By Carrie Mesrobian
Let us not get specific. No addresses or real names. No times or dates.
The setting I will admit to: my parents’ house. When they were not in it for the weekend.
This information was not like other information that passed around my high school. It was not about having a sub in gym or stupid home room where you inexplicably sat in some weird teacher’s room for 7 minutes and did nothing of consequence. The information that someone’s parents will be leaving their flag unguarded for a 36-hour period is not to be shrugged off.
All echelons of the high school caste system tuned in.
My friends, who immediately prepared their “can I stay at Carrie’s house?” requests.
My boyfriend, a year younger.
Then my friends’ boyfriends, a few years older.
In this situation, all of us had to unify. It takes a village to throw a proper high school keg party
Lucky for me, I had friends who had shady older brothers or cousins who would buy alcohol for us. I had never gotten a keg, however, and it was a daunting enterprise. The whole thing was very mysterious – how much is the tap? And the deposit? And who will transport it? And who will bring it back?
Minnesota’s public education system being keen in the training of young minds, all of this got solved before the end of the school day.
I was always very nervous about parties in those days, even ones I wasn’t hosting, because back then, you never knew what would happen. It could be fun, it could be lame, it could get busted. Sometimes all three. Anyway, I let someone else handle the dirty details of procuring the alcohol and worked on what I could control: steering my friends to help put away anything valuable that could get broken or stolen.
Of the party, I will give a few details:
There were lots of people.
Everyone, including myself, was very, very drunk.
Someone pelted peanut M&M’s from the upstairs balcony into our sunken living room.
Cigarettes were smoked.
There were many pictures taken with my Kodak Disc Camera that I no longer possess (the camera or the pictures).
Someone who may have been my boyfriend stayed overnight.
And someone who may have been my boyfriend smoked too much pot and barfed peanut M&M’s on the carpet.
Any other data beyond those facts will have to remain in the ether where all other stupid parties of youth reside.
There was one other key detail. This detail was that there was a boy who procured the beer. Let us call him “Randy” just for this story. And what “Randy” provided was not a keg. It was an object called a “Party Ball.” A “Party Ball” was a new invention back then. It was a round plastic ball filled with 5.2 gallons of crappy yellow fizzy American beer. Probably Budweiser. This was a cheaper option than a keg or even a pony keg. And it was the best “Randy” could do. I wasn’t going to argue with him. Securing illegal alcohol was as mysterious and complex a process as building a space shuttle or writing an opera, as far as I was concerned.
Another detail : I insisted “Randy” take the party ball with him when he left. Because I didn’t have a car or a license and there was no way I could just drag that giant thing out the front door and throw it into the Dumpster at Dirty Ed’s Superette a mile from my house without any of the neighbors noticing. I’d already made all my friends park their cars down at the elementary school lot to keep anyone from getting suspicious.
“Randy” assured me that he would take care of the “party ball” and the next day, my friends and I just worked like hell to clean up the house.
Combatted the barf/smoke/beer smell with perfume and cleaning products.
Put back all the breakable/valuables.
Cleaned up the dirty floors streaked with footprints, removed any stray bottles and cans, dumped the ashtrays.
By the time my parents came home, the house was clean. Too clean. It also smelled weird. Like chemicals and barf and all of my LouLou perfume my father had bought me from a duty-free shop on a business trip. There was an uneasy moment when my mother stepped in the wet spot where someone’s boyfriend barfed and said, “Why is it wet here?” My parents were suspicious but couldn’t prove anything. Somehow I skated past any concrete accusation or punishment.
For several weeks, life went back to normal, except for the fact that I kept finding peanut M & M’s in the couch cushions of the living room.
Fast forward to my sister coming home from college for Christmas break.
“Let’s play a board game,” she said. Then she went to the cupboard of games where we’d stashed them. Scrabble, Monopoly, Pay Day, Trivial Pursuit, Uno. Stacks and stacks of games.
Also, one cashed-out Party Ball.
“What the fuck is that thing?”
I lost my mind. Because “that thing” had sat just feet from where my mother did her genealogy projects and stuff in the family room. It had been there THE WHOLE GODDAMN TIME, even since the party. Because “Randy” was a shitty liar fucker. I could have KILLED him.
Sweating, my sister and I pulled out a game, played it. Because we couldn’t do anything else at the moment. My parents were just in the other room, dithering around in their parental way. We couldn’t exactly wrap the dreggy Party Ball in a towel and go out in the December night, saying, “We’ll be back in a minute, don’t mind us!” and whistling, you know?
You might know how this all ended. Not with tears or consequences. But just the tensest game of PayDay ever. Then a laundry basket, some blankets, my sister telling our parents that we were going to go out and some popcorn or some other nonsense. Our parents, accustomed to our mostly-sterling behavior, just blinked and shrugged.
Wedging things in her pick-up truck.
Laughing once the truck started.
Looking for a store that had a Dumpster not in view of any employees.
Launching that plastic brown ball into it, the dregs of that party reaching for the stars.
We got away with all of it, of course. If a crime has no consequences, is it really a crime?
Carrie Mesrobian’s YA Novel, SEX AND VIOLENCE, will be out in the fall of 2013 from Carolrhoda LAB. She teaches and writes.