VOL. 131 | NO. 110 | Thursday, June 2, 2016
By Vic Fleming
Last week I wrote a brief account of my high school football career. And that got me to thinking about other memorable high school experiences. A decade or so ago I wrote a column based on Bill Bryson’s “The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” and another book that I was reading at the same time. Both books, I noted, had funny stories about teenage boys stealing alcoholic beverages.
This story is not a confession to theft on my part. No stealing occurred. However, in the summer of 1969, after my senior year of high school, I made a beer run I’ll never forget. A friend – I’ll call him G.C. – and I were at my house, playing a marathon Ping-Pong match. My parents were gone; my 24-year-old sister was there.
G.C. and I were both 17. For whatever reason, we decided that we’d like to have a little beer to go along with the Ping-Pong. This decision came around 11:30 p.m. We had both been out earlier in the evening with our respective girlfriends. Probably one of those pizza-and-a-movie, take-the-girl-home-by-11 dates.
We had not been drinking (I was hardly a drinker at all, though I wanted to be). So, the problem was we wanted beer but had none. Neither of us was of age. And even had we been, in Greenville, Miss., that late at night there’d have been no place open to buy it. But G.C. recalled that he in fact owned some beer that was stashed in a remote location. If only we could find it.
We took my sister’s car and drove to a spot out in the country, five miles from town, where G.C. and another guy (F.E., may he R.I.P.) had, on some prior occasion, buried a six-pack of beer. Almost literally. For a rainy day … or a hot summer’s night.
It was in a cardboard box, hidden on rocks under some brushy overgrowth of weeds, near a culvert. In the dark, it took us a while to find it. The somewhat paranoid excitement of the hunt was as much fun as anything else. Once we found it, we returned to my house and discussed how long it would take to chill the brew sufficiently to drink it.
It was 12:30 by then, and fatigue was setting in. We figured it would take an hour for the beer to get cold – even in the freezer. Neither of us wanted to wait that long. Nor did we care to drink hot beer in July. So, we decided not to drink the beer. This presented a problem, in that now we had “evidence” on hand that we did not want to have to explain in the light of day. And we certainly didn’t want to waste the beer.
Pausing our match again, we took the beer back to where it had been an hour earlier. When we got back home, my sister had woken up and was in a panic about where we were. We explained the situation to her. She laughed. Then offered to make us a bourbon and Coke.
Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.