It Takes a Village

My sophomore year in high school I went to a Halloween party that a friend was throwing.  Halloween fell on a Saturday that year and I had a band competition (yes, I was a band geek) and I promised my mom that it was just going to be some girls from band watching movies.  Nothing big.  Instead, it was a full-on Party, complete with a keg that my friend’s mother had purchased, as well as some hard alcohol that someone brought.

I got completely wasted and ended up hitting my head on the wall, getting a bloody nose and spending most of the evening puking.  When I woke up my clothes were washed and I was feeling okay, so I thought I was in the clear with my parents.  Unfortunately, they found out.  It’s been ten years since that happened and I just recently found out that it was the parents of a friend who told my parents (who were also friends).  Being 16, I felt like I was being persecuted and that my parents were being unreasonable.  And I was beyond mad at whoever ratted me out.  I’m not even sure what my punishment was, but it couldn’t have been that bad since all I remember is that I got caught and not what happened after. I’m sure I wailed about how I would never ever betray anyone like that.  Ever.

And such is life that yesterday I ratted someone out in a similar (though not nearly as extreme) position.  Our neighbors have a 13-year-old daughter who acts like a 13-year-old, which is to say: careless.  Not over-the-top careless, but careless nonetheless.  So yesterday I am at home, watching television and wishing away my headache when I hear some commotion outside.  Now, I’m always up for some good neighborhood gossip so I looked out the window to see what was going on.  And what was going on was the neighbor’s daughter was hanging out with five guys outside of her house and three of them looked to be drinking from a beer bottle.  So I went upstairs to get a better look – I guess all along I knew I was prepared to tell her parents what was going on, so I wanted to get the facts straight.  By the time I got upstairs the three boys drinking had finished the bottle and one of them was on his way to dispose of the bottle.  Now, instead of taking it to a garbage can, or dropping it discretely in the grass the kid decided to throw it over the fence and into the street.  A car drove by just as the glass hit and they all scurried inside the house.  The house with two younger siblings.  The house where no visitors are allowed when the parents aren’t home.

So yes, I got involved and ratted the girl out.  And immediately felt old.  But in a good way.  I finally understood why my friend’s parents were right to tell my parents about how drunk I was.  How I got drunk on alcohol that another parent had purchased.  I called Wes about a dozen times trying to get him to assuage my guilt about being a tattle tell.  He was sort of on my side but also on the side of Don’t Get Involved.  But when he got home he sat down and said that if we had a daughter who was doing any one of the things that I saw our neighbor doing, he’d want someone to tell us.  Isn’t that what neighbors and friends are for?  To make sure your house doesn’t get broken into, for sure, but also to keep an eye out for their family.

Luckily, the parents were glad that I noticed.  Glad that someone was being their eyes when they couldn’t.

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