After telling the story of the first time my friends and I wrapped Leslie Blanchard’s house, I’m tempted to jump forward to the hazing but that doesn’t happen until four years later; well…actually it’s does but not as Seniors. When you’re on the receiving end, being hazed is just as eventful but less planned, best avoided, and experienced at an age when, having been relegated to the backseat of teenage society, we were not privy to all the details regarding the tradition. Freshman year, it was also a little less controversial than it would become once Principal Milham came on board a couple years later.
The Leslie Blanchard mission happened during the school year in the 8th grade. That group of guys was made up of people I knew from church and elementary school. I had different groups of friends throughout my youth and this one was kind of on its way out as a cohesive group. As families prepared for high-school, there were social shifts. Nobody was completely out of the picture but some folks changed schools (public vs. private), some moved to outlying small communities, and others just found it more convenient to hang out with new people who were involved in similar activities. I’ve already introduced the new group starting in the summer before the ninth grade; the group from the suburb with one intersection and a Dairy Queen. To recap, we’d been hanging out with since the 8th grade when I was approached by Clint during the lunch break in the gymnasium. It was common for kids to go to the gym next to the cafeteria after finishing lunch for a daily basketball challenge. There was a rack of balls set out for us and the goal was to hit a shot from half court or farther. The best method was to hold the ball like a catapult and launch it overhand towards the goal. Since there were ten or more balls out at once, and thirty or so kids vying for the rebound, it was a madhouse. This is where I got into my first fight. There was a kid named Derick Babcock. He didn’t seem very intimidating at the time, but in hindsight he and his brother Zach had major entitlement issues. This wasn’t uncommon with a certain class of people. This class was somewhat manipulative and didn’t treat others with respect. I learned my first lesson about the entitled class that year. One day, during the post lunch half court challenge melee, I went up for a rebound and it just happened that Derick also went up for the same ball. I was two or three inches taller and I got the rebound. The game was fairly agressive and we hit pretty hard before I got the better grip. Derick didn’t like that too much. He didn’t like me anyways, and had made that clear during pickup games of basketball when he would often tell me to shut up and call me a nerd. It didn’t bother me too much because guys like that had serious social problems and I didn’t really consider them part of respectable society. The opinions of bullies are certainly not objective and most people in a balanced society realize that they’re usually full of crap so in general, their attitudes never bothered me too much.
That day Derick was apparently not content with verbal insults and decided to kick my ass. I had not said a word to him after getting the rebound (fair and square), but after I took my shot at the goal, he was waiting. He came up to me and grabbed me, trying to get me in a headlock. We wrestled around for ten or twenty seconds, jockeying for position. I had never been taught how to fight (senior year, during my second and last fight, I discovered I wasn’t very good at it) but that day I had the upper hand due to my size. Derick and Zach weren’t very big but for some reason they weren’t afraid to attack others in violent outbursts. I was able to get my arm around his neck first so his arm was mostly around my shoulder. We both squeezed as hard as we could, he in hostility and me in self defense. After thirty seconds or so, he’d had enough and squeeked out the words “let go”. I said, “You let go”…. His face was pretty red and it was clear that in this war of attrition, he’d better make the first move. After a few more seconds of resistance, he loosened his grip. I immediately followed suit and we unlocked from one another. He said nothing more but just walked away in defeat. There was no fan fare. He went his way and I went mine. It freaked me out at first but in hindsight, I got off easy because a few years later his brother attacked my unarmed friend Joey at a party with a baseball bat.
But again, I’m skipping ahead to Red Raider territory. Back to Hubbard turf… my new social group was far from being members of the entitled class. We were all pretty much lower to lower-middle income class. The first time I snuck out without permission was with one of these guys. Our families all hailed from long lines of technicians, teachers, mechanics…etc. Most of us had Moms who were homemakers or had a small part time side job. My mom was a full time homemaker, as was Ray’s, Joey’s and Josh’s. Clint’s and the twin’s moms worked. Clint and Ray both had divorced parents who had remarried. Neither of them got along well with their step-parent. These are the two guys that I hung out with the most in the first couple years of high school. It’s hard to remember for sure but, I think the first time we snuck out, we stuck with the familiar activities and wrapped houses. The goal was the same as before, but this time there was no soccer mom to cart us around on our escapades. Also, the two guys I was with this time were more creative and much better equipped. We turned our attention to the house of the Canton twins; two sisters that were in our grade.
While we probably got a little overzealous with wrapping, we didn’t have any bad intentions. The sneaking out would continue all the way up through graduation, and not just for us. Much of the teenaged population did so on a regular basis in order to break curfew. It makes perfect sense that (most) parents will do what they can to stop it because of possible consequences. It also makes perfect sense that teenagers would defy their parents because 9.9 times out of ten, nothing bad happens and also because we all want to be cool (if you’re cool, then it means that you’re well liked, and, more importantly, not disliked, and therefore not picked on by people with entitlement issues like the Babcock brothers who, despite their hateful actions, somehow had lots of friends of their own). Its one of those things that just happens in modern times, but when caught, there’s hell to pay, because in the parent’s rule book, the “no harm no foul clause” doesn’t exist.