The year was 2001 and my friends (Marc, Mitch, Hooper) and I were getting ready for Grade 10 to start! Since most of our friends had already been drunk / partying, Marc and I figured it was time (we never had before).
First off, who’s going to get the booze?
That was pretty easy as a few friends had older brothers which lead us to (I think his name was Greg, tall blonde guy). I see him around every 4-5 years and it puts a big smile on my face every time. We even chatted about it once, and I thanked him for unknowing being a big part of my life.
We had to sell the parents (mostly my mom) on an idea. So, we settled on just 4 wholesome boys heading out for a quick camping trip behind my parents house. Now, it was far enough away they wouldn’t hear anything, but just close enough for my Dad to check up on us on his old yellow / rusty 1970’s trial dirt bike (more on that later).
We find the perfect spot, a flat little area between 2 rolling hills, a few tall pine trees around but nothing to close a spark could catch it. It felt like freedom.
We set up our tents, get things in order (as much as 4 grade 10 boys do), I put on my camo touque my grandma made me, it had flaps on the side that came down like rope and, well…we started to drink. Not knowing much (but a little) I knew when I saw Hooper pour the solo cup 3/4 full of vodka, and add a splash of coke, I had the feeling I was in for a ride.
The first sip I almost spat it out, but decided to keep going, and may have even chugged it. It wasn’t long before any drink was going down fast and easy!
Between drinks Marc realizes he has to take a shit. Not a fun thing in the woods. Marc keeps bragging about how his dad taught him how and its super easy….all you have to do is pull your pants down to your ankles, hug a tree, squat / lean your ass as far back as you can….and you’re good.
Now we’re pretty drunk, and mark heads up over and down the hill looking for privacy to make it happen….what he doesn’t realize is there are 100’s of big pinecones on the ground that are meant to be thrown. We grab a few, sneak up over the hill, jump over and start tossing them at him, mid shit! I can’t honestly say I remember exactly what happened, I remember him trying to block them while squating / hugging a tall skinny pine tree, him screaming in defence, uttering threats, and definitely some big laughs and even bigger nerves hoping I wouldn’t have to take my own.
As the night progresses things get fuzzy until last light when we hear a faint rumble as we sit around the fire in our lawn chairs. The rumble slowly gets louder and louder…as I wrap myself up in a blanket around the fire, sure enough I see my dad putt up over the ridge on his old dirt bike. He’s standing up for balance, zig zagging his way towards us, in no real hurry.
Oh shit, will he know? What do I do? I have a beer in my hand. He pulls up, turns off the dirt bike, hops off, and slowly walks over. Scared shitless Im trying to make out his expressions and I hear myself slowly slur:
“Don’t worry dad, I’ve only had a couple” as I literally topple over in the chair, me landing flat on my side with a loud thud.
My time was up – I was caught.
I even gave my Dad a clue for the future, again, by slurring “Dad, this is my drinking hat, anytime you see me wearing this hat, I’m going drinking”.
Luckily, my Dad was super cool and understanding. He ended up hanging out for a bit, helped me puke my guts out, made sure I was OK and not drinking anymore / had waters. I remember him checking on Mitch to who was in the same condition as me. Marc had somehow avoided getting as drunk as us, still not sure how!
UPDATE: After reading my Dad informed me our fire was in fact, a little wild when he arrived and told us to keep it smaller haha
He then let us be to sleep it off only to come back and check on us in the AM. Which, unfortunately the next thing I remember was waking up, pounding head, dry mouth, and dirt everywhere. I head over to the fire that still has some hot coals glowing.
Sitting there I remember thinking I’d never drink again as most first timers do. For some reason we got in a fight over what would happen if we put a can of beer on the fire, one ended up in the coals, only to explore everywhere a few minutes later, leaving a little crater and covering us in ash. Grade 10 boys.
I don’t remember packing up, walking out or anything until I was sitting in a chair at my parents wonder wtf I had done and why anyone would ever do this.
Although my drinking cap lost one of its flaps that night, it was just getting started.
Sadly, it would be my only time with Marc, he would end up committing suicide not long after. I wouldn’t change a single thing that happened that night. It leaves me with lots of smiles and a few tears to this day, over 20 years later. I think about this story often and what it means to me.
It amazing how somewhat ‘regular’ moments can be so lasting as time passes. I still have that drinking cap, although it’s now my lucky cap – I take it hunting, fishing and anytime I need a little extra luck.
Best of all, it reminds me of that night.