Back in the good old, waning days leading to graduation, everyone wanted to be friends. People who had otherwise ignored you or taken you for granted for the past three and a half years all of a sudden wanted to be friends. All of a sudden everyone wanted to keep in touch. If you saw my yearbook now, you would have thought I was the belle of the ball. Page after page was littered by reminders to K.I.T. with hearts dotting every “I.” It was the middle of June and we had decided that regular school no longer applied. The students crowded the halls waiting for that doomsday clock to strike the witching hour. Graduation practice was paramount and everything else a chore.
My friend Ruben and I felt that we were above it all. We felt as if we were above their cool and influence. We had spent the last three years playing video games and flicking boogers during second period, like all the super studs of our time. We were invited to Grad Night at Disneyland during that last week. We scoffed at our classmates. There were promises of drinking and debauchery among some of the more deviant seniors, but we wanted more. We wanted something epic that would make our grandchildren blush.
Ruben’s friend Edgar was the first to suggest that we all go to Tijuana. I fell in love with the lawlessness of it all. The plan was to pool the money our parents had given us for Grad Night and spend that Tuesday night in Tijuana. We all drank the Kool-Aid and figured that the party never stopped, South of the Border. I had only been there a couple of times to pick up relatives at the airport, but I always figured there was something dark and exciting about it. I would watch as my parents rolled up their windows and locked the doors as soon as the United States was over our shoulders and I wanted it more and more.
Edgar claimed to have all the necessary connections. He said he knew of places where we could drink till the sun came up along with the women that would surely turn us into men and chase our inexperience away. We would need two hundred dollars in order to secure supplies, gas, lodging and reckless abandon. I was willing to invest 130 dollars on the venture which was a week’s pay at the time.
That fateful Tuesday snuck up on us before we knew it. I kept looking at the clock so long, that I found it hard to distinguish my left from my right, making those graduation practice drills unbearable for my row. The lump in my throat became harder to swallow as the afternoon began to give way to the night. As far as my parents were concerned I was going to spend the night with Goofy. As far as I was concerned, I was going to hang out and get goofy.
I got to Ruben’s house at about 9, only to find that he was unprepared, still waiting on Edgar. I was wearing one of my dad’s fanciest leather jackets which made me look like the Fonz wearing a black storm slicker. I smelled like I had rubbed a dozen magazines on my face in order to capture Calvin Klein’s latest income venture. We took turns blowing up Edgar’s home phone, until his dad finally took it off the hook. Fortunately, neither of us had given Edgar our money, so we decided to kill some time at the Hollywood record stores while he returned our mounting number of calls.
The plan was to spend an hour at the record store and then come back by ten, so we could be in Tijuana by midnight. However, that plan went out the window when we decided to get something to eat. We rolled into Ruben’s house by 11:30. Obviously, I could not go home since I had told my parents I would be hanging out with Mickey Mouse till dawn. Edgar finally got there, but he said that he could not align anything because his cousin who served as the connection was not in town. I wanted to be angry but the Del Taco meal I had eaten began to sink its claws into me. I told myself that I would only take a 45 minute nap while they sorted out the madness.
The next thing I remember was waking up, wearing leather jacket and all. The worst part was that I still had to go down to the school and pick up extra tickets for the graduation. It was a horrible feeling walking to that school and feeling that hangover feeling. What made it worse was that I had not even touched a drop of alcohol. I got there just as the buses arrived from Grad Night and was able to get lost in the shuffle of humanity. I learned a valuable lesson that night. In an animated pretend world of imagination, I was the biggest cartoon.
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