Last night I was fortunate enough to be able to play in my first ever tabletop Werewolf game, hosted by AJ. It’s all done by magic now, you see, with (so far) four players in three different cities playing via videoconferencing. Let me tell you, I’m liking this.
So after the game was over, we chatted for a while and then I jammed out because I was feeling sleepy, and this past year, whenever I feel sleepy is when I go to bed. It’s a novel concept, I realise. At any rate, on my way in to the house, I heard some folks talking out in the street and it sounded like they were going to or coming from a party. I smiled and made my way indoors. As I performed my evening ablutions, I heard these voices out in the street rising. It’s not uncommon for silly teenagers or partiers to shriek and goof around on our street, and our neighbours’ kids have frequent parties, so this wasn’t anything new.
But the voices really started rising, and it was clear they were yelling at each other, and I shut off the bathroom light and went to the window to look out, just to see what was going on. A girl and a boy were parked across the street, and the girl was screaming. “It’s always all about you, isn’t it? Well you’re not the most ******* important person in the ******* world! Other people have ****** lives too, you *******!”
The boy, who was half-out of the car, was saying “just let me call somebody, okay? This is ******* stupid.”
The girl screamed louder, calling him every name in the book. He kept saying “I just want to go home” or “I don’t want to go home”…then I heard the unmistakeable sound of a car door being kicked or punched. I turned the light back on, went downstairs, and turned on the outdoor porch light. I went outside onto the porch. I thought maybe if I was there, these kids would settle down. As I came around the corner, I heard a loud ‘crunch’, and the car door slammed and the girl squealed off in the car, leaving the boy standing on the side of the road, his face illuminated by the pale blue glow of the screen of his phone.
“Lantaarn” by Mark Uwland: http://www.mimia.nl/indexeng.htm
I watched him walk to the corner, where he stopped under a streetlamp. “Are you okay?” I called to him.
“No,” he said. There was a hitch in his voice. “I’ve had a really shitty day.”
“I can tell,” I said.
He crossed the street toward me. He was crying. I figured he couldn’t be more than 16, so I asked if he was 17, and he said he was 18 going on 19. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
“Oh, you didn’t wake me up,” I said. “Is there somewhere I can take you? Do your folks live in town?”
“No, I’m staying with my grandparents on their farm,” he said.
“May I drive you home?” I asked.
“No, they’re super mad at me and they kicked me out. They were my last chance. I moved out of the city to live with them and now I fucked that up too.”
I asked him to come sit down with me on the porch so we could think of something to do. I would gladly give him a couch to sleep on if he really was destitute, but I wanted to get him calmed down first. He apologised again for being drunk and loud. We sat and talked for a while, and then the girl came screeching back past the house. This upset him again and he asked if I thought it was a good idea to call her dad. I said it was. He tried, but there was no answer. We talked for a while again, then the girl pulled up and stopped in front of the house. “Are you going to be okay?” I asked.
“Yeah, but I’m going to leave my bag here, if that’s okay,” he said. “I’m not going with her.”
He went over to the car and leaned in but didn’t get in. She seemed to have calmed down, and he sat beside her. She said everyone left her, and she didn’t know what to do and she felt worthless. He said, “Look at me. I’m still here. I’m *right here*. But you’re making bad choices right now. I’ll always have your back, but this is ******* stupid. Let’s just go home.”
Then she started screaming again and punching the steering wheel. I began walking toward the car, and she took off just as the boy jumped out of the passenger seat. He came back to his stuff. “Should she be driving?” I asked. I wasn’t sure if she was super emotional or piss drunk.
The boy shook his head and looked at me earnestly. “I don’t know what to do. She’s going to come around again, I bet, or cause an accident or whatever. I need to call my cousin.”
He called his cousin and asked her to come pick him up. He gave her my phone number, then tried to text her to tell her to get in touch with his grandparents, but his phone died. I told him I thought it would be best if we phoned the RCMP, because his friend was endangering herself and others. He said he didn’t want her to get in trouble, and I said, “Remember five minutes ago when you told me you’ve left most of your friends because they were making bad decisions and you didn’t want to go down that road?”
“This is the same thing. You have made your decisions, and you’re learning to live with them. In order for your friend to learn from her mistakes, she has to experience the consequences of making them – the consequences of the decisions she’s made. The consequence of this decision is that she’s going to be in trouble. You tried to stop her, and she nearly ran you over. She’s in trouble now, and it’s our job to make sure she doesn’t cause something horrible to happen. Maybe this would be the wakeup call she needs.”
“But she’s only 17. They’ll take away her license.”
“Do you think she has earned the privilege of having a driver’s license, based on her decisions tonight?” I asked.
He lowered his chin and said “no” very quietly.
We saw a set of headlamps in the street, and went out to see if it was his cousin. It was another car, and the young man’s friend shot out of the cross-street and nearly caused an accident on my corner. I took out my phone to call the police. “Please don’t,” the young man said. “She’s going to get in so much trouble.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “But this is the right thing to do.”
Just then the RCMP pulled up outside my house. The young man said, “Oh shit, what do I tell them?”
I said, “Go over there to their car, be polite, and tell them the truth.”
He did that. As he was talking to them, his friend came speeding up the street behind the RCMP car. The officers got out of their cruiser and stopped her. The young man came back to stand with me. “I hate cops,” he said. “They’re so rude.”
“They’re only rude if you’re belligerent,” I said. “How do you think you would deal with it if your job required you to deal with rude drunks all night, every night. And people who are trying to kill each other?”
“That’s a good point,” the kid said.
The RCMP administered a breath test to the young lady who then proceeded to scream and kick the windows of the cruiser. The kid with me kept wanting to go over to her while the officers were talking to her, and I kept telling him to just chill out and let them do their jobs. One officer came over to us and tried to get the kid’s story, but he was nervous and drunk and not making a whole lot of sense.
“Where are you staying?” The officer asked the young man.
“I don’t have anywhere to stay,” the kid said.
“We have places you can stay,” the officer said. “Don’t worry about that.”
“You do?!” The kid asked.
“Oh. I don’t want to stay in a cell,” the kid said.
The officer turned to me. “So who are you in all this?”
“She, officer, is a Very Nice Person,” the kid said.
I told him who I am. That I’d heard them fighting and had come outside to make sure they were okay. That I’d just been sitting with this kid and didn’t actually know him.
“So, you and your friend weren’t at this house tonight?” The officer asked.
The kid shook his head.
“And you’re….what…some kind of ‘responsible adult’?” The officer asked. I even heard the air quotes.
I burst out laughing. “Well,” I said. “I’m not allowed to go to hardware shops without a grownup.”
The officer grinned. “But do you know this kid?”
“Nope. I just came out to see if everyone was okay.”
They got the girl squared away and locked her car up. The officers asked me if I was good to look after the kid until his family came to get him. I gave the kid my phone and he called his cousin again to come and get him, which she agreed to do, so I told the officer that the kid was welcome to sit on my porch and that I’d wait with him until his cousin showed up.
So we chatted until his cousin arrived. I told him, “keep making good decisions, and things will get better. I promise. This is probably the worst time of your life, but it does get better.”
“People keep saying that,” he said.
“That’s because it’s true,” I said. “Chin up. Be well.”
He started crying again as he left, and he hugged me and wouldn’t stop saying thank you. I appreciated that, but really, just wanted him and his friend to be okay. And I don’t mention all of this to toot my own horn, which unfortunately is what it sounds like. I mention all of this because I thought it was a beautiful thing that happened, in the end. And because it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t happen every day. And because I really think that kid will do well, if he makes better decisions. And is able to stop thinking that life should be fair.
So that was my evening. How was yours?