Friday, June 25, 2010

Small Town Saturday Night

When I was in high school, the big Saturday night activity was cruising.  (Remember, this was back in the good ol' days when gas cost less than a dollar, we weren't fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the gulf coast wasn't being suffocated by an apparently unstoppable oil leak.)

Monica drove most of the time and the rest of us would cram into her maroon four-door Buick with its cushy and velvety maroon seats and we'd drive up and down the main drag in town.  The turn around points were the grocery store on the west side of town and the grocery store about half way across town.  Sonic and McDonalds were both in between these two parking lots, so we'd often stop for fast food.

Basically we'd just drive in circles to see who was "out."  Sometimes we would stop and talk to other carloads of people in one of the parking lots.  But if a few cars started congregating in either parking lot, the cops would come and then we would all have to leave and keep driving in circles so as to not be loitering. 

If no one was out, we'd head out to the country to the "party spots" which were usually bridges or specific spots on gravel back roads where people congregated when they could find someone of age who was willing to buy beer for a minor.  Sometimes we'd spot a bonfire and find a party and stay.  Sometimes we'd just drive by shouting out the car windows, "The sheriff is coming!" to clear out the party and send everyone running in a panic.  I'm not sure what the motivation was for this, it was just pure entertainment.

One weekend the summer after our senior year of high school, we saw a cute, older guy cruising in a big black pick-up truck.  We flagged him down and asked him to buy wine coolers for us (because we were very classy).  He whipped out some business card and told us he was with the Department of Underage Drinking and we just about peed our pants.  For all our wishing for wine coolers, we were actually good kids going to college on athletic and academic scholarships and we stared at that guy like he was about to drag us off to prison.  It turned out he was full of crap and just messing with us, but I suppose it taught us a lesson about flagging down strangers and asking them to participate in illegal activities.

One of the other stupid things we did was what we called "trunk cruising."  It sounds exactly like what it was.  If there were several of us in the Buick, or we ran into more people we wanted to cruise around with, we'd just put a couple of people in the trunk.  Often we would pair up boys and girls to create a romantic atmosphere, what with being trapped with someone else in a small, dark, airless space, obviously being very romantic.

We found no end to this amusement, especially when we'd go to Sonic and place an order:

"Two cherry limeades, please."

The carhop would deliver them to the driver's window.

Monica would say, "Oh, they want those in the back."

The carhop would obliging move toward the back window, whereupon we would shout, "No!  The WAY back!"  And then Monica would pop the trunk and the two people in the trunk would sit up and get their limeades.


But hilarity could lead to danger, as when we had a couple of people in the trunk and sort of forgot they were there as we turned up the radio and careened along the backroads, possibly exceeding the speed limit slightly, at least when the Buick caught a little bit of air bouncing over railroad tracks.  We got back to town and popped the trunk to find one of our friends with a bloody lip and bump on her head, since she was obviously unprepared for the bouncing around.  She got over it, but it definitely wasn't the romantic trunk experience she had imagined.

I guess we knew something about making our own entertainment, but we were also very, very stupid.  Still, everytime I go to Sonic, I still picture the carhop's face when the trunk popped open and our two friends sat up to get their drinks.  And I still laugh about it.  Maybe this is what they mean when they say you're always seventeen in your home town?

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