Every week we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:
What’s the most trouble you ever got in before you were 18?
Rules are simple: when did a grownup threaten to send you to jail for something you did before you could drive? Read on to hear some stories about stupid kids being stupid kids at their damn stupidest. Sidenote: these are some of my favorite responses all year. Ain’t no one over ANY of this.
In 8th grade the principal at my middle school gave a speech one morning about how students shouldn’t hand out in the hallways, but should go straight to homeroom when they got to school. I had a visceral reaction to this and I flipped off the intercom. It wasn’t anything I thought about, I just did it. My teacher at the time was one of my favorites I ever had, but she had to take me to the office, I get that. I had no perspective at all on this middle school principal or if he was happy with his job or how he’d respond to a young teenager flipping him off indirectly. Turns out it was worse than I could imagine. I didn’t get in trouble a lot in school and I never really adjusted to it with the “COME AND TAKE ME, Y’ALL” attitude I always hoped I’d exude in the moment. I freaked out, even when it got ridiculous and he turned red and threatened to send me to jail. That actually happened. He said “maybe we should send you to a correctional facility?” I got suspended for three days, but if they want me in jail for that one NOW YOU GOTTA COME TAKE ME.
I was pretty lame as a kid so the most trouble I got into was for cyber-bullying before that was a major thing. I kinda snapped on one of my classmates/friends on a message board and this led to a super awkward guidance counselor conversation and a mild threat of police action if it continued (knowing what I know now, this was not actually possible). I obviously backed off and haven’t had an issue like that since, but apparently I was the hipster of cyber-bullying doing it before it was mastered by 4chan and the likes.
In 10th grade English, we were given an in-class assignment to write a sonnet. The sonnet is such a limiting and exact form that no 10th grader will ever, ever write a good one. I was offended that my teacher would so clearly set me up for failure, and wrote “This is bullshit” on my paper, just for me. She swooped down the aisle, picked up my paper, and next thing I know I was in goddam in-school-suspension. Which, I gotta say, is bullshit. You sit in a cube, talk to no one for eight hours, and do schoolwork nonstop. Even if it doesn’t quite knock it down, it seriously treads on the toes of the 8th amendment. I did a bunch of stupid shit as a teenager, but as far as consequences, that was the worst. It’s weird – my dad was super strict, but whenever I did something involving wheels-falling-off stupidity, he reacted really differently. For example, I once got grounded for a month for talking back, but I received no punishment whatsoever the time the police woke him up with a phone call to tell him about the stupid shit they’d caught me doing (it involved fireworks).
Man oh man, when my parents found out I was smoking cigarettes, I was in a shit-ton of trouble. I was 16 and working at a party supplies store that basically functioned as a pre-alcoholic training facility. There was always a cooler filled with whiskey and tea in the back, and believe me, people would help themselves. People were also free to smoke cigarettes (among other things) in the back of the store as well. One day, my brother and sister stopped by to visit and found me smoking in the back. I swore at them up and down when they promised to tell my parents, which they eventually did. My parents were fuming! I had to quit that job and take one closer to home, because they also took away my truck for a few months. I forgave my brother and sister for being uptight prudes, and thankfully they’ve come around to being normal human beings. But I still haven’t quit smoking. Yet.