Man on Wire

I am an alumnus of Davis High School, home of the Darts and the pride of the Tri-Cities Area. When I was at Davis (actually, back then it was actually named McKinley High; it was renamed in my honor in 1995 after I did something pretty amazing and heroic – I don’t really like to talk about it), our arch-rivals were the Vikings of Viewmont High School, in nearby Centerville (from which my wife, Melissa, graduated in 2009). I attribute the rivalry between Davis and Viewmont to the fact that half of the kids with whom I attended junior high went on to Viewmont while half of us went to Davis, and also the fact that people who go to Viewmont are stupid idiots.


When I was a senior at Davis, a few of my friends and I decided that we needed to do something to give expression to the deep sense of loyalty and love we felt towards our school. Just kidding, we wanted to play a prank on Poomont. I’m not exactly sure how we got from our desire to prank Viewmont to deciding that we needed to go to the huge cement “V” that marks Viewmont’s territory on the side of the mountains in Centerville and cover it in brown and gold paint – the colors of Davis High School. I just know that that’s what we decided, and I’m proud of that decision.

It was resolved that this would take place on the night of the football game between Davis and Viewmont, which also happened to be Viewmont’s Homecoming. Our objective fixed, we made the necessary preparations. The first stop was a hardware store for the paint. In order to evade detection, we made sure to buy brown paint at one hardware store and yellow paint at another. We surveiled our target and hid the paint in some brush a few feet away from the “V.” We decided to sit separately at the game so we could slip out at half time unnoticed. We established a minute-by-minute timetable for leaving the game, changing into dark clothes (the shirt I selected had a white stripe on the chest, so I covered it in electrician’s tape), driving to the drop-off point, hiking up to the “V”, purifying it with brown and gold paint, changing out of our dark clothes, and then hightailing it to the stomp at DHS before anyone noticed we were gone. No detail was left to chance.

The police line-up in Farmington, Utah is a fairly formal affair.

A day or two before the raid, we began to feel a little uneasy. We took for granted that the folks at Viewmont wouldn’t take kindly to the improvements we planned to make to their landmark, and would probably call the police. Now, the police in Davis County, Utah don’t have a whole lot to do. You can imagine how frustrating that is to them, and how badly they want to put their cars and Tasers and guns to use. With no rapes or murders, they park forlornly in cul-de-sacs and parking lots, jumping in anticipation every time the radio crackles with news of a water-ballooning or a toilet-papering.

One night of water ballooning cars in Somerset Farms (the Park Avenue of Farmington) brought down on our heads the full fury of the police departments of Farmington, Fruit Heights, Kaysville, Centerville, and a few stragglers from Woods Cross and Layton. There must have been at least 30 police cruisers patrolling this little subdivision, intent on bringing the water ballooners to justice. It therefore stood to reason that before the paint on the “V” was dry that CSI Davis County would be on the scene with rubber gloves and Q-tips swabbing for DNA. Cops in Davis County are looking for work, and we didn’t necessarily want to be the ones to give it to them.

All of this was occurring at the same time that we were applying to college, and someone mentioned in passing that a misdemeanor conviction for vandalism may not be looked on favorably by admissions committees. I don’t think this statement had much of an impact on any of us at the time it was made, but as the day of the raid drew near it began to weigh more heavily on all of us.

Sure, you’re felony-free records enabled all of you to go to college and graduate school and to get good jobs. But the “V” still gleams white, taunting you for your cowardice. You sicken me.

My sense of foreboding grew with each passing day, to the point that I was convinced that if we executed our plan we’d spend the rest of our days at the Point of the Mountain making license plates. I don’t know which courageous soul was the first to admit that maybe this wasn’t a great idea, but the rest of us quickly and with great relief admitted to feeling the same way, and in the course of a few minutes, the whole idea got scrapped. At the end of the day, we all felt like we had too much to lose, and as awesome as a brown-and-gold “V” would have been, it just wasn’t worth it.

I was reminded of this little chapter of my life by a movie I recently saw called “Man on Wire” which tells the story of Phillipe Petit’s high wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. In a nutshell, Phillipe was something of a prankster and a daredevil, and he became obsessed with getting to the top of the Towers and walking between them on a high wire. This became a mission for Phillipe and his friends, and the movie feels very much like a heist flick, only instead of risking life and limb to rob a bank or a museum, they’re doing it for what is basically a really elaborate prank.

They knew that they’d probably end up in jail for their troubles, and for some reason that I don’t totally understand, they didn’t seem to care. And while I don’t comprehend what makes people like that tick, I’m glad they’re out there, and sometimes I wish I were more like them. I don’t want to give you the idea that I never do anything fun or awesome for fear of the long arm of the law. But I also live with regard to consequences, and there’s a part of me that really admires people who don’t, people who aren’t concerned about their “permanent record.” Which is all a very long way of saying that “Man on Wire” has inspired me to go paint the “V” brown and gold this weekend.

This entry was posted in Davis High School, Man on Wire, Melissa, Poomont High School, Toilet Papering, Water Ballooning, Wookobs. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Man on Wire

  1. Ryan says:

    I have the same sense of self-loathing for my inability to truly scoff the law. There was a night several years ago when Kook and I were going to head out to the golf course and dive in all the ponds to come up with hundreds of golf balls. Yeah, that was the extent of the crime.

    But Macy applied pressure, based on her superior knowledge of golf course security procedures (she knows a guy who manages a course), and the topic of my possible (hypothetical?) disbarment came up. It still gives me a great deal of pain to admit that I committed no trespass that night, and that I remain fully barred to this day. Fully, pathetically, barred.

  2. Troy says:

    My sons have a profound respect/fear for law enforcement–most likely stemming from when I would tell them to put their seatbelts on or “the cops will arrest me and take me to jail–then how would you feel?”. I sometimes forget and tell them stories of my run-ins with the law. Now it’s hard to downplay my crimes even though they were all related to water balloons or doorbell ditching. To my boys, since “blue” was involved, I might as well have been a bank robber. Who needs to paint the V when, in the eyes of my admiring sons, I’m pretty much a hardened criminal.

  3. craig says:

    chris in the double breasted blazer cracks me right up. also, did findog get a perm between the 1st and 2nd picture?

  4. Braden says:

    Awesome post, Dave. It totally captures the frustration that most of us who were “good kids” feel and all the schemes we had. Have I told you about our scheme to paint a “D” on the mountain above dear old Davis High? Pretty much the same story. What sad, safe lives we lead.

  5. Katherine Lewis says:

    For the first time since it happened, I am proud of the fact that I successfully hid those Guatemalan bombs in my suitcase. Davis, I think you suggested that it would be a good idea. I remember standing at the airport counter with Julianne when the nice lady asked me if I had any explosives or firearms in my luggage. At that same moment, Julianne suddenly remembered that she needed to check to make sure all of her zippers were locked and ducked down under the counter. I still haven’t forgiven her for leaving me alone to answer the question. I do regret that I looked the nice lady in the eye and gave her a sheepish little “no.” I lied. I worried about those bombs during the whole flight and kept asking Julianne if we should tell someone. She didn’t think it wise to tell a soul. We kept that secret to ourselves. My Dad was really shocked when I showed him that instead of machetes and beaded bracelets, we brought home gun powder wrapped in newspaper. My brothers and cousins set the bombs off for hours. It was all worth it. But, I still don’t know that I am proud of it. After all, I did lie.

  6. Rebecca says:

    i could give you a few pointers on minor vandalism. believe it or not, my friends and i used to be the terror of our neighborhood. those were the days. however, it was only a few years later that I found myself hyperventilating on the backseat of my car after i got pulled over for speeding (i didn’t even get a ticket).

  7. Christian says:

    I too am amazed with those people and wish I wasn’t so worried about my permanent record. Lame. I always wonder what those people do for work. They must all find employ by the same organic pet food and Huffington Post and navajo rug weaving companies in San Fran and NY. Or very possibly they’re mostly window cleaners, so I guess I probably don’t have much of an excuse. I want to see that “Man on Wire” documentary.

  8. Sara Henriod says:

    I’ve never done anything cool, yet I’ve been arrested twice. So lame. Especially because BOTH TIMES the cops ( in different states) said they’d spare me the humiliation of being handcuffed because I “looked too innocent.” What? At least cuff me so I have a good story to tell! Love the pictures.

  9. Kaitlyn says:

    man on wire- such a good movie! im gratfeul for people like him and the people who record the crazy things they do.

  10. Peter says:

    If I recall, it was Matthews who led the “chicken-out” rally. – To Craigs question, yes, Finn was known to perm his hair in high school. A real trend-setter.

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