Cardinal Rule of 12

By grade 9, I had already lived in 4 different countries, I was a mixture of all cultures and yet the package I came in didn’t match those cultures.

It was grade 9, and we were living in our home country. We were back to living in a tiny house, my parents drove their own car, I did my own laundry, and the only person who greeted me at the door after school was a big furry dog.

It was  this particular year that people started to have parties, friends started going “steady”, and drinking seemed to be an experimental thing.

My Father had a few rules:

1. I was only allowed to go out 1 night a weekend, so it had to be either Friday or Saturday.

2. My curfew at this stage was 10pm. Enough time to socialize, but not enough time to get into trouble.

3. I had to be in a short driving distance away, and if anything happened, to call.

Simply put, he was ridiculously strict. I was wildly boldly truthful, my Mother never knew just how blunt I was with my Father. He would grill me: Have you had anything to drink? etc. I knew if I told him the truth, I would never get into trouble. To be honest, he gave me sips of wine or his cocktail when I asked, and on special occasions, I was allowed to have a little wine. Drinking was not something he was overly worried about, because it wasn’t forbidden.

So, every weekend was the same, I would ask for a later curfew, and my Father would flat-out say “No”.

One weekend I decided to go to a big party with my friends, I didn’t leave any specific’s for my parents, I just said I would be a friend’s house. 2 buses later, we arrived at a big blowout of a guy whose parents had sold the house. The house was empty of all furniture and lines of communication, what it did have: 400 people and a few kegs of beer.

I was pretty excited, I was about to defy all my Father’s rules, like a good 9th grader would do. We went in, I was given a cup, and we mingled. I looked at the time, it was 10pm. I didn’t care, I was having a good time.

By 11pm, I started to think that maybe I needed to find a way home, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that. I was sober, not feeling like drinking, I had long abandoned my cup. I looked around for the girlfriends I came with, I found one, drunk, and making out with her crush. I couldn’t find the other’s. I started to look around, things were getting out of hand, I noticed my classmate’s nose was bleeding, and another had a cut lip. A fight had broken out in the living room. I started looking in each room, attempting to find a sober friend, and quickly realized there wasn’t one. I stopped to figure out what I was going to do, we took 2 buses to get to the party, but I had forgotten which buses. I knew the address, but it dawned on me that there was no phone in the house.

Then it happened, one guy went down in a seizure, and everything turned into slow motion, everyone was too drunk to move, or contemplate calling an ambulance. That was the moment I knew I had to switch gears.

I left the house, went 2 doors down to what looked like a friendly house, and knocked on the door. I explained that I was sober, and the house party was getting out of hand, there was a boy having a seizure, and could I use their phone to call 911 and home.

They were very sweet, they explained that they had called the police already, but to please come in and call my parents.

That phone call was scary, I was lucky, it was my older brother who picked up the phone. I explained where I was, and to please pick me up at the end of the street, my brother wasn’t too keen, he was protective, but he agreed.

I got off the phone, and 4 eyes stared at me. The couple asked if I was alright, and I said “yes”. The older man didn’t like the idea of me walking down the street alone,  but I explained that the police were coming, it would be pretty safe.

I walked down the street, to find my brother standing there, and my Mother behind the wheel. It was after midnight. I knew I was in trouble.

We drove in silence.

I got home to my Father sitting in his PJ’s wide awake, with the look of a pit bull, he had his firing squad face on, and I was in trouble.

My only hope, was to tell the truth.

My Father looked at me, his muscles relaxed, and he said “Nothing good ever happens after midnight” It is the cardinal rule of 12. He explained that no matter what country, what circumstance, everything sours at that golden hour. I took his word for it, but it wasn’t until adult hood that I truly understood what he was talking about.

I didn’t get into trouble. He thought I did everything right in handling the situation.

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