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.

Anything else?

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?


  1. "I misused this privilege to such an extent that it was taken off me."

    We weren't allowed to leave campus, so we had to just run and hope no one saw us.

    Unfortunately, the principle often saw us.

    Spent my last week of high school in AC-less detention. I think it was like 95 degrees.

  2. That story is hilarious. Busted for spinning in circles. You're right, not much street cred in spinning around like a four year old, but kind of fun. :)

  3. "And it was okay, as long as you didn’t pick the same spot as the teachers." Loved this line!

    My junior year, I attended a high school journalism workshop out of town--and my journalism teacher was one of three roommates. Oh, the things we girls talked about. Learned that weekend that teachers are human, too :-)

    Enjoyed your story!

  4. "Unfortunately, the principle often saw us." LOL

    I was an absolute student role model in high school. The only thing I did that displeased teacher was *read* in their face, but they didn't bother to do anything about it because my grades still trumped everyone's. (me, bragging? Naaah)

    Once a teacher told a trouble-kid that "once he had grades as high as mine he could afford not to listen and read in class." I had my book open and was barely paying attention. It was only when the entire crowd giggled that I realised, turned red as a beet and closed my novel. 15 minutes later it was open again. ^^

  5. Hektor, our teachers weren't much for giving out detention. They usually went straight from "Don't do that!" to "You're suspended!". Not that suspension was ever a deterrent to truants. It was more like a reward for applying themselves.

  6. Thanks, LG. Spinning around is also healthier!

  7. Claudie, I was only a good kid in the classes I liked. Which were English and Ancient History. Everything else I just let slide. My Maths teacher saw me at Speech Night, and actually asked me what I was doing there. Collecting the prize for English, as it happens. His eyes almost dropped out of his head.

  8. Thanks, Kenda. My sister is actually a high school teacher, so I've been privy to a lot of their discussions about kids. And yes, they are human. You just don't believe that when you're fifteen!

  9. That's hilarious! I cannot believe you skipped out on school to attend university classes. And it's amazing what people will believe about us based on our actions. Remind me not to spin around and look happy...don't want people thinking I'm high. :P

  10. "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."

    THIS WAS MY FAVORITE LINE! This story is so great and you have such a great storytelling voice :-) I was laughing through the whole post. I think we would have gotten along swimmingly in school. The one time I was busted for skipping school it was to go to an author signing at a bookstore. My administrator was convinced this was code for something more drug related, but the interrogation was over when my father sighed and shook his head and said, "No trust me. Only my daughter skips school to go to a book signing."

    I think that was when my dad realized how uncool I was.

  11. Oh, I agree with 'only in the classes I like'. Here's the thing, though... I pretty much loved all of them. I was a knowledge whore, and by the time August rolled around, I was dying to go back to school and spent the last month complaining.


  12. Hi Alleged Author, the best part about going to university was my sister's Theology professor. He was vague and adorable and sometimes forgot to take his bike helmet off. Also, he thought I was legitimately in his class and seemed really concerned when I didn't show for the exam. But two years later, there I was for real!

  13. Thanks Sommer! You dad sounds brilliant! I skipped school all the time, but only to do completely uncool things instead. I would go to a coffee shop and write, or go to university, or hang around in my favourite book shop. My problem was always my attention span. If the class interested me, I'd stay back and ask questions. If it didn't, I was over the fence, into the car park, and heading across the railway line towards the city in minutes.

  14. Claudie, I hated anything vaguely maths-related. I struggled so hard to pass Advanced Maths in Year 10, that I decided to drop back to basic maths in senior. And then, since it was stuff I'd already covered, I used to wag as much as humanly possible. Or sit up the back with the Islander boys and get in trouble for talking.

  15. 'We got busted for stupid.' Bwahahaha. Love this story, brilliant.

  16. Thanks, Girl Friday! Luckily stupid isn't a capital offence!

  17. Hilarious!

    Also, I'm so jealous of your school geography trip. I would have loved camping in the rainforest!

  18. Thanks Brit! Believe me though... If you live between the reef and the rainforest, and every school excursion takes you to one or the other, you get fairly sick of them!



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