Early on a Friday
night. Larry and John come to my "office" - a well-lit nook across the street from campus, a few steps away from my fave Greek restaurants (my kitchen away from home), where I would sit and read when the band was inactive. This was the deal: I'd buy the keg
(they dutifully flashed a motley assortment of crumpled bills), and there was a party
of some sort going on somewhere - I didn't recognize the name of the girl whose parents were gone for the weekend. Marie would be there, they said, knowing that dangling such a carrot would make the proposition
The legal drinking age had changed, disenfranchising a number of my younger acquaintances from the communal ritual of mass consumption of brew. I packed my backpack, and was led to an old, old Chevy (a '66 Chevelle Malibu sedan, I think); we headed down Main to the beer store and bought the keg. My growth of beard made me look "old enough" - a strategy that had worked since the age of 16, when I bought my Freshman roomie a bottle of vodka at a time when he'd lost his coveted driver's license (he was 20, and legal at the time, but couldn't prove it) - so the transaction went without hitch or query; my hand had been poised to whip out the license, but it wasn't needed.
The grateful bunch - we were a crowd of seven, packed in that compact car - carried the keg, and plopped it into the trunk. We headed out to a posh subdivision, to a sprawling ranch-style house. And, yes, Marie was there; I could see her in the distance as the keg was being tapped, but the flow of events took me to another corner of the house - Larry, John, and I joined a Guy Stuff room. We drank. We got high on mediocre weed. We played tapes - our shared interest, hardcore - and talked about upcoming shows, shows that I'd miss, since I'd be out of town. Someone (I didn't recognize the name) was supposed to be at the party, bringing a new Skrewdriver tape.
Skrewdriver? Hmmm. I then recall that I had passed a shaved head or two during my trip through the house. And even John himself was newly shorn. Why did I, whose Aryan roots are now heavily diluted in my branch of the family tree, get picked for the task of buying the keg? My thoughts quickly shifted from Marie (How old is she exactly? What are the laws? It's consensual, dammit! Possible defenses? She really does look 18/19, after all... How soon would her dad shoot me upon finding out?) to John. He was the son of hippie parents - friends of Marie's dad, I think, but not gun owners - and he was just as gentle and laidback as they were. A good kid raised by good people. What's with the skinhead stuff, then?
But I kept all this to myself; it was, otherwise, a fun-evening-in-progress, and maybe the presence in their lives of a Mud Person (Person of Mud?) such as I - who'd partied with them, and come to see and support their various bands - would be a silent anti-skinhead device, once they exercised their brain cells on the topic.
The guy with the Skrewdriver tape showed up, fairly late into the evening. I'd only heard of the band; this was my first time hearing them. It wasn't bad, I thought at the time; I don't remember it very well now, except that the lyrics went in one ear and out the other - they could have been singing about cauliflower and daisies, for all I knew. And, besides, can't you, say, enjoy reggae without becoming a rasta?
Months later, I run into John during a party at the One Cool Frat, and he spontaneously apologizes for his intermittent skinhead activities in those intervening months. (No harm, no foul, said I). A thing of the past now, he says. A youthful mistake, if you will. Few of those nascent skins actually stuck with it.
I didn't think they would.
A good kid, that John.