I’m going to tell you a story. This is real life, pulled directly from the archives of my misspent youth (please note, I’m being a little free with the whole “misspent youth” thing as my youth was rather tame by comparison. I’m a white girl from the suburbs of Philadelphia. I did spend a good deal of my childhood in a trailer park, but that’s about as far as my street cred extends). It’s about the time that my life almost turned into an Afterschool Special (and if you don’t know what that is, then you are probably too young to be reading this. Also, ugh).
So, prior to the birth of my progeny, the scariest five minutes of my life happened in 2001. I was nineteen. I have taken some liberties with people’s name because… well, quite frankly it’s been almost twenty years and I forget some of these people’s names. Also, sometimes you have to just assume that other people don’t want crazy stories from their misspent youth on the internet. You know, like sane people. Also, there is underage drinking, gun violence, and mild adult language. Proceed at your own risk.
It was a very cold winter night when the guy I was dating at the time (sorry, husband!!) picked me up to hang out. We were going to our friend’s… let’s call him Rick Palmer… house. Well, it was his dad’s house because we were all basically children. I was nineteen, the guy I was with was only just barely a man at twenty-one, and the person whose house we were going to was a paltry eighteen years old. We were all coming together to hang out and drink, because that’s what you do when you are in your most latest of teens in the suburbs… or I guess… in America.
I can’t tell you what we were drinking. Back in those days I was all about malt liquor in the 40 oz variety. Grown up me would probably get a terrible case of indigestion if I drank it now. Actually, grown up me has a terrible case of indigestion just thinking about drinking it now. Now a days I’m all about an ice cold lager or a very large glass of wine.
But, back to the scariest five minutes of my young life. My beau and I, let’s call him Todd Fields, were going to Rick’s house for an intimate gathering of friends (read: drunken night of debauchery, but for youths). Todd and I were sitting in the living room on the couch chatting with some friends from out of town. Everyone else had been there for quite a bit by the time we arrived. As my grandmother would say, they were pretty far into their cups. Todd and I were trying our best to catch up. Well, I was, Todd was driving and therefore was not drinking. He had to sway the scales back in his favor somehow, I mean, he did buy beer for a minor. Rick was playing the gracious host and going from room to room making sure that everyone was having a good time and (if memory serves me correctly) making sure nobody touched a goddamn thing in his dad’s house because we were definitely NOT supposed to be there.
Everyone was having fun. Todd and I were sitting in the living room talking about what we were going to do later that evening. A few friends on the couch across from us were talking about some other nonsense that seemed really important at the time. I don’t really remember the preamble to what came next at all, but I remember the following five minutes with the clarity that I remember my phone number or home address. From the other end of the living room, seemingly out of nowhere, Rick blurted out, “Hey, who wants to see my dad’s gun?”
Now, I was a few beers in, and we have already gone over the fact that Todd had questionable judgement (beer for minors anyone), but we both looked at each other and had what was probably our one moment of agreement ever.
“Um, maybe that’s not a good idea Rick.” Todd said. I patted him on the arm to let him know that I thought this was good thinking on his part and said lamely, “Yeah, I don’t think that’s a good idea. We’ve all been drinking, and, well… this is how, like, 90% of all Afterschool Specials start.”
We may as well have been whispering from the bottom of a large well to passengers on a plane as it flew above. Almost everyone jumped at the idea. The two friends that had been sitting on the couch across from us looked around horrified. Apparently they had also seen an Afterschool Special or two in their day. I could read their thoughts on their faces as plainly as if they had spoken them. So, this is happening? Are we really going to live through the next few minutes when one of our friends gets their brains drunkenly blown out? I looked at Todd again. He was an adult, after all, shouldn’t he be doing some adulting? He just shook his head and shrugged at me as if to say, well, we tried. I leaned back and braced for whatever would come next. I’d like to say that I jumped up and marched into the other room where everyone (it’s worth noting that “everyone” was all the men in the house. The smart people, the women, were still safely in the living room… with Todd) was gathering and put a stop to it using what is now known as my Mom Voice… But, that would be a lie and revisionist history and I’m not too big into either of those things.
The house was small enough that you could still hear most of the conversation that was going on in the other room from our vantage point on the couch. We weren’t eaves dropping, per say, we just had a clear ear line to the bedroom.
It went like this: Rick pulled out the gun. Everyone ohh-ed and ahh-ed. A loud gun shot rang out in the mostly quiet house. Rick shrieked, “DID I JUST SHOOT YOU?!” in what was perhaps the most predictable moment of my life. Followed by his, and this completely caught me by surprise, laugher. “Nah, man, I didn’t shoot you. It’s loaded with blanks.” Then came another predictable event, the sound of flesh on flesh where Ivan (sure, let’s call him Ivan), the kid who had the gun leveled at his chest when Rick pulled the trigger, punched him square in the heart.
Everyone had a good laugh and came tumbling out of the back bedroom. Rick told us how his dad kept the gun loaded with blanks. Real gun, fake bullets. He knew this going into the room and had planned to “shoot” one of our friends, he just didn’t know who until they were all in there.
I would like to take this moment to point out to my mother that while I was underage drinking I was not one of the people who said, drunkenly, “let’s all go look at a gun!” I feel like a “sorry” is warranted none the less. Sorry, mom.
Also, as a fun follow up, I messaged Rick on Facebook recently and asked him if he cared if I shared the story about the time he pretended to shoot that guy. He responded with, “I didn’t pretend shit, that gun went off in my lap”, so, yeah.