As my friends trotted off in the wrong direction (wrong in that we were supposed to look like we were going to the football game until after my parents' car was gone), I yelled over to them "Hey! This way! The ticket booth is over here!" None of them responded, or even flinched. They just kept going. My father was actually far enough out of sight and I realized my paranoid attempt at acting like were headed to watch the game was no longer necessary, so I skated after my friends.
It seemed that the finer details of the evening's plans were up in the air. No one in the group ever really considered where we were going. We were just skating aimlessly, burning off the prior few hours of teen angst and energy that had built up from the non-physical activities of watching TV and eating dinner (and since my sister had prepared the meal, watching dinner and eating TV was a real option). No one cared where we were going, just that the end result was us being drunk, having fun, maybe breaking something, and ultimately eating Stouffer's French Bread Pizza before passing out on Bill's floor for the evening.
We had to avoid the Ave.*, as my parents would likely be there or on one of its side streets having dinner. The rest of the group would probably want to hang out there as that would be the most likely place to run into some girls. I didn't have much experience with girls up to this point, but I was pretty sure there wasn't anything that was going to happen with any girls that night that was worth getting all of us in trouble over because my parents spotted us in front of Burger King at the end of the Ave. The others may have had grander visions of their romantic capabilities and where they may lead, so at any moment I may need to push them off the course which may get me in the most trouble.
The moment I felt collective momentum of our skateboards pulling us towards the Ave., I yelled out "So we gonna get drunk or what?" Those were the only words I thought may redraw their current intentions. The truth was, I wasn't that excited to get drunk. I knew this would be the biggest opportunity for parental defiance in my life so far but I was unsure whether I was ready to take it. However, the trepidation was being overpowered by an unshakable feeling of freedom. For every neural unit of fear my brain was pouring into my nerves, another part of my brain was cranking out double those units in anticipation and excitement. No way I was backing out and it seemed that at least Eric was ready too. He yelled out, "Yeah, let's find someplace to get fucked up!"
Everyone agreed and the group began to head away from the Ave in favor of a less public location to break out the Bacardi. Looking back, it seems we were all a bit inexperienced with finding good places to get bombed. We chose Mckinley Elemenetary School playground. The school was at a corner where two major roads met. Lots of cars drive by there and no one really stopped to think "the more cars that drive by, the more likely one of those cars would be a cop car." Logic, reasoning, and probability were things we would learn about in years to come, but not yet. There were also many houses nearby, and of course we would never conisder how loud we might be and that people would probably call the police. It's not like we were going to drink quietly like Bukowski in the corner of some dank bar somewhere. We were teenagers. We were going to drink, smoke, yell, laugh, make fun of each other, and loudly.
There we were on the blacktop where each day little kids eat lunch and play four-square, and at night it was dark and desolate, but it's funny that no matter how lightless a place is, you instantly feel very well lit and seeable when illegal acitivity begins. As soon as Eric pulled the Bacardi from his back pack and handed it to me to take a swig, I thought to myself "we probably shouldn't just stand out in the middle of the yard like this, we may want to conceal ourselves a little bit." I think everyone felt it at the same time.
Mike suggested we take cover in the jungle gym. You know the kind. The all in one playground set with thick wooden posts planted in a bark covered ground, steps to take you to the top, where you can make a choice from there. Down the slide, over the rope bridge, down the pole, or across the monkey bars to the crow's nest with the big metal ship's steering wheel. Under the pre-launch platform before you go down the slide, there seemed to be a enough space for the five of us to sit in the bark and safely drink our rum. The posts and cross-posts provided enough cover, especially in the dark, that even if people could hear us, they would have a hell of a time seeing us underneath the slide.
We all climbed in and got cozy. Eric had brought a couple cans of soda, but, without any cups, it would be beyond us to figure out how to mix the rum with the soda without wasting at least a half of a can, a valuable 25% of our mixer. As soon as we ran out of soda we'd be drinking it straight, and no one seemed interested in that. While four of us sat there rationalizing how to properly mix the two liquids while wasting as little of the coke as possible, Eric blurted out "The soda's not gonna get you drunk, you pussies!" then grabbed the bottle from Padrick, who was trying carefully to pour the Bacardi in a half drunken can of coke. Padrick screamed "YOU FUCKER!" as he wiped the spilled booze on his jeans. Eric took a huge gulp straight from the bottle, then handed it to me and in between his post swig coughs said "Here, you go."
*The Ave is the nickname for Burlingame Avenue. Burlingame, CA's version of Main Street, USA. When my parents were growing up it would have been where the drugstore, the dimestore, the soda fountain, the locksmith, the cobbler, the blacksmith, and the coopersmith would have all been. By the time I was a kid Burlingame grew into a farily wealthy community and the Ave. had become a 3 block long boutique extravaganza. Bridal shops, bakers, coffee houses, art shops, expensive restaurants. and trendy bars. By the time I was an adult the independently owned boutiqes had all turned into corporate stores with a boutique feel. By all women's standards and at first glance, it's a "cute little area with lots of great shops!", but closer examination of said shops would reveal the plague of our country that is Pottery Barn, Starbucks, TGIF, the Gap, and Baby Gap (separate store, same block).