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The Spirits of High School
by Turtle Jones
We all have those high school stories. The ones that become legend in your mind and get told again every time you get together with your high school buddies. Unless you’re like me and you don’t have any high school buddies you still talk to. Then you just get to tell the stories on a website one day. Like now.
michele cuts up:
June, 1980. A few days away from the last day of my high school career. Finally. This thing was over. Four hard years in a Catholic high school. Well, maybe hard isn’t the right word. I think I spent more time rolling joints or playing pinball in the pizza place at the Village Green than I did doing actual work. It was tedious. Agonizing. Maddening. Ok, yea. Hard.
You go through four years of religion classes taught by hippies and math classes taught by aging, insane nuns and you deserve to celebrate. Oh no, we weren’t waiting until graduation or even the official last day of school to celebrate. No way. This is what the annual tradition of Senior Cut Day was made for. You might have heard of such a thing or even had one in your school. That one day when no senior (except for those whose idea of “fun” is something like helping the science teacher spit shine the bunsen burners, and no that’s not a euphemism. Or is it?) attends school. Sure, we would get on our buses or into our cars and act like we were going to school. In fact, we actually showed up at the school. Met in the parking lot, separated into various cars and took off for the park.
We started out at one park in the town the school was in. We had a keg, plus everyone brought their own beer/liquor/drugs. A bunch of people brought munchies. Really, you don’t need more than that for an instant party. Except the frisbee and the boom box and both of those were taken care of.
About an hour after arriving at the park, we were kicked out. Apparently, the park officials thought we were scaring away the mothers who wanted to frolic with their children in the wading pools, which were close to where we had set up shop. Scaring them away? Why, we were just a bunch of teenagers. Drunk, stoned, tripping teenagers listening to Pink Floyd and maybe, just maybe, knocking over some barbecues and maybe, just maybe, getting beer in the wading pool, but really. We weren’t scary. Not at all.
The park guy in the funny hat said he was going to call our school if we didn’t leave.
We headed over to the big county park. This would work much better anyhow. Our party would be lost amid all the other stuff going on. The senior citizen bocci ball blowout and the Women’s League of Somethingorother Annual Picnic and the yuppies taking a break from playing afternoon tennis. This place was huge enough so that 200 or so loud, obnoxious kids wouldn’t scare away the old people and their balls. Or the women. Maybe the yuppies. But that would be on purpose.
Let’s cut to the chase here. I got drunk. I got stoned. I got whatever else you get from getting way too many chemicals into your system at 10am. Plastered. Zonked. The mothership landed, picked me up and took me for a long, long ride to a galaxy far, far away.
The part of the park we set the party up in was located right next to a parking lot. So all the students’ cars were pulled up to the grassy area and trunks were popped and different music played from different cars and different drinks and drugs were available at each one. I sat on a picnic table facing the cars. I was trying to distinguish which car was playing Van Halen and which was playing the Ramones. Not that it mattered. I just was becoming very in tune with my sense of hearing. Some people stare at their hands when they are tripping. I focused on sounds. It was kind of neat. In my delirious state I was sure I could distinguish each and every sound I heard by all the separate notes they made. I have no idea what that meant. But I thought it. The world was spinning, my eyes were little slits of red, and the world around me had become this orchestra of nothing but sounds. That’s all I could focus on. Birds singing. An old man cursing about his bocci score. A tennis ball making a “whump” sound against the padding of the court. Wind. Little kids. Van Halen. Ramones. Beer cans opening. A frisbee hitting the ground. My mother calling me.
What the fuck?
My eyes flew open. My brain did this “snap” thing where it moves from fantasy world to reality at 100 mph. All the sounds were drowned out by that voice. I must be tripping. This can’t be real, this can’t....
“Yo. Your mom is here.” Someone tapping me on the shoulder. Pointing to the car idling in the parking lot. I look. Holy shit. She sees me seeing her and beckons me over to the car with her finger and she’s got that look on her face. Oh, you know that look. The one that says “You fucked up eight ways to Sunday. You are so screwed. You might want to kill yourself somewhere between that picnic table and this car because if you don’t, I will.”
Everyone is looking at me now. It’s one thing when you’re sitting in the classroom and there’s a knock on the door and the dean comes in and calls your name. Everyone looks at you, but eh, they’ve been there before too. Yea, you are about to get your head chewed off for cutting class, but everyone’s been there before.
Not so here. I don’t think anyone’s mother ever showed up at Senior Cut Day before. Well, there was Mrs. LaRosa, but she brought her own booze and made out Danny Michaels behind the public restroom, so that doesn’t count.
I walk to the car. Steady on my feet. I was pretty good at keeping a steady beat when I was out of it. Just have to concentrate. One foot in front of the other. I made it to the car. Leaned in the passenger window. Did my best to smile innocently. “Hey, mom!”
“Get. In. Now.”
Shit. I got in. Mom peeled out of the parking lot, tires squealing. Shit. Shit. Shit. Silence. I was afraid to ask what I did wrong. I just let her drive, that look of complete anger and disappointment on her face. I had to pee. I reeked of beer and pot. My brain was drowning in mescaline. I’d wait til we got home to ask her what’s up. But she turned left where I thought she was going to turn right. Oh. Oh shit. Oh no.
She was headed toward my school.
Ok mom, what’s up?
She explains. My typing teacher called. I didn’t show up for class today. Thing is, today was the last day for me to make up the test I missed when I didn’t show up the week before. And missing the test means a zero. Zero means I fail the class. Fail the class means I don’t graduate.
I took it all in. Well, the best I could with the condition my condition was in.
Ok. I had to go to school and take this typing test. Ok. I could do this. I was drunk, stoned and tripping, but I could do this. Hell, I couldn’t type straight. Maybe I could do it like this.
We get to school, mom marches me up to the typing room. She knows I’m wasted, but doesn’t say anything. I guess we’ll cover that later. Right now, I’ve got a pissed off typing teacher glaring at me. Sister Mary Typewriter. Scary little nun in a habit. From my vantage point, which is the one where I’m tripping, she looks like a little slug in a cocoon. I try not to think of things like this. I must concentrate. Concentrate. Concentrate.
Stop it, Michele.
I sit down at my typewriter. Put the paper in. Mom leaves. It’s just me and Sister Mary Typewriter. She starts the timer. I start typing furiously.
Then the lecture starts.
I’m sitting there trying hard to forget the drug induced images in my mind, trying to focus on what keys I’m pressing and not the click clack sound they are making. And this slug in a cocoon is lecturing me.
Bad kid. Bad kid. Gone wrong. So much potential wasted. Bad friends. Wrong turns. God is disappointed.
God? How the hell do you think my mother feels? She’s the one who had to drag my drunk ass up the four flights of stairs to this classroom.
Click. Clack. Click. Clack. Typing furiously while the slug in a cocoon talks to me. Her voice drifts in and out of my head. The timer ticks away on the desk. Type. Tick. Click. Lecture.
Finally, I type the last word. The timer goes off. SMT looks at me as I rip the paper from the roller and hand it to her.
Ok. Yea, I’m an asshole. What made me say "fuck off" to a nun? Besides the obvious? I don’t care how drunk or stoned I was or how much I hated the class or typing in general or how much she looked like a slug. You just don’t say ‘fuck off’ to a nun. Because, God? He’ll fucking smite you. Bad.
She doesn’t know how to react. I walk out of the classroom, waiting for her to follow me, but she doesn’t. I go down the stairs and out the door and hitch a ride back to the park, where I pass out under a picnic table for three hours.
God smote be about a thousand times since then.
But I passed the test. -M
Turtle jumps a fence
Most schools have these. Days like this spirit day crap or something like that. I have no clue why they would have them. I mean did you really want to be somewhere you didn't want to be and pretend you liked it? I mean really, in theory that might sound like a great idea but in reality is like celebrating laundry day in the County lock up. Who hoo! We great fresh jumpsuits!
Well, for me, I had a day like this. But since I went to an all boys high school that was made for "children heading down the wrong tracks" there was no spirit day cause, well basically, the school was meant to crush your spirits.
But, they did have something there. They called it the "Un Day." An acre of kids whose basic life role was breaking things forced out in the sun all day to play stupid games. I mean really, think about it. We had an open campus and basically no rules for the day except to not go off campus. Kinda doesn't make a whole lot of sense. But, they did it anyways. You don't have to go to class but you have to stay on campus. Tomorrow you have to go to class but you don't have to stay on campus. Oh yeah. Mix that with a little LSD and try to figure that logic out. I didn't get it and since I stopped playing by their rules the day I was admitted to the school, they were kinda fucked on me following those today.
This was the deal. Show up at homeroom at 8 for a head check. Then go play with everyone. Show at homeroom at 3 for a head check. Day was over. Those were the only rules. Except don't go off campus. The teachers circled the campus at 8:05 looking for kids making a break for it off campus. Seriously. They would circle the campus in trucks picking up stray kids who made a jailbreak. Wagons of kids would come back into school and be dumped back off after they were caught.
This is when it got tricky. You couldn't go out the front. That was surrounded by teachers. A few teachers’ cars closed off the back. The only way out was a bold run thru the soccer field to hop a fence and just keep running. Well, hell. I wasn't going to do that. You had to be fast and were being looked at the whole time while you were running. I wasn't doing that. Kids would put their sweatshirts on their heads so no one would recognize them as they hit the fence and kept going while being chased.
Screw that. There has to be another way out of here.
I was in the parking lot smoking a cigarette when an idea hit me. What if I run thru this field and just keep going to my friend’s house that had the Un Day party going at it? Fuck, it just has cows in it. What the hell could be so bad with that? I flicked my cigarette and without saying anything, I ran the opposite way of the "Fence Climbers." Hit the fence and dragged myself to the ground. Held back and looked around. Then I ran. Passed one cow. Then another. Those little sticky things were getting caught in my socks as I kept going. Something was chasing me. I could feel it. Crap. How could a teacher follow me like this? I turned around and without breaking my stride two words hit my mind.
Oh shit. How the fuck did this happen?
Yes, I was being chased a bull. Oh christ. I swear to god for the first year I went there, I only thought there were cows there. Whose idea was to change this shit up on me and toss a fucking bull in there? Jesus, I ran. The fence was coming up and this fucker was on my ass. I mean dude, this was not like the running of the bulls in Spain, this was turtle all alone. Only target. Running thru about three acres of brush trying to get to the fence while this fucker was getting closer.
I hit the fence and flipped over it. My legs were bleeding from the weeds cutting me. Dropped my skateboard and kept going. This wasn't over yet. The bull was the past. Forget about him. I tore off my shirt and skated hard. The shark teachers were still driving around. I'm not going thru all that just to do it again. They won't get me. They can't stop me. There is a party waiting for me and I'm not letting it down.
Hiding every time a car came up on me, I knew I was almost there. You have never felt that terror of a teacher finding you and getting in the back of his truck to be taken back to the school and put in detention till the day ends. Especially when all your friends are getting drunk the whole day.
See, this was the thing. We right next to an all girl school and they knew the drill too. That day all of the cool girls were making a break for it also. So it was gonna be a day long party. So I had to be there. Hell, there were boobies there. I had to be there. Period.
I shook my head when I actually opened the back gate of the house and saw all the people. Sole survivors with war stories of how they got here. Ripped shirts and covered in sweat. The girls just walked off their campus. Chicks get all the breaks. Cept for that childbirth thing, they get all the easy way outs.
Since I am obviously not gonna make any new female fans today, let's move on.
I cracked the only drink they had there. Fucking wine cooler 2 liter bottle. Bright red. I mean I would go into what flavor it was but I really think with any wine cooler, you can just name them all "Crap Flavored" and no one is going to disagree with you unless she is over 70 and watching "Family Feud" recollecting how Richard Dawson was the best host of all time.
Since I am not going to make any elderly fans nor any Richard Dawson fans today, lets move on.
The wine went down and I was drunk. Jesus I was drunk. Talking like dive off roofs into pools drunk. I hit the bottom of the pool one time too many and popped out my ankle. I think. It hurt like hell and I couldn't skate back to the school. I couldn't walk. Really, I have been taught that there are no good doctors so why bother going to one? Except for that guy on "Little House" but he might not even have been a real doctor. Were there any real qualifications that made him a "Doctor" back then?" Did he take a test? I mean really, back in those days I would have made a killing as a "Gynomycologier."
Since I'm not gonna make any new Gynomycologier fans today, lets move on.
I slammed my foot about ten times into the cement to get it back in then proceeded to toss up red wine for a duration of about three minutes while I was being walked back to the school for our last check in. Went into homeroom wet, blood red on my shirt, stinking like chloride, drunk as fuck and reeking like cheap wine. Chlorine smells really bad. Mixed with booze, I could have been mistaken for some terrorist that was going to blow up the school. My teacher came around for the check and I knew I was dust. Blood, sweat and beer. I was screwed. But really, I didn't care. I escaped a bull, a broken ankle and an alcohol overdose. So this was a good day.
The teacher looked at me and smiled.
"Turtle! You made it back! Class dismissed! Everyone go home! Happy Un Day!"
Happy Un Day, indeed. - T
So that's was our tales of love lust and weird things on our spirit day! You know that most of you had one and we would really like to hear about your school and what you did.
So whatcha do?
Michele and Turtle write Late Night Typing while wearing cheerleading outfits. Well, one of them does.