I used to have private rituals, back when I still had friends.
Okay, I lied. I still have friends and we still do reckless shit. Because at the end of the day, we're the same people and reality is just one giant continuum. But time ticks by; we grow older. Before we know it, too much time has passed and we've missed the chance to have had other people hurt us. To a younger me this sounded like luck; to an older me this sounds like a quiet tragedy.
As a teenager, everything was an inside joke. Everything was a plan. Everything was a private language. Everything was an adventure. We started a fucking cult. Why did we start this cult? Because hydrogen is a colourless, odorless gas, that's why. We were playing hooky in Grade 11 law class. My high school also bred internationally acclaimed terrorists, two suicides, and mass-arrests of teenagers for alleged "bullying" that was never proved in court. A.k.a. person A acts like an asshole and person B, C, and D treat them like an asshole. But I was fucking there, still managing to witness 8 of my classmates be dragged out of school and sheep-herded into cop cars in grade 10 science because we're just getting started on this existential adventure.
And I thought that after becoming a young adult, getting a college degree with a good GPA, doing community involvement, whatever, I would suddenly understand all this madness. Like, I would become "mature" and get it. But no, all I've realized is we're all just children. And it doesn't make it easier when I occasionally interact with people under-18 and they treat me like an authority figure who a) knows everything and b) shouldn't ever make a pee-pee joke. That's why school in general sucks balls. I figure it's enshrined in the education act somewhere never to be honest or encourage kids to take responsibility for themselves. So you end up unable to function without rigid structures, over-rely on authority and can't define your own dreams and values.
Our musician friend decided to drive us out to the countryside while we were playing hooky. And we got lost.
We didn't know how to get back to the city. And we were going to be late. For third period. For some reason, this mattered at the time. Remember when you thought high school mattered, fellow adults? When you shared a sneaking suspicion this was all bullshit but there was a part of you that still thought they had it all together?
All of a sudden, we were there.
Plain white text on a blue background. A road sign. What the fuck is Waubuno?, someone in the car exclaimed. All I know is there was a horse in some farmer's field that turned his head in a certain direction that we were bound to follow. And sure enough, we were back there. The City.
But the legend continued, mainly because we couldn't ever find that place on Google Maps. It became an idea, a place you could only find when you were lost. A synonym for the imagination, for the dream, for the life we were certain was out there. That's why I can't stand these angsty-"life is shit" posts, because somehow, somewhere I knew, even back then, that the universe was created for the purpose of love. That "life is suffering" was somehow wrong.
All my friends in that stage of life were artists of some type. That was the crew I ran with. I still run with some of them to this day. And no, that didn't just mean we smoked weed. They were accomplished musicians. They played shows, put out albums, toured, at the age of like... 16. Indie-rock. Punk rock. The music was actually decent. I ended up at a lot of rock concerts. I kissed girls on the lips, which is fucking insane. Especially Frank Turner who is criminally responsible for teenage sex.
Of course, I was very adept at math and sciences but I was never close friends with any of those people. I could have been an engineer, or a pre-medicine major. But I couldn't stand those people. They seemed like they had never had a single day of fun in their entire lives. And not because of academic achievement, like shit, I had that, top grades, and my reckless friends still produced. but all the subtle shit of being alive just blew right past them. I have no idea what this is. The art experience? Love? And as much as I was intellectually capable of those things I had a strong emotional sense like it was the wrong direction to go. Stuff like genuinely believing smoking weed once was going to end your life, or waiting until you're legal drinking age to try a beer, or joining the military and avoiding teenage parties. Declaring your major as "nanotechnology engineering" and bragging about it in front of a cyclotron, ignoring how fucking fake that is. I'll take, "being too chicken to major in physics or doing electrical engineering like a normal person for $100, Alex")
Okay, I have ADD and am going off on asides. The doc is about to hook me up with Wellbutrin.
Toga - a ritual sleepover and a criminal conspiracy to piss of my brothers. Every. Single. Fucking. Friday. Night. For years. 4 dudes coming over to my dad's house (who was always pissed and didn't want kids over). We'd frequently leave the house and go on wild excursions, usually smoking weed in the schoolyard. That's what schools are as a third place in the community, kids during the day, teenagers getting high and peeing on them at night. Sometimes more advanced drugs, but we don't need to go there. We would say "toga this weekend?". We only wore togas once, I'll explain later.
Highway 420 - driving to a random location in the countryside with everyone high as shit (except the driver). Also a ritual. Stealing lawn gnomes and throwing flaming fruit out the window at 80km/h.
Power level - "Jeff's Balls" - the level I'm at. My friend's dad was named Jeff and told me the level I was at had lowered from his head to his balls after I screamed the word "cunt" in their house. You're at my fucking balls, nil! Your power level and go up or down depending on circumstances. And when it reaches its peak? Wow fucking buno.
The awkward handshakes, 2 of them. The first, one person holds their open hand steady and the second spins around and smacks it twice while rotating. On the third rotation, the second person makes a fist and punches the others open hand slightly. At no point during this does the first person move. The second handshake, both people intentionally miss a high five and awkwardly hug each other instead.
TIMS. It's a codeword. Enunciate it like crazy. Still do it. My brother and I will look eachother dead in the eyes, whisper the word "tims" softly under our breath, and then go right to fucking Timmies, usually without saying a word. Order a double-double and make fun of the fucking bible preachers hanging out inside.
"As above. So below". Me and that friend do it still. One person says "as above", and the other has to finish it.
Chanting "gay marriage" for no reason. Not as funny post-legalization.
shr00ms. You can never spell it the normal way, and you must always say it in an extremely high pitched voice. shr00ms!
"SON YOU COMING OVER to WATCH THE GAME?" - self-explanatory. Say in old-man voice.
"Skal", icelandic word for drink. Have to say it with a thick accent and loudly.
Our sixth friend Andrew was being initiated into the cult. All five of us were dressed in togas and went to pick him up from his apartment. He entered the van and we did not say a single word to him. Even when he pressed us. We took him back to my dad's house.
He was led to the back patio where he was forced to take three enormous bong tokes of very strong marijuana. At that point, he was completely comatose. He was then led by our friend into a darkened basement, into a backroom.
The backroom was set up to contain nothing but a table and chairs. The whole thing was candlelit, no lights. Some of us of us sat behind the table, dressed in nothing but togas, to "interview" him for his acceptance into our cult. We administered the test.
I remember sitting outside to guard the door. This was serious business.
The test containing several parts. First, he had to ensure he met the requirements, namely having the mental capacity to have a "good fucking time". Secondly, he had to answer a multiple-choice test of primarily inside jokes and mix-and-match internal slang and cowords for mind-expanding substances. Thirdly, he had to rank his political opinions on a sliding scale with 1 being "strongly disagree" and 5 being "strongly agree" on these geopolitical issues. It's a bit dated, but some of the questions were "Bastille is a good band" "The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a good idea", "The teachings of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ strongly guide my everyday life." The last part was an essay question of why he wanted to be our friend.
He had to sign an independent contractor agreement explaining the services we were going to provide to him in exchange for $60/year for the next ten years, "timmies ca$h". Our services were, "criticizing your favourite artist so hard you will want to kill yourself, bailing you out of jail if need be, making you cum so fucking hard you'll need bleach to clean up the stain spanning the length of your asshole to your scrotum, etc."
Finally he signed the contract and all five of us entered the room to mark, signed and ratify the document. He had to wait outside and awkwardly talk to my younger brother while still extremely intoxicated. He basically failed the test, but we gave him 68/69 on the essay question to make him pass.
We led him back into the room, this time five kids surrounding him all dressed in togas. One by one, we moved forward and spoke phrases to him.
"Frankie" - Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the greatest band ever.
"Just go."- An interiorized voice we heard once while lost. We didn't know whether to turn left or right, so we just went.
"Wowbuno" - the word
"Dan smith" - lead singer of bastille
"ookachaka ooka ooka ookachaka" - something weird
Finally, all five of us holding the glass horse presented it to him. He had to carry that and the lawn gnome we had stole from the country all the way back to the mythical land of Waubuno to complete his initiation. If at any point his hands left those objects, he would fail.
We took him all the way there, and surely he passed. And that was it.