My belated 21st Birthday Party
Yet another story concerning friends and/or aquaintances mentioned in the AggieCon Chronicles, this story concerns Burt, David, Wayne, Dawn, Alan, Lisa, and my sister Joyce.
Being something of a late bloomer, I did not begin to branch out socially until in my early 20s. I did not try alcoholic beverages until this time frame, and to the current date, have never smoked a cigarette or taken illegal drugs. My life was wild and crazy enough without those things.
However, I was intrigued with the concept of being drunk. What exactly was that like? Many people of my age spoke of it in glowing terms as a wonderful experience. Although my parents spoke of it as a great evil, surely it was up to me to investigate this matter for myself, and form my own opinion.
I was 21 years of age, and therefore of legal age to purchase such beverages if I so desired. Since I had not celebrated my "coming of age", I decided I would instead celebrate my 22nd birthday, now that I had a few friends who were like minded.
I quickly settled on a place in Norman, at a city park. There was a building there which could be rented, and it seemed far wiser to do so than attempting to hold the celebration in my own apartment. Knowing myself and my friends as I did, that sounded like a recipe for disaster.
Paying for the place in advance, I then invited those I cared for in some fashion or other. These included David, his brother Wayne, Burt, Alan Cornwall (who often gamed with us), a girlfriend of his, my sister Joyce (who I generally call Oyster), and Dawn (ok, so I'm very stubborn).
Having secured assurances from these people that they would attend, I began purchasing party supplies. That meant alcoholic beverages, of course. Not knowing what was and was not considered good, I bought some of just about everything. Various wines, both red and white, brandy, beer, vodka, and whiskey. Assorted mixers as well, plus a fair amount of soft drinks. This would be the perfect time to find out exactly what being drunk was like. Out in the country, away from neighbors who might complain about noise, surrounded by friends to curb me from being overly....well, me. What could possibly go wrong? If only I had known....
I offered transportation to those interested, and David, Burt, and Wayne took me up on the offer. Alan and his girlfriend of the moment took his Opal, Dawn arrived in her VW beetle, and Oyster drove her car.
I had brought some 8 track tapes of my own recording. cards, and a few games like Twister. Everyone arrived and things seemed to be going alright, but I had neglected to consider a simple fact. There were considerably more single males than females present. Lisa and Alan were sort of a couple, and while Dawn might have been interested in David or Burt, or both, neither had the slightest interest in her. That left my sister. Oyster, who is 4 years my elder. As I was 3 plus years older than any of the other guys there, that meant she was at least 7 years older, and had zero interest in them.
For some reason. perhaps the booze which was already flowing freely, Burt did not seem to understand this, and began flirting outrageously with Oyster, who seemed unsure whether to be amused or upset. Quickly I decided to intervene, before matters escalated.
Stepping in front of Burt, I made a comedic slaping gesture in the air in front of him. Sort of a "snap out of it" attempt. Unfortunately, he continued walking forward, and so received multiple slaps across the face. This was not at all what I had intended, but it did stop his forward progress, and shifted his focus away from my sister.
Unfortunately that focus was now on me. To this day I am not sure why he did not strike me back. Glad he did not, mind you. Not sure what would have transpired, but likely someone would have gotten hurt badly. Even worse, there's a pretty decent chance that somebody would have been me.
Instead he spun around on his heels and stormed out of the building. I shrugged my shoulders, figuring he went for a walk to cool off, and we would talk when he returned. Now, I would know better, but at the time I really didn't know Burt tbat well.
Still, after a short time I decided to go looking for him. It really had been an accident, and if he was mad I should apologize. So I walked outside in the cool April evening, and strolled around looking for him. No sign did I find, but I did notice something else odd. Dawn's car was missing. That was very strange, especially since she came alone and was still inside the building, to the best of my knowledge.
Being more than a bit naive and not really knowing Burt that well, I did not make tbe connection. Instead I went back inside, told David I had not found Burt, and that Dawns VW was missing. HE made the connection immediately.
"Dawn drives a beetle, doesn't she?" David asked in dawning horror. "Well yeah, what does that have to do with anything," I replied. "I taught Burt how to hotwire them," David said.
I was still confused. "You think Burt took Dawn's car? Why would he do that? If he was mad at me, and wanted to steal a car, wouldn't he take mine?"
"First of all, you don't drive a VW, Secondly, Burt REALLY doesn't like Dawn." responded David.
"Why does Burt not like her," I asked. "If anyone has the right to be ticked off at her it would be me, not him!" "Yeah, but Burt likes you, didn't like the way she treated you at AggieCon, and REALLY doesn't like her trying to boss him around." "Well, you know him better than I do. Either way, I have to tell Dawn her car is gone." "Yeah, but we don't KNOW Burt took it," David argued. "You didn't SEE him take it. So just tell her you think her car was stolen."
Shrugging my shoulders I agreed. True enough I didn't know for certain if Burt and the missing car.were connected, although it seemed quite a coincidence. Looking around I saw my sister was preparing to leave, and Alan was near comotose from his "cough syrup". Lisa was totally occupied with him, and I could see David explaining the situation to his brother Wayne.
Walking up, Dawn turned and smiled at me. Whatever she thought I might be about to say, it likely was NOT "Hey, I think someone stole your car".
Dawn hurried outside, and the remainder of those still ambulatory followed her. Needless to say she was quite upset. David, Wayne and I spread out to scour the park, and look for Burt and/or the missing car.
Before continuing, allow me to remind whatever readers there might be that this was long before the invention of cell phones or even pagers. The nearest phone was miles away, thus there was no chance of calling Burt to see where he was, or to try and talk some sense into him (if that would have been a possibility).
Quickly The three of us fanned out, proceeding as quickly as we could in the growing darkness. Having covered my section of the park, I had begun my trip back to our base of operations, when in the distance I saw Dawn’s car. I also noticed Wayne was approaching it. Inwardly I relaxed. Finally, something was going right. Wayne would talk to Burt, convince him to park the car before any serious damage happened. At least, those were my thoughts. Instead, the conversation went something like this....
Wayne, “Hey Burt, what are you doing?” Burt, “Having fun! You ever been flying low in a VW? C’mon, get in,”. Wayne: Looks around, shrugs, and hops in the car.
Now, I was too far away to hear this conversation, but close enough to see Burt was in the car, and to see Wayne look around, shrug, and hop in the car, which then sped off into the distance.
“Oh no,” I thought to myself. Not only is Burt driving a stolen car while intoxicated, now they could nab him for kidnapping! And if anything happened to them, how would I explain all this to their parents? This was definitely NOT what I had in mind for my birthday party!
Quickly locating David, I filled him in on the scene I had witnessed. He shared my concerns, especially as Wayne was his younger brother and he felt protective of him. He didn’t say much, other than “Damn it Burt!”, but I knew him well enough to see he was getting angry. And like myself, David was not a safe person to be around when he was truly angry.
After some more talk with David, in which he begged me NOT to tell Dawn what I had seen, we both returned. Dawn insisted on going to the police station immediately to report her stolen car (again, no phones nearby, remember). David was understandably reluctant. As he explained to me, “First, I already have a record. Second, I’m underage, but drinking. Third...look at me.” I smiled and chuckled. As usual, David was dressed like....David. Shoulder length hair, faded bell bottom blue jeans, a sleeveless T-shirt, and a jean jacket. No doubt he also had a couple of knives concealed somewhere. With Dawn reporting her car stolen, they would probably point at David and say, “Did he do it?”
Well, making a long story short, we did go to the local police station. David knew where it was, no surprise there. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, although David did garner a few curious stares. I did feel bad for Dawn, she had done nothing wrong. I would have helped her more, had it been possible, even though I no longer had amorous intentions towards her. But I also did not want Burt getting in this sort of trouble, especially when Wayne was with him. So I did not lie, but neither did I reveal everything I knew.
Returning from the police station, we sat around the park building I had rented, worrying. Dawn flirted with David a bit, who wanted absolutely nothing to do with her, responding to her overtures with a silent glare. Shrugging, Dawn proceeded to see how much liquor she could hold. I commiserated with David as best I could. He was worried sick about Wayne, saying over and over, “I’m the older brother. I should have been watching him more closely. I should have taken care of him.” “ Wayne’s not a child anymore,” I responded. “You can’t be responsible for everything he does.” “Maybe,” David replied, “but that’s not how my parents will see it.”
Well, making a long and boring story a little shorter, Burt and Wayne soon returned, wearing different clothing than they had departed in. When Dawn asked where they had been, Burt claimed they had just been walking and talking, and had hitched a ride back.”
Of course, once she walked away, Wayne explained what had really happened, while Burt hovered nearby, chuckling. After the scene I saw, when Wayne had jumped in the car, Burt took the VW canal jumping, and wreaked general mayhem, eventually shoving a tree through the floorboard and totaling the car. Now a long distance from the rest of us, they began the trek back. They soon came to a residential district, and Burt came up with another “bright” idea. “Let’s check the cars, see if anyone was stupid enough to leave their keys,” he told Wayne.
As luck would have it, they did indeed find such a vehicle....a van. Hopping in, Burt fired it up, and the two desperadoes took off. As they were driving, Burt noticed it seemed hard to steer, but didn’t pay too much attention to it. Maybe it had a bad tire. Maybe it was just the difference between driving a van and a car. Either way, he wasn’t too concerned. After all, it wasn’t his anyway.
Well, the van ran out of gas. On a railroad track, With police cars closing in....apparently the vans owner had phoned in to report it stolen. Ditching the van, they noticed what had caused the steering issues. There was a trailer attached to the Van, holding a couple of motorcycles. Shrugging, Burt thought about stealing a bike, but quickly realized they were chained to the trailer. With multiple police cars closing in, he chose the better part of valor, shouting to Wayne, “Scatter!”
Hunkering down, they quickly faded into the tall grass as searchlights played over the area they had just left. Even for Burt, this was a narrow escape.
Afterwards, they did indeed hitch a ride back. Oh, and the clothes? They had ruined their shoes and clothing hiding in the mud and tall grass, and so had “appropriated “ replacements somewhere along the way.
So, that pretty much wrapped up my belated birthday party. Never did find out what being drunk was like, either then or later. Anytime I tried, disaster closely followed, so I decided that was warning enough. Indeed, Burt struggled with alcoholism for a time, and David eventually succumbed to health issues directly related to it, so I suppose it might have been a good thing I never pursued this goal. Burt and Dawn never really smoothed things over, and in some circles he became known as the "Midnight Rider". I lost contact with Dawn not too long after the events detailed here, probably a blessing for both of us.