It was hot. Not by today’s standards but for June of 1976, it was hot. I was right on track to graduate, all my ducks in a row, always the good girl. Until that morning.
It was a Monday like any other Monday, but the plans were already in motion to change the course of history. I was going to skip school. My friend and I were actually going to go through with it this time. To hell with the rules baby we were going to skip school, punch out, cut class or whatever the really popular kids were calling it back in the day.
We phoned in each others’ absences by reading a well-rehearsed paragraph off of lined 3×5 index cards. We chose our words carefully, used our best penmanship as we wrote out our scripts. My friend and I even practiced the phone conversation several times on Sunday afternoon. We couldn’t use identical phrases because we didn’t want to tip off the feds and we were cautious not to stumble over our statements right at the onset of our premeditated crime spree. We synchronized our watches and called school to report in a matronly voice that an illness had fallen upon our child.
So here’s the skinny, my friend had a pool in her back yard and we were going to lay in the sun and get the tan of a lifetime. We were seniors, life was grand, and as far as we were concerned we were committing the perfect crime. Move over Oceans Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, and Thirteen Point Five. We were now wanted felons. Criminals. We were seventeen and truant. We told a lie. We faked our parents voices and we were so cool.
We slathered ourselves with Coppertone and suited up. I vividly remember that swimsuit, too. I got it at J.C. Penney with my babysitting money. It was a red one piece Speedo that was identical to the ones they were wearing in Montreal at the 1976 Summer Olympics. So, by 7:40 a.m. we are poolside and ready to soak up the rays. I had my spray bottle of lemon juice so that I could spritz my hair and obtain golden highlights as a token of this illegal adventure.
At about 7:55 a.m. we were racked with guilt. We told a lie. We faked our parents voices and we were so going to hell. I think I started the hysteria. What if a teacher noticed that I had lighter hair than I had last week on Friday! How would I explain that one? Simple, it happened over the weekend my friend the voice of reason explained. Whew. Brilliant. This is why she had a 3.8 GPA and I only had a 3.5.
OH MY GOD! What if we got a sunburn!?! A sunburn would certainly look fresh enough. If it happened over the weekend it wouldn’t be as severe on a Tuesday. They could figure this out easily enough just by touching our cheeks. Sunburn was only hot the first day and a half, never longer. If this happened on a Saturday there was no way it would still be hot. HOLY CRAP, we were about to be busted. Even worse, we were sinners. On purpose.
True story, 8:20 a.m. we were in the Main Office of North High School asking if we could see the Principal, or the Vice Principal, or the Assistant Vice Principal. We wanted to turn ourselves into the authorities.
We told the secretary what we did and she had some kind of a buzzer that summoned the Commander in Chief. I think it was the Assistant to the Assistant Guidance Counselor In Training’s Student Teacher. We once again recited our tale of how we faked our parents voices, lied about being ill and we would like to surrender. We couldn’t stand the gut wrenching ache that was so often associated with leading a double life.
I remember the stomach pain more than I remember the exact words of the Commander in Chief but it was something to the effect that since we were honest and forthcoming and could see the error of our ways the Powers That Be would be able to keep this off of our permanent records.
Thank you, Sweet Mother of Jesus. Good things come to those being honest. It pays to tell the truth. Confession is good for the soul. A penny saved is a penny earned. The cows will come home to roost. We were not going to burn in the fiery trenches of hell.
We went to tell the priest of our wrong-doings the following Saturday during our weekly confession and asked to be forgiven by someone more powerful than the Assistant to the Assistant Guidance Counselor In Training’s Student Teacher. We planned to beg for forgiveness about thirty minutes apart so that the priest wouldn’t suspect that when I confessed that I had lied to my parents and my friend confessed that she had lied to her parents … well, he simply could not know that we had been co-conspirators.
Ten Hail Marys and an Our Father later we met by the bench at church to walk back to our neighborhood. Was it worth it? Hell, yeah. We never told our parents about our escapades and my mom quit reading everything I wrote several years ago so my secret remains safe. Sssh.