Memoir – Drinking Story, New Years, 1982

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.

Drinking Story – New Year’s 1982

                This was halfway through our senior year of high school. We were really coming together as a class. Our daring, arrogance, and ambition grew with each passing day. The fall party season had been pretty good and we were all looking forwards to New Years, but nobody had announced a party yet. Xmas break approached and still no notice. Things were getting tense. It was winter, and a field party was out of the question. In the cold, without the corn all around, sound carries for miles in the flatlands. Setting up in a field or on a desolate road was sure to be too loud for safety. We needed a venue. Then on the last day before break, our fortunes turned – a girl in our class (known at Toots for the remainder of the story) announced that her house was open and everybody was invited. We had 8 days to prepare.

                Beer was our drink of choice most times. It was cheap and you could get it down. Wine, for us flatland rednecks, always had screwcaps and tasted like hell. Hard liquor was expensive and had serious risks. Each of us had at one time or another had a go around with cheap Vodka or Southern Comfort in the past and we were not eager to repeat the experience. The problem with Beer was threefold though. 1) you needed quite a bit of it for a group, so it was hard to conceal and transport, 2) It really, really smelled on your breath making post party detection a problem ( I carried grape bubble yum in my coats and in my car. I could have eaten a road kill skunk and grape bubble yum would still cover the scent) and 3) the biggest problem was that a lot of girls wouldn’t drink it. And how are we going to get them to believe our lies if they are sober? We needed a solution. Here is where having older siblings paid off.

                Cisco’s older brother was 22 or 23 at this time, and we always thought he was pretty much the epitome of cool. He had a cool big truck (33’ monster mudder tires on a Ford with a short stepside box. Bright Yellow. Yes, cool.), he had girls always calling, and he always came home late. We talked to him about our issue and he proposed something we had never heard of: Cocktails. He gave us the recipes for three different drinks, each with strong content and a fruity taste. Give a girl two or three of these and we had a good chance to become both interesting and attractive to her. We spend the next week working our sources to get the money and alcohol. When the day of the party came, Cisco, Hymie and I spent time in my garage mixing up a gallon of screwdrivers, watermelons, and kamikazes. We were set.

                Toots’ house was in the middle of town in Oswego. Remember, in the early ‘80s downtown Oswego is one main street not 4 blocks long, with a river on one side and about 5 blocks of residential on the other. Here was the police department, the fire department, the local bars, and couple of struggling local businesses. She was two blocks away, on the busiest road in town, on the busiest intersection in town, and across the street from a church. Perfect quiet secluded place for a hundred or so under aged partiers to spend New Years Eve. We pulled up, (the whole gang, Beave/Buef/Frito/Boss/ Cisco/Hymie… maybe 8 or  9 of us + girlfriends) in several cars. The rest of the gang had a couple of cases of beer while the three of us had the super hooch. Hymie, Cisco and I parked in the church parking lot. Hey, what? They weren’t using it! We got inside and the place started jumping.

                This was the biggest party we had up to that time. 100+ people, lots of loud music, everybody happy. We supplied everyone (everyone with XX for chromosomes that is) who wanted one of our dinks with a small cup and a solid shot of heaven. As the night went on, people got more and more drunk. It is amazing what a two ounce drink can do to a 100 lb teenager who isn’t used to drinking. Midnight came and we made it a point to get a kiss from every girl we could. It was the best time ever.

                Well, until the true effects started to kick in. Those fruity drinks went down way to easy, then came back around later to take a toll. That, and despite Cisco’s brother’s wise advise (never, ever, ever mix alcohol and beer were his sage but unheeded words), we did mix in a couple of beers. So, by one or so people were starting to drop. Running out back to throw up, getting someone to take them home, or simply falling asleep in the living room. Soon it looked like a refugee scene. Hymie comes up to me, bleary eyed, unfocused and slurring – “Hey, dude, I need some air. Lets go for a ride”. We went out and got in to his car (a Le Car by the way. Closest thing to a motorized red wagon I have ever been in) and headed out to the country. The countryside on a cold clear night can be quite lovely, with the snow covered fields glistening in the moonlight. We didn’t notice. I was staring at the road trying to decide which one was the real one while Hymie just drove with his head out the window (it was Jan 1st. The temp was not above 10 degrees. The antifreeze in his blood probably helped avoid frostbite). Halfway through he stopped the car, turned to me and said “You have to drive. I don’t know where we are.” Mind that we had lived here all of our lives and had driven around in the country for countless hours. We switched seats. By the time I figured out the controls, he was asleep with his head against the window.

                We made it back to the party. I parked at the church and woke Hymie up. He told me he was going to sleep in the car for a while. Then he opened the door and threw up. I made sure he was wearing gloves then went back into the party. Things had deteriorated while we were gone. There were people in the snow in the yard, people crashed on couches and chairs, people sleeping in closets. Buef and Boss were working to get Beave out to a car, but he was in no condition to walk. They dragged him out and took him home. Cisco was in a chair with a sophomore girl sleeping on his lap. He was as happy as I had ever seen him, ever. I stayed inside for a while, then decided to leave. Eventually, parents would be home and I didn’t want to be there. I went back out and checked on Hymie. I sat in the driver’s seat while he sobered up. A big guy with a couple of friends came up to his side of the car and started pointing at him and laughing. They were yelling at him, calling him a loser, a lightweight and several other choice names. They were mocking his sorry condition. Now Hymie is not one to put up with this, but the truth of the matter was that he was in poor shape. He straightened up and rolled down his window. The groups outside laughed even harder when they got a good look at him. They started in on him again, but he raised up his hand getting them to stop. He motioned for them to come closer and took a deep breath. They shuffled closer to the car. “Thanks, now you are all standing in my puke”. They looked down to see the wide puddle of sullied snow next to the car. They yelled then left. Hymie told me to get out, he was going home. After that, every time some one was a dick to someone else and make themselves look bad doing it we would use the line “Thanks, now you are all standing in my puke.”

                Side Story: Beave made it home with help and went to bed. His folks knew what was going on, and let him sleep in until easily 8am. At that point, dad barged in his room, opened the shades and turned on the lights. “Hey there Beave!” he boomed. “Hope you had a good time last night. It’s a bright sunny morning and it’s time to get up! Just a question though, I need your keys to move your car so I can leave.” Beave was barely able to breath. His head pounded and his tongue felt like an old felt boot lining. “Keys in the car…” was all he managed. Dad left then came back in a couple of minutes later. “Your keys might be in your car, but the car is not in the driveway. It’s not out front either. Where’s the car Beave?” “It’s not our front?” he replied. “Nope, nothing but snow and a set of car tracks running through the yard.” “Oh shit.” At that Dad started laughing, loudly. “Honey! Honey! It seems like Beave lost his car last night!” Dad’s humor subsided and he got all serious “You have until noon to find your car or you will not have a car once it is found.” He burned up the phones and we found the car at 11:45am. For years afterwards, whenever someone couldn’t find something we would say “Hey, where’s the car? Honey, Beave lost the car!”

Memoirs – Two Toilet Paper Tales

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy

Two Toilet Paper Tales

Yes, the great teenaged tradition of throwing TP up into people’s trees until they all look like great ghostly willows. Like the after party view of the house in “16 Candles”. Only none of the houses where we grew up looked like that one. Our houses were of a much more modest nature, they were closer together,  and we didn’t have any streetlights. So, an organized group could hit several in a night with only medium risk of getting caught. Having one’s house TP’d is a weird feeling, very contradictory. At first, you feel a bit victimized, like you have been singled out for something. Then, when you later talk about it, you realize that it is less victimization and more like legitimization. Someone went to the trouble and took the risk to stand around and throw stolen (we would raid the supply closet at the McDonalds on Douglas. They never locked that thing and always had a lot on hand. The closet was right by the side door. One could get a cheap burger, walk around the corner grab a case of TP and walk out the door unnoticed. Theoretically that is.) TP in the dark. They cared that much. Then you got a little cranky when you had to clean it up. Particularily if you had a parent jawing in your ear the whole time about “your friends leaving this damned mess in the yard….”.

The first tale involved the whole gang. Yes, the same crew of rocket surgeons that executed the “mass mooning of the church youth group” during the summer (please see archived entry). Now, my memory is failing, so I do not recall at all where we were or who’s house was getting the treatment. But there we were with rolls and rolls of TP carousing about in the front yard of this house. We weren’t even being  subtle about it, such was the arrogance of small-town high school seniors. It was a dark night in the fall, a cloudy night that made it all the darker. A car pulled up out front with the light off. Then it turned on the pretty red and blue lights on the roof. We all stopped and turned. Hmmm. Didn’t exactly plan on this. The officer turned off the lights and got out of the car. It was, at the time, Oswego’s only female police officer. “ I saw the cars parked on the other block and thought I recognized one of them, and I knew he didn’t live around here. Mr. Bueford, are you here?” Buef had a ’64 Malibu, candy red, loud and air shocked so it rode high in the rear. This officer had pulled Buef over several times, but had not been able to give him a ticket yet. He kept the bumper height exactly at the right level and never did burn outs in town, despite others trying to goad him into it. Anyway, yes, Mr. Bueford was there. “I’m here” he said. “How about all you boys get to cleaning this mess up while I speak with Mr. Bueford. Unless, of course, we should start calling parents…” We hastily started cleaning while Buef had his conference with the officer. All went fine, she wanted to talk to him about another kid with a hot car she thought he might know. We clean up and left. The next night, we decided to go out TPing. Why, you ask? Well, it was a nice night, and we had all that TP still in our cars to work with….. So we are mid way through another masterful work, when up pulls a car with the lights off. Then it turned on the pretty red and blue lights on the roof. Hmmm. This feels eerily familiar. The officer gets out and walks up to us. “I got a report of a bunch of kids vandalizing a house….oh. It’s you guys. Tell me, is Mr. Buef here?” We cleaned up again and gave up on TPing for a while.

The second tale has to do with my house. It was late fall, past the point of cool when it was getting downright cold. (Isn’t it weird how forty degrees can feel so damn cold in the fall, but when it hits forty in the spring you rush to put on shorts and break out the Frisbee?).  My doorbell rings at night during the week. That never happens. I answer it and there is my girlfriend. We had been dating maybe a bit over a month at that point. We had gone to Homecomming and as far as I knew everything was good. (just a side note, as a guy if you are in a relationship and you think everything is going good, you can be assured that it isn’t). Let it also be known that I was rather hooked on this girl. Then out of the blue she shows up on my doorstep just to talk. I let her in and we talk for a while in the entryway. I was so damned impressed that she came to see me. Overwhelmed in fact. We flirted and made small talk for maybe ten minutes. She talked a bit to my mom. Then she left. My mom told me “Watch out for her Scott, I don’t trust her. She works way to hard to be liked.” I rolled my eyes and started back downstairs as my mom went to the living room. “Maybe she just really likes me Mom. Maybe it’s important to her that she makes a good impression on you?” Mom crossed the living room to the front window. “Why did she say she stopped by?” “Well, she said she dropped one of the other cheerleaders off and stopped on the way back to her house. She wanted to see me” I answered.  Those last words were pretty strong for me. I found it hard to believe and at the same time was really proud of it. “Well, before you get all full of yourself, you may want to check the front yard.” I walked back up the stairs and opened the front door. The one tree in our front yard looked like someone had dipped it in stringy white icing that slowly leaked all over the yard. There was barely a green surface to be seen from the street all the way up to the house. Yes, she had occupied me and my mother while her henchman whitewashed the yard. Impressive. Impressive and intensely humbling at the same time.

Memoir – Drinking Story #1 New Years Eve 1978

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.

New Year’s Eve 1978 – We were spending the night at my house, Cisco, Hymie and I. My house had the most separate basement, the Atari 2600, one big couch and a fold out couch, which made it the most comfortable spot for all three of us at once. However, the most important feature was that it was the easiest house to sneak out and get back into. In addition, we had the field behind the house to walk through without being seen. My mom was nice enough to make some mini pizzas and share a huge box of chocolates. One of those five pounders with every variety under the sun, even the ones nobody eats. The three of us ate most of it, with my brother polishing off the crumbs. We played Space Invaders until long after Mom had gone to bed, then we put our coats and boots and headed out. Our objective for the night was a “lock-in” at the Brethren Church where we knew several of the young ladies. We would be showing them how cool we were by showing up around midnight. The capper was that Cisco has managed to get three little airline-sized bottles of alcohol. One was vodka, one was Southern Comfort but I do not recall the third. It was cold that night, like 5 degrees, and very clear. It was one of the two years of heavy snowfall, so the snow reflected the bright moonlight so the night looked like day. Not the best night for an underage walk. We headed through the field and across the Con Ed land towards the School/Church land. We got to the church and surveyed the situation from atop a snow pile. Cisco broke out the little bottles of forbidden adulthood. I took one swig of the Vodka and one of the SoCo (that what the cool kids called it, I think). So, sum total of about an ounce and a half of liquor. We were surprised when the church opened up and the group filed out and started shooting off small fireworks. We managed to meet up with the girls, but it was an ill-advised plan – they weren’t dressed for cold and they were very chaperoned. The chaperone told us to leave and that he would be calling the police to say that we were out. Despite our cool ways and distain for authority, we were scared. We were a ways from home and easily seen. We headed back, jogging through snow in heavy boots and coats. This churning action turned made the mini-pizza/chocolate base and alcohol catalyst start to work a chemical magic in my not quite 14 year old stomach. As we crossed Circle Drive East to get to the field, we heard police sirens in the neighborhood. We sprinted across the street and all the way to my house, probably a little less than a half mile. We got back in the house and settled in for sleep. An hour later, I woke and knew that my stomach was full of a hundred angry flaming spiked moles all trying to get out at the same time. I made it to the bathroom and had a noisy prayer session with the porcelain goddess. Then another, then another, then another. Hymie and Cisco bailed out around 6am, having been kept up all night by my wretched dialog. Mom came down around 8am to check on us. I was in no shape to deny, no shape to obfuscate, I couldn’t even manage a minor fib. When she asked “were you drinking?” all I could managed was a weak “yes, two sips”.  She muttered something about “smells like chocolate in here…” and took me up to my room. She woke me up around noon looking very stern and disappointed with me. That look is one of the Mom super-powers, such that it weakens the will and makes any physical pain you might have extend to your very soul. She gave me a glass of water and asked me how I felt. “Terrible” I managed. “I think you learned a valuable lesson last night. I expect you to remember it the next time you are tempted to do something stupid.” I nodded my head. Oh, I learned a couple of lessons that night. First, she didn’t hear us get out or come back in. Second, make a plan to get around the chaperones. Third, you can throw up long, long after you think your stomach is empty. Finally, Chocolates and alcohol don’t mix.

Memoir – Up on the Roof

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.

Up on the Roof

The famous answer to the question “Why did you climb the mountain?” is “Because it was there.” I get this, I understand it. Sometime, you are inspired/cursed/compelled to do something just because you are. During our nighttime walks, we became cursed. If we saw a way to get on a roof, we had to do it.

First was the elementary school. This had been done before by others, but was a good way to start. Landscape designers (if they existed back then) and architects design with aesthetics in mind, not miscreants. The school was a sprawling single story building with long halls and lots of glass windows as most ’60s built schools were. They planted crabapple trees a regular intervals along each side of the school, only 6 or so feet away from the building. Crabapples have pretty flowers, grow in interesting shapes, don’t get too big, and are hearty. I get why they used them, but they didn’t really think like a kid. First, to grade school kids, crabapples are handy projectiles. Kids like to throw things, but everyone knows you don’t throw rocks (except into water, or at skunks, or at windows in abandoned houses, or… nevermind). A Crabapple tree is a bounty of a couple of thousand things to be thrown that are definitely not rocks. And, if you are lucky enough, you find one that is still solid enough to throw but rotted enough to explode on impact. Landscape designers and architects have forgotten this. They also didn’t anticipate those trees growing higher than the single story building by a few feet. This meant that one could climb the tree to a certain point, grab the edge of the roof and haul himself up on the roof. From there one had a pretty good view of the whole school yard, could find several Frisbees (remember those?), utility balls, and other things that land up there unexpectedly. We also learned that they rarely locked one of the access panels leading inside. We never went in, not interesting enough.

Second was the strip mall down by Rt 25. The part with the barber shop (the Yankee Clipper, how wonderfully old school that place was even back then) had a little courtyard with a couple of trees in it. These trees grew up above the roof. You know the rest. It was not all that interesting though. The area was busy, lots of cars going by all of the time. The biggest problem though was the lights on the building and in the parking lot. Impossible to move around without risking being seen. A second target was the Civic Center. There were two ways up 1) The trees around front or 2) the fence. The sloped sides in that building were deceptive. It looked like it would be easy, but they were steeper than they looked and the tree wasn’t as sturdy as it looked. The fence on the other hand was perfect. All the way to the roof and easy to climb. About half-way up though one realized that the lights around the pool made the climber about as subtle as  a tarantula on a white curtain in the sun. The Civic Center remained unconquered.

The third was a set of objectives – houses. First issue, find an empty house. You could not be on the roof of a don l. dise built house without everybody inside hearing your every little footstep. Lack of insulation and wide roof support spacing made the attic spaces more like resonance chambers. Second, you needed a way up. Surprisingly few of the houses had trees close enough to use as a means to get up. They probably charged too much for a tree for most people to go for it (remember this is the distant time before big box home improvement stores, back in the time where home improvement was though of as work, not home improvement). But, this was the age of the CB radio, poor TV reception, and more than a few HAM radio operators. Easily 15% of the houses at that time had a huge triangulated antennae alongside the house. Custom made for climbing. We used one to get on the roof, then found that a window was open so we got inside the house. It was empty, the people had moved. A completely empty house in the middle of the night creepy enough to make us leave quickly. The last house we tried had one of these antennae. We were sure the house was empty, as no lights were on and it was still early (9pm or so). We climbed up, Cisco first, then me. Child’s play, and a nice view. As Hymie was halfway up, a light went on right in front of him. We saw it and started loud whispering for him to get down. He looked up and said “ She’s getting in the shower…”. We knew he probably wasn’t leaving his perch.  Cisco started down, hoping to just climb around Hymie. He got around and to the ground. I went on next. Let me explain that of the three of us, I was the best well fed. Cisco wasn’t 100 lbs on his heaviest day, and Hymie only tipped the scales around 115 or 120. I on the other hand was past 135. Evidentially, the weight limit for the mounting hardware for the antennae was rated for Cisco+Hymie, not Hymie+Me. After three steps down, the top mounts started to squeak and pull out of the house. Hymie looked up at me in panic “She’s about to get undressed! Can’t you *&^%$ wait?”. Then the mounting bracket in the middle started to pull out. Hymie swore at me, my family, and every generation before me and scrambled down. I carefully climbed down and jumped off about halfway. Hymie has never forgiven me for that.

Memoir – Walking Around at Night

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.


Walking Around at Night

During our Jr High years, we developed this odd fascination with walking around the neighborhood at night. We would all sleep over at one house, wait until the parents were asleep, then slip out for a few hours. No vandalism, no thievery, just being out at night. The neighborhood was a very different place at night. First, it was dark, duh. But the lack of streetlights in Boulder Hill, the lack of a city around it to provide light, and the lack of any major highways all made the Hill one dark and quiet place at night. Second, the different parts of the ‘Hill felt different. Where I lived was a newer part, the trees were small and scrawny and the houses were set back from the street a little farther. It felt open and cold there at night. Where Cisco and Hymie lived was about 15 years older, the trees were much more grown up and the houses were closer to the street. It felt close, warm, almost jungle like in the dark.

One of the more interesting things was that we found certain houses liked to stay up late. Probably the effect of a working class neighborhood and plenty of people doing shift work. At night, late night, people argue or they have sex. Sometimes the two are related. As an adult, I can understand this, but as a 13 year old, it was an intriguing new world. One house over on Durango or Hampton gave us a lesson in relationships. We walked by and heard two people arguing. “…well what the hell else am I going to do? I’m here alone every night, I might as well go out and have a good time. I’m home by the time you come in and dinner’s always in the fridge, so what the hell you complainin about!” “I don’t care if you go out, but you ain’t goin’ and hangin’ on guys dressed like that! My cousin saw you and said you weren’t looking too married” She stormed out and slammed the screen door and stood in the carport. “Maybe I don’t look too married, cause I don’t feel all that married..” then started to cry. He came out and they stood silent in the dark. He took a step towards her with his arms out. She took a step and folded in to him. They hugged for a while then went back into the house. We finally exhaled.

Another night, we were over by Guildford or Codorous. It was summer and we had a cool night after a fairly warm day. The ranch and split level houses that dominated all had their windows open to capture some of the cool breeze. We were walking pretty much in the middle of the road, admiring the calm and the stars. We heard a low steady series of moan and then a couple of  “yes….yes…yes…” We moved towards the house, this is the kind of thing you don’t pass by when you are 13. We heard more moans and groans, but we couldn’t get any closer. Finally, as things picked up pace, we were having a hard time no giggling. Remember, at 13, saying the word “titillation” can cause a burst of laughter in the right situation. Then, as the pace was hitting a peak, we hear “Oh, oh, yessss, go Tiger, go Tiger!” which was followed by a new voice that growled. We cracked up. “Did you hear something?” We ran like hell all the way down to the Civic Center.

Memoir – Three Short Stories About Girls…and Teen Boys.

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy

Three Short Girl Stories

The stories are short, not the girls. Well, one was short. Anyway, height is beside the point. The point here is that there are stories that involve girls. At the time we thought of ourselves as true ladies men, young men with what the kids would now call swagger (we couldn’t afford anything that would be considered swag though), cool and smooth like, um, like, um, well like something that is cool and smooth. The truth is rather different. The three of us stumbled and fumbled around girls that it might have been comical if not for the fact that we were living it. Cisco was pretty good with getting to know girls, but that’s as far as that went. Hymie had girls crushing on him, but he was quiet and broody so that they were afraid to approach him. As for myself, I found it such an odd thought that someone would be interested in me that I really didn’t consider it a possibility. However, even with those facts and the rest of what comes with being a teenager working against us; we did each manage from time to time to have dates and even some girlfriends.

Story One – This is Dave

There were two new girls at Hymie’s bus stop. They had just moved in and were going to our high school new. Hymie got to know one of them well enough to muster the courage to ask her out on a real honest to goodness date. They went to the biggest fair in our county, the Sandwich Fair. For years  elementary classes from our district went to the fair to learn about farming, animals and good values. What I remember is the combined fair/farm smell, lots of agricultural equipment, and acres of old people. When we got older, we came to appreciate the fair as a break from the norm and a time where the adults would cut loose. Rules were more lax, police more tolerant, and people more open to meeting new people at fair time. In addition, there was always an increase in the availability of illicit substances. I miss county fairs, but back to our story. Hymie and the new girl, I’ll call her Kim, went to the fair. They walked around, had some drinks, went on a couple of rides, and even played some silly carnival games. Let us just say that he won some little stuffed animal for her as part of the narrative (I really don’t remember if this happened, but it makes for a better picture). As they were walking around the fair, they ran into a couple of guys from our high school. She knew them and said, “Hi guys, how are you doing? This is Dave, do you guys know each other?” and she motioned to Hymie. Hymie did know these guys, in fact, had known those guys since elementary school. It was a small town. While they were not what you would call friends, they did know Hymie. They also knew that his name was not “Dave”. So Hymie stood there looking at the two guys and their puzzled faces. He did a little emotional math in his head and came up with an answer. He reached out his hand, shook each of theirs and smiled. Each party went on their way. There was no second date.

Story Two – Out the Window

Cisco and Laura had been going out for a little while when she invited him over to her house. These two were in complete teenaged heat for each other, so much so that you could not be in the same room with them as the temperature quickly became uncomfortable. Cisco walks over to her house and when he gets there, she says, “My parents are gone for the evening.” If ever mere words were accompanied by a beam of light and an angelic host singing praises, this was it for Cisco. This was the opportunity, the first opportunity if you get my meaning (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). The couple sat down on the couch to watch some TV, all fidgets and sweaty palmed. Eventually they relaxed enough and settled into a good old fashioned make-out session. The fervor rose as time ticked by until she stood up, took his hand and headed down the hall. In this context, “down the hall” is a thinly veiled stand in for “the bedroom”. If ever a mere act were accompanied by a beam of light and an angelic host singing praises, this was not it. In this case, the light was a deep red and the only singing was more of a Barry White variety. Things progressed in the bedroom until it was clear that this was it. All the way. This was really going to happen. Cisco and Laura fumbled with each other clothing until it was just the two of them, their skin, a single bed, and stuffed animals averting their eyes in the room. Even Barry White stopped singing a let the music do the talking. That is when they heard the garage door opener rattle and creak as the garage door opened. Panic. They sprang out of bed. “You’ve got to go,” she said. As they gathered up clothes, he said “How?” You see, these were little working class houses. Three small bedrooms, 1 ½ baths, under 1500 sq. feet. We all knew the layouts of all the houses. Cisco knew one critical thing about this house – The door to the garage was in between him and both the front door and the side door to the house. Double Panic. They both looked at the window and nodded. The windows in these houses were about chest high. He struggled with opening the window (surprising given the efficiency of clothing removal earlier) while she wadded up clothes. When he got the window open, he pushed the screen out and watched as she threw the bundle out the window. He looked at her and she simply pointed at the window. Cisco, still au natural,  scrambled up the wall and outside only to land in a not so soft bush just as he heard her father’s voice. He was still clearly visible from the parent’s bedroom, as well as to any neighbors. He gathered up what he could find and searched for some cover. A few minutes later, minus a sock and underwear, he was walking home.

Story Three – Wardrobe Malfunction

This is my story. Cisco and I did a double date to one the school’s turnabout dance. We each had regular girlfriends, who happened to also be friends. This was my first high school dance and my girlfriend and I had only been going out for a couple of weeks. We did some dinner (I think it may have been Ruby Tuesday’s, classy.) and the dance itself. It was fun; though I felt so awkward the whole time it must have been a drag on the others. I did a few dances, but otherwise we mingled or just talked. After the dance, we went back to Cisco’s girlfriend’s house to “watch TV”. “Watch TV” is a thinly veiled stand in for “Make-out” (for anybody born after 1990, “Make-Out” is what we used to call “Mashing”. Some previous slang terms for this starting with the ‘70s and going back in time are “Getting Down – early ’70s”, “A Love-In – mid ’60s”, “Getting some Action – late ’50s” and “Dingling the squiggly fer goshkeknockin” – late 1880s for Norwegian immigrants). As expected watching TV quickly became much less about watching than doing. Cisco and Janice were on the love seat entangled like two squid wrestling over a king crab while Karen and I lie on the couch tentatively getting to know each other. Things were going quite well (in my opinion, but I might have been biased), when I could hear some distinct groaning from the loveseat. It was too dark to see exactly, and I really wasn’t going to divert my attention, but it struck me that whatever was going on sounded like fun. This inspired me to try to go from first to second. It wasn’t even a stolen base, in fact, the “defender” was probably wondering what took me so long. After some time, I grew bolder and thought that I should be working on the inside of the dress rather than the outside. I moved my hand to the buttons on the front of the dress. In expert hands, one-handed buttons can be done well. My hands were far from expert, in fact in most jurisdictions they wouldn’t even qualify for a learners permit. I was not deterred, how hard could it be? (To this day, whether it is in the context of plumbing, auto repair, or new health coverage options, the words “How hard could it be” have always been followed by learning just how hard it can really be). I gently pushed, pulled, fiddled, and twisted. Then I poked, tweaked, diddled, and fumbled. All the while maintaining lip contact and appropriate levels of enthusiasm. The buttons would not budge! No matter what I tried, the buttons would not become unbuttons. The promised land, the land of plenty (yes, there was plenty) would be denied unless I found a way past these infernal 16th century clothing fasteners. I went in for another try, determined to rip on off if I had to when she grabbed my wrist, broke off lip contact and said, “Those aren’t buttons, just decorations”. Loudly enough to turn Cisco and Janice’s sounds into full out laughter. Needless to say, the night’s festivities were over.

So, there you have it. Not every teen story is about illegal activity, police, or vandalism. Some also have sex. Those were good days.

Memior – A Prom, a Park, and Police

These are the collected memories of my spent and misspent youth. Names have been changed to both protect the innocent and to subvert any statutes of limitations that may still apply. I will also take liberties with the truth as in who did what, or maybe combine a couple of stories together that really didn’t happen together. Such is the nature of a memoir. I am seeking to entertain, not write a documentary. Hope you enjoy.

A Prom, A Park, and Police

Prom. A time and event full of pageantry, nerves, joy, ill-fitting tuxes, heartbreak, dancing, questionable fashion choices, bands, ugly corsages,  and lots of body to body contact. This experience is fairly common across a vast swath of the American culture. We were no exception in the Flatlands. In the 80’s the proms were at St. Andrews country club about 40 minutes away. A fairly nice place that must have really needed the money because I can’t imagine we left the place better than we found it year after year. For a bunch of semi-rural kids with blue collar sensibilities it was downright fancy. While the Prom experience is fairly common, when we were Seniors we added something else to the experience – Police Activity.

The prom itself was a fun night. The Alphonse Gang (that’s what we called ourselves, kind of. It’s a long story that involves a “racing car”, a large toy stuffed snowman, and poor judgment) all rented white, tailed tuxedos. We just differed in the color of the ruffles. Let that sink in a minute. 10 guys all in white, tailed tuxes. We looked like a Good-Humor Man class photo. Anyway, we ate, we danced, and the incidents were minor, so a good prom overall. We went to the after prom party at the Jr. High sponsored by the school (a wise move since the previous after prom parties were private and gaining quite a reputation). It was also fun, with silly activities, gym time and a justification to be out really, really late. All in all I got home about 4:30am. And we had plans for the next day. Big plans.

At 6am there was a car horn blaring in my driveway on the horn. I stumbled out to find the whole crew at my house (Hymie, Cisco, Buef, Boss, Frito, Beave, Crooked, Perdido, and Spanky) many with girlfriends in tow. (Just a note here on girlfriends. While they drove much of our actions, they oddly did not play huge roles in many of our adventures. It seems we did stupider things when they weren’t around. Hmmm, go figure) (a second note about girlfriends – I use nicknames for my friends in these little notes to protect any of them who may be under the impression that they are now upstanding respectable members of the community, but the girls didn’t really have commonly used nicknames. So until I figure out how to not incriminate, I am not going to use their names.) We have 6 or 7 cars and we were headed to Warren Dunes State park.

The park is at the extreme SW corner of Michigan, just over the Indiana state line. It is a beautiful place on the southern tip of Lake Michigan full of thick forests and towering sand dunes. I don’t remember what prompted us to pick that place, but I am sure that somebody had been there before. It was a good two and a half hour drive if not closer to three hours. We made it in just under 2 hours.

The park was easily as wonderful as advertised. It is a beautiful place on the southern tip of Lake Michigan full of thick forests, towering sand dunes, hills and plenty of places to picnic. We found a spot in the park and started to unload the cars. We were prepared for a big day. Chips, Sandwiches, Cookies, snacks and even a few tuppewares of mom-prepped picnic foods….and alcohol. Beer, Whiskey, and several  bottles of cheap, cheap wine. Drinking age in Illinois was 21, while the drinking age in Michigan was….still 21. One of three very important age related facts in this tale. We decided to skip the picnic area, too obvious and exposed, so we headed up a trail to the top of a hill. A good 100 feet in elevation and probably 250 feet worth of trail, lugging many very full coolers.  Once we got the summit we felt we had arrived. We broke out some food, cracked some beer and started to party like it was 1983. Opened a bottle of wine (screw cap for convenience) and passed it to a few of the girls (no, no cups necessary).  Just at the bottle circled back to me I heard someone say “Someone is coming up the hill”.

The guy coming up the hill was wearing a beige shirt and pants, work boots, and a broad brimmed hat. He had a big black belt with several pouches on it and he walked with an air of authority. We went into “Stash It” mode. The beer all went back into the cooler, except for the ones that wouldn’t fit – those got buried in the sand. I took the wine bottle, screwed the cap on tightly, and gave it a toss down the back of the hill into the woods. We set about to look like normal picnickers. He arrived at the top of the hill shortly.

“Hello kids, hope you are having a good day. I’m gonna keep this short. I am a  Park Ranger. My job is to make sure the rules are followed and that nobody gets hurt. Alcohol is not allowed in Warren Dunes State park, at all. Not if you are an adult, not if you are a senior citizen, and certainly not if you are under age. We need you to take out all of the alcohol in the coolers and bring it over here, and I need your IDs.”

Boss spoke up “ We didn’t see any signs about alcohol sir, are you sure it’s prohibited?” It was not a bad comeback, but it would have been much more believable if the cooler he was sitting on didn’t have an Old Style flap peeking out from under the lid and if he wasn’t leaning back against one of the “No Alcohol Permitted” signs.

“I didn’t come up here to argue, kids. I’ve got a long day ahead of me and I’d hate to start it off by calling the local police and their paddy wagon. If you do as I ask, we can handle it here. If you five me trouble, I can hand you over the county. They have a jail by the way.”

We opened up the coolers and put two cases of beer at his feet. “That’s a nice start” he said, “ but maybe I need to impress upon you the seriousness of the situation. From the looks of things you are all from out of state. It would sure be a pain to call each of your parents to come and get you, and even more of a pain to get your cars out of impound. Also, I see that some of you are 18, but some of the others, the girls in particular, don’t even had licenses. I’ll lay odds that they are under 16.  What I have here is some legal adults taking minors across state lines and in possession of alcohol. I bet that adds up to a least a couple of felonies. So, with that in mind, how about you do some digging and come up with a bit more.”

That sparked some activity. We dug like meth-fuled Bugs Bunnys and came up with another 6 beers and a bottle of Jack Daniels. A voice came out of the woods “Hey, Mike, I think they need to police the area also. This one almost hit me in the head” another ranger came out of the woods holding the wine bottle I had thrown for later. He looked at me “You’re lucky you didn’t break it. We’d have made you pick it all up then and written you a ticket for littering!” A few of us broke off and circled the hill picking up old bottles and cans. When it was all finished the Ranger had almost three cased of beer, two bottles of wine, and a fifth of Jack Daniels.

“Like I said earlier, we are going to make this simple. I can write you tickets for the alcohol violations, but if you are under 18, I have to call the police if you have alcohol. I see here that out of all of you, 5 are 18 (the third important age related fact that day). So, I am going to assume that the 5 of you are responsible for all this alcohol, is that right?”

We murmured our responses. “I’m not sure you heard me. If you 5 are responsible, you get tickets. If you aren’t, you all go to the county jail. So, are you responsible?”

“Yes Sir!” we barked together.

“Ok, the 5 of you come forward while the rest of you pack up your stuff and head to your cars.” We all headed back down the hill with our coolers and the confiscated alcohol. He wrote out the tickets while we packed up. I got one of the tickets as did Hymie, Cisco, Boss, and Buef. They kept our licenses and gave us the tickets instead.

“I need you boys to do one more thing for me. We really cannot wait for you to send in the fine, and I’m pretty sure you aren’t ever going to come back here. So, In order for me to let you go, I’m going to need you to pay the fines now. 5 tickets at $40 per ticket, $200. Go back to the group and pass the hat if you have to, but you aren’t leaving until it’s paid.”

This was pre-ATM cards, and pre the time for any of us to have checking accounts. We opened up the wallets and purses and found that we had about $260 dollars between us. I took $200 back over to the two ranger, who had been joined by three others by now in a couple of other cars. I watched as the youngest ranger put beer into the trunk of each car. I handed the man the money and glanced over at the other cars. He looked, then turned back to me and smiled. “We appreciate your business” was all he said.

We managed to salvage the day. We moved to another part of the park and had fun jumping off of the dunes, making obscene sand sculptures, and wading in the frigid lake. One the way home  Perdido scraped the family wagon against a guard rail when he fell asleep, but it was otherwise uneventful.

The State of Michigan sent my licence to me a couple of weeks later, no note just the license in a handwritten envelope. I told my mom I must have lost it. It was at least a little true.

Scott Weber


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