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!”