Memories or What is Left of Them

I always have trouble writing stories, dialog is my weak spot. So perhaps I will practice my dialog after awhile, first to warm up the pipes I will tell a story….now which story?

I think I want to tell you a funny story first.

Hopefully you will think this is funny.

When I was 15 or 16 I was just discovering humanity, in many ways, for the first time. Suddenly I had social goals, I wanted to fit in…and since I had little to no practice I was pretty terrible at it. I remember on the first day of high school, carefully picking my debut outfit. A pair of Hunter green short shorts, a pair of adult man over sized, filthy, work boots, and a green t-shirt with a hand painted leopard surrounded by glitter paint foliage. Somehow I felt totally convinced that this outfit perfectly portrayed my me-ness. As you might imagine it drew a fair amount of criticism from my peers.

I was deflated.

Somewhere along the course of that year I had tentatively befriended a couple of punk rock girls, whom I was both in awe of for their apparent self assuredness and ease in the world, and fairly seriously enamored with. Through them I eventually fell in with the punk rock crowd in general. A group of people who were no less mysterious than the rest of humanity but who seemed to find my oddness acceptable. That was entirely intoxicating to me. I never wanted it to end.

One day, only a couple of weeks into this new adventure called having a social circle, we were hiking in the caves. In Missouri even the trouble makers hike. We were walking with only one small flashlight into a cave, perhaps we thought it made us tough, or it may have just been lack of organizational skills I suppose. I was the last in line being the newest to the group. As we got further into the cave we realized there was loud sounding young people behind us and the only way out would be past them. Were they jocks? Some members of the group became convinced they would catch us and beat us up so we walked faster, dead silent, further into the cave. As we got further in the cave got smaller and smaller, the voices behind us got louder and closer….and my friends got more and more afraid, which in turn made me more afraid. What did I know about jocks and punks? Would we die? Would being hit hurt? We’re they over reacting? Maybe this was one of those things I didn’t understand.  Finally the cave got so small we could go no further so we were forced to stop, we turned around and crouched there, our final stand. Since I had been the last in line I was now the first person in our short line, no one offered to trade places with me and I didn’t ask though I was terrified, I was also desperate for their approval. One person handed me the only flash light, which pooled on my face as we crouched there, staring into the near pitch black, waiting for our doom.

Sitting there in the dark I imagined all the ways we would possibly die or be injured by these scary jocks, and slowly but surely they got louder and louder with their oblivious joy.

Finally the other group of people turned the corner, saw us crouching in the dark, weak light from my flashlight streaming up and illuminating my face and long stringy hair,  they screamed “oh shit it’s a vampire!” And ran screaming as fast as they could out of the cave.

That day I was the hero. Is this what bravery felt like? I hadn’t felt brave.

I always like to think there are some people in town who tell a story about that time when they were in college when they got fucked up, went into the caves and stumbled across some weirdos in there that scared the shit out of them.


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