Teenage experimentation. Good, bad, or indifferent, we've all experienced it. Nothing wrong with that, however, sometimes our choicest aren't always the wisest.
December in Northern New Jersey. Chilly, crisp, cold weather, holidays approaching, Friday night. Told my parents I wanted to go see the high school play with some friends. They groaned about it, but drove me to my high school, two towns away. I hooked up with Mary* there, just as I planned.
But we didn’t go inside our school despite the chill of the evening. Instead, we walked outside towards the back of the building to the rear parking lot where out of town kids like me were dropped off and picked up by big yellow buses. Hidden in a hibernating shrub, Mary retrieved a glass bottle with a substance that was yellow-green in color. We sat down by the stinky canal that reminded us our dear high school was built on a former swamp and was destined to sink into the soft ground eventually.
Mary had made a fine concoction of a sweet juice and vodka, roughly about 50/50. Pure poison for two young girls whose previous experience with beverage that had some “proof” was sipping a tiny bit of beer out of waxy Dixie cups.
Tonight it was straight out of the bottle; no fancy cups of any sort. We sipped. And sipped again. One of us sipped a bit too much, not realizing what the consequences might be. Young? Stupid? Ignorant? All of the above.
Eventually, I made an attempt to stand. The dark clear sky, filled with stars, started spinning. Amazing! Gibberish emitted from my mouth. Mary became concerned. At least she still had her wits about her and wisely started steering us back towards the school. She walked; I staggered. Somehow, we managed to get to a pay phone in the school, drop a dime in, and made a call for help.
We met our ride, and headed over to Mary’s house. Thankfully, her parents were out. With the addition of our rescuers, there were three people very concerned about me. Their solution?
Take me down into the basement, stick my head in the giant laundry room sink and sniff bleach as a supreme effort to snap me out of my stupor. I can tell you first hand that this will not resolve an issue such as this one. Only time will.
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking. I was expected home soon; the play was over and I had a curfew. My friends walked me to the car and put me in it. Twenty minutes later, I was entering the side door of the house. I went up the short flight of stairs and entered the kitchen. The lights were on, dazing me, and my parents walked in. My brain told myself to act like I don’t feel funny, to get myself upstairs and get into bed.
“Hi Mom. Hi Dad” I said in as normal of a tone I could muster. Seconds later, I collapsed, half falling into the seating below me, with my head winding up on the kitchen table.
No recollection as to what happened the rest of that evening.
The next morning is a clear as a bell despite a ringing headache pounding into my forehead. Assigned to “weed duty” I spent three miserable hours in pain as I plucked unwelcomed plants from the beautiful gardens surrounding our property. To make matters worse, my Step-Mom wet down the flower beds before I started my task. This was based on her theory that pulling weeds is easier when the ground is wet. It’s not, and it’s a mucky muddy mess.
The result? It taught me a lesson and I learned to be careful and responsible with certain beverages.