My Memories of Todd McCuen

Many of you are having trouble remembering the guy that licked his nipple in the group photo. My familiarity of Todd was limited, but I know he was always a great guy – very funny and kind. He went to Little Rock Christian with Price Horn for a brief period of time and came back in 7th or 8th grade. His family owned a video rental store at one point in time.

You may remember Todd as driving a newer white Mustang convertible with a maroon top. Todd bought this car after receiving a settlement from a car wreck. I don’t remember what year but he was driving down Highway 5, the car malfunctioned and he hit a tree at 50+.

Many of his bones were shattered as well as his jaw. After months with his jaw wired shut, he was horrified that it set incorrectly and the doctor re-broke it with a wooden mallet during a follow-up visit and set it once again.

About two years after high school, I returned to Arkansas after being discharged from the Air Force (long story). Todd had been friends with my then current wife, Toni (devil, devil, devil). We all went camping on the Buffalo River.

There were six of us. We drank a lot.

Todd mixed up an ice chest full of fruit, punch, and a whole bunch of PGA. Yes, PGA punch. A couple of hours into the night, the fire was dying down and I was stumbling through the dark with a hatchet trying to find more firewood.

Apparently, we were really rowdy, as the park rangers stopped by on several occasions to ask us to keep it down while we feigned sobriety. We were so drunk that Todd and Toni thought there were fish in their Solo cups full of PGA punch because there were bubbles in it. I got to watch them plunge their hands into their cups and try in vain to catch one of those fish.

Don’t get me wrong, I was right there with them. I was starting to get down right sick.

As the night wore on, we had run out of firewood, but not conversation, or punch. To build up the fire, I found a nearby grove of green bamboo-like shoots. I tossed them on the fire and it smoked heavily. It smelled awful. It was very nauseating.

Without getting up from my chair, I would scoot it around the fire. Each time, the wind would shift and the smoke would blow into my face. This continued for about an hour. I would scoot, the wind would change. I know my face had to be green. That was all I could take. Needless to say, there is a tree with no bark on it in the Buffalo National Forest.

Our campsite was at the top of a 20 foot ravine. Yep, that wasn’t good.

After more drinking and silliness, Todd had gotten even more talkative. He insisted that he must proclaim his superior manhood. Shirtless (familiar, eh?) he stumbled to the edge of the campsite and turned his back to the river as he faced us. With Solo cup in hand, he raised both arms out to his side and yelled, “Shhhh…Listen everyone! Listen…shhhhh…be quite…LISTEN! I…am…MAN!”

At this utterance he promptly collapsed backward and rolled down the ravine to the river till we heard a splash…

then a groan…

and then screams of pain…

and then a barking sound…

and then ouches and ow…

and then more barking – like a squirrel…

We scampered down to investigate and Todd was wrestling with something in the dark. Shining a flashlight his direction we could see Todd trying to pull a raccoon off of his chest. It was scratching the holy hell out of him and he couldn’t get it off. Todd passed out and fell forward on it. It screamed and then ran off. We left him there.