Tuesday, April 21, 2009

High school craziness

At last I am blogging about "something crazy" I did in high school. Leave it to my younger sister to call me out in the comments on my blog and remind about something I haven't thought about in close to twenty years. . . .

Yes, now that V has refreshed my recollection, I must admit that I did do at least one crazy thing in high school. (And there may be others. . . V would likely be better able to tell you than I, as I have inexplicably forgotten--or blocked out?--portions of my high school experiences.) Interestingly, this little incident is something that, to this day, my father doesn't know about. Not much got past the old man, so it's pretty surprising that this one did.

In June 1986, when I was 15 years old, I had a mad crush on a guy I'll refer to as "Thayer" (not his real name). Truth be told, I was basically obsessed with Thayer for about two years. He actually was interested in me first, but then things changed. Our "relationship," such as it was, is not particularly important to this story except in explaining my motivation for what I did.

Thayer was three years older than I, so 18 at this time. He was your basic man whore and actually not even all that attractive, so Lord only knows what I saw in him. Though we attended the same high school--two years apart--Thayer's parents were farmers, and he lived about 30 miles out of town. Thayer had graduated from high school the month before this incident, so it had been a while since I had seen him.

In the summer of 1986, I had a few girlfriends with whom I hung out regularly. All my friends were a year ahead of me in school and two years older. Even so, they were generally good (or at least neutral) influences. Unfortunately, my two more sensible friends were away for summer activities at the time of this incident, and my remaining social link was a girl I'll call "Nan." Nan was your classic bad influence: quite wild herself and with a penchant for encouraging her friends to engage in inappropriate and/or risky behaviors.

Nan's job at the local movie theater (one movie, one showing a night) kept her in town during the summer. It also afforded her a good opportunity to interface with high school classmates and catch up on the latest gossip.

On this particular evening, Nan called and told me that she'd heard that Thayer was going to be at a dance at Lake Valley. Basically a ghost town, Lake Valley had an old, one-room schoolhouse where monthly dances were held. Although located within the sprawling county in which lived, Lake Valley was actually about a 60-mile drive, one way, from my house.

At 15, I didn't have a driver's license. And although Nan was 17, she only had a learner's permit. Neither of us had a car. But we decided that this would not stop us from going to this dance.

As fate would have it, my beloved granny was in the hospital at the time and thus not home to supervise us (a rare occurrence in itself). My father had left for the weekend on a pre-planned trip with a friend of his. Given that V and I were at this time 13 and 15, we were trusted to be on or own for a couple of days. (Now that I think about it, the fact that I did this while my granny was hospitalized makes it even more terrible of me!)

My father owned a 1977 Datsun 280ZX. It was a standard transmission; actually, it was the car in which I learned to drive a standard transmission. The car was in excellent condition, despite being several years old, but my father rarely drove it. He'd bought it on a lark, and it was now sitting mostly idle, awaiting the time when I would get my driver's license and start using it. (I later wrecked this car, two days after becoming officially licensed. . . . but that's another story.)

Nan and I decided that there was no good reason for us not to take the "Z car" (as our family called it) to Lake Valley. We figured my dad wouldn't be checking the odometer, given that he was the only licensed driver in our household. We planned to refill the gas tank and wash off the dust, and Dad would be none the wiser.

My sister was against our plan, but what could she do about it? As I recall, I had to pay her a cash bribe to ensure her silence. (I think she made quite a tidy sum off me in high school just for keeping her mouth shut; I remember paying her to keep quiet on other occasions as well.)

Our plan and trip were a success. Not only did we successfully make the 120-mile round trip to Lake Valley, I got to see Thayer at the dance and spend lots of time with him. He even kissed me! We also picked up another guy (a friend of Nan's), and upon returning to town, the three of us drove to the nearby lake. We stayed out until about 4 a.m., and then gassed up and washed the Z car and returned home.

Looking back from the vantage point of adulthood, I now realize that this was a really stupid thing to do. Not even addressing the fact that Thayer was definitely not worth all this effort, what if we had wrecked the car? We could have been injured or even killed! And our parents didn't even know where we were!

Ah well. All's well that ends well, I guess. My dad kept a pretty close eye on us, so this is one of the few stunts I pulled in high school without his knowledge.


TUWABVB said...

I love how your imaginary name is "Thayer" and not like, John! Great story though - I, unfortunately, was a bit more like Nan in high school and was often sneak the car out while my parents were in bed (God, I had balls). That is on the weekends that I wasn't grounded - which were few and far between.