Recently in A.S. Albright (NF) Category

It’s amazing to me how life can turn on a dime.

Years pass in a parade of seemingly endless and monotonous days. Then, something happens. It can be anything, something infinitesimal, but every moment afterward is different.

It can come in the form of a phone call or a simple thought. No matter how it comes, it’s as if flood gates open and everything good rushes in and everything bad rushes out.

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(A generic therapist office that looks exactly like you think a therapist’s office should look. I am sitting on a sofa facing a therapist who is seated.)

Me: I am back!

Therapist TBD: Back? Back from where?

Me: Well, almost back, I am not quite there yet.

Therapist TBD: Can you clarify?

Me: I’m back, doctor, well almost back, to the person I used to be.

Therapist TBD: I don’t understand.

Me: Sure you do.

Therapist TBD: I assure you that I don’t.

Me: What have we been talking about these past several months?

Therapist TBD: Nothing, these sessions haven’t happened yet, remember?

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You can't be an American high school graduate under the age of ninety and not have some strong feelings about "The Junior-Senior Prom." Maybe you didn't go. Maybe you decided to protest the unlawful occupation of Tibet by staying home on that particular night. Maybe you couldn't get a date. Maybe you got your member stuck in your zipper like Ben Stiller in the movie, there's something about Mary, and spent the night in a hospital. Maybe you went and had the single worst night of your life like Drew Barrymore in the movie, Never Been Kissed. Regardless of whether prom evokes feelings of warm nostalgia, psychotic trauma, or nothing at all, it still ranks as one of the bigger nights of our lives.

Why is that?

I think part of it comes from the same place that possesses people to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding. It's what I like to refer to as the Cinderella and Prince Charming attend the ball complex. We are taught at a very young age to believe in this fairy tale and some of us unfortunately chase that fairy tale across the landscape of our lives. Another part of me thinks that prom is a kind of graduation from our high school social lives. Yes, we return to classes on Monday, we finish out the school year and we graduate, but there is something very final and very significant about that night of limousines, corsages, and hotel rooms.

When I think about prom night, I am reminded of the last scene from Stand By Me. Chris and Gordie are returning home from their adventure to see a dead body. It is early morning, and they are saying their routine I'll see you tomorrow good bye, but as we hear the voice of Gordie as a grown man speak, we come to realize that their relationship will forever be altered by the changes that were about to come.

When I said good night to my girlfriend of two years on the night of her prom, I had no idea that I would never see her again in my life.

I was just a Tennessee farm boy from a little town who drove forty miles to school everyday so that I could attend a conservative all-boy's school in Nashville. I am actually a big fan of all-boy schools. You go to classes free of the female distraction, yet after school, you have a plethora of all-girl schools from which to plunder. However, there was one drawback. Come prom season, a poor, young, southern gentleman got the unique opportunity to attend two proms for the price of two proms.

My aforementioned girlfriend, Edie, was a very popular girl at a local public school. I was particularly proud of that fact. It's easy to find a girlfriend from one of the sister schools, but to have a girlfriend from a coed school. That was a major feat. She was beautiful, charming, and a cheerleader to boot. How could you possibly top that?

My prom fell first on the social calendar. Edie offered up the idea that we both go dressed in black tails. Being the rebel that I am, I agreed to the idea. I couldn't wait to see the faces of all my anal retentive teachers when they saw my girl come down the aisle dressed like a man.

We had an amazing night.

I picked her up at her home in my dad's Lincoln Mark VI and we went to dinner with two of my very good friends and their dates. We ate, we drank, we laughed out of control. When we finally arrived at the dance, we were ushered under the gymnasium to a waiting area. At my prom, seniors and their dates were announced. We would walk out on the bandstand and then descend on a walkway to the dance floor. When we walked out on that stage, I could hear the collective breath taken by everyone in attendance. I couldn't see the faces of my teachers because of the spotlights shining in my eyes, but I know they must have been seething.

I took Edie in my arms and we went out on the dance floor. I looked deep into her smiling eyes and I felt like I must be in love. We danced, we kissed, we danced, we kissed, and we made the rounds. I felt immortal. I felt for one night that I, an uncultured, hick farm boy from a two-horse town, had actually ascended to the very top of the social ladder.

We left the prom early to go to my hotel room at the Loew's Vanderbilt Plaza. My friends and I had booked several rooms overlooking Nashville's exact replica of The Parthenon. After several nightcaps, we each retired to our individual rooms. Without going into any graphic details, I'll just say that the rest of our night together proved to be as incredible and as meaningful as everything that had come before.

Two weeks pass.

It is 7:00 in the morning on the day of Edie's prom. I open my eyes to see my mother shaking a bag of marijuana in my face and yelling, "What is this?"

"It's marijuana," I stated groggily. I saw no advantage in lying about the obvious.

"What are you doing with it?" My mother screamed back.

Without any hesitation whatsoever, I replied, "I am holding it for a friend."


"One of my friends is having a difficult time with his family. He just got out of rehab and can't afford to be caught with drugs again. So, I agreed to hold it for him."

As my mother walked away in disgust, I heard her say under her breath, "We'll see what your father has to say about this."

The next sound I heard was my very expensive bag of weed being flushed down the toilet.

"God damn it! I just bought that bag!" I said to myself.

After coming home that night and before I entered the house, I had stuffed the bag down the front of my pants. To this day, I have no idea why I hadn't just left it in my car. The truly tragic element of this whole episode is that I had never bought marijuana before that night. I had smoked a little here and there, but this was my very first venture into pot ownership. I can only suppose that I must have been acting out some cliché in my head. People who own weed stuff it in their pants, right? Anyway, I came upstairs, laid on the couch, turned on the television, and proceeded to fall fast asleep. I guess that at some point in the night I had unbuckled my jeans to get more comfortable. Add five hours of rolling around and you get a very busted Scott.

By the time I was up and around, I could hear my mother and father having a very heated conversation. I overheard my name being used in vain more than once. I had to get to my new job as a lifeguard so I quietly slipped into the shower to avoid any unnecessary conflict. By the time I got out, my father had gone. I saw my mother standing in the living room with a very tense expression on her face.

"You're father is very disappointed in you," my mother said sternly.

I didn't respond. I simply let my head fall to my chest. I figured the less said the better.

"We've decided to let you go to that little girl's prom," my mother continued, "there's no reason she should have to suffer on account of your behavior."

"Thank you," I said.

"We'll talk later," my mom said as she started off to her bedroom.

"Oh, mom?" I called out.


"Do you think I could borrow some money for tonight?"

"You'll have to ask you father about that one," my mother responded as she turned and left the room.

"I think I would be better off borrowing money from a guy named Angelo," I thought to myself.

I arrived at the swimming pool a little past nine.

"You look like shit," Bobby called out to me from the top of a ladder.

"Thanks. That is just what I needed to hear," I shot back.

"What's up with you?" Bobby asked as he descended.

"I got busted this morning."

"No!" Bobby said.

Bobby was the friend who first turned me on to marijuana. He is one of those magical people you always meet somewhere along life's path. He made good grades in school, led our little town's football team to their first district championship in years, always went to church, and dated the most beautiful cheerleader on the squad. Ask any man in town and they would tell you that he was the guy they wanted their daughters to marry. Little did they know that when the sun went down, their little angel turned into a hellcat.

"So what's gonna' happen?" Bobby inquired.

"I don't know yet. I think my father's too pissed to talk to me."

"That's not good," Bobby concluded.

"Do we get paid today?" I asked.

"I think so," Bobby said.

Suddenly, I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. Now, I wouldn't have to ask my father for money. I just needed to get to the bank before three to cash my check and everything would be fine.

At this point, I feel like I need to pause my story in order to fill all the younger Pork Pony readers in on a little history lesson. At this time in the distant, dark past, there were no ATM machines. I repeat. There were no ATM machines, no ATM cards, no check cards, nada. To add to this grand inconvenience, banks were only open on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and as I discovered on this fateful day, they were only open until noon on Saturdays.

To further complicate my circumstance, my boss informed Bobby and me that we had to finish painting the outside of the clubhouse by the end of the weekend and he wasn't considering any requests to leave early.

So, let's review. I am scheduled to pick up my girlfriend for her senior prom at 7:00 p.m. I am going to be stuck at work until at least 5:00. My tuxedo is hanging on a rack in a store in Nashville that closes at 5:30 and I live 40 minutes away. Even if I could leave right after work, which I cannot because I stink, I would still miss the deadline. I have no cash and no hope of getting any cash. And, I have a zit the size of Mt. St. Helen on my right cheek.

I needed a plan.

I called my friend, Lex. After catching him up on the day's events, I asked him for a favor.

"I need you to pick up my tux and drop it at Lauri's house."

Lauri was Lex's long time girlfriend and happened to live very near Edie's house.

"That's fine, but we're not going to be there," Lex added apologetically.

"Okay. Leave the tux outside somewhere. I'll get it."

"Okay," Lex said incredulously.

"Oh, and one more thing," I quickly added, "can you get Lauri to pick me up a corsage?"

"A corsage? What kind?" Lex asked as if someone had asked him to buy tampons.

"I don't know. I think Edie said her dress had pink in it."

"Alright. I'll see what I can do."

At 5:00, I grabbed my paycheck and drove home like a crazy man.

When I walked into my house, I felt like a ghost. Everyone was there, but no one acknowledged my presence. This might have upset me on another day, but I didn't have time for such luxuries. I quickly showered, got dressed, and after performing minor surgery on my zit, which made it look more like Mt. St. Helen's after the eruption, I sprinted to my car. It was 5:45.

I arrived at Lauri's house at 6:30. I found my tux hanging from a branch in the front yard and my corsage sitting on the front steps with a note that simply said, "Good luck. L and L." I changed my clothes right there in the front yard. I didn't have time for modesty.

I had twenty minutes to get to Edie's house and I still needed money. I stopped into a liquor store to see if they would cash a check.

"Not without a purchase," the man behind the counter grunted.


I went to the refrigerator and picked out two bottles of champagne. By the time I got back to the counter, there was a long line of idiots in front of me and that didn't include the one behind the counter. I couldn't stop looking at my watch. Time seemed to evaporate. I was starting to panic when I finally reached the register.

"That'll be fifty-three dollars."

"I also need a hundred dollars in cash, please."

"Sorry, I can only cash checks for twenty dollars over the purchase."

"Can you make an exception, just this one time?" I begged.

The man just shook his head.

"Listen," I continued, "I am a senior at Vanderbilt and this really sweet girl asked me to her prom. I have no cash and you are my only hope to save this girl from certain disappointment. I know you're not supposed to do this, but can you offer a little help to a man in need."

"Alright," the man said, "I'm gonna' get into a lot of trouble for this, but I'll give you twenty-five."

I stared at him for a long, exasperated moment.

"I'll take it," I said.

As I look back on that scene, I am completely dumbfounded. There I was, an eighteen-year-old kid, dressed in a tuxedo, buying two bottles of champagne, and the topic of my age never came up. I guess I should just be thankful.

I arrived at Edie's house at 7:10.

Edie descended the stairway while her mom and step-dad snapped off picture after picture. I suppose she looked beautiful in a Cinderella way.

I have never liked prom dresses, ball gowns, or those twenty- thousand-dollar outfits that movie stars wear to award shows. Give me a woman in blue jeans and a white T-shirt and I'm ecstatic.

I helped Edie and her balloon of a dress get into my car while her parents took one last picture.

"You were late." Edie's previously photographic smile had turned sour.

Sometimes my expressions betray me. My intention was to turn apologetically and offer a puppy-dog face, but before I could stop myself, my head whipped around and I offered up my die, bitch, die face.

"What's the matter?" Edie's face looked fearful.

"I'm sorry," I said solemnly, "I've . . . I've had a bad day."

"Okay," Edie proceeded cautiously, "are you alright now?"

"Yes, I'm fine."

"Great. First, we need to go by the country club to have our picture taken. Next, and you're not going to believe this, I got reservations at Mario's!"

The two most expensive restaurants in Nashville at this time were Jullian's and Mario's. I guess I should've been thankful that Mario's finished second in this category.

I know what you're thinking. Why does the girl get to pick the restaurant when the guy has to pay? That's just the way it was. I had no choice, but to swallow hard and figure some way out of this mess.

"I got champagne for later," I managed to say without choking.

"Great. We'll save it for the party."

"I need to get some ice before it gets warm," I said as I pulled into a Shell Gas Station.

I had my dad's Shell Credit Card.

"Can I get two bags of ice and as much cash as I can possibly get on this card."

"Twenty dollars is the max," the guy said through the speaker.

"I'll take it."

We arrived at the Brentwood Country Club at 7:30.

Tickets to the prom? Twenty dollars.
Pictures at the prom? Twenty dollars.
Dinner at Mario's on five dollars? Impossible.

I sat across from Edie at this beautiful, upscale Italian restaurant for two hours. I watched as cocktails, appetizers, entrees, and dessert were delivered promptly to our table by a very efficient and friendly waiter named Miguel. I know Edie was talking to me during dinner, but I couldn't really experience anything except this queer sense of terror growing slowly and steadily from my gut until it overtook my entire body. I know I should have told her about the bust and the fact that I had no money, but I really didn't want to ruin her night. I just sat there looking at her as if I was looking through a fog. It was only a matter of time.

"Can we get the check, please?" Edie said with a giggle. "I can't wait to get to the dance."

I only shook my head in agreement.

I slowly opened the leather bound check holder and followed all the charges down to the large, circled number at the bottom: "$153.50, Thanks, Miguel."

"Excuse me for a minute," I said as I grabbed the check and got up from the table.

"Where are you going?" Edie asked with a concerned look.

"I just need to speak to Miguel for a second."

As I walked across the restaurant towards the waiter station where Miguel was standing, I felt like the air was getting too thick for me to walk through. My legs began to shake and my stomach was clinched and full of butterflies.

"Excuse me?" I asked tentatively.

"Yes sir, how may I be of help to you?" Miguel asked graciously in a thick Italian accent.

"Well, I have a small problem. See, I am a senior at Vanderbilt and that sweet girl over there asked me to her high school prom and of course I want to make it a very special night for her, but I seem to be a little short on cash."

"The lady is in high school?"

"Yes, and . . ."

"She probably should not have been drinking, huh?" Miguel said as he looked over my shoulder to our table."

"No, probably not, but see, I have this problem . . . ,"

"That's okay. I have no problem with that."

"Thank you, but there is still the problem of the check."

"No problem. We accept credit cards."

"I don't have a credit card."

"That's okay we accept all of the credit cards."

"I don't have any credit cards. I only have a check."

"We accept traveler's cheques."

"I don't have a traveler's cheque, I have a personal check."

"We don't accept personal checks."

"I know, but I was hoping you could make an exception this . . . "

"How much cash do you have?"

"Five dollars."

"That's not enough."

"Yes, I know, that's why I need to write you a . . . ."

"Marcello, can you come over here please?" Miguel shouted out as he snapped his fingers.

"Who's Marcello?" I asked as I tried to follow Miguel's eyes.

"The manager," Miguel quickly added.

As Marcello approached, Miguel took on a self-righteous tone, "Marcello, this man won't pay his check."

"I can and want to pay my check, sir, I just don't have any cash." I quickly amended.

"That's okay, we take credit cards," Marcello said with a smile.

"He doesn't have any credit cards or traveler's cheque, he has nothing," Miguel quickly added.

I was really beginning to dislike Miguel and I was starting to lose my temper. By this time, other waiters had started to gather around and people at nearby tables had started to look on curiously.

"Look!" I snapped loudly. "I have a date sitting right over there who knows nothing about this and I would like to keep it that way! I have a driver's license, I have my dad's business cards, I have a bank account with more than enough money to cover this. I will write you a check for one hundred dollars more than the bill. This check will not bounce. I swear to you on my honor as a gentleman. You can hunt me down and kill me if it does. Please, I beg you, let me write you a god damned check!"

"One hundred dollars?" Miguel chimed in.

"Yes, one hundred dollars!" I said firmly.

"Okay with me if it's okay with Marcello." Miguel said sheepishly.

"I think it will be alright. Take down all his information," Marcello said as he looked deeply into my eyes and gently walked away.

"What was that all about?" Edie asked as I returned to the table.

"Just a small problem with the bill. Everything's alright now. Let's get out of here."

It was almost eleven when we arrived at the dance. The room was full of couples dressed just like we were. A cover band was playing, but not a single, solitary soul was dancing. Edie grabbed my arm and started pulling me toward the dance floor. I resisted.

"Come on, let's dance!" Edie said excitedly.

"I don't want to be one of the first ones out there."

"Don't be silly. Let's dance."


"What is your problem!" Edie angrily shot back.

"I don't want to be another one of your private school boyfriends that you parade around for all your friends!" I shot back angrily without thinking.

That was not what I meant to say. It just came out of me. It was a cheap shot aimed directly at an old wound. My relationship with Edie had been on and off for the last two years. Whenever it was off, Edie would return to her old boyfriend, Paul, who attended a rival, private high school. Whenever I attended any functions with her, I could feel his ghost floating around the room. This situation was no different. This was not the first time we had fought about this very thing.

Edie burst into tears.

"You are such an asshole!" Edie screamed.

I just stood there, taking in the fact that two hundred pairs of eyes were focused solely on me.

"You have completely ruined my prom night! I hate you!" Edie said as she hurriedly shuffled passed me and out of the room.

When I found her, she was sitting alone on a garden bench, quietly crying. I observed her for a long time before I approached. I thought about all the hours I had spent talking to her on the phone. All the little notes she secretly wrote in my text books so that I would find them on some idle Tuesday while sitting in English class. All the times she had broken my heart when I had seen her with Paul.

"I am sorry," I said gently as I sat down next to her.

"Go away."

"I am truly sorry, Edie." I said as I carefully wiped a tear from her cheek with my finger.

She laid her head on my shoulder and I gently stroked her hair. We sat there for a long time without speaking a word.

I realized I felt sorry for far more than some insensitive remark. I felt sorry for every time I tried to force her to be something she was not. Every time I punished her for not feeling things she could not feel. I wanted her to love me the way I loved her. I wanted her to love me the way she loved Paul. I was never happy with the way she loved me. And, at that moment, I realized I never would be.

Eventually, we returned to the ballroom and we danced. We danced until the very last dance. Afterwards, we drove up to one of our favorite parking spots overlooking the city and drank ice-cold champagne. It was late by the time we got back to her house. I kissed her good night and held her hand until the last possible moment before she closed the door. I watched her walk up the sidewalk, unlock the door, and slowly disappear into her house.

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It's that time of year again, Spring Break. Each year, the young and beautiful pack up their bathing suits and bikinis and head off to glorious destinations with infamous names like Ft. Lauderdale, Daytona, South Padre Island, Cancun, and Grand Cayman. What is the object of this massive seasonal migration, you might ask yourself? Apparently, each spring, our best and our brightest are overcome with an urge to venture off to some tropical destination so that they may practice hedonism on a scale that would make a Roman blush.

I sometimes look back nostalgically on my own hedonistic journeys south. The nights of ecstatic and feverish coupling with scantily clad coeds who, for one week only, had cast off all pretense of moral obligation. Waking up the next morning or afternoon to the breakfast delights of day old pizza and ice-cold Budweiser. Oh, those were the good old days.

I'm sorry.

Those would have been the good old days if I had actually gotten to participate in this heralded spring ritual, but unfortunately for me, I did not.

During my many years at university, the thought of traveling hundreds of miles to be a heathen for one week really did not appeal to me very much. I was a heathen every week. Spring break actually offered a much-deserved week off from drinking and womanizing. I could actually be alone with my thoughts and do things I never got a chance to do during the regular year like studying.

No, the time in my life when I most wanted to break out was my senior year in high school. This was the time when I was living under the oppressive rule of my parents and needed a carnival to repair my much-injured spirit.

I first became aware of the full delinquent potential of spring break when I was a fearful little freshman. I was "hanging out" in the student lounge with these two guys who, at the time, I thought were gods. As I look back on it now, I realize they were only seniors in high school. It's funny how no matter how old you get those guys will always be older and wiser than you ever could be. Anyway, I quietly sat in the farthest, darkest corner of the room so I could listen in on their conversation and remain unbeaten at the same time.

"Hardy finally got laid for the first time," one of the gods said as if he were talking about the weather.

"You're kidding." The other god responded nonchalantly.

"Yeah. By two chicks at once!"

"No kidding. That's awesome!"

"So, how was your trip?" The first god inquired.

"Great! I drank over two gallons of beer in one night and didn't pass out."


"What about yours?" The second god asked.

"Really great! This one night, a bunch of us were swimming at the pool, and then some girl pulled off my suit and . . . well, you know, one thing led to another and we all ended up . . .."

I couldn't listen to the rest of that story for all the blood rushing from my brain.

"I must go on this 'Spring Break!'" I exclaimed to myself. "I want to drink three gallons of beer and lose my virginity over and over and over and over!"

Well, a couple of years passed and I too was promoted to a god. I didn't feel very much like a god, but I wanted to have all the laurels befitting a god anyway. I wanted to journey to the Ithaca of the modern world. I wanted to go to Ft. Lauderdale Beach on "Spring Break."

So, I went to my dad to lay down an ultimatum.

"Dad, a few of my good, upstanding friends from school would like to take an educational trip to Florida this spring break. Do you think I might be able to join them for this spiritually uplifting journey?" I asked while striking my best estimation of an apostolic pose.

"No, son," my father said as he scooped up the remains of his newspaper and sauntered out of the room. My father is a man of very few words.

So picture this, it's the Thursday afternoon of the final spring break of my high school years. I am shoveling chicken shit into a wheel barrel when my father's red pickup truck pulls into the driveway.

"Go throw some things into a bag, we need to hit the road." my father said hurriedly.

"Where are we going?" I asked as I ran back to the house.

"Hollywood, Florida," my father said.

"Oh my God! Hollywood! That's a only a few miles south of Ft. Lauderdale." I thought to myself. "Could my father have finally seen the error of his ways?"

"We need to repossess a truck," my father expounded.

"Huh!" I responded with what must have been a dumb, contorted look upon my face.

My father simply looked back at me with his trademarked expression of "I already told you once, if I have to tell you again, you're gonna' get slapped."

My father's business was manufacturing truck bodies. Sometimes, people failed to pay and my father would have to go get the truck.

So, let us fast forward to twelve hours later. I am driving eighty miles an hour down the Florida Turnpike with the window rolled down, music cranked up, salt-water air blowing through my hair, and my father snoring away in the passenger seat. I pretended that I was heading towards the biggest beach party on earth: girls clawing at me, friends pouring cocktails down my throat, and me, absolutely powerless to stop it. When I finally awoke from my dream, I realized that I had been asleep for the last eighty miles!

I sat up straight, slapped myself around a little, and lit a cigarette.

I wasn't terribly over concerned by my condition. I was the best sleep-driver I knew. I drove forty miles to school every morning, and most days I had no recollection of ever doing it. One morning, a friend of mine, who had to make the same drive, was passing me on the way to school. He looked over and honked the horn to get my attention and found me fast asleep, head on my chest, drool dripping from the corner of my mouth, and still driving forty miles per hour in the middle of rush hour traffic. To this day, he says it's the craziest thing he has ever seen.

At 5:30 a.m., with the sun breaking over the Atlantic Ocean, my father and I arrived in Hollywood. My dad had the address given to him by the private detective and a key made by the truck manufacturer. We navigated the industrial section of town and found the truck parked exactly where the P.I. said it would be. My dad held out a hand with the key.

"Oh, no you don't," I said with panic in my voice. "It's your truck, you go get it!"

My father just gave me that look again.

"Damn it, Dad!" I said as I grabbed the key and climbed out of the pick-up truck.

"Try to be quiet," my dad added as I walked away. "A lot of times these guys have guns."

"Thanks for the tip!"

I quickly tip toed across the street to the truck and proceeded to unlock the door, all the time, keeping my head on a swivel for a pissed off truck owner with a gun. I managed to get inside and insert the key into the ignition. I turned the key to find the truck won't start. It just made that loud, screeching sound of an engine trying to turn over when it can't. I looked over to my father for some assistance and he simply put his finger to his mouth and signaled for me to hush!

"Damn it!" I screamed out as sweat poured off my face. I turned the key again and it still wouldn't start. "Jesus!" I frantically looked around to see if an angry assassin was coming my way. The street was completely deserted except for this older man sitting in a red pick-up doing absolutely nothing to help his son. I took a deep breath, offered up a prayer to God, and turned the key.

It started.

I quickly threw it into gear and tore out of that street as fast as I could. When my father finally caught up to me I was ten miles away and completely lost.

"Jesus, dad!" I screamed as I jumped out of the truck. "Do you think you can throw a guy a hand when he's about to get shot!"

"I had a gun." My dad shot back.

My father's confession was so incredible and so completely irrelevant that I couldn't think of a worthy response. I just threw my hands in the air, uttered a sound of total exasperation, and stomped off.

With my clothes soaked with sweat, I helped my father load the pick-up into the back of the moving van. We both climbed in and headed north. I was driving again on Interstate 95 when I saw the exit sign for Ft. Lauderdale Beach. My father was asleep again in the passenger seat when the truck just steered itself off the highway. We were in a beach parking lot when my father awoke.

"Where the hell are we?" He asked as he groggily looked around.

"Ft. Lauderdale Beach," I said firmly.

"What? He asked as he sat up. "Why?"

"Because I am going to have a spring break even if it's only for thirty minutes, damn it!"

I must have made my point because my dad said absolutely nothing. He just laid his head back, pushed his baseball cap forward to shield his face from the sun, and closed his eyes.

I climbed out of the truck and started walking towards the ocean. The smell of salt water filled my body with excitement. I have always loved the ocean. The sound of the waves striking the shore soothes me in a way that nothing else can. The sounds and smells somehow hearken back to something primitive and fundamental to being human. I always feel like I am home.

I pulled off my sweaty shirt, took off my shoes and socks, and rolled up my pant legs as far as I could. Van Halen's Beautiful Girls was blasting from a car full of screaming chicks who were cruising the beach. I smiled. They smiled back as they moved passed me in slow motion. As they disappeared into the ocean of cars, I suddenly became aware that I didn't belong here. I was merely a transient crashing the party for a quick beer.

I continued onward to the beach, found a suitable spot, and dug my toes into the sand. I let my head fall back and the sun's warmth penetrated deep into the skin on my face.

I opened my eyes to see a couple of guys my age laughing and throwing Frisbee amongst the waves. Gorgeous young girls in bikinis bathing in the warm spring sun. Airplanes flying overhead pulling huge banners advertising the hottest clubs in town.

My mind wandered to what could have been. Where were my friends? What stories would they have to tell? What adventures would I have had? I could only shake my head in wonderment. I stood up and slowly walked back to the truck, climbed in, and started it up. I drove back to the interstate and headed north towards home.

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Mr. Albright's first entry into the realm of Pork Pony details his quest to quit watching television "cold turkey" during lent. (CL)
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