Chaos at a Back to School Bash

Updated: Aug 16

Please enjoy an exclusive excerpt from my forthcoming book about attending private high school in Dallas in the 90s.


The story begins on the last Friday of the summer before senior year in high school and ends in utter chaos.



The following original fiction story is based on actual events; however, all names have been changed and some scenes have been fictionalized more than others.  


Dallas, Texas

August 1996


It was Friday afternoon of the last day of summer before my senior year in high school.


I was in my Lake Highlands bedroom watching my favorite movie, Dazed and Confused, for the umpteenth time. Matthew McConaughey, as Wooderson, was saying that famous line, “I get older, they stay the same age,” when the phone rang.

I hit pause on the VCR machine.


I turned over in bed and flipped open my prized possession, a brand new Motorola StarTac flip phone, which I had received the week before as a present to commemorate my senior year in high school.


“Hello?,” I answered.


It was one of my best friends, Baby Brother (he was the little brother of another guy in our friend group).


“Did you get it yet?” asked Baby Brother with bated breath.


Let me explain his question.


Ever since I had first smoked marijuana, started listening to classic rock and emulating every character in Dazed and Confused, I had dreamed of my senior year in high school.


I wanted that special senior year in Dallas to be legendary, and as result, I decided that I had one goal: to buy a quarter pound of marijuana to smoke and share with my friends.


I had made this goal known for some time, and we all were calling the quarter pound of weed by its name: “THE QP.”


“No, not yet. Let me check my answering machine again. I will call you back. Either way, I will see you tonight at the party,” I told Baby Brother and hung up.


I swung my legs over to the side of the bed and glanced at the bedside table. My mom had put in my own phone line in my bedroom for my 16th birthday, and I had my own answering machine to boot.


Yet no red lights were blinking on the machine.


***************************************************************************


Let me state that marijuana back in the summer of ‘96 was WAY different than it is today.


There was no legalized cannabis back then - so no gummies, live resin, cartridges or tinctures. Obtaining “kind” bud, like the kind of marijuana flower you can buy now, was something only celebrities could obtain; however, I didn’t care. I was in for quantity, not quality.


That’s right, I was excited about buying as much “schwag”, or Mexican-grown bud (the type of weed with stems and seeds that was flattened down to a green pancake and looked like grass clumps from a lawnmower) as my high school job at Jason’s Deli could buy me.


As I looked into the mirror and brushed my hair, which came down to my shoulders, my beeper went off.


You may or may not remember, but alongside the Motorola StarTac phone, beepers (or pagers) were the must-have electronic accessory in the mid-1990s. My father had a major meltdown when he heard that my mother was buying me this basic black pager, which clipped into my belt loop. My dad had sternly accused me that only drug dealers had beepers, and was I a drug dealer?


Back then, there really were no text messages, most often only a phone number would show up on the screen after the beeper buzzed, and while I was not a drug dealer, the number that came through was definitely my drug dealer, and he had what I wanted.


***************************************************************************


I was sitting outside my mom’s house in Lake Highlands waiting to be picked up by The Deewd, one of my other best friends.



Pronounced like “dude” but lengthened out to connote the long pulls he would take out of massive joints, the Deewd had attended private school with us since the eighth grade.


The Deewd and I had made some important connections in the high school drug dealer world over the past school year.


Both he and I lived in Lake Highlands, apart from the rest of our group of friends from St. Marks, and we had met these two college dropouts, Pablo and Escobar, who both had jobs and a large apartment located five minutes away from our houses.


I never had a curfew growing up at my mom’s house, and neither did The Deewd, so after midnight when everyone had to go home, The Deewd and I would head over to Pablo and Escobar’s place, which was decked out like an Amsterdam coffee shop, hookahs and all.


After midnight on a weekend, there were always cool people congregating over at their pad. Bongs were being hit, joints were being smoked and marijuana was always available.


Usually, around 3am, our eyes blazing and our brains giddy, we would hit the Taco Bell drive-through on the way home to sate our appetites.


However, midnight would have to wait tonight. It was 7pm, and we were on an urgent errand to pick up THE QP.


Let's review some basic science here for a moment. A quarter pound is 4 ounces. Usually the quantity in which one buys cannabis flower these days is an 1/8 of an ounce (termed an "eighth"). So we are talking 32 "eighths" of weed here, which is a massive amount.

I had to keep my shit together when Pablo pulled out my senior year present to myself.


Inside a large gallon size Ziploc bag was the largest amount of marijuana I had ever seen in one place.


Sure, I had seen larger amounts in pictures in my favorite magazine, High Times, but to actually possess this large quantity of drugs kind of stunned me.

It was so much marijuana that I wondered how long it would last (it was all gone within a month).


All I knew was that the characters of Dazed and Confused would have been proud of us.


Next stop was the final party of the summer before senior year of high school.


**********************************************************************************


Let me give you a little background on this party, which was obviously going to be one of the biggest of the entire summer. Everyone had wanted me to host this evening’s festivities, as my mom was cool, and I had a great party house.


However, as of earlier in the month, I was banned from hosting any more parties at my house when my mom found out about a party I recently threw at her house. I had thought I had made appropriate preparations to avoid any trouble, and to that end, I had hired the biggest and baddest Texas Aggie offensive lineman to be the bouncers at my soiree (their payment was in beer).


All was going well - my guests were doing keg stands in the backyard, weed was being smoked in the back alley, and the Aggie beasts were manning the front door - until a posse of people from a rival high school showed up.


They were unable to reach the inside of the house thanks to the doormen, but these uninvited visitors definitely drove and parked on my front lawn, and they did not want to leave.


It was like having an angry mob outside of my mom's precious property, and as I was inside watching through the windows looking out on the street, I almost had a meltdown.


My mind went black, and looking back, Thank God for those Aggie guys, whose maturity and sheer size saved the day.


While there was no property damage ultimately besides some torn up grass in the front yard, the commotion out front attracted the attention of the neighborhood’s rent-a-cop, who then knocked on my mom’s front door when she returned from vacation.


BUSTED.


I wasn't grounded, but I was forbidden to have any more friends over to the house. The party would have to be elsewhere.


**********************************************************************************


Unscheduled appearances by students from rival high schools were always a consideration when hosting a house party.


As highlighted in the Netflix show Bridgerton, there was a rigid social pecking order in private school Dallas - and everyone knew who was at the top and the bottom.


Where you ranked in the social strata was determined by:


  1. Where you lived - The Park Cities (Highland Park and University Park) or Preston Hollow were considered the best

  2. Where you went to high school

  3. What fraternity/sorority your parents were in - If your dad was a Fiji or Kappa Alpha and your mom a Theta, Kappa or Pi Phi, then you were set

  4. Who your parents were - if you had a last name of one of the elite families of Dallas, highest marks for you

  5. What country club you belong to - Dallas Country Club was the top (even though it was rumored not to allow Jewish members at that time)

Just so you know, I did not rank high on this list.


When I was fortunate enough to have the privilege of attending private school in Dallas, I was immediately immersed in an alternative universe than public school.


Each school was its own planet, and we were all revolving around each other in our own tiny little secluded solar system.



Let me provide a quick overview.


St. Marks, the all-boys school where I eventually earned my degree, was paired with an all-girls sister school: Hockaday.


Jesuit, the other powerful all-boys school that usually mopped the floors with us in sporting events, was aligned with Ursuline, another all-girls school.


Greenhill and Episcopal School of Dallas (ESD) were co-ed, and Greenhill was my school's other rival besides Jesuit.


There was also Cistercian, Trinity Christian Academy and a few other private schools in Ft. Worth, but we didn't encounter them too much socially.


No, our universe stretched narrowly from Highland Park to Addison from south to north and from Love Field in the west to Lake Highlands in the east.


It was a small social bubble we all were forced to lived in, and unfortunately, there was no peace in this solar system.


As played out in Star Wars and Star Trek, there were warring factions who had no idea of the history of their rivalry, but all you felt was a visceral hatred for that rival school.


************************************************************************************


Since I could not host the Back To School party, we decided to gang up on one of our friends, The Spaniard, whose parents happened to be traveling out of town that weekend.


The Spaniard was the nicest guy you could have ever known. Soft-spoken, kind and of slight build, The Spaniard had never hosted a party before.


Mind you, he had saved my ass more than once. The most important time had involved the police.


You may not recall this - but Dallas County had a juvenile curfew at those times. If you were under 17, you could not be out after 11pm on weekdays or midnight on the weekends.


I was always the youngest one of our group, and sure enough, on one Friday night after midnight we had a run-in with the police.



I was stoned in the back seat of the car, and when the officer asked me for my ID, I emitted an utterance that would make my late grandmother roll over in her grave, “Huh?”


Well, the cop didn’t love that.


The Spaniard tried to intervene, but in vain. The police dragged me out of the back of my friend's car and threw me in the back of their car.


Thankfully, the cops didn't do anything except bring me home. Their generosity didn't do them any favors, however, because as soon as we got back to my mom’s house, she chewed out the two stout Dallas Police officers, pushing them off to porch and yelling “don’t you have anything better to do?”


So I felt bad, but it was our senior year coming up, and like the jerks we were, we applied maximum peer pressure on The Spaniard.


We told him it would all be fine, that we would only invite a select group of friends, and that we would take care of all the logistics.


All he had to do was host the party, and then we would help him clean up so that his parents never had to know.


Like the great sport that he was, The Spaniard was coerced into having the party - but on the strict condition that it was only to be a small, intimate gathering.


We thought that we could keep the details of the fiesta under wraps communication-wise; since cell phones were sparse, invites would be via word of mouth.


Sounds simple, right?


********************************************************************************


We were parked at our normal meetup spot: the gas station at Preston and Royal near St. Mark’s, waiting for our friend, Phat Lard, who was ALWAYS late.



Phat Lard had lived in Europe for a long time during his childhood, and we thought that he just ran on Continental Europe time. That is why we called him Phat Lard - he just did not give a rat’s ass about anything except his own opinion. In his mind, he was the King and everyone else was kind of superfluous.


As a result, we usually told Phat Lard to arrive 30 minutes before we would actually arrive. Tonight that trick did not work; however, and Phat Lard would not be gracing our presence in the imminent future.


In an effort to kill time, The Deewd was digging around in the trunk changing out the classical CDs in the five-disc CD changer in his dad’s Infiniti (which we affectionately called “The J”, after J Class - and the fact that about hundreds of joints were smoked in that car) to include the special Back to School soundtrack: a shuffle of Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, Dr. Dre, Warren G and others.


Shortly thereafter, our buddy McCool pulled up, or was about to. See the thing was, you could hear McCool coming from literally a mile away.


McCool was from a public school, and he had THE LOUDEST sound system ON THE PLANET.


McCool worked in some blue collar job in his spare time and spent all of his money not on his car, but on his car’s sound system.



Everyone respected him for this, of course.


There was no available seating in the back seat of McCool’s late model Toyota due to the massive subwoofer that lay across the bucket seats. I liked to joke that his car really was just a super stereo on wheels.


McCool was also about 6’2”, 250 pounds with Irish red hair (hence his nickname) and was the biggest eater I have ever encountered.


You may look at me now as relatively skinny and in shape, but as an adolescent, I wore hefty-size jeans and had more than a winter’s supply of fat stored up thanks to my ability to “tuck it in.”


More recently, I won a bet against one of my little brother’s friends at the Wynn buffet in Las Vegas. We had a Joey Chestnut-style wager to see who could eat the most, as measured by a weigh-in before and after the meal (I gained almost 5 pounds at the buffet and won the competition handily).


So I know competitive eating, but McCool was in a class of his own.


One time during junior year, we cut class to grab lunch at the CiCi’s pizza $2.99 all-you-can-eat buffet.


The kitchen staff were racing around to cook pizzas fast enough to go into McCool’s mouth.


At that seating, McCool ate 24 slices of pizza versus my 11. It wasn't even close.


That is seriously the equivalent of three ENTIRE pizzas that McCool demolished and then calmly headed back to high school for the rest of the afternoon.



No doubt the franchise lost money that day, and my eating talents were absolutely humiliated.


“Where the heck is this guy?”, McCool asked The Deewd, referring to Phat Lard.


“How should I know?,” replied The Deewd, “Let’s go ask The Eagle when he gets here to see if he has heard from him.”


The Eagle was another one of our close friends, whose nickname came from the huge American eagle that adorned the back of his black leather motorcycle jacket.


The Eagle loved fast cars and going 30-40 miles over the speed limit in any situation, especially on residential streets where the speed limit was 30 miles an hour.


On Friday nights, we would head over by Harry Hines where people of all ages would bring their muscle cars and drag race. The Eagle would bring his completely souped-up Camaro and race against Porsches and Vipers.


When the cops would eventually come break up the race, he would turn on the nitrous and outrun the police.


At that moment, The Eagle drove up and parked his fancy European motorbike alongside the station. At this point, we were taking up pretty much every parking spot at the convenience store, and we weren’t even customers.


“Hey Eagle, why do we have to wait for Phat Lard? I mean, it is the last weekend of the summer, right?,” I questioned impatiently.


At that point, Phat Lard pulled into the parking lot in his Ford Bronco, with the top down. The Eagle and I stood outside as Phat Lard went inside to buy his pack of American Spirits, the only brand of cigarette he would smoke.


“C’mon, lets spark up that jay before we get to the party,” I told The Deewd as I climbed into The J.


***********************************************************************************


As we approached the small, one-story house in suburban Dallas, the street was dark and empty, lit only by the streetlamps.



The coast looked clear; perhaps we were all set to have the intimate gathering we expected.


The guest list included our close guy friends, their dates and a few of The Spaniard's friends.


When we parked, I pulled THE QP out of the trunk and guardedly brought my treasure inside.


It was 10pm on a Friday night and there were maybe 15 people in The Spaniard’s backyard. We all began getting baked and talking about our plans for the school year ahead and college beyond.


The Deewd was super high and was rambling on about how Darius Rucker from Hootie & The Blowfish would be a good addition to Bone Thugs N’ Harmony, when all of a sudden, we heard noises in the alleyway behind the back yard, where we were all sitting.


There was a tall wooden fence surrounding the property so no one could see anything, but we DEFINITELY heard voices and footsteps.


The Spaniard went into panic mode. “Everybody shut the f*ck up,” he whispered emphatically, as he ran to turn off all the music and turn off all the lights.


For a moment, all was still, and then The Spaniard’s backyard fence started shaking, and people were LITERALLY climbing over the fence to try to get into the party.


In what now seems an incredibly fortuitous decision, I ran out the front door to see what was going on in The Spaniard's front yard.


I almost did a double take as I looked out in the street and saw that there were about ten cars blocking the driveway, with all of our rival high school’s jock population standing outside their parked cars and in the yard.


Oh Shit.


***********************************************************************************


Meanwhile in the backyard, a situation was developing. Like Vikings storming the wooden walls of an ancient fortress, wannabe partygoers were climbing the fence trying to join the festivities.


We had digressed to the Middle Ages, where it was every man and woman for themselves.


One of the people trying to get into the party over the fence was the most popular person in Dallas, The Socialite.


Let me tell you about The Socialite.


She attended Ursuline, and her father was one of the most well-known businessmen in town. Everyone knew who she was, and she knew it - and these were the days before Instagram.


Make no mistake, The Socialite was at THE TOP of the social pecking order.


I had gotten to know The Socialite through my girlfriend, who also attended Ursuline and because of this connection, I actually knew some of the would-be home invaders who had congregated out in the street in front of The Spaniard’s house.

“How did you guys know about this party?” I was inquiring, hoping to slow them down.


As I was negotiating with the posse out front, The Socialite stumbled around the corner from the back of the house.


I will never forget the next images in my mind.


Blood was gushing down the side of The Socialite's face and was matted into her dark, curly hair. From her mouth came a guttural cry.


The Socialite gave us a final pleading look, her eyes bloodshot, and then collapsed into a heap in the front yard.


As soon as her compatriots saw this dramatic event, they went ballistic.


They stormed inside the house and began breaking all of the valuable china and artwork they could get their hands on. They violently searched for any living creature inside the house and beat the shit out of it. It is a blessing The Spaniard didn't have pets.


It was like a tornado had swept through the house, indiscriminately damaging everything.


The front door was kicked in. The china cabinet was turned over and smashed. Art had been thrown from the walls and broken into pieces. Holes were kicked into walls.


The Deewd, who never had a wicked bone in his body, tried to be nice to the invaders and was kicked so severely that his lip was hanging down from his mouth afterward. Thankfully, I was spared the vicious revenge which was inflicted upon the house.


*********************************************************************************


I felt terrible for The Spaniard. The angry invaders had caused at least $100,000 of damage.


Later that night when the police had arrived, I tried to sympathize with my poor friend, to no avail. He felt guilty, and decided he needed to confess immediately to his parents.


So at 1am, standing in his kitchen, my friend picked up the wall landline and placed the dreadful call to his parents, who were on their holiday in Europe.


I only heard one side of the conversation, but it went something like this:


The Spaniard: Dad, I have some bad news to tell you [Parents say something]


The Spaniard: Some people came over to the house tonight, but everything is ok [Parents voices raising on other end]


The Spaniard: A few things were broken… [questions asked]


The Spaniard: No, not the china or the art. Actually...yes, the china is broken and the artwork has been snapped in half…[swear words overheard]


The Spaniard: But, Pops [Screaming on other end]


****************************************************************************


The Spaniard was grounded for the entire first semester of senior year, and he had to pay off all of the damage on his lifeguard salary. I think he is still probably paying his parents back.


The Socialite’s family filed an assault case; I mean you can’t possibly think you can injure a socialite in Dallas, Texas and think you will get away with it. The Socialite’s attorneys were unable to prove anything in the end, though.


The Deewd went to the emergency room that night and got 10 stitches in his face to sew his lower cheek and lip back into place.


That was high school in the 1990s in Dallas, Texas.



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