Thursday, September 07, 2006

History Repeats Itself. . .


When I was 15 I got the bright idea to see what it was like to stay out all night. My best friend and I decided that we were old enough and wanted to try our wings, after all, everyone else was doing it!

We made a deal to meet our boyfriends at the place where they worked on a Friday night after of all things, a church hayrack ride. We had all the ducks lined up in a row, her parents thought she was staying at my house, and mine thought I was staying at hers.

Our plan was perfect! Or so we thought. . .

None of us had driver’s licenses or cars, so when the restaurant where the guys worked closed at 11:00, we were on our own, footloose and fancy free! No parents to tell us what to do or what we could or could not do. It was November, about the middle of the month. No snow or anything, but cold enough that it was pretty miserable to just be out walking around with no place to go. We hung out until midnight at the local arcade room playing pool and pinball, which was a lot of fun, but it also took most of the spending money we had. And when they closed, again, we were back on the street. This was 1972, so there really weren’t many places that were open that late or all night like now. We stood around under a street light, trying to be cool and pretend like the evening was going exactly as planned. We were cool. . . well, actually we were cold!

Our only choice was to keep moving, but where to move to next? Without a car, even energetic 15 year old kids get tired. By about 2:00 am, not only were we tired and bored but to make things worse, we were hungry! And did I mention it was COLD! (We later found out that it was 39 degrees that night)

Around 3:00 am we found a Mr. Donut shop that was open all night! Salvation! we decided and made our way into the shop as quickly as our frozen feet could carry us. We didn’t have enough money for hot chocolate and donuts, but we could afford the donuts, and decided that we could just eat them very, very slowly. But another terrifying thought was beginning to occur to us.

My friend lived about 5 miles away and then it was another 3 to my house. How on earth were we going to get home come morning?

The answer came much more quickly than we expected, and unfortunately for us, in a way we totally were NOT prepared for.

At 3:30, my boyfriend looked up and saw his mom pull up outside. “Shit” he yelled, “it’s my mom!”

We all groaned because that could only mean she was bringing trouble. I hadn’t met his mom yet, as we had only been “going together” for a couple of weeks or so. She looked mean. Okay, well, mostly just tired, maybe a little frightened, and a whole lot of pissed off!

She stormed into the Mr. Donut shop like a conqueror taking a village. The counter person (who didn’t have a clue about the situation) faced her and greeted her cheerfully and asked what she would like. She just made a bee-line for where we were sitting, at the counter in the back side of the shop.

We wanted very badly to just pretend we didn’t see her or that she couldn’t see us, but of course we knew that wasn’t going to happen. The mighty cloak of invisibility failed us!

My friend was the first one of us in the direct line of fire from the dragon that was bearing down on us. Mrs. B pointed her finger at my friend and said “Are you Hope? Your dad is looking for you!”

Oh God, worse than we could have imagined. My friend just looked at me and I stammered “No, I’m Hope” and watched as Mrs. B turned her focus onto me. Her gaze was steely, and I felt like I didn’t really measure up to whatever she had previously thought about me. Maybe that was good? Probably not. . .

“C’mon” she said and headed out the door. The four of us looked at one another, all of us dead ducks caught squarely in the trap. No where to go except out to Mrs. B’s car to face the music. We got in, all four of us crowding into the back seat, and it was impossible to tell who was shaking the hardest. Mrs. B didn’t say a word on the way back to her house, which, unfortunately for us was only a mile or so away.

As she pulled into their driveway, we spotted my friends’ dad’s car. She just looked at me and burst into tears. “Great” I thought, “she’s going to fall into a million little pieces and leave me hanging out there all alone.”

My boyfriend stood there looking at me for a moment, and then impulsively (and bravely I thought) hugged me before following his mom into the house. My friends’ boyfriend looked around and didn’t see anyone or anything familiar looking for him and took off at a run. Mrs. B didn’t seem to notice. About that time our dad’s came out of the house and we wordlessly followed them and got in the car, both of us dragging our tired and cold feet, heads down, knowing that we were heading for the firing squad.

Her dad started the car and we started for home. Neither dad was saying a word and frankly, I wasn’t going to offer anything. Silence, that was how I was going to play this one. My friend had been sitting there in the back seat of the car crying, not loudly, but silent tears running down her face, glistening each time we passed a street lamp. Finally, in this tight, squeaky little-girl voice, she said “Daddy, are you mad at me?”

Oh My God I thought. I slid a little lower in the seat, waiting for it to hit the fan. I knew better than to try to talk to my dad yet. Unh unh. . . I was waiting until I got home and my mom would be there before I opened my mouth!

But in the meantime, her dad got started, and didn’t seem likely to wind down any time soon. “. . . I am more that mad, I am disappointed. . .” and so on. I tried desperately to just melt into the seat and hope MY dad didn’t start in.

Not that what her dad was saying wasn’t all true, which unfortunately I didn’t really realize until years later.

We finally got to my house and dad said thanks to Mr. D and we went in. I suddenly wished it had been a longer ride. I’m sure I looked like something the cat dragged in and feeling as if I was about to face the Spanish Inquisition to boot.

My mom was setting there in the living room, calmly working on a picture puzzle which was almost done. I remembered when I had left early in the evening she was just beginning it. Not a good sign. . .

I sat down on our sofa at my dad’s command. My parents looked at each other and I really couldn’t interpret those looks. Finally, after an eon had passed my mom said, “ok, tell us why you did this?”

Wow, not what I was expecting. I mean, she sounded almost reasonable. This can’t be good.

I gave them all the pat answers, which I believed at that time anyway, were the truth, such as all my friends were doing it, etc. and they asked all the parent kind of questions such as what did I learn, etc.. And then the final question came, unexpectedly.

“Are you ever going to do it again?” They waited, but not for long.

“No way” I said, and boy did I mean that!

“Why?” they wanted to know.

“I’d have to be stupid to do that again. It was cold, there was no place to go, we were hungry, tired and bored!”

At that point mom and dad looked at one another and for a moment or two, it was as if time was standing still. First dad broke, then mom. Broke into wild laughter. They laughed so hard tears ran down their faces, all the while I sat there, stunned, silent and thinking, oh my God, I’ve finally done it—pushed them over the edge and they’ve lost it.

I definitely didn’t get what I deserved that night. They said they figured I had had such a miserable experience and had learned a harder lesson than they could ever teach me. No grounding, but I had to go in front of the church and apologize as it had been the church bus that had dropped us off at the restaurant.

I’ll never forget that night, then or 30 years later in my life.

It was 5:00 am in the morning in August. There was a loud knocking on the front door. My husband had been activated for Desert Storm and it was only my daughter and I at home. The dog was barking furiously and as I rushed down the hall, trying to pull my robe on and get it fastened, the pounding continued and I heard a voice saying “This is the Wichita police m’am. Please open the door, we have your daughter”.

Sigh. . .

1 comment:

Madyson said...

I remember staying out all night, although I was old enough to drive. It was the week before I graduated from high school. We ended up having an accident and I totaled my car. We did the whole she's staying-i'm staying thing. I never did that again even after I was old enough to. I hope your daughter is ok and not in to much trouble.