Pep wasn’t the problem
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Eduardo had a problem. The president of the sophomore class, he had been given to expect a fire truck – through somebody’s father – for the pep rally two nights hence. But fire trucks can be hard to nail down.
He called my son Teddy, looking for a truck and an adult to drive it. Mike, my husband, has one, but his back was out; he was down.
Last year, as a ninth-grader, Teddy had gone to the pep rally, and come back gleeful about how much fun it was. The police had provided the cavalcade an escort, even closed a street or two. Adrienne’s father loaded his classic Ford pickup with yelling freshmen, while the rock-star principal, Mr. C., roared along on his Harley.
I am nothing if not a cautious driver, and froze just thinking of the responsibility. I’d never even been to a pep rally; I went to a hippie school in a hippie era. But it was Spirit Week, these kids were proud of their school – and Eduardo needed a truck.
When he phoned again, plaintive, I shouted, “Tell Ed I’ll drive!”
And so I pulled into the school parking lot, nervous and early, at dusk, waiting in eerie calm as the Powder Puff football game wound up. And then the crowds poured off the field.
Teddy leapt onto the vehicle, shouting, “Sophomore truck here!” and instantly over 20 pairs of feet thundered up into the back. The kids packed in, upright; I protested feebly when they dropped the tailgate and hung their legs off, but was shushed by my son. I did stop the boy who said, “I want to lie across the roof.”
I did not know quite where we were going, and blinked dazedly amid the multiple headlights and flashing police-car lights. I was glad my seventh-grader, Roy, was in the cab with me, another presence and pair of eyes; and also thought he could relay cautionary messages to my rambunctious crew.
I took a breath, inched forward to line up. The seniors, jammed into a small pickup, waited in front, full of honor. Their truck was so full its tires looked flat, and the feet of the biggest kid on the tailgate dragged on the ground.
The juniors milled about as silhouettes, first unaccountably lacking their vehicle, then suddenly with not one but two trucks. The convoy began.
My crew shouted pridefully, “Sophomores!” with frequent diversions to bellow, “Freshmen suck!”
I would later ask, “Do only sophomores say freshmen suck, or does everybody?”
“Everyone says freshmen suck,” Teddy replied calmly.
I crept onto Highway 82, where police and flares awaited, then turned right onto Snowmass. As we passed rows of quiet houses, honking, the kids shouted, “Wake up! Wake up!”
To my dismay, in front of me one student tailed the junior truck, on a bike with no light, in black clothing. Pedaling furiously, he darted around behind his friends. Whenever I lost him in the inkiness between the lights, I searched anxiously. Once, after we turned left on Main Street, he suddenly crossed my bow from behind, scaring me into a hard, reflexive honk on my horn, as if that would be noticed.
People waved, emerged from restaurants to cheer. A few kids yelled insults at us. The truckloads, massive in their energy, shouted:
My crew began rhythmically rocking the truck, the whole Ford F-150 jouncing.
“Roy, tell them not to rock the truck.”
“Rock the truck!” he shouted excitedly. “Rock the truck!”
As we headed back along the highway, the truck ahead swerved grandly, doors open wide.
“Swerve, Mom!” Roy urged. That wasn’t going to happen.
As we pulled in, and the rogue truck, which he insisted was driven by a dad (“Not everyone’s as conservative as you, Mom”), hopped the curb, Roy instructed, “Go up on the curb!”
We stopped (below the curb), the kids vanished to socialize, and Eduardo thanked me, shaking my hand through the window.
“That was pretty stressful,” he said, referring to the last-minute lack of a vehicle. I said yes. It was.
Alison Osius (firstname.lastname@example.org) lives in Carbondale.
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