Pete and I thought we were punk. Or some sort of hard rock hybrid. Pete looked like an Italian Billie Joe Armstrong. I was a German-Irish trying to look like Kurt Cobain. We walked the high school halls adorned with only the coolest band t-shirts, wallet chains, and Doc Martins boots. I was on a mission to grow my hair as long as possible. He wanted to spike it up or gel it.
Late at night we would take his Buick Regal out into the depths of Jupiter Farms. Troll the back roads. Listen to the newest Tool or Pennywise album at full blast. We would talk about all the girls we were going to date. Except we were with each other instead of the girls. We told everybody we were cow tipping but just hung out with the ranch dogs.
Some nights we would light bonfires and invite all the girls we knew and hang out until sunrise. I would dream about the sophomore brunette who lived across the fence line. She turned out to be a freshman. We would look at jocks with disdain but secretly want to try out for the baseball team. We would listen to the 1,039/Smoothed-Out Slappy Hours album and sing it at the top of our lungs and dedicate it to our girlfriend of the month.
We would write our own songs and talk about opening businesses. We would listen to Biohazard and Helmet and pretend we were hard. We would hypothesize that Primus were just a bunch of rednecks who liked to fish. We wondered if we should actually switch girlfriends. We pondered our job prospects if we got red and blue mohwaks. Every day I had to pick the perfect flannel. We would have a contest to see who could grow a goatee first. We would stay up late and play Leisure Suit Larry In The Land Of Lounge Lizards or laugh our asses off at comedy albums.
One day there was an event out by the high school’s football stadium. We went just so we could get out of class. They had a police car that you could look at. I had a funny idea. We had just listened to Adam Sandler’s “They’re All Gonna Laugh At You” album. I thought I could do an impromptu.
“Hey Officer,” I smiled and pulled my hair back. “Can I help you, son” he replied and gave my In Utero t-shirt a disparaging look. “That cruiser looks pretty sweet. Mind if I sit in it?” “Sure, but don’t touch anything.” I got in the front seat and closed the door. I looked at all the fancy screens. “Just don’t look up my relatives,” I quipped. He forced a smile. I pretended to move the steering wheel back and forth. I made a siren sound with my mouth. Pete looked at me like I was a lunatic.
I waited until the cop averted his eyes. Then I made my move. I grabbed the PA system microphone and keyed the button. There was a slightly audible whine. “Good morning students and faculty,” I said, and heard my words boom off the side of the stadium. “This is Assistant Principal Dunbar. If I could have your attention please.” Right then the cop reached in and pressed the button to turn the speaker off. I was crestfallen. Here I was, trying to recite verbatim, the entire skit of “Assistant Principal’s Big Day.” But he cut me off!
As I got out of the cruiser, Pete shook his head. “He must have heard that one,” he said.
Fred Shrum, III was born near Washington, D.C. and grew up in Florida. He attended the University of South Florida and earned a B.A. in Communication with a minor in Business Administration. He enjoys the beach, music , baseball and all things crime.