping"). Is there no end to the knowledge you can impart to your readers? *grin*

    There are certain stories that will never die--I have a number of my own, mostly about my DH...LOL
    I'll have to share them on my blog someday.

    They'll pale in comparison to this, though.

    Thanks for making my Mondays so much better!!

    Oh, and Happy New Year!!


  8. The worst thing I've ever rooftopped was our family's whole dinner from the most amazing (and expensive) vietnamese restaurant. I was salivating the whole way home about the sushi, fried bananas, and these little rolled up chicken things, among countless other stuff we were supposed to gorge ourselves out on. When I got home, I realized my stupid mistake. I'm pretty sure we ended up with top raman that night. Other than that, I've rooftopped many a coffee from Starbucks. Now my car is too tall for me to rooftop, so I do still have my iPod, thank goodness! And my kids are out of carseats, so I guess I can't rooftop them either....

  9. I totally understand Johnny... in fact I am Johnny. One day at an amusement park I threw up multiple times and every year when I see those folks is it always the same shit... "Hey! It's Pukey! How ya doin'? Ride any roller coasters lately?" Bastards.

  10. Seems like more Johnny stories need to be shared. :)

  11. Jim -- Right back atcha, buddy.

    Anna -- Thanks! So when's the Irish New Year?

    Sheri -- If I was one of those pigs, I would have starved.

    Heidi -- Thanks! No need at all to eat my shorts.

    Marie -- Oh, go on. Seriously. Please. You rock. Thanks for the kind words.

    Child -- I would still be crying if that had happened to me.

    Pukey -- Do they ever call you Pukey McGee? Adding "McGee" to a nickname always makes it funnier.

    Anon -- Thanks -- I'll see if he's still friends with me and take it from there.

  12. I've done that before but never knew that there was a name for it...I feel so enlightened now that I've learned a new word. Johnny sounds like a fun friend to have.

  13. I've rooftopped a couple of travel coffee mugs... how annoying... and embarrassing!

    Great story about your friend. ;o)

  14. Got a cousin named John. At christmas eve our families would gather at g-ma's and sing christmas carols. One song had the lyric: Johnny wants a choo choo train. We would yell the words out as loud as we could to embarass him. Now, twenty five years later, though we haven't seen cousin John in years and don't have anyone else named John in the family, we still yell out that part of the song.

    So in a way, I guess we are making fun of someone not even there.

    By the way, I have backbumpertopped/trunktopped a coke / wrench / keys, drove to a destination and found them untouched.(I used to do that a lot.)

  15. I "rooftopped" by purse. A nice police officer returned it to me after he ran over it with his car. He had a good laugh at my expense and at my weird habit of collecting condiment packages.