I had just turned 15. School was out for a couple of weeks. I wasn't working that night. I had asked around about New Years Eve parties and had vague addresses of four written down on a scrap of paper.
There was no way my old man was going to let me drive anywhere but nobody cared if I walked out and about on a Winter night and I had no curfew. Off I went.
I walked miles and miles that night. I only ever found two parties. The first one was for smart kids. It was parent supervised. Chips and dips and soda pop. No music. I wasn't in the same league as the kids at this party but they were pretty friendly. They were impressed that I was there on my own, that nobody had dropped me off or would be picking me up later. I had a long talk with a Jewish girl named Gail Foltz. I had known her for years in school but we had never been friendly. I could see she was trying to see what made me tick. She seemed disappointed that I didn't have any special interests, had not considered where I was going to go to college or thought about what I wanted to do with my life. She never asked me about what I liked to read. I wonder if she even considered reading a fun thing. She was a clean and plumply pretty girl. Probably had about thirty pounds on me. We were clearly not turning each other on. I wasn't sure exactly what that meant at that point in my life but was very sure it wasn't happening. To be honest though, Gail was a lot friendlier to me after that night, at least until the end of our Senior year. At that time, yearbooks had come out. I wasn't letting anybody sign mine and was writing the exact same inoffensive blurb in anybody else's that asked me. The reason was that a lot of people had written a lot of druggy stuff in my Junior yearbook, my parents had read it, became concerned, searched my room, found a couple ounces of marijuana and made my life Hell on a continuing basis. I explained this to Gail and she felt that she should be an exception. I explained that I wasn't making any exceptions. She never talked to me again. She blew an artery in her beautiful brain a few years later and died. I always felt bad about that. Anyway, after an hour or so at the smart kid party I walked on and on and on.
I finally found another party. It wasn't that far from the first but I had wandered wide. It was later, maybe 9:30 or 10. This was more like the kind of party typified in the movie Dazed and Confused, decades later. No parents around, mostly it was taking place in the garage and backyard of the house. There were quite a few people there, you couldn't miss it. I went in, I figured they might kick me out but probably wouldn't beat me up, what the hell.
There were some girls my age there but not many and no boys, they were all Juniors, mostly Seniors. I wandered around, nobody talked to me. I got a few hard looks but mostly they were only disconcerted, like what was I doing there. Surprisingly, one guy talked to me, was even kind of friendly. I think he was just amazed I had the balls to come in and was trying to figure out if I was brave or just stupid. The kid's name was Randy. Everybody knew him. He was my high school's current legendary athlete. Lettered in virtually every sport and won a lot of games seemingly single handed. Little guy though, not much bigger than I was at the time although he seemed a lot bigger and older to me. He had no idea who I was and had to ask my name. I was flattered that he bothered to ask. He moved on pretty quick.
After I had wandered around a little more, watching the antics and grab ass going on, I figured I better leave before anybody started to take offense at my continued presence. I had sidled over to where Randy and some of his Senior buddies were huddled. I could hear them talking. They needed more beer. I was kind of surprised. There were always ways to get alcohol. I went closer and told them I could get all the beer they wanted. They didn't believe me at first. I insisted I could. Money was collected. The order was for six packs of tall cans, all it would buy. I could see there were still a lot of doubters. There was quite a bit of money collected. It would be a very conspicuous purchase for a 100 pound, 15 year old boy to make, late at night, on New Years Eve.
Randy and a bunch of his friends piled me into a car and off we went. They all wanted to see. It was only a couple of blocks, would have been easy walking distance. A little storefront market called The Big Boy. It was right next to the Taco Bell where I worked. It was run by an old Doughboy. He was always there. Now that I think about it, he probably even owned it. I never asked. He never said. We were buddies and when you were buddies with a Doughboy, it meant something. I always brought him a bag of tacos, bell burgers and a burrito, on break, whenever I was working. Always for free, it didn't cost me anything. We'd smoke and joke. I loved the Doughboys. I wish they were still alive. There were never any better men.
Randy and his friends stayed in the car. I got out, went next door to the laundromat and got a wheeled cart and took it into The Big Boy, filled it up with beer, paid my friend and filled up the trunk of the car. Blew the Senior boys away.
We got back to the party with the beer, really breathed new life into it. It didn't make me suddenly popular or anything but I didn't get anymore hard looks. I even had a couple of the beers I had bought for them and nobody minded. I hung around until nearly midnight. It was fun to watch.
Randy was always OK to me after that. We weren't friends or anything but he knew who I was. Things like that make a difference in high school.
Randy ended up at Stanford. The New England Patriots picked him up, even though he was way too small to play in the NFL, because they drafted Jim Plunkett and Randy was his favorite receiver. He played for them several years, even after Plunkett moved on. I wonder if he would remember me now. I bet he would.