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moments with youth

Mark Krueger: This month we introduce a new member to our group of storytellers, Rick Flowers, who shares a moment from his own youth. The moment was constructed during an exercise we conduct during our inquiry into youth work. Each of us, at several points during the study, examines and/or writes a story about a moment from our own youth. This exercise helps us be aware of how our experience of adolescence biases and enriches our understanding of the youthsí experiences.

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Big Ray

There was nothing unusual about the day. We were on our way to the back alley to shoot some hoops. Ken and I were dribbling the ball down the alley and making fancy passes to each other and talking about what we were going to do on the court. The court was a large white barn shaped garage with the basketball hoop. We always wondered what was in it, since we never saw a car enter or leave the garage.

We finally arrive at the court and Ken immediately says, "Letís play some H-O-R-S-E."

I agree and let Ken take the first shot. He makes a lay-up and I reply, "That ainít shit" and proceed to make a lay-up. Just as Ken starts to try another shot two people suddenly appear at the court. Itís big Ray and someone else. Then someone else shows up. We scrap the H-O-R-S-E game and start a game of Hustle.

"What you got Ken, you canít fuck with this"

"Iím a take your ass to the hole this time"

The ball is in Kenís hand now and Iím telling "you ainít shit, your ass too scared to shoot it from there." Ken misses the shot
Big Ray has to ball now. He holds the ball and looks at me and says, "What would your mamma say if she heard you out here cussing like that?" Big Ray was actually only a couple of years older than me, but he appeared to be much older and was looked at as one of the older guys.

My first thought was to tell him that she wouldnít say shit, but the words would not come out, perhaps from fear that he might go and ask my mom. My second thought was to say, "fuck you", that didnít happen either. Instead I was frozen with what seemed to be an audience waiting for a response. I finally managed to say "I donít know" ó but I did know. I knew that I would stop cursing from then on.