It’s Nature’s Way

“While the cat’s away, the mice will play.”NaturesWay1

It’s almost a cliché that given the chance to have a house party while one’s parents are gone, the average American teenager will lunge at the opportunity.

So, that’s what happened Friday night, April 13, 1979.

The 1979 journal entry begs more questions than it answers, since there are no extant photos of the event—I have only a blurry snapshot of its location, our small kitchen on Casco Point (below left).

Mom and Dad weren’t heavy partiers, but they liked to entertain. Dad said that in Indiana he and Mom used to have “Hobo Party” potluck suppers, where friends gathered in their basement with food to share and plenty of libations (photo above right of their anniversary party with my godparents, the Morelands, late 1950s). Once we’d moved to Maryland, Dad was obligated to entertain coworkers from NIH. My brother and I were often sent to bed early—where it was hard to sleep with raucous laughter drifting upstairs late into the night.

NaturesWay2Dad always kept a liquor cabinet of some sort. After we’d moved to Minnesota, he stowed the booze next to the refrigerator, or stored 12-packs of Olympia beer above the washer and dryer in the tiny space next to the kitchen. There were fewer parties after we’d moved; I’m not sure why. The University of Minnesota was a lot more staid than what Dad was used to, and I think he just settled into it. That, and he liked his solitary downtime out on the lake, fishing until well after sundown.

In April 1979, I was in college, still bailing paper at Augsburg Fortress Publishing House, heading into a dismal spring quarter and, as the journal states, “not looking forward to a summer of work.” Itching for fun and ready “to digress to P-l-e-a-s-a-n-t-e-r things,” I finally had one of the best weekends in a long time.

And it was totally impromptu.

The folks left for Indiana on Wednesday, April 11. No indication in the journal about the nature of the trip, but I’m now wondering if it had something to do with Grandma Adams, who may’ve been treated for heart disease around that time (she passed away in 1981).

I worked Thursday night, taking the usual late bus home. Friday was off, so Harvey came over and we mixed cocktails in the kitchen. “It was a little unexpected,” the journal says, “but nonetheless it was successful.” Harvey and I had our poisons of choice: super-strong Manhattans (if there were maraschino cherries in the house) or screwdrivers (if vodka and orange juice were on hand). I know at some point we picked up Michelob 6-packs at the Navarre liquor store.

The journal says nothing about where my brother was during the ensuing party, but it does provide a list of attendees, among whom were the original Party Chasers: Greg Hartmann, Chris Boll, Vince Marshall, and more than a dozen other guys. When four high school girls came through the door, the party amped up considerably.

The AM/FM radio on the kitchen counter blared rock station KQRS. We were packed around the kitchen table, drinks in front of us and a lit bong was passed around. I particularly recall the shock of seeing our kitchen dense with smoke, and feeling a deep-seated sense of panic if the folks ever found out. I couldn’t square the mental image of family breakfasts around the very same table.

It started to get late and—I think—some guys and girls ended up in bedrooms. On the radio was Spirit’s “Nature’s Way,” and everyone around the table fell into stoned silence as the song droned on: “It’s nature’s way of telling you, something’s wrong…” Before long I was shoving kids out the door and hustling to do damage control.

The journal also fails to report when the ’rents returned, but I’d bet it was on Sunday, so there was at least a day for me and Brian to get the house in shape. Every time I watch Risky Business I flinch during the scene where Joel gets everything back to normal just in the nick of time.

Well, we did get away with it—that is, until Dad discovered a lone Michelob bottle cap under the sofa.

Uh-oh.

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~ by completelyinthedark on December 27, 2013.

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