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Coming of Age - Greasy Lake - Short Story

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The story Greasy Lake is a great interpretation of teenage middle class boys who learn about coming of age through lessons learned in an intense and tough way. The boys in the story come to realize who they really are after a series of events at the lake due to their careless behavior. For the boys one mistake after another leads up to the surprising event that reveals to them the potential consequences that their actions could have on their lives.

With nothing to do and three days into the summer the boys are looking for something thrilling to do. The young men considered themselves as bad boys. "We were all dangerous characters then. We wore torn-up leather jackets, slouched around with toothpicks in our mouths, sniffed glue and ether and what somebody claimed was cocaine." (DelBanco 77) The boys were nineteen years old they "... drank gin and grape juice, Tango, Thunderbird, and Bali Hai... We were bad" (DelBanco 77) Going up to the lake was something that was the thing to do, everyone went up there. It was two o'clock in the morning and the boys were driving around town contemplating what they should do next. The bars were closed, they stopped for food, threw two dozen eggs at hitchhikers and mailboxes and were headed to Lake Greasy because there was nothing else to do. When they arrived at Greasy Lake Digby grabbed for the wheel, he thought that the other car was Tony Lovett's car. They thought that honking the horn and flashing the car lights was a hilarious joke to play on Tony. They figured that Tony and his company would think that they were state troopers and that would scare them. "The first mistake, the one that opened the whole floodgate, was losing my grip on the keys. In the excitement, leaping from the car with the gin in one hand and a roach clip in the other, I spilled them in the grass-in the dark, rank, mysterious nighttime grass of Greasy Lake." (DelBanco 78)

The second mistake of the night was realizing that the car was not Tony Lovett's car after all. Looking at the car closer it became apparent that the blue chrome was lighter than Tony's and he did not have side mounted speakers. It appeared that Digby and Jeff had come to the same conclusion as the narrator about the same time. The bad greasy character pushed the door open and came out ready to fight. The first kick to the upper chin came quickly chipped the narrator's favorite tooth, he quickly began to search around for the keys in the grass while he was sprawled out he knew "...that things had gone wrong, that I was in a lot of trouble, and that the lost ignition key was my grail and my salvation." (DelBanco 78) Digby and Jeff both tried to come to is rescue, Digby using his martial arts skills and Jeff on the Greasy man's back biting his ear. While Digby and Jeff were struggling "I went for the tire iron I kept under the driver's seat." (DelBanco 78) He was able to locate the tire iron he states, "I was terrified. Blood was beating in my ears, my hands were shaking, my heart turning over like a dirt-bike in the wrong gear." (DelBanco 78) The greasy man was struck with the tire iron and out he went. All the boys stood in a circle looking at the greasy man, "Rattled, I dropped it in the dirt, already envisioning the headlines, the pitted faces of the police inquisitors, the gleam of the handcuffs, clank of the bars, the big black shadows rising from the back of the cell..."( DelBanco 79)

Soon after the greasy man was knocked out the girl who was in the car with him came out of the car screaming and running towards the boys with her fists balled up. "We were on her like Bergman's deranged brothers-see no evil, hear none, speak none-panting, wheezing, tearing at her clothes, grabbing for flesh. We were bad characters, and we were scared and hot and three steps over the line-anything could have happened." (DelBanco 79) Before the boys could continue on with their attempts with the girl there was a flash of headlights from



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