“Don’t Forget About the Circle:” Further misadventures as a high school stoner

Image result for long dark road in woods

I spent most of my senior year of high school, age 17, stoned out of my mind and fucking up left and right. A typical night in the life of youthful Ace Backwords:

One Friday night me and some of my high school pals — I think it was Debbie and Glenn — decided to drive up to Harriman State Park in upstate New York, and laze around at out favorite spot by the river in the woods getting drunk and stoned. So we all piled into my parent’s car — me behind the wheel — and off we went.

And of course we’re smoking plenty of weed as we’re driving along, making our way up to the Park. And needless to say my pal Debbie was the high school stoner chick of all time and always had the strongest weed. So we were all plenty stoned. And getting stonier by the mile.

When you get to the park entrance there’s a long two mile-long straight-away of a road before you get to this circle in the road where you can make different exits and drive off north, south, or east into the heart of this massive park. Of course it’s night and it’s dark and there are no lights except for my headlights. So, as I’m barreling down this straight-away and taking hits off the pipe and grooving to some righteous RocknRoll tunes on the FM dial, my friends periodically reminded me:

“Don’t forget about the circle.”

“I won’t forget about the circle,” I said.

After the third reminder — “Don’t forget about the circle” — I was starting to get annoyed.

“I WON’T forget about the circle!” I said indignantly. In fact they were starting to mess with my buzz with their incessant nagging. I took another hit off the pipe and tuned the radio dial to my favorite FM station.

Well sir. I forgot about the circle. Instead of veering right and following the circular path of the road I barreled straight ahead off the road at about 60 miles an hour and plowed right onto the grass field that was in the middle of the circle and in the process ripped off something from the bottom of my car — I think it might have been my muffler — before I finally managed to hit the breaks and come to a skidding stop in the middle of the grass field.

The three of us got out of the car and surveyed the damage. The car had sunk into the ground — like being stuck in a bog — where the bottom of the car was practically dragging on the ground.. After much difficulty I managed to back the car out of the grass field and back onto the road. But by that point various parts of the bottom of the car had been damaged and were actually scraping against the road and drawing sparks as I drove.

So here we are in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere — stoned — with a severely damaged car and at least 10 miles from the nearest anything. . .Well, somehow we managed to make it that 10 miles — me driving about 5 miles an hour, with this loud scraping noise from whatever it was that was scraping against the road, and sparks flying, and clouds of black smoke billowing out of the back of my car. Until we finally got to a payphone. Where I called my Dad who came and picked us up about two hours later and had the car towed to a gas station for repairs and drove me and my friends back home from what had been a rather dismal Friday night and one more night in the life of my rather dubious career that was my senior year of high school.

And “Don’t forget about the circle” became one of the many catch phrases that I would be remembered for by my high school stoner pals.

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Further misadventures cutting class with the high school stoners

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 When I was 16, a junior in high school, me and the crew of friends I was hanging out with liked to regularly cut school when the weather started getting nice. We’d sneak out to the parking lot behind the high school and we’d all pile into my friends car, usually 2 or 3 guys and 2 or 3 girls. Most of the crew that I hung with at that time were all part of the high school cool crowd, with me being sort of a border-line cool crowder. So I felt a little pressure to always try and act cool, lest the others found out I wasn’t really cool and they’d kicked me out of the cool crowd.

Anyways, we’d often drive to up-state New York, to Harriman Park, this huge state park. Harriman Park was incredibly beautiful, very lush and green. And there were a bunch of rivers and streams, some of which had really nice swimming holes. It felt great to swim in those streams and laze around in the sun. And we would smoke a lot of pot and drink a lot of beer, and we really felt like teenage rebels who were being sneaky and getting away with breaking all the rules. It was a lot more fun then sitting in a classroom staring at a Geometry text book, that’s for sure.

My memory is a little sketchy, so I can’t remember if we went skinny-dipping or not. I think we wore our underwear in the water. All the girls we were hanging with were very pretty. So I think I would have remembered if we were skinny-dipping, because that would have been a big big moment in my life at age 16.

One of our favorite swimming holes was this place that had a rope swing. The pool of water (which was pretty deep) was surrounded by all these rocks and boulders. And you had to climb up the rocks to get to the rope swing, which was about 20 feet above the water. You’d swing out in the air like Tarzan and then “GERONIMO!” into the water. You had to be a little careful about your release-time, though, when you let go of the rope and plummeted downwards, because you wanted to make sure you landed in the water and not on the rocks.

The first time I attempted the rope swing I was more than a little scared. That 20 feet drop looked a LONG ways down. But, considering everybody else was doing it (even all of the girls) I sure wasn’t going to go down as The Guy Too Chicken To Jump Off The Rope Swing. So i held my breath and let ‘er rip. And it was a lot of fun. Pretty soon we started doing wilder and wilder stunts, doing backflips and somersaults in mid-air. Trying to top each other with our moves.

Then one day we got the news that one of the guys in our class who we all knew had gone up to the rope swing with his crew, and apparently he had mis-timed his jump and landed on the rocks. And he was now in the hospital, and was paralyzed from the neck down and would very likely be in that condition for the rest of his life.

Considering all the crazy stuff I did when I was a teenager, it’s a miracle I made it to 20.

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