Back in Early County all the government buildings, from the courthouse to the outhouse to the school house were all made of red brick. Square red brick buildings with rectangle windows and a flag pole, oh boy, who couldn’t love that? The new high school was a long red brick building
and that was a serious walk on the wild side for these people. But the gym to one side, and the auditorium to the other, were basic block red brick cubes, as if it fence in the feral feelings that the unblocked high school building might harbor. Two square bookends trapping the school between was an apt description of where I was to spend the longest and worst four years of my life.
The cube looking Borg of an auditorium building had a little square red brick storage area built onto it, and there was a six foot high chain link fence that the school had put up to keep students herded into one area and out of another. It didn’t make sense to me why one part of the campus was inaccessible from one direction yet perfectly assessable from the other and vice versa but no one else seemed to ever ask why. I could scale fences quickly, and did so on a regular basis. They were four second obstacles for me, at worst, and the one that butted up against the little square storage building gave me an idea. If I stood on top of the fence, I could jump up and grab the edge of the storage building roof. Once up there, if I crossed to the other side, I could slide down the drain pipe to get back down. Students eating lunch outside could see me if I stood up, but if I lay down on the flat roof of the building I became even more invisible than normal. I would lay on my back and look up at the clouds drifting over head, and blow pot smoke at them,
and wonder if there were thousands of people like me blowing pot smoke at clouds, and if that changed the composition of them. If airliners passed through these clouds would the passengers and pilots get stoned? If it rained from pot flavored clouds would… I heard voices.
Mike and Mandy were a couple long before any other two people were. Neither were in the jock and cheerleader crowd. Neither were from the poor side of town, nor the rock side either. Neither excelled in academics yet neither floundered around in classes like I did. They didn’t drink, didn’t smoke pot, and neither of them showed up the radar at all. It’s as if the two most beige people to ever fade into the background unseen could only see each other. But Mandy was crying and Mike was trying to comfort her.
You already know what was going on, and so did I. Good girls, bad girls, good boys, not that there are any, rich kids, poor kids, white kids, the holy rollers and the stoners, too, everyone eventually was the same with their clothes off. That’s not entirely true, because some of us never felt guilty about it, and some of us were careful, and some of us were lucky. Mike and Mandy had tossed the dice and lost. I couldn’t hear much of what they said but he kept repeating
something about Saturday night, so I knew something was going to happen soon.
Saturday night I traded a Nazareth eight rack tape and a couple of joints for a Valium. A few beers later I ignored a stop sign and wound up sitting it out at the Sheriff’s office. They weren’t going to arrest me but they were going to keep me until my father showed up, or until they got tired of babysitting me, whichever came first. A couple of hours was all they could stand as a general rule. It was an informal, Mayberry type incarceration, and I knew as long as I sat there and acted as if the world had ended they would release me back into the wild.
I had forgotten about Mike and Mandy, up until Mandy’s father came up to the Sheriff’s Office claiming his daughter had been kidnapped. Seems they had gone out on a date, as they always did, but when the appointed hour came for Mandy to return she did not. Mandy’s mother found a letter on Mandy’s bed proclaiming that she was leaving home, and all hell broke loose. Everyone forgot about me, and I just sat there listening to all of it, and as soon as the deputy in
charge left with Mandy’s father, I read the note. They were in love, she was pregnant, and they were going to run away, find work, have the baby, get married when they were legal and live happily ever after. I realized no one was watching me so I rode away, finished a six pack and then went home.
Mike and Mandy made it as far as Dothan Alabama, lasted two days, and they were returned home by Tuesday. Whatever your political bent or whatever your point of view is on the subject, back in the mid seventies it was considered shameful and disgraceful for a young woman to be pregnant at age sixteen. I do know that Mandy didn’t return to school until the following Monday. After that, she and Mike were still a couple even if their parents did forbid it,
but something had changed. They did not hold hands as often. She rarely smiled. The closeness that was a palpable thing between them had been breached. The rumors that Mandy was pregnant slowly began to dissipate as a month went by, and then another.
Abortion is not as easy issue. If it isn’t your daughter or your pregnancy, I suspect that your opinion is little more than self-serving, self-righteous, hot button politics and you’ve run out of things to do with yourself. If it is your pregnancy, or it is your daughter, I suspect that you could give a damn less what all the sound bite religious nuts are chanting in front of the clinic. I do know that whoever made the decision to end that pregnancy wounded deeply at least two people, and changed forever how they felt about one another. The freedom to make that choice, however, should still be left to those with a daughter, or a pregnancy, even if the wrong choice is made.
Those who have to live with the choice get to make the choice. Everyone else might as well be some stoner blowing smoke at the clouds.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.