My name is Calvin Calypso and I guess this is Storyboard. It’s a radio program from NPR. They send these recording booths out around the country and let people walk in and tell a story to a microphone. Funny, poignant, sad, thoughtful; they don’t seem to care what kind of story you tell they just want you to tell a story. They record it and then archive them. They play some on the air too. The result is that they compile an oral history of sorts. They collect a series of snapshots. Snapshots of the memories people have. It’ a grand experiment and a noble undertaking; I want to contribute and tell you a story of my own. A story about how things work out sometimes.
Sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to. Sometimes things don’t work out at all the way you plan. But usually things work out OK in the end. You know what they say, “If things are not OK, it’s not the end yet!”
Case in point
Jimmy, Tito, me, and Toots (my main squeeze – and up to this point the love of my life) were planning to be in attendance at the “party of the year”. Said party was to be hosted by Samantha Christian, although she didn’t know it yet.
Samantha Christian is one of those rich chicks who lives on the other side of town, a cheerleader at Eastwood High. Samantha Christian’s parents had gone skiing in Aspen and rather foolishly left the house in her care. None of us even knew Samantha Christian but she had invited a few close friends over for a pool party on Saturday night. They, in turn had invited a few friends, who invited a few friends, and before you knew it – BOOM, the whole thing got out of hand. Tito had actually been told about the party by his cousin, Ruben. Ruben lives all the way over in Shelbyville. We don’t know who told Ruben about it but the word was out and when Tito told Jimmy and me we were in. I wouldn’t leave Toots alone on a Saturday night so she was in too. Our plan was to show up about 9:00.
I swung by and picked up Toots that evening at 7:30 sharp. As she stepped out the front door her mom called out, “Toots, honey; your dad and I are going to an awards dinner tonight. He won “salesman of the year” again. I need you to watch Becky.”
Toots stopped dead in her tracks, rolled her eyes, and lied to her mother, “You’re kidding right, Mom? Calvin and I are going to the movies. I can’t babysit tonight.”
“Sure you can,” her mom opened the screen door and handed over some folded bills. “Here’s some money to buy her a ticket and a soda. You kids have a good time.”
“Don’t start, young lady. We don’t ask much from you.” Toots’ mom stepped back in the house and Becky stepped out. Becky was wearing a bicycle shirt with neon green spaghetti patterns printed on the front, rounded off by black stretch leggings, her favorite outfit. This was the first thing that was a deviation from the plan. We didn’t mean to have a kid tagging along.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Becky is a cool kid. I like her just fine but, she’s a kid. She’s like only 12. Toots and I are 16 and very mature for our age. Toots found Becky annoying, and tortured her at every opportunity, but I think that’s mainly because they were sisters and it’s a younger sister’s job to be annoying. Just like it’s an older sister’s job to torment the younguns. That’s just the way things work.
“Go get in the car Beck,” I said. She skipped down to the curb and disappeared through the passenger door.
“Damnit,” Toots cursed.
“It’s cool,” I told her. “The Beckster won’t be a problem. It’s all cool.” When I opened the door to let Toots in the car Becky was sitting in the front seat.
“I call shotgun,” she said.
“I bet you think you’re funny,” Toots glared at her. “You want me to tell dad what really happened to his drill?” Becky scooted to the back seat. Toots kept glaring. I smiled and went around to the driver’s side.
As we pulled away from the curb Becky leaned forward and stuck her head over the back of the front seat, “Where are we really going? I’m surprised Mom bought that story about the movies. You’re a shitty liar, Toots.”
“We’re gonna hang out with some friends at a pool party.” I said. “Are you planning to give us any trouble?”
“Nope, I’m down with that.”
Toots upper lip started trembling, just a bit, on the right hand side. She was about this close to a full fledged snarl when she saw Jimmy and Tito walking down the street. She said, “Hey” and pointed them out to me.
I pulled over and they piled into the back seat. “Hey squirt,” Tito said to Becky.
“Hiii Tito,” Becky sang back. It was no secret that she was crushing pretty bad over my best friend.
“Scuse me lovebirds,” Jimmy interrupted. “The Speedy Mart is up ahead. How much money we got?” I parked in front of the Speedy and we pooled our funds. We determined that we had enough for a pack of smokes and a couple of six packs, if we could convince someone to buy them for us. Jimmy got out of the car and eventually convinced a couple of students from the U to buy us beer. We had to give them four of our beers in return but, we still had eight more and we were going to a party. By now it’s about 8:30 so we headed towards Samantha Christian’s house.
The party house was easy to find. The street was lined with cars and music was blaring from the back of the second house on the east side of the street. “Gotta be it,” I said and parked in the closest available spot, two blocks away.
Toots, Tito, Becky, Jimmy, and I walked back and as we approached the front door I raised my fist to knock – the door opened. There stood Nancy Woodrow, wearing nothing but short shorts and a smile. Hi Jimmy, she said and turned back into the house. Jimmy followed her. This was the second deviation from the plan. We shouldn’t have lost Jimmy so early in the evening.
The rest of us headed towards the kitchen where the booze was. Samantha Christian was there, a bottle of tequila in one hand and a bottle of white wine in the other, “Does anyone know how to make a martini?”
“Gin and Vermouth,” piped up Becky. “Let me show you.” She and Samantha Christian put their heads together and pretty soon Becky was making drinks for everyone who came in the Kitchen. That was the third deviation from the plan. We shouldn’t have let the kid tend bar.
Toots and I wandered out to the pool sipped beers, smoked cigarettes, tried to look cool, and generally mingled with the crowd. There were races and chicken fights in the pool. Skinny dipping, Marco Polo games, and general rough-housing seemed to be the order of the day. The melodic stylings of Grand Funk Railroad, Peter Frampton, and Led Zeppelin emanated from the stereo speakers set up by the sliding glass doors. It was all beautiful. Toots was beautiful, I was beautiful, the music was beautiful, the evening was beautiful, and so was everyone at the party. I hadn’t thought about Jimmy, Tito, or Becky for hours. This was one of the few things that went according to plan. Toots and I were supposed to relax and have a good time. Enjoy each other’s company.
Then sometime right before midnight; David (don’t call me Dave) Vanderbilt, the captain of the Eastwood High School football team who had designs on Samantha Christian, decided that it would be a good idea to pour three large bottles of brandy into the Jacuzzi. I know, “what was he thinking?”
Then things started going wrong one after another, in rapid fire succession. The situation deteriorated so quickly that I lost count of the deviations from plan.
Someone lit the Jacuzzi on fire.
The cops raided the party. There were cops on foot, cops on horseback, cops on motorcycles, and cops in helicopters. There were cops everywhere.
TV reporters set up camera trucks on the street out in front of the house. On the spot talking heads were broadcasting live from in front of Samantha Christian’s parent’s house.
Cops from all the surrounding towns within a 25 mile radius were here to help and “get in on the action”.
I put my arm around Toots and we grabbed Becky as we ran past the kitchen, through the laundry room and out the side door of the house. I gave Toots a boost over the masonry wall and heard her land with a thud in the neighbors yard, “Shit,” she muttered, “Roses, be careful.” I tossed Becky over and followed right behind her. We all got scratched up pretty good by the rose bushes but the worst was yet to come. We went over the next fence and had to scramble right back. Rottweilers – two of them. We retreated back the way we had come and assessed our options. The back fence was too high to scale so we had two choices. 1) Go back to Samantha Christian’s house and face certain arrest and probably long prison sentences or 2) Go out to the street and try to blend in with the spectators.
We chose to take our chances in the street and opened the gate headed to the front of the house.
No one saw us.
The attention of the crowd was focused on the celebrity newscasters and the circus that had been Samantha Christian’s party. We turned and started walking towards the car. Three doors down, Tito fell in with us. He had gone on a beer run with two other guys who had a fake ID. When they got back the shitstorm was already underway. The two other guys had bagged it but Tito stuck around to look for us.
I stopped, “Where’s Jimmy?”
“With Nancy Woodrow” Toots said. “I’m sure he’s happy. There’s nothing any of us can do for him now.”
We drove back to Toots’ house. When we got there Becky announced that tonight had been the best night of her life. She had never had so much fun. She leaned over and gave Tito a peck on the cheek, threw the car door open and ran into the house. I walked Toots to the door. She gave me a kiss too, a little sloppier than the one Tito had received, confessed to having had a great evening and disappeared inside after her sister. We passed the girl’s parents coming home when we got to the end of the street. Tito said, “I hope Becky knows enough to be in bed when her folks come in the house.”
Tito and I drove around the rest of the night looking for Jimmy. We gave up and pulled into the parking lot at Denny’s as the sun was peeking over the hills in the east.
There was Jimmy, sitting at the breakfast counter with Nancy. He was in his shirtsleeves. Nancy was wearing his sweatshirt and her short shorts. Neither one of them were wearing shoes. We learned that Jimmy and Nancy had spent the night together in the bushes at the high school. Jimmy explained that they were going steady now. He told us how he had fallen in love with her as she barfed tequila and white wine behind the boxwood hedge all night. Nancy didn’t say a word. She just held Jimmy’s hand and sipped her ginger ale.
All that happened long ago, though. We all dodged a bullet that night. Toots and I graduated from Garfield High and went to different colleges. She stayed close to home and I went back east. We dated other people but after graduation we saw each other one night and recognized that we were still in love, always had been. Our oldest daughter graduated from Eastwood High and just finished her graduate studies at State (Yeah – Toots is still my main squeeze and the love of my life).
Jimmy and Nancy continued to go steady for about three more days after the party. A year after high school Jimmy managed to secure some venture capital and founded a software company in San Jose. There’s a scholarship fund named after him now. Nancy works at the Speedy Mart.
Tito never came back from Vietnam, still MIA.
Becky is the Assistant DA of Lincoln County and has been in a committed relationship with Samantha Christian since she got out of law school. Samantha is a stay at home mom, taking care of the two boys she and Becky adopted.
I guess things turned out pretty OK after all. Maybe this is the end. Whadya say? Is that a take?
I’m gonna repost this at The Blog Propellant for their “Casual Friday” call for reposts today 03.10.15.