Not long after my bone-headed performance at my buddy Brill’s party, I had the opportunity to throw a party myself.
My parents were going out of town and they took my brother and sister… I don’t remember where they went or why. But because I had a job, I was allowed to stay home. Alone.
Obviously, I was obligated to have a party. It’s just what you do. I believe it’s part of applying for your driver’s license… you have to swear that the first time you get left alone, you’ll have a party.
Now this was right before I graduated high school. We hadn’t even thought of setting up The Barn yet so this was going to be a party in the house… at least partially. I figured we’d be outside most of the time.
I planned on keeping the “guest list” pretty tight. The last thing I wanted was a big, out-of-control beer-blast, full of people I didn’t know and that wouldn’t respect the grounds. There would be me and my main buddies: Brill, Rik, John and Rob. The kids from the neighborhood were also invited: Margaret, siblings Robin and Scott (aka Big Mo), and Dougie, who was a friend of Scott’s. John also had a couple guys visiting from out of town, so they came too. And there was one more…
Near the end of the school year, Rik, John and I had been playing some sandlot tackle-football with another group of guys. We thought those guys were assholes, so it was kind of fun beating on them. (I’m sure they thought the same about us.) But there was one guy on their team that wasn’t too bad. He didn’t run his mouth and showed a real deftness in never actually getting hit. I realized it was the quiet kid from my newspaper class.
We drove him home after a game and got to know him a little bit. He’d only been at our school for his senior year. So we figured, what the hell… we invited him to our little soiree. His name was Bill and he became an integral part of our group from that day forward. (He was a featured player in this post I wrote in April about a great string of pranks that ran from the end of school through the next year.)
So, the big night came and all seemed well. There were probably a dozen people there, all together. We kept the beer iced down in the washtub in our laundry room, which was right off the back door. There were probably 4-5 cases laid in.
I was mostly concerned about our living room… we just had brand new carpeting put in the downstairs, so I was hyper-vigilant about spills. No that it mattered… Big Mo spilled a beer on the carpet, but immediately got down on his hands and knees to clean it up. It was a funny sight, because Big Mo was 6’6” and a future middle linebacker on the high school football team. But he didn’t want my dad mad at him so he dabbed that beer up right quick.
Early during the party, I got a phone call from a guy at school… one of the “cool” guys… He heard about the party and asked if he and another guy could come by. It would have been a total coup on my part. At that time, I’d never mixed socially with the my class’s “upper crust.” But being determined to keep things under control, I told him “no.” I hated having to do that, because I actually liked those two guys. But I had to keep the party closed… I wasn’t taking any chances.
I tell you, I felt guilty about that for the next 20 years. Finally at our 20th reunion, I talked to the guy and apologized profusely, telling him about the burden I’d been carrying.
He said he didn’t even remember the incident.
Damn. See what a waste of time guilt is?
But for the most part, we kept the party outside. We used to have a big vapor light that would totally light up the back yard, enough so that we could always play some night hoops. We had the only basketball court with a built-in biological hazard. The basket was up over the garage and just to the left of the garage door there was a stone wall that was flattened out about 3’ off the ground. Planted on top of the dirt there was a whole crop of cactus. Those little fuckers were wicked… they had the big thorns on them but even worse were the tiny little hair-like pickers that would come off in whatever touched them. We were constantly picking the little pickers off the basketball.
Well, the comic highlight of the evening was when Scott’s friend Dougie (who went about 270 lbs) fell ass-first into the cacti. What a commotion! I remember hearing a huge yell so I came tearing out of the house to find Dougie doing a raindance in the driveway, with both hands clutching his giant ass. I’d never seen Big Mo laugh so hard in my life. The big fella didn’t laugh at much, but he could barely speak as he tried to tell me what happened.
It probably took Dougie the rest of the night to pull all those pickers out of his ass. I don’t think he got many offers of help, either.
The other drama came with the appearance of our neighbor Margaret’s father. He came looking for her at the back door. Rik and John went to the back to stall him, while I hustled Margaret out the front door and around the back to her house. She got home OK, but the damage was already done.
Rik and John didn’t really have a chance to diffuse the situation… I mean, Neighbor Dad was eyeing all the empty cases of beer stacked along the wall, asking, “You guys having a party?”
The guys were like, “Noooooo.”
“Can you sent Margaret out?”
“Um, no, she’s not here. Hasn’t been here all night.”
I don’t think he believed them. At least I got Margaret home before the guys got rid of daddy.
Anyway, the party went on uneventfully from there. There was no damage, no major drunk scene and no second-hand mushroom cleanup was necessary. My buddies all stayed the night… I forget where… probably the couches or the floor. I don’t know if we had any couches out in The Barn at that point.
I do remember John's friend, who was a golfer, whacking golf balls across ours and our neighbor’s yard, trying to hit Margaret’s little brother from 200 yards away.
Also, Billy asked me if he could take a shower. I said of course and thought nothing further of it. Later, someone came downstairs and said, “Did you know Bill’s up in the shower?”
I said I did.
“Did you know he’s wearing his clothes?”
This is when we started to realize that Billy was a little bit off.
But we got the place cleaned up and put back in order long before the folks came home later the next day.
The thing is, I had always intended to tell them I had some people over. I was telling them about my time alone… then next thing you know, Mom was putting dinner on. Then during dinner, Margaret’s mom showed up at the back door, most anxious to tell her all about the big party.
Busted! Yeah, I got in pretty big trouble for that, and mostly because I didn’t tell them about it. I maintain that I was going to but Mrs. Neighbor beat me to it. Oh well, I took my lumps. And Mom and Dad knew about every other party we ever threw there. Hell, they were nose deep in them.
But it’s funny… the party I got in trouble for was the smallest one we ever had, with the least amount of drama and damage. Well, except to the bathroom.
Mom wanted to know why there were black shoe-prints on the walls of the shower.
She didn’t know Billy yet and that wasn’t the only time he would do the inexplicable.