Everyone enjoys remembering the "good old days" .... It doesn’t take but a couple of years for teenagers to start looking back with nostalgia on their high school days. When the realities of a demanding collegiate schedule, an eight-to-five job or a crying baby propels them headlong into adulthood, the shenanigans they pulled in high school start to look pretty great. The magic of the moment and mix of the people make those memories shine all the more.
One of my former students D’lin told me this story the other day, and I’m still laughing about the mental pictures it conjured up. It was a warm spring night, and she and a few of her pals had just enjoyed another small town prom, complete with sparkly dresses and homemade decorations. After the dance was over, several kids had driven to a neighboring town to go bowling, but not these diehard party animals. They had gone out to the gravel pit behind the metal building out in a pasture where many of our local dances are held. They opened the doors of one of the pickup trucks and cranked the music up loud. They were dancing and laughing – just enjoying being young and alive. One of the guys walked out into the darkness to find a tree to relieve himself. He spotted a big tractor tire, and that’s when he had a brilliant idea. Why not haul the tire up to the top of the 10-foot tall mound of rocks beside the gravel pit, get inside and roll down the hill? His friends thought that was a splendid idea.
Moving it proved to be a daunting task. It was heavy and cumbersome, and the hill was steep and rocky. But there were plenty of them to get the job done which ended up being half the fun. It took over a half an hour to get it into position. It was late, they were tipsy and laughing, and they kept slipping on the rocks. They finally got it in place atop the steep grade. They were so proud – whooping and hollering; they all toasted the night and themselves with clink of their longneck bottles.
Then they had to decide who would be the lucky rider. Never one to back down from a dare, Cody stepped forward and said he’d do it. What made the concept even more comical and ridiculous was the fact that he still had his tuxedo on from prom. Instead of renting one, like most kids do, he’d bought his tux and vowed that he was going to wear it all night, even though all the other kids had already changed clothes.
With music blaring and his friends chanting his name to give him courage, Cody climbed in, not pausing to hand his beverage off to a friend. He careened down the bumpy hill, bouncing over every rock as his fellow revelers cheered him on. When the tire reached the bottom of the pit, it circled a few times before finally coming to rest. Cody clambered out. He staggered around a minute, still dizzy from the ride. Everyone slapped him on the back congratulating him. Onlookers would have thought he’d had just jumped the Grand Canyon on a dirt bike. There were black marks all over his new tux. It was wrinkled and soggy from the drink he’d refused to relinquish at the beginning of the ride. D’lin had had the foresight to film the whole stunt with her smartphone.
After watching Cody’s perilous descent and remembering how hard it was to move the tire and the lateness of the hour, no one else volunteered to experience an ultimate redneck thrill. Only one other kid rose to the task, and that was a year later. But it was not nearly as dramatic or funny under tamer circumstances.
With the advent of the social media sites, funny pictures keep these memories alive. So the other day when I saw a dark blurry picture of a kid in a tux climbing out of a tractor that D’lin had posted on Facebook for Throwback Thursday, I just had to call and get the scoop.