It was the summer of 1996; I was a couple months shy of 16 and my best friend, Christina, had just turned 17. I was spending two weeks with her at her mom’s house in the Poconos like I did every summer. The only difference this year was that one of those weeks overlapped with a visit from her friend Jodi as well.
I can’t tell you what we did for six out of those seven nights, but boy can I recall what happened on the seventh.
Christina was dating a boy named Mike, who was part of a large group of families from NYC we affectionately called “The Russians” because they were all, well, Russian. The Russians had concocted a plan to acquire some alcohol and have a party down at one of the small beaches on the lake. I, being my usual prudish and goody-two-shoes self, thought this was both terrifying and wonderful all at once. I had zero plans of actually drinking anything, but a party sounded like fun!
While we were waiting for everyone at Mike’s house, his grandmother produced a platter of homemade mini blueberry pies rolled in sugar. Jodi and I each helped ourselves to several, barely coming up for air before shoving the next ones in our mouths.
We finally made our way to the beach, Christina strapped with a backpack containing a case of Zima, you know, because we were so cool. We were hyper aware of any oncoming headlights just in case they belonged to the community security. We were all underage and we weren’t supposed to be out wandering around.
Once at the beach, we were joined by the rest of The Russians and everyone started to drink and dance. Jodi had more than several Zimas and was chasing people around, begging for more drinks. When they refused, she naturally started rolling around in the sand and crying about her dog, Skipper. I can only assume that at that point Skipper was no longer with us.
When Christina and Mike left, I told Jodi and she immediately became overly concerned, as drunk people tend to do, so we went after them. Jodi sang show tunes and inspected ditches on the side of the road in case anyone had fallen in, and I tried to keep us heading in the right direction. At a turn we saw headlights. Jodi panicked and sprinted into the woods on the side of the road. Not knowing what to do, and not wanting to lose her in the middle of the night, I followed her… right into a waist-high swampland of mud.
I stood there in shock for what seemed like an hour, but as soon as the headlights passed, we managed to walk out and get back on the road. We walked down Mike’s driveway and just as we came into the porch light, he and Christina saw us and burst out laughing. Jodi had gotten away completely unscathed, but I was dripping mud everywhere and completely frozen from the waist down. None of us had any clothes to change into, and it was 3:00 am, so I did what any girl would do in this situation: I accepted a pair of my best friend’s boyfriend’s jeans.
I spent the rest of the night cleaning blueberry bits that Jodi projectile vomited off the white walls and carpet while Mike’s grandma yelled at us all loudly (and I can only imagine, rudely) in Russian. If nothing else, it stopped me from drinking until I was well into my twenties and capable of buying my own cheap alcohol (and keeping it down).