Monday, May 30, 2011
School's Out 4EVER; or, The Time I Got Busted For Drugs
School's Out 4Ever, people, and I'm getting the jump on the blogfest thanks to the International Date Line! Oh, yes, it's May the 30th in Australia, and I'm blogging away while everyone else is sleeping! And here it is, my embarrassing high school story -- one of many -- sponsored by Sommer Leigh at Tell Great Stories.
I went to six different schools in twelve years, but not as often as I should have. I wagged school a lot. Townsville State High had a policy that senior students, being trusted and mature, were able to sign themselves out of school for medical appointments and suchlike. I misused this privilege to such an extent that it was taken off me. Meh. I just went back to the old system -- writing my own permission notes. Because I couldn’t forge either of my parents’ signatures, I made up a non-existent guardian and signed everything in her fake name. I think it says a lot about their appalling lack professionalism that the school staff took so long to investigate that lie.
Sometimes I went book shopping. Sometimes I went to the movies. And sometimes I went to Theology and Philosophy classes at university with my sister Kath, because I was the most uncool truant ever.
When my tangled web of deceit eventually came apart, I was sent to counselling. I made every appointment with the counsellor to coincide with Maths. And then Economics. And then anything else with numbers in it that I didn’t feel like going to. My counsellor, who was a lovely lady, talked a lot about backpacking in Europe in the seventies. We got on well.
When the Year Eleven Geography camp came up, I didn’t want to go. Three days in the rainforest with kids I didn’t really know -- my fault, I was never there -- looking at plants and rocks. But away I went, stuck in a convoy of teachers’ cars heading up the winding Paluma Range Road.
So we looked at the old tin mines. We looked at the bioluminescent fungi. We were supposed to look at bandicoots, but that was optional so none of us bothered. Turns out they were my sort of kids after all. Don’t wander off into the rainforest! the teachers warned us, but it’s not like we could light up our cigarettes in front of them. So we kept sneaking away to smoke and drink and do silly things. And it was okay, as long as you didn’t pick the same spot as the teachers.
On the second night of camp I got busted for drugs. I wasn’t, however, doing drugs. What I was doing, along with two other girls, was that thing that toddlers do: spinning around in circles with our arms out until we got dizzy and fell over. And I will defend it by saying there was no television in Paluma and we were very, very bored.
It was like a comedy of errors. After spinning around and falling over for a while, the three of us went up to the shower block to get into our pyjamas. And, without realising we could be overheard, we giggled about things like “head spin”, “high” and “can’t even stand up”.
A teacher with a face like stone stormed into our little party. We were summoned up to the main building. Now! We were ordered not to talk, put in different rooms, and interviewed separately by our suddenly very unfriendly teachers. I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t know why I was there. I didn’t know what I’d done, and nobody was saying. I felt like Josef K in The Trial.
If I went through your bag, my teacher asked me, what would I find?
Holy crap, I thought, my smokes! I muttered something noncommittal and looked at my feet.
What about drugs?
Um, my Ventalin? Yes, an asthmatic smoker. It wouldn’t be the irony I’d choke on.
And then the penny dropped. This was a drugs bust. An actual, proper drugs bust. For realsies. And I had never been so acutely embarrassed in my entire life. I would have been less humiliated if I’d actually had drugs stashed somewhere in my bag -- at least that would have got me some street cred -- but having to admit to a teacher I was spinning in circles going wheee until I fell over? Mortifying.
We hadn’t been busted for drugs. We’d been busted for stupid, and that was much worse. The three of us never spoke of it again. Not on the long, awkward drive back to civilisation, not when we were waiting for our parents to pick us up from the front of the school, and not for the next year and a half of geography classes when my teacher kept looking us and trying not to laugh.
And meanwhile, the boys on that camp had smoked so much dope in the rainforest that they were still high a week later. How was that fair?