Sanctioned Ditch Day? Lame.


School’s out in two weeks. I’ve been forbidden from letting Rusty and Speaker watch TV from sunup to lights out this summer, so I have to spend some “quality time” with them, in addition to my usual hectic schedule of household chores and making things up. I’ll be busy! Hey, that dishwasher that Barb loaded isn’t going to just start itself, you know. I guess the good news is that I’ll be able to begin drinking at noon instead of 3:30.

But any actual book learnin’ ceases a week or so before the last day. The teachers just give up, like the French did when Lindbergh landed in Paris. These days when the kids come home in the afternoon and forage in the kitchen like shipwrecked bulimics on an island of convenience stores, I ask them if they have any homework.

“No homework. No more homework for the rest of the year,” they cheer giddily, dribbling pickle juice and globs of GoGurt on my spotless kitchen floor. No, their teachers aren’t putting any more energy into assigning homework. They’re too busy making way for the multitude of end of the year parties and field trips and sports days and bike rodeos and “illicit” water balloon fights. It makes me bristle because of the lack of discipline and the missed educational opportunities and…aw, bullshit.

I’m just jealous.

In my public school career, we had to wait 12 whole years for one officially sanctioned Senior Ditch Day. It went like this: A busload of vice-principals and unemployed parents would accompany a slightly smaller busload of presumably graduating seniors to some innocuous destination where we could ingest a prescribed amount of junk food and drink our weight in Pepsi and spend a few handfuls of quarters on video games. If we were lucky enough to find a beach or a lake, we would stop and feed the ducks. Whoop-de-friggin’-do.

DitchDaySchool (2)
Obviously, an officially sanctioned ditch day is an oxymoron, like the phrase “Facebook privacy policy.” So, like every other senior class before us, we had our own ditch day. The secret date and location of this secret ditch day was imparted through an arcane and unnecessarily complex series of clues that pretty much guaranteed that the only person who knew when and where the shit was going to go down was the clue maker himself. But we still found it, and it went a little something like this:

One of my classmates, whose name I can’t divulge, worked at a place called Bill McClay’s Dad’s Beverage Distribution Center, and he was counted on to show up with either two kegs of Miller Lite™ or a case of Sloe Gin. My senior year it was the Sloe Gin, which explains how I became the valedictorian by default after a couple of mishaps resulting in permanent brain damage. If you’ve never had Sloe Gin, it’s like Robitussin without the cough relief. The best band in the school would plan to show up (read: the only band with a PA), and play every major hit song of the day, rounded down to three chords.

The ditch day party started during first period, which was either Civics, Social Studies or Home Ec, depending on how many credits you still needed to graduate. You know what, if you need to be able to thaw out an apple pie to graduate high school, you might as well get a job at your dad’s beverage distribution center.

Next came the transportation. Obviously, no buses. But a large squadron of Chevy Novas, Datsun pickups, and purloined Oldsmobile Vista Cruisers awaited to marshal the troops to the Meadows, the Outskirts, the Lake, the River, the Pond, the Old Drive-In, the Old Ball Field, the Abandoned Asbestos Factory, wherever it was we could fit 300 amateur drunks and a bitchin’ band running off a stuttering generator.

Weed? Of course. Big wooden party bowls of it. Sex? Under any blanket, tarp, or even (with very efficient coupling) a large beach towel. Vandalism? You bet. Especially for those of us who got wasted on two cups of light beer and couldn’t talk some girl into looking for the Snickers bar we said was hidden under the tarp.

I had to go to college to learn how to drink, so I did not handle that Sloe Gin well. You know what? I still can’t figure out the reason for the existence of Sloe Gin. And what’s weirder is that Associate Press stylebook prescribes the capitalization of Sloe. And Gin.

Which brings us to vomit. Puke. Barf. The ultimate finale of pretty much all senior ditch days, all-night parties, and graduation bacchanals. Punch bowls of it. Chunky, bubbling rivers of it. Engine block-cracking deep puddles of it. Spewing. Hurling. Refunding. Selling Buicks. The singing waterfall. The talking rainbow. Lunch River. Toby Keith album review. You get the gist.

Every senior class has heard the legend of the guy who could vomit across a pool table without getting a drop on the felt. Well, our class had a prodigious puker, [name withheld for legal reasons], whose dad was the Governor of Arkansas from 1971-1975. This character was dead set on perpetuating the legend. But Ditch Day came and we could not find a pool table. Not even a bumper pool table. We could only come up with one of those vibrating football games. You know, you plug it in, and it sounds like an electric chair, and a bunch of little plastic football dudes (one carrying a felt football) dance aimlessly around on its sheet metal surface as it vibrates. This thing was so primitive it made Pong look like Skyrim by comparison.

Anyway, we pumped our would-be hurling hero full of Sloe Gin, set up the buzzing football field on a card table out behind the abandoned Drive-In snack bar and plugged that sucker in. When the guy puked onto the field, after a bottle and a half of the syrupy liquor, he was electrocuted.

So I guess the moral of my story is that alcohol and electricity don’t mix. Unless you’re Ben Franklin. Also, you don’t have to get wasted to have a good time. Don’t do drugs either. And stay in school! At least until Ditch Day.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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