When I entered my sophomore year of high school, I anticipated the initiation into high school, as I had heard tall tales of this rite of passage from those who had already experienced the thrill. At that time, I lived in the middle of rural Minnesota…on a farm and surrounded by small rural communities…the town I lived closest to, had a population of 50, with a general store, a feed mill, a bar and 2 churches. What more do you need?
The country school was closed, so all of us in the area were bused to the surrounding towns for school. While I was shipped off to one school, in a much larger town, many of my friends went to another, which was the one I wanted to attend because it was smaller and more of my friends were there. I hung out in this town more often then in the one that I was forced to attend.
Even though I went to school in the one town, I continued hanging out with my friends in this other town and participated in the activities that took place at their school. One of the traditions at their school, was the initiation of sophomores into high school.
The initiation was this…all new sophomores were randomly kidnapped by seniors, in groups of 2 or 3, after dark, when they least expected it. They would be blindfolded, given an unknown drink that had to be guzzled and then put in the back of a truck or in the trunk of a car. Then they would be driven around long enough to confuse the hell out of them… down country roads, field roads and even through woods and fields, before they were dropped off in the middle of no where, to find their own way back to town. Now remember, this was a time before cell phones so it’s not like we could call someone, to come pick us up.
This rite of passage ritual took place each September. Of course this ritual was not condoned by the school but they didn’t stop it. Parents knew about it and much like with our drinking, turned their heads to it and thought of it as harmless fun. No one was ever hurt in the process of this initiation and for the record, as far as I know, no one that didn’t already drink alcohol, was forced to drink it. It’s just that pretty much everyone drank already.
Much like our “start of summer ritual“ of jumping off the bridges, naked, into the cold river, we anticipated this rite of passage with excitement yet with a little bit of fear. Like I said, I had heard many tall tales of previous “kidnappings” and thought it would be fun. We knew it was coming once school started. We just didn’t know when. It was always in the back of our minds to be prepared but they knew us well enough to catch us off guard. These seniors were our friends so how mean could they be? I was a tough farm chic, how bad could it really be? (At least, I thought I was a tough farm chic. I weighed like 90 lbs. LOL)
I learned very quickly, the night of my initiation, just how mean my friends could be. I was taken with 2 of my good friends on a Friday night, from the parking lot, during a football game and we were already on our way to being drunk. After we were blindfolded and put in the back of a stinky farm truck, we were driven around for an hour. They took our shoes from us before leaving us in the middle of a field. At the moment, I was just so thankful that they hadn’t taken our clothes, but that didn’t last long because walking in a cold field, barefoot, is not pleasant.
We had no idea whatsoever of where we were and it was so dark we could barely see each other, let alone where we were going. So there we were in pitch dark, starting to feel the cold, but laughing our asses off at the pure thrill of it all.
We started walking and after all they had given us to drink, of course we had to pee. Dropping our drawers was no problem for my one friend and I but for my other friend, she would not hear of it and said she was holding it until we made it back to town. We walked and we walked.
Believe me, we were no longer laughing once the reality of this night set in. In fact, my friend,(the one who was holding her pee) who was kind of prissy, who had a history of crying when she was drunk, started crying. This wasn’t new to us because this is how she was. She was the “good” girl. She did good in school, was a cheerleader, and was involved in her church . She was the girl that the teachers and parents thought was good and pure. In reality, not so much. I kept her secrets. I let her keep the persona of being the good girl. I took the blame for her often so that she could stay out of trouble. She loved to have a good time and then cry about it.
We walked until we found a little patch of woods and looked for wood to start a fire. We found a few pieces of wood but we were unsuccessful in starting a fire so moved on. By this point, my prissy friend, started yelling at our other friend and I, blaming us for not finding our way out of there. Can you see where this is going? Yep, she was the poop on our party. She would not stop complaining and whining. She was acting like such a piss ant that we started calling her Miss Piss Ant. With the potty mouth that I had at that time, she is lucky, I did not call her the names I wanted to call her that night. She is lucky that we did not run from her and leave her all to herself to find her own way, because believe me, she would still be there today. Don’t think we didn’t consider doing this but she was our friend.
My other friend, had a flask of cherry slow gin with her, so whenever Miss Piss Ant, got too unbearable, she took another chug, which only meant that she continued getting drunker than we already were and so she was of no help in finding our way. She was my friend that was known to drink until she threw up, but in the mean time did a lot of stupid stuff , the kind of stuff that usually pissed other people off. In fact, I think she pulled me down on the ground at least a dozen times. And of course she thought it was funny. Me, not so much. She could have cared less whether we found our way out or not. And she had no problem spouting off obscenities at Miss Piss Ant. Seriously, at one point I considered leaving both of them behind to fight it out on their own and find my own way back but the rule of the game is you have to return together.
We finally found a gravel road and just as we relaxed in knowing that this road would lead to another, which could lead us to town, we heard a loud growl in the silence of the night. We screamed out from being startled and started running. If you have ever walked on a gravel road barefoot, then you know that running on one is just as painful. But, when your running from a farm dog that wants to take a bite out of you, you don’t really feel the pain on your feet until the next day.
Now remember, Miss Piss Ant, the poop on our party friend, that wouldn’t pee outside? Either she peed in her pants when she was startled or while running down the road. Once we had gotten far enough away, we stopped and she told us that she had peed in her pants. We laughed our asses off, but her, not so much. It served her right for being such a piss ant.
We walked that night for many hours. Eventually, we found a main road and we knew where we were. I learned that night, that walking on cold tar is much better then walking on cold gravel. I am sure walking in cold wet pants was quite unpleasant for Miss Piss Ant…enough to make her learn her lesson about holding her pee and being too proud to drop her drawers when it was necessary. I think she toughen up a bit after that night.
My other friend, ended up throwing up along the side of the road and while I was holding her hair back, a car came along and gave us a ride to town. Thankfully, this wasn’t against the rules.
Once we got back to town, we realized how filthy dirty we were after walking and falling down in a field for hours. We looked at each other and laughed. Some how having survived this rite of passage together, we felt closer in spite of some of the drama that had taken place during that night. As we walked down the main street of town, we found our shoes hanging from a sign. After putting our shoes on our filthy feet, we stood in the middle of the street and hugged. We passed the test. We could now say we had done it. We could now tell our tall tales to those younger than us. You can be assured that when we became seniors we had our opportunity to initiate our sophomore friends as well.
For some reason, this story came back to me the other day. In thinking about it, it kind of reminds me of how I am feeling right now. In a lot of ways, I feel like I have been blindfolded and dropped off in the middle of no where, am lost and I am trying to find my way home. This place that I am at right now, feels foreign to me. I feel like someone has taken my clothes and left me naked in a land where no one knows my language. I feel like someone(me) has removed the blindfold from my eyes and I am seeing things I don’t want to see. I am seeing new things every day. Sometimes, I want to put the blindfold back on.
I am still smoke free. Isn’t it amazing that something as simple as removing smoking from my life, can reveal such a mess? Can cause me to act like such a mess? Of course it’s not just the “not smoking” anymore, that is the only issue…it’s all that was hidden underneath it. I question my sanity at choosing to do this when I was already in the middle of an insanity all of it's own, called menopause. I am a mess. I am not liking myself very much right now. I am taking baby steps in learning how to be gentle and good to myself though and if you know me, then you know this is big for me.
I am learning to breath through these moments…to stop holding my breathe. This is my rite of passage. I will find my way home. But, first, I should probably find my clothes.