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Most summer weekends, Owen and Terry packed backpacks and coolers and invaded Owen’s Nana’s house on Cape Cod. If they weren’t down the Cape, they might be in Faneuil Hall at a bar called Trinity. The legal drinking age was 21, but not Trinity. The boys started showing up there at 17. As long as you showed up at the door with women and showed the bouncer any piece of plastic from your wallet, you got in.
Owen, Ken, and Terry were working on a two night mission to Nantucket. With no kids or mortgages, weekend plans required nothing more than someone saying “Hey, let’s go to Nantucket.”
Without another word they dashed off for the ferry terminal in Hyannis. Owen was driving his black Jeep Wrangler. The coolest Jeep girls and guys drove stick and had after market off road tires. Owen’s was stock with an automatic transmission.
Crossing the bridge to Cape Cod was a big event. The bridge was a dividing line between life at home (school, parents, responsibility) and weekend vacation life. The crossing of the bridge always called for the perfect song to be playing at high volume. One summer it was Modest Mouse “Float On”. You made sure to crack a fresh cold one as you got to the apex of the bridge. [I’d still argue that one of the best tasting beers you can have is in a moving car. Please drink responsibly.]
They arrived in Hyannis and ditched Owen’s car in one of the parking lots near the ferry. They grabbed tickets and popped into a clam shack for a beer. Ken was sherpa for the weekend. He had all of the Nantucket contacts.
As soon as the boat shoved off from the dock and blasted the horn a couple of times, Ken borrowed Owen’s phone and took a slip of paper out of his velcro wallet that held a bunch of chicken scratch phone numbers. This was before smart phones. Text messaging did not exist. All of the leg work for a mission like this was conducted by phone call.
Ken starts making his dials. He’s got a brick sized flip phone in one hand and a beer in the other. The slip of phone numbers is pinched between the first two fingers on the beer hand. Kenny’s working the phones like a day trader. He’s looking for intel on a place for the guys to sleep as well as any other morsels that could be used to their advantage.
They were on the slow boat to Nantucket. Tickets were cheaper and more importantly, what’s the rush? They were sitting with the sun on their necks sipping ice cold cans of beer plucked from a giant fishing cooler that they lugged aboard (a two person operation). Somehow, none of the crew members gave them any trouble as they piled up empty cans on the table in front of them that they clearly did not buy from the commissary.
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As the fuzzy outline of the island showed up for the first time on the horizon, Ken’s efforts started to pan out. Not only had he found a place for the lads to sleep, he’d secured a vehicle for the weekend. He reported back to Owen and Terry.
During his barrage of dials, he’d uncovered a lead on the car. He figured out that a prep school chum had chosen the Hamptons this weekend over Nantucket. As soon as Ken uncovered this info, the math in his brain told him that her Nantucket car would go unused this weekend. He tracked down her number and got her on the line. She indeed was in NY and not MA that weekend and of course he can use the car. The car was parked at her dad’s tennis club. She’d call the club and let them know that some friends were coming to get the car for the weekend.
“Great stuff, Ken. What about a place to stay?” Owen asked.
Ken started laying out the details for shelter.
He had connected the dots in a cluster of calls from a friend to a cousin to an uncle to a niece whose family had a small bungalow mid island somewhere. The house was unoccupied because it was a week away from being demo’d down to the studs to prepare for a full remodel. They’d be squatting. Terry doesn’t remember them ever getting a set of keys or hearing about permission being granted.
After a leisurely 2.5 hours, the boat bumped into the dock. The guys slung backpacks over their shoulders and Terry and Owen each grabbed a cooler handle to start lugging it down the gangway.
The rest of the weekend is dreamlike. There are moments in Terry’s mind that he can replay with perfect recall. But there are fuzzy sections and large chunks that are missing entirely from his mental TiVo of the weekend.
Here are a couple of clear scenes:
The boys get off the boat and start high stepping it right down Broad Street. They are in bathing suits and flip flops, lugging this monster cooler. They pass through the gates and tall privacy hedges of the tennis club. The valet at the club had been expecting Ken. They caught some disgusted looks from other members in their tennis whites and even more from folks in pink pants and sport coats as they headed inside for cocktail hour.
The valet handed them the keys and pointed them towards a late model, silver VW Jetta. If the Jeep Wrangler was the cherry car for late teen boys, it seemed like every cute chick wheeled around in a Jetta. The guys loaded up the car and drove it away. They did a lot of driving around that weekend, luxuriating in the convenience of having a car.
The only request from the car owner was a sweet, gentle ask to stay off the marshy beach roads that get tricky to navigate because of the deep ruts, bumps and swales. The main reason that you see hundreds of beautifully restored, vintage Land Rovers is a dick measuring contest among wealth managers. The other reason is because you need ground clearance on these roads. They ignored the request.
Ken, Terry, and Owen drove so recklessly over those motocross looking roads that they had daylight under the tires a few times during the weekend. On one piece of air, the car landed so hard that they crumpled the plastic splash shield that protects the under side of the engine. They were forced to pull over so Terry could crawl under the car and rip the heavy plastic sheet from the bottom of the car bare handed. He gouged chunks of skin from his knuckles in the process and still has the scars as a permanent reminder. Terry gently placed the full length undercarriage of the car in the beachy scrub brush and they continued on.
After an evening of ripping around from house party to house party, they ended up back at “their” house for the night.
Ken pulled into the driveway on two wheels and everyone spilled out with no shoes on. Three sunburnt drunks stumbled up the front steps and let themselves in. Since demo was to start in a week or so, they showed little concern for brushing their feet on the mat. They left dirty footprints throughout the house. The mix of sun fatigue and day drinking had taken a toll on our guys.
After a five minute inspection of the house, they got started. If you can remember the sleep walking scene from Step Brothers where they are putting couch cushions in the oven and stumbling around, they were in that kind of condition. Without saying anything, Owen grabbed an empty keg from the previous squatters and launched it through the front bay window. Terry took a running start and did a watermelon through a living room wall. Ken’s move was the most creative. He picked up a dining chair and thought about launching it, but instead turned it upside down and jammed the legs into the drywall ceiling. The chair stuck. The monkeys found this move inspiring and very carefully jammed the rest of the chairs into the ceiling, followed by the table. All of the furniture stuck. They’d made an upside down dining scene that was good enough to be exhibited in a modern art museum.
The second night of the weekend, the lads meet up with Ken’s buddies after a long day in the sun.
Ken parked in a slot made for two cars at the top of a set of steps that lead down to the sand. The beach party was already in full swing with a decent sized fire going and a circle of teenagers huddled around sharing some laughs. Ken, Owen, and Terry added themselves to the party and mixed in seamlessly.
Terry feels himself getting sleepy from the day’s activities. He always did his best work during the day and was best served by shutting it down shortly after the sun went down. Things got a little western when he tried to power through the evening as if he hadn’t had two dozen drinks on the beach that day.
“I’ll be right back,” Terry says. He slinks off into the dunes as if he’s going to pee, but starts climbing up the stairs back to the parking spot. Classic Irish exit protocol. Classic Terry.
Twenty minutes later, if Terry had stuck around at the beach, he would have heard the distant bumble bee hum of ATVs on the beach. The kids kicked sand on the fire, grabbed their beers, and scattered into the night.
Sixty minutes after his exit, Terry is startled awake by the tink tink tink of heavy metal on glass. Terry was in the fetal position shivering his nuts off in the back seat of the Jetta. The back seat held a pile of laundry that belonged to the owner. Before Terry started fogging the windows with his snoring, he started rooting through the laundry looking for a blanket. That tink tink tink? That’s the sound of a standard issue police mag light tapping against a car window. He rolled over and was immediately blinded by the other end of the flashlight.
There must be a whole week at the academy dedicated to learning how to blind people with bright lights. There are now two cops (summer deputies) standing outside the window of the Jetta. Terry’s buddies all scattered to a nearby house that was 80 yards away.
The summer deputies (two kids not much older than Terry) help him out of the backseat. They start with a couple of simple questions. Can we see some ID? Who’s car is this? Where are your friends?
You know when you first wake up a small child and they are incapable of speaking for a few minutes? That’s what we’re working with here. Terry is temporarily blinded, drunk, and unable to use words. The summer deputies are smiling and glancing at each other. That’s when Terry looks down at his outfit. He’s wearing his board shorts, no shoes, and from the pile of laundry, he’s blindly selected a fluffy pink sweater designed to give the viewer sexy little glimpses of a woman’s belly.
“If you’re buddies are hiding in the bushes or one of these houses, we can release you to them. But we knocked on a few doors and didn’t find any kids your age from that beach party.”
Terry didn’t respond at first because this felt like a trap. “I’m not sure where my friends are. I fell asleep.”
“What about the car owner?” One of the cops asks.
“I don’t know her. We’re borrowing the car.”
The deputies have a little side bar.
“Unfortunately, our only option here is to administer a field sobriety test.”
“Field Sobriety? Terry asks. Why?”
“Since you’re underage, if you fail the test, we’ll have to take you into protective custody.”
“I understand all that, but why bother is what I meant. I’ve been drinking all day, let’s just get on with it.”
“The cop that’s been doing the talking stifles a laugh that slips out his nose.”
They mutter something about protocol, but Terry suspects that giving a 200 pound man in a women’s XS pink sweater a field sobriety test will provide weeks of entertainment. They do the light tracking thing, the balance, the backwards alphabet, and the walking a straight line. Terry remembers feeling like he’s killing it. He’s an athlete, he can beat this thing and go back to resting in the back seat until someone comes to retrieve his carcass. Terry would later find out that his pals were lying on their bellies on a second floor balcony, hidden from view but with a perfect look at the show.
The next thing Terry remembers is the ride to the station and the next thing after that is waking up behind bars on a hard metal cot that is bolted to the wall. Early in the morning, his gate is unlocked and he follows a different summer deputy to the check out counter. He receives his wallet, keys, and flip phone in a zip lock bag and is sent on his way in the same uniform from last night.
Terry’s wandering through town trying to figure out what to do next as gray haired rich people are making their way to brunch with newspapers tucked under the arm. After a quick shopping trip for a t-shirt and new flip flops, he’s coming around a cobblestone corner and nearly bumps into Ken and Owen on their way to bail him out. Without any words, they turn 180 degrees and march down to the ferry terminal to get off this rock.