THE STORIES I TELL ABOUT WYOMING PART 1: BONFIRE OF THE DELINQUENTS
This is the place I grew up.
- •Every year since my parents' time, a huge bonfire has been lit on Mosquito creek about an hour outside of town replete with alcohol, drugs, guns and the senior class of Jackson Hole High School.
- •My year the lauded (see story two) sheriff's department decided to crack down on underage drinking.
- •The teenagers were not informed.
- •By late afternoon pretty much every soon-to-be graduate within 50 miles was by the Snake River, chewing tobacco, doing keg stands, throwing knives or in my case, high and trying to "make it to witch mountain."
- •This backwoods debauchery continued for another six hours, approximately 19 Jaeger breaks.
- •The dust had settled, the ranchers' kids were passed out in their truck beds, the skiers were getting laid, and I was staring into the fire stroking Andy Ciulla's hair and getting stung by mesquites when, like Dementors, the sheriff's department descended from the trees in night vision goggles with breathalyzers at the ready.
- •NIGHT VISION GOGGLES
- •They rounded all hundred of us up (except for Tom and Creed*) around the huge bonfire and solemnly called us one by one.*These two upstanding citizens managed to escape the law by fording the river and slept huddled and freezing on the opposite bank, curled around each other's sopping wet young bodies.
- •We gave our names and blew to raucous cheers and the occasional boos for underperformance.
- •I "scored" a respectable .09 and settled into my usual and welcome obscurity. I was nowhere near the the high scorer, Lindsay Mahon, who at a whopping .27 probably should have been dead.
- •At that point I thought the night had fully ended in disgrace and parental censure, but the idiocy had just begun.
- •All of use who were not yet eighteen were loaded into a public bus and began the long journey back into the bosom of our families.
- •Unfortunately, at 2:30am the bus broke down in the shadow of Sleeping Indian mountain.
- •We sat for an hour, me cradling a shaking and freezing Lindsay Mahon while surreptitiously taking hits from a sneaky jay one of the Nicks* had smuggled along.*As children of the late 80s, there were four Nicks and three Nicoles in my class
- •The paddy wagon eventually came to the rescue. I got to ride in front seat.
- •We sat in the drunk tank until 5am waiting for our moms to put us out of our misery.
- •Epilogue: In the end, we all graduated and my yearbook is full of wistful goodbyes signed with names and BACs. We reunited again in court to learn that since they police had waited for us to get drunk and then arrested us for it, we had been "entrapped." The charges were dropped. We went free. But the glory of that night lives in in each of us.