You may think this is a bold statement I’m making here, but I assure you it’s not. Back in spring of 1982 we threw a LARGE party, complete with kids from four area high schools, a keg with a tap that got stolen, Chicago cops and lots of days-after cleaning. Not to mention the elaborate explaining we had to do once our folks returned from a Florida vacation.
I can’t even give all the satisfying details here, since my Mom reads these posts. Yet she’s the one who still enjoys reminding us of the damage we did back in my senior year of high school.
And exactly one year later, in 1983, my brother and I cringed while watching Tom Cruise star in Risky Business where he risks everything to find his mother’s missing crystal egg. This movie seemed to mirror our own home-grown festivities.
It all seemed so familiar…
Before social media, we teenagers got the word out to four high schools on the southwest side of Chicago that we were hosting a party at our home. It was pretty simple… we threw around the word “keg” and got everyone’s attention. Done.
Saturday night came and it’s safe to say that everyone showed up. Obviously, with a sizable crowd, things immediately ran wild. Our house overflowed with teenaged guests. We tried to maintain the niceties to the basement, but we couldn’t control the swarm.
Then, as quickly as that fete started, it was put to an abrupt end by the Chicago Police. The fine officers ordered everyone to leave the house, but then the party-goers just wound up on our corner-lot front lawn. This further angered the neighbors, a number of them who gathered around with their hands on their hips.
Things kept going awry. The keg was stolen, along with the rented tap from the local Town Liquors on Western Avenue. My sister and I spent a good part of the night trying to track it down but with no luck.
Our own version of the crystal egg
More bad news: our parents’ cherished (faux) ivory elephant from a Paris trip was missing from its place of honor on our fireplace mantel. Days went by before we saw it again. After a lot of imploring and threats, it was returned … except it was sporting a broken tusk. We were heartbroken and also fearful for our parents' reaction.
We spent the entire weekend on clean-up duty, thinking we were doing a fine job of covering our tracks. But, we were in big trouble when they returned home on Sunday night.
“Things just got out of control!” we cried.
We pleaded our innocence, but the evidence was right there. Plus, living in the Beverly neighborhood automatically gives the neighbors the right to act as overseers. The other mothers were on our doorstep as soon as our parents pulled into the driveway – ready to tell them of the ear-splitting party we hosted, along with the consequential turbulence.
Mom was way too cool to let the neighbors know she was flustered. But as soon as she closed the doors behind her, she uncovered all the proof she needed. To her keen eyes, the house was still smoldering like a smoking gun.
“What went on here while we were gone??!!”
We couldn’t get anything past her. Our mom let out an involuntary cry as she immediately noticed the damaged elephant tusk. And why was a pewter wine goblet missing from her set of eight? Plus all the outside trash cans were filled to the brim. She didn’t miss a thing, even noticing a tiny cigarette butt wedged under the leg of the kitchen table.
She found a crumpled to-do list, with No. 12 on the agenda reading “wash Mom’s bedspread.” This part she didn’t like one bit; however, I think she was too scared to hear the truth about that one. She let it go.
Time to Accept our Fate
It’s funny, at first we felt like we were off the hook because Mom and Dad never officially punished us. Perhaps they felt the loss of $130 in beer was sufficient. Or maybe they belatedly felt remorseful for not bringing us to warm, sunny Florida with them. (ahem!) At least, that was our teen-aged reasoning for throwing the bash in the first place.
But Mom had other plans. After all, she was raised in the Catholic church and she knew all about guilt trips. She wasn’t about to let our blunder slip away. Our comeuppance arrives fresh each year she asks us what really happened to the ivory elephant. The figurine still stands on her living room shelf, broken tusk facing the front, quietly casting blame each time we walk past.
And, true to form, Mom sighs dramatically over her reduced set of pewter wine goblets each time she brings them out for a dinner party.
That is one helluva punishment – 35 years later and it just keeps renewing itself.
This was one party that wouldn’t go away, even to this day. For months afterwards, strangers would approach me and tell me what an awesome party we had. And true story… I met a woman at a cookie exchange during Christmas 2016 and she said she attended our bash back in ’82. No lie.
My sister, brother and I concur: Mom, it’s 2017 and you are still winning.
Please know no animals were harmed in the making of the faux ivory elephant. This story has been edited for all audiences (i.e., my mom and daughter). For the un-scrubbed version, let's talk over a couple drinks. Thank you for reading and don't forget to subscribe.