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.
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.
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.