I don't recall participating in many overt acts of vandalism when I was young. I could say I thought it wasn't right to purposely destroy or damage other people's property. But that wasn't true. Actually, I was just always afraid of getting caught.
There was the time we found a shopping cart in the neighborhood that belonged to the local market. We decided to be good Boy Scouts and return it, so naturally we connected it to the trailer hitch of my buddy Stitch's car and dragged it all over the place before finding our way to the market. Then, to make sure the owner knew we'd brought it back, we hung it from the handle of his front door. A while later, we passed by and noticed two police cars there—apparently we'd set off the alarm. We weren't purposely trying to vandalize anything, but I'm not sure how well the cart worked after that. Or the door.
We staked out the tower one day to plan our assault. A razor wire fence surrounded it. Easy enough to cross. A ladder ran up one of the tower legs, but the bottom of the ladder was at least twenty feet in the air. My dad's extension ladder would reach that high. A cage covered the bottom of the tower ladder, but it looked like it was just latched shut. Having done our due reconnaissance, we figured it was possible.
And we were going to be the first humans ever to climb up and spray our victory message on the top.
So a few days later, we returned to conquer. One of us had to stay down to hide the extension ladder and move the car away, so I was chosen to climb up. After extending the ladder to its full length, it barely reached to a few feet below the cage. I carefully climbed up to the top rung of my dad's ladder and discovered the cage was locked. Now what? The only way past was to climb on the outside of the cage, which was made of fine mesh. I could fit my fingers in it, but not my feet. I'd need to climb up several yards using only my hands. Actually, only my fingers.
But I was a skinny kid and a champion at pull-ups—I could easily pump off forty or more on the bar in my bedroom door. So I managed to scramble up the cage, nearly cutting my fingers off on the mesh. I made it to the main ladder and began my ascent. It took a very long time to climb all the way up. I'd never realized how tall that thing really was.
Finally, I reached the top, where a catwalk surrounded the giant ball that held the water. I looked down at all the small people below me. I was king of the world. No one had ever accomplished such a feat before. My spray-painted name would go down in history. I'd be remembered forever as the Edmund Hillary of the Tower.
After surveying my kingdom, I retrieved the can of paint from my back pocket and started searching for the best place to spray. And there I saw it, just above the catwalk, a message in black spray paint: "Ha! We were here first." Followed by names and a date from a year earlier.
Someone had beat me to it. Worse yet, I recognized one of the names as a kid from rival Cypress High.
So I covered their names with paint, sprayed mine and Stitch's in their place, and descended back to the mortal world. Despite not being first to conquer the tower, it was still quite a feat, though one of the more dangerous things I've ever done. Several years later I stopped by to see if our names were still there. Unfortunately, it had all been painted over. Probably by the US Navy.