The boys… Van Halen… and my ride home

home-of-the-combat-medic-corpsman-and-pararescue_mousepad_LOGO-MPAD-1_larger_1378527981_largeAt the end of Sophomore year. I still had no real friends that I spoke to regularly. I knew a lot of kids, having gone to school in the area now for four years, and those kids were scattered over three suburbs and four High Schools. Anywhere I went locally, I usually would run into someone I went to school with along the way. Plus, I sold joints. I would buy an 1/8 of a gram for $15, roll the whole thing into individual joints, keep three and sell three. Each joint I sold for $5. I was getting high for free. The last day of sophomore year I had to miss my bus waiting for some kid in detention who wanted to buy a joint.  I didn’t know how I was going to get home from school that day but I had no worries. It was about 11 miles from my High School to my house. Some where along the way I would smoke a joint. I would be singing songs and talking to myself telling jokes the whole way. Walking, while stoned, was something I enjoyed to do.

After I sold my joint to the juvenile delinquent, I headed out on my walk. A car full of kids offered me a ride instead of walking. They lived in Brementown, a small working class neighborhood in the town next to mine. They offered to drive me the whole way. Sounded good to me. The car had six guys in it already. Again, for the sake of anonymity, I will change these guys names. All American names: Dave, Jim, Scot, Pat, Tom and Kenny. These guys would become the best friends I ever had. They knew each other since grammar school. I don’t know why they took me in, whether it was the joint I shared with them or the fact I knew all the Van Halen lyrics that was playing on “The Loop”, Chicagolands rock n roll radio station, during the trip home. For the next two years these guys were my family.

At this point of High School, the middle, I can honestly say I don’t remember there being any bullies left in our school. I didn’t consider myself a bully and my new friends weren’t bullies. My new friends were student/athletes, for the most part. I do, however, remember my rage and thirst for fighting seemed to be growing.

My little sister would be starting High School in the fall and my mom had asked me to protect her. My sister had boy troubles and girlfriend issues already. Girls can be nasty as teenagers. I teased my little sister relentlessly throughout our childhood. I just kind of went out of my way to always annoy the shit out of her on purpose. She was so cute and smart that I felt it was my job to expose her to people like me, I suppose. Her and I were complete opposites. She taught herself to read from Disney books at the age of 5, she got straight A’s and for the most part she was a Daddy’s girl. I loved to annoy her, however, the thought of someone ELSE annoying her pissed me off like nothing I experienced so far in life. Mom gave me a job, to protect her, and that is what I did. The first “job” was a boy named Drew. Mom said he was teasing my sister on the bus. She asked me to “talk to Drew” to insure the teasing stopped. I told my new friends and they seemed willing to help out. This kind of baffled me. Most kids found me stand offish and grew weary of me after about a week. These guys had my back, or my “6” as we would say later in the Army. We found Drew in the neighborhood, surrounded him, and… I insured there would be no more teasing my sister.

Around this time I met a girl. I was now 16 years old and starting my Junior year of High School. This girl was older. She was 17. Her mother was French and spoke with an accent. This girls name, again for anonymity, was Elle Arre. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She had fair, flawless skin with dark brown hair that she wore in a strange 1980’s type of bob… however she kept a long, thin tail that she braided and kept in place with a rubber band.  She had those big, sultry brown eyes  that make men weak in the knees. Her breasts were something right out of Cosmopolitan magazine and every guy in school would turn around to watch her ass wiggle when she walked by. As soon as I saw her the first time I was hooked. Kids our age, during this time, would gather on weekend nights in the forest preserves of the south suburbs of Chicago. Some kids would bring beer while others just hung out. I always had my weed. Elle Arre had just got out of a bad relationship, I over heard her telling my buddy Jim by the fire. We always built fires at these parties. She was going home and wanted to know if anyone needed a ride home. She didn’t feel like being at a party. I loved the party, but decided I may like a ride home anyway.

The ride home from Elle Arre that night would be my favorite ride home of my life. No ride home, since that night, has even remotely compared to it.

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