There’s a phrase, when begins, can guarantee shivers down my parents’ spines. It sounds innocuous to start but will generally lead to them hearing something they would happily rather never know. My sister and I do it anyway. Because we think it’s funny and we can be dicks. But it’s not just my sister and me, but our friends, friends of friends, exes, former employers, former teachers and professors, and occasionally local policeman (I’m exaggerating that last part but not by much) will repeat this dreaded phrase to my far-too-forgiving parents when they’re least prepared for it.
Case in point: this is a comment made on social media from one of my actual college professors when I posted an article about my alma mater ranking #8 among the top party schools in the country…
All told, all compared, we were pretty good kids though. And despite our antics, we’ve both turned out somewhat functional. Well, one of us has but she doesn’t have her own blog. I’m kidding, of course. I function as well as she…just, um, differently. But I digress.
Anyway, the dreaded phrase is this:
“It was a long time ago so I can tell you about this now…”
Look, parents, teenagers are sneaky fuckers and there’s little you can do about that. You just have to hope you didn’t raise them to be idiots or hope you didn’t treat them like shit forcing them into catastrophically bad decisions.
If they did act out, just remember, they’re young, impulsive, and think they’re smarter than they are. They’re kids. Other than that, if your kid turns out to be a piece of shit, it’s your fault. It totally is so stop blaming your kids for your shitty parenting. If they’re functioning as adults, good for you; you did that, too.
Anyway, I’m trying to tell a story here.
And it was so long ago that I can tell this story now.
There was this one time I went to go party in Tijuana.
I went to TJ with a friend we’ll call Katherine when we were both 16. I’ll call her Katherine because it’s totally her name. Katherine Hare. I went with Katherine Hare and it was her idea. We did the (sorry Mom and Dad), “we’re spending the night at each others’ houses” thing to have an excuse to drive the 40+ miles to party in Tijuana night clubs and return way past curfew; as in morning. That part wasn’t unusual and it was common for many in my high school class.
What made this time unusual was that she left me there.
She and her boyfriend got into their expected fight and took off to either make-up or break-up as usual. As if anyone else cared. I cared, though, because they were my ride.
I actually don’t remember how I got back to where my car was 40+ miles away. I think I chatted up some other group of wayward teens who lived somewhere near my intended location. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened but it doesn’t matter what I forgot because what I remember is what makes the story.
Around 3 a.m., I got dropped off, somehow, at my truck. I couldn’t go home because that would screw up my alibi so I went to the house of the dude I was dating at the time. We weren’t serious but it was fun to hang out together. He used to pick me up on his dirt bike that had house stereo speakers duct-taped to the dirt bike from where he would blast Iron Maiden from a car tape deck also duct-taped to the handle bars. Fun, it was. Classy, it wasn’t.
Around 3:30 a.m., I get to his house and wonder how I’m going to get in without waking his parents. His room had a door to the yard I could get into if only I could get there.
The only thing in my way was a ten-foot fence that was armed with broken glass glued at the top to keep kids from scaling it.
Clearly, they hadn’t met me yet.
I climbed the adjacent tree, balanced myself with all the ballerina-grace I had at the time (I was a ballerina at the time, the grace part is suspect) over the broken glass deterrent, and leapt to the ground. I made it without broken bones but unaware of how cut up I was. I shook myself off and sauntered to his outside door…
Of course, it’s locked.
I take a deep breath, turn and jump up grabbing the tree branch, swing my legs over the spiky fence, fall, land on my back over a trash can or beer keg—who knows—and lie there watching the world spin for a good ten minutes.
Desperate and now covered in leaves, torn clothes, and blood, I do the unthinkable.
I try the front door. It’s unlocked.
I braille my way along the dark hall towards his room and thank the goddamn lucky fucking stars that it’s not locked and open it.
His door to the outside was a glass door so the moon that had silently mocked my fence-adventure shone through as bright as the police flashlight I assumed I’d be in sight of had this door not been open. Bright enough to notice the two figures in this guy’s bed. I know we weren’t serious but we weren’t openly dating other people either. At least that’s what I thought.
Having already hitched a ride back from Tijuana, scaling a ten-foot, glass-laden fence and almost breaking my back, I was in no mood for this. Literally. I didn’t care. I was confused enough to actually put my outstretched hand onto her face in case I was making this up in my head. Then I put it on his head, then hers again.
Now clear on what was actually going on but too exhausted to care and with nowhere to go, I curled up on the floor. Yes, I simply curled up on his floor and fell asleep.
About 5 a.m., I notice that the other girl was gone. I didn’t mind. I was now freezing, covered in leaves, torn clothes and bloody but I jumped in bed anyway just to get warm.
I found out years later that she was actually awake and watching as I touched her face. The only reason I thought she was asleep was because she was frozen in fear. He was snoring like a chainsaw and blissfully unaware of the drama she thought was happening. She must’ve been confused beyond comprehension when nothing more than a shrug came from me finding her in his bed. Years even later, still to this day, she and I are still friends. I can imagine she never would’ve thought we would be the moment my hand touched her face.
About 2 hours later, the guy started to stretch and yawn. He turned into me, smiling happily from snuggling a warm body, his eyes closed. And like a scene from a movie, he opened his eyes to mine, recognition and realization actually shaping in his eyes, and said, “HOLY SHIT! DID I PARTY WITH YOU LAST NIGHT?”
I said no.
But before any other conversation took place, this guy’s mom comes bursting in the room demanding that he take all of his “shit and leave like the ungrateful bastard son” he was by bringing home all these girls to her house.
—I am so not making any of this up.—
Seeing as I’m fully clothed, it didn’t take more than a second for me to flatten myself against the wall and creep out amidst the screaming accusations and denials of their particular dynamic. I make a break for freedom.
It’s weird. Lately, I’ve been losing my keys. Like a lot. I never used to lose my keys ever. Until recently, I could count on one hand the times I’ve even misplaced them. But lately, it’s a daily occurrence. Which makes me more grateful that I didn’t have that problem then. I had my purse and my keys and bolted to my truck to make the trek back home and salvation.
The hope, the dream, of every misbehaving kid is that if we’re going to get caught, we hope to at least clean up the mess enough before authority finds out to mitigate the actual severity of the misbehavior.
That’s the dream. That’s the desperately-wished-for.
“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!?!?!” I’m greeted with at the door. “Katherine has been calling looking for you!”
Yes, Katherine. The unthinking, clueless, mind-boggling stupid idiot of a friend who abandoned me in a foreign country had called my mom to ask where I was. Despite our clearly defined and agreed upon alibis.
I had rehearsed in my head what I was going to say to Katherine during my ride back from Tijuana with whomever was gracious enough to take me back to my area. I rehearsed how I was going to apologize to my parents when I was lying half-broken over the empty keg after falling out of the tree.
At this moment, I couldn’t have given a fuck.
At this moment, my mom, God bless her, took one look at me. She saw the leaves in my hair and torn clothes, barefoot with shoes in hand, and my look of “don’t even bother” on my face, and knew right then and there that she didn’t raise an idiot, just a teenager, who had just been punished more than any lecture was going to accomplish.
“Go to your room and go to bed.”
I squeaked out a ‘thank you’ and trailed twigs from my hair up the stairs.
I can’t think of a time I’ve ever been more grateful to anyone than that moment. There are a lot of philosophical reasons why, and explanations as to how much it touched me that she respected my ability to learn from my own experiences, but those things are all mushy and deep with the feels.
This was just a story to preface another one. One I can’t remember and seems kind of moot now.
No matter. There’s someone I need to go thank right now anyway.