There is a story behind my senior photo – it almost did not happen. Some folks know the story and some folks do not. For years, it was right up there with Fight Club.

“We do not talk about Senior Picture Day in the Johnson household”.

First, I need to make sure those who are reading this understand Pittsburg, Oklahoma.

If ANYONE ever talks about living in the boonies or growing up in the country. I typically chuckle. Pittsburg was a suburb to the boonies. I went to school with kids who actually lived in the country and their nearest neighbor was at least a mile away if not more.

Our school was one of the only B-Class schools left in the state. Our class of ’88 had 18 graduates, one of the biggest classes in years. Total students at the time were around 125-130 kids that populated the grades of 1st to 12th.

Yeah, so while I didn’t grow up legitimately in the country, I still consider myself a country boy. I hauled hay, worked cattle, hunted, fished, camped, and rode a horse from time to time. Even though that town was economically depressed and we were poor, I have the best memories I think a kid/teenager could ever wish for. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Ok, now on to the story. Disclaimer – I will leave out last names of those involved.

Mom and dad scheduled my senior picture event at some place in either McAlester or Tulsa on a Saturday around noonish. I honestly cannot remember the exact location nor the time. If I ever find one of my original pics, I’ll look at the back and post an update. However, the day before (Friday), us guys decided to go camping after school.

Usually, our camping trip consisted of Brad, Kyle, and myself. Every now and then someone else would tag along, but for the most part, it was us two or three. Camping was always fun. It consisted of driving around and seeing what everyone else was doing. Then falling back to the camping spot (where ever it might be) starting a big fire and drinking. Yes, drinking. During my senior year, we went camping a lot. Was it smart to be a teenager drinking – no. Did we have a good time – always. I’m not promoting it or condoning it – especially since my dad was an alcoholic. It’s just the truth.

I have to be honest, we had great times.

We kicked that night off and somewhere down the line, Steve joined in the on the fun. We found ourselves heading for the “Tower”. The tower is a large microwave tower that everyone can see. They are set up in line-of-sight, miles apart, on top of huge hills in the country. They repeat signals – via line of sight. Yeah, we had climbed them a lot. Smart, not in the least. However, we are still here and I don’t think anyone I went to school with had died from a fall.

I digress.

To get to said tower, you cross a lot of country side, and most of it was Weyerhaeuser land. Weyerhaeuser bought/leased a lot of land, cut a lot of trees, sold a lot of timber, and replanted most of it. The one great thing (or bad thing) about Weyerhaeuser land – is they left their machinery on site. And when I say machinery, I don’t be a little old chainsaw. I mean things like dozers, graders, and earthmovers.

The exact ‘why and how’ of the events that followed, I do not remember so much. What I do remember was, we parked the truck. Steve then managed to either hot wire or find the keys to a big ass piece of equipment that I still do not know the name of. It’s had tires that were at least four to five feet tall. We decided to drive it to the tower. In some stoke of brilliance, I found myself hugging the smoke stack, while Brad and Kyle were riding shot gun. Steve was behind the wheel.

It was greatness.

Now, the next set of events are a little bit foggy. I think Steve got this thing stuck. We all got off while he was trying to get it unstuck. I had been drinking a little bit but by no means wasted. I fell down actually next to the wheel and was trying to get up when Kyle pulled me on out. To this day, I don’t think I was in any danger of getting ran over. However, I still appreciate what he did.

At that point, he either got it unstuck and we drove back or we just walked back. Either way we arrived back at the truck.

Next, place we landed, was at Alan’s house. Now, Alan, his two brothers and sister lived there with no parents. That is a very long story and it is not my story to tell. It was a popular spot to hang out and of course, drink. I was big boy and it took quite a bit of anything to mess with my constitution – aka I could hold my liquor. Alan, also was a big guy, however, holding his liquor could be debated. Either way, I found myself across from Alan doing tequila shots one for one.

Later on, I discovered, the one for one was a lie.

After shot eight (I think), my next memory was waking up on the living room floor. I know this will sound bad, but I woke up because of several huge roaches crawling on me. The living room door was wide open and it was still dark outside. There were other people asleep in the floor too.

This was not greatness.

My next memory was stumbling out of the bed of my truck, that was parked in front of my grandma’s house. It was daylight, best I could tell it was morning. How I got there, zero idea. I found out after the fact, that I was thrown in the back of my own truck and drove there. I was vomiting on myself and for the 2nd possible time that night, my life was saved. Steve turned my head side ways so the vomit wouldn’t choke me to death when I was passed out. So, I supposed I owe him too.

Why we were at grandma’s, not sure. We lived with her from time to time. At that moment, not sure what the circumstances was. I do know, that Mildred, my mom’s sister was in visiting.

Now, this time, I was officially wasted. It was not pleasant in the least. Also, even in my horrible state, I knew, I had hell to pay. Frantically, in my mind, as I stumbled to the door, I was trying to come up with something to explain away my drunken state.

As I came through the door, I said, “Omg, I think I have a concussion.”

Seriously, a “concussion”?

That was my brilliant idea. Needless to say, when I enter my grandma’s living room, EVERYONE WAS THERE! My dad, mom, Mildred, grandma, every one was present for the show. It was a very low point in my life. Now, mom and dad both knew what was going on. I mean, dad, like I said, was no stranger to a bottle. In record speed, they grabbed me under both arms and ushered me off into the back room.

Things are a bit fuzzy. I do remember, my dad having to bath and shave me. I mean, a 17-year-old being bath by his father – super embarrassing.

What I remember next is the drive to the photo place. I was still lit. I remember sitting in the passenger seat bitching because I wanted to shift gears in the car. At that point, the anger of mom and dad had mellowed some. My behavior was now a little more on the lighter side since no one had ever seen me like this. Was everything good, that was a big NO. I was grounded for the foreseeable future. Yet, I was able to lighten the mood by providing the inhouse entertainment.

From my understanding of getting my senior picture taken, I was being a bit of a tool. However, it turned out great in my own personal opinion. Later that day, after sobering up, I was informed of my atrocities. Milred, cornered me and read me the riot act on being a bad influence to my cousin Wendy. Again, let’s just say that is another story and not mine to tell.

Later that evening, Littleman (nick name) and I think Anthony (could have been someone else) stopped by. I was inside the yard (surrounded by a chain link fence) and they were on the outside. I was officially grounded but could still talk, as long as I remained on the prison grounds. Considering the shit storm, I just caused, I knew better then to push my luck. We chatted about the events of that night, which apparently, they had witnessed some of it and help me fill in some blanks.

It was verified that Alan was not actually drinking any shots (bastard). Also, that trying to move my 185lb frame when I passed out was a chore. And my brilliant idea of hugging the smoke stack that night totally ruined my awesome 80s jean jacket.

If you notice my red eyes in the picture – yeah – it was a very long night.

Now, let me apologize to anyone who I misrepresented in the story. It’s highly possible that might have got some of the facts wrong. Considering the situation, I think I get a pass.

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