It’s that time of year again. That very special time when t-shirted Sundays turn into sweat-shirted sunsets. When the crisp air of evening holds onto the woodsy smell of burning fire pits, long after it has become the cold air of night. The time of year when almost any open field is turned into a “field of dreams” – the kind of dreams where you can’t get away from the monster pursuing you because your feet keep getting sucked into the wet earth beneath. The time of year when multitudes of high-school aged parents go on “little get aways” before the world dies for a spell, leaving behind their high-school aged children to fend for themselves.
Well, i’m supposing that that last part must be true, seeing as this is the time of year i seem to remember that the greatest number of “house parties” were held while we were growing up. It may (not) come as a surprise that parties of this variety were not allowed in our house under any circumstance – but since my R.C. parents never trusted us to be alone any way – such parties occurring proved impossible on even an logistical level. What’s more, my parents were not the type to allow us to go to these parties either – for their usual fear of our being subjected to booze, sex and debauchery run amok. A fear that, unlike that pertaining to concerts, turned out to be justified. And i know this because as my little brother and i grew into “manhood”, we resolutely determined that the ban on house parties was not only unfair, but unenforceable – should a brilliant plan be created to beat it. This is a story resulting from one such plan.
Being in a single story 3 bedroom house can be very much akin to living in the prison cell directly next to the guard house. The doors to each of the three bedrooms faced each other two to one, in that uncomfortably close fashion that made every “wake up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water” moment a painstakingly long, floor-board squeaking process that was sure to wake at least one other member of the family. My brother and i, however, knew that our plan to “escape” the ban on house parties would not involve walking in the hall, so we were safe. What the plan did involve was all of us going to bed as expected, weary-eyed and pajama-clad, without even a mention of the really awesome party that a truly awesome person was holding at their awesomely parent-free house. A party that would be attended by simply every awesome person the school had to offer. A party that we needed to be at too.
Once in bed, we would wait. Quietly. Patiently. Without breath and without movement. And we would sit stock still – watching the hands on our clocks tick slowly by. At least 15 minutes, but sometimes more. Since mom and dad were (what seemed at the time) around 200 years old each, it didn’t take too long for the sandman to steal them away. When we felt the time was right, we would each low-crawl up to our door and, slowly opening them just enough, quickly blink at each other with our flashlights – the signal which indicated that it was “Go” time. Since my little brothers door faced my parents room, he was the first to give thumbs up. Once received, we would dress while lying on the floor, and then meticulously create and stuff our beds with dummies made out of rolled up clothing (to take our place, should a bleary-eyed midnight bathroom break parent peer in). Then slowly – and ever so quietly – we would lower our outside screens to the ground. From there, it was only one quiet jump – a quick run ’round the house to meet at the front – and away we went, on our merry way. On foot, of course.
We went to many awesome parties in such a fashion. And in addition to having awesome times, awesome drama, awesome face sucking and boob grabbing, we became awesomely drunk at almost all of them. To this day i honestly can not tell you how we managed to stealthily get back into our rooms (especially considering the fact that from the outside, you had to jump – drunkenly, complete with dog chain necklace and bike chain belt – to reach the sill) without getting caught. i can tell you however, that there was one time that we did not. The last time, in fact.
i can’t remember who’s party it was, but i remember it was one of the better ones. We came slinking in as always and were well on our way to our own beds, each in his own room – in a fashion very similar to that of the Grinch as he slithers through the houses of the Who’s. But this time, it wasn’t Little Betty Lou Who who woke up – it was my mom. And this time, a glass of milk and a pat on the head would simply not suffice. We had both heard her get up, each of us in our own rooms, and we both knew that we could get through this, if we only played it smart. To my benefit, our older brother was home on leave at the time, and boarding with me – so it took only seconds for me to squirrel myself directly under my sill and behind his bed before mom opened my door and looked in upon himself and me. Well, “me” at any rate. Painstaking moments went by breathlessly, and once she closed the door, i double-timed it to my bed and thrust my dummy to the floor. My heart slammed against my ribs as i quietly removed my party gear and slid back into my weary-eyed pajamas. My heart pounded so loudly that i almost failed to hear my mom calling my younger brothers name – firm and quiet at first, but louder and more panicked with each instance. And then it occurred to me – why would she be calling his name when she didn’t call mine? How did he get caught when i didn’t? And here’s the thing – he technically didn’t get caught either. He got invaded.
Turns out, the dummy trick worked twice. And too well in the second instance. When mom opened my brothers door, she saw him sleeping in much the same fashion that she saw me. And then she looked up to see the silhouette of a strange man, standing stock still behind my brothers curtain. The curtain that resided in front of the window. The very window that was permitting all the moonlight into my brothers room – well, all the moonlight except for the area where my brother was standing, behind the curtain, stock still. He must have realized upon his name being called the third time that the jig was up, and he rather sheepishly came out from behind the curtain to face his punishment.
I can’t remember the full scope of it, but i do recall that it involved a grounding that even a hermit would find oppressive. And, never one to be blamed for not taking things much too far, my dad also nailed my brothers windows shut.
A punishment that stood until he had graduated from high school.
My little brother never did blow me in though, and i never did sneak out again. i wouldn’t do it without him, since being with him was the best part of the whole thing in the first place. i mean, what’s an evening of debauchery and drunken boob grabbing if you don’t have anyone to share the memories with? Memories that seem to bubble to the surface every year now, when the air turns cold and the smell of burning wood wafts along the evening breeze. Memories that are cherished, and ones that i hope you didn’t mind my sharing with you today.