[Originally printed on the back page “Local Voices” op-ed column of the Lake Lavender Coupon Clipper Monthly, May 1986. Reprinted with kind permission of the author of the piece, Peggy Saunderson.]
It seems that every time you open up the newspaper or turn on the news, teenagers are getting into some kind of trouble. Well, instead of focusing on the negative like everybody else, I’d like to tell you about three local teenagers who are making a positive difference. While others (myself included!) complain about Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, these three decided to do something about it.
Their names are Daryl Hartman, Travis Shirley, and Morgan Tarkanian, and together, they started a tradition-in-the-making called “Spit on Qaddafi Day.” Originally a pastime with these three high school sophomores as they waited at the bus stop each morning, “Spit on Qaddafi Day” has spread throughout the county, bringing the community together in an inspiring display of patriotism and, yes, spit.
“Spit on Qaddafi Day” started the morning after American F-16s bombed Tripoli, Libya in retaliation for the bombing of the “La Belle” discotheque in Berlin, West Germany.
“It was my idea,” says Daryl. “I cut out a picture of Qaddafi from the paper and drew bullseyes on it.”
“No man, it was my idea,” says Travis. “I was the one who taped it to the stop sign. I thought we’d throw rocks at it.”
“Well you best believe I was the one who first spit on it,” Morgan says, before the three of them playfully push, shove, punch and kick each other.
Whether one or all three deserve credit for starting it, spitting on a picture of Libyan dictator became a weekday morning ritual as they waited for the school bus to take them to Lake Lavender High. “And we were startin’ to get real good with our aimin’,” Travis says.
Fellow classmates at the bus stop took notice.
“At first I thought it was stupid” says freshman trimathlete Kyle D’Addario, “but now I think they just love America like, a lot.”
“At first? I was like? ‘Yall, that’s gross,” Madonna “wish-she-was” Kirsten Curtis says. “But now? I’m like, ‘Y’all that’s cool.’”
“It’s about freedom,” Kyle adds. “People over there can’t spit on pictures of Qaddafi like we can here. It’s why our country is the best.”
Help from the Police
Deputy Dale Hershman was on a routine patrol of the neighborhood when he saw what appeared to be three teenage boys spitting on a stop sign.
“I drove up, fully intending to arrest these three for defacing government property,” Hershman says. “I gotta admit, I was assuming the worst. Teenagers, so full of disrespect, they even spit on stop signs. But then, when I saw what they were really doing, I asked if I could get a turn, hockin’ a loogie on that dirty ay-rab.”
Officer Hershman went back to “the station” and told his fellow officers about what these three teens were getting up to. Hershman’s fellow officers were most impressed.
“In a matter of days, we were all playing Spit on Qaddafi. On-duty, off-duty, it didn’t matter. We couldn’t stop.
“Anytime anybody tells me how teenagers don’t love America, I tell them all about Spit on Qaddafi,” Hershman says.
Fun for the Whole Family, the Whole County, and the Whole Country!
Once the County Police started playing Spit on Qaddafi, soon enough, everyone started playing Spit on Qaddafi. A local entrepreneur printed 81/2” by 11” pictures of Muammar Qaddafi with crosshairs and the caption, “SPIT ON ME DIRTY IMPERIALIST PIG! I DARE YOU!” and they flew off the shelves of local novelty and gift stores. Lately, it seems that no backyard barbeque, pool party, or rec room get together is complete without a rousing game of Spit on Qaddafi.
Church festivals have gotten in on the fun. Some are even putting new twists on the game. This summer’s county fair is planning a Dunk on Qaddafi game, where a man dressed in Arab garb sits in a dunk tank and shouts anti-American slogans while fairgoers attempt to throw baseballs at a switch than knocks this fake Qaddafi into the water.
State and local representatives are working to make Spit on Qaddafi Day an official state holiday, and there is even talk among Congress of having a national Spit on Qaddafi Day, kicked off by Ronald and Nancy Reagan on the East Lawn of the White House.
Humble Patriotic Teens Put Country Ahead of Self
One would assume that in a time when everyone is trying to make a buck any way that they can, Travis, Daryl, and Morgan would be selling their idea to the highest corporate bidder.
“We’re just happy to see everybody spitting on Qaddafi,” Daryl says.
“He deserves it.” Travis says.
“But I’m still the best at it,” Morgan says, before they all start pushing, shoving, punching, and kicking each other once again.
No matter which of these three is the best at it, in this columnist’s opinion, they embody a much-needed spirit that, to paraphrase the late communist John F. Kennedy, asks not what your country can do for you, but that you spit on Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi.
Brian Costello is a writer, musician, and performer. He co-hosts “Shame That Tune,” America’s favorite musical comedy game show, plays drums in the band Outer Minds, and is a frequent contributor to the “Chicago Reader.”