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  • Boredom was the enemy, for the rest of my time at South Hills High. I became addicted to action, activity, being in the middle of things. Those first couple of months at the new school had been so dreadfully lonely, not knowing anyone and feeling so self-conscious. Those days were behind me now - and I planned to keep them there!

    If something interesting and exciting wasn’t going on, I would do something to create it - like starting a food fight in the cafeteria – another thing that cracked me up about the movie Animal House, when it came out years later. They didn’t invent the food fight. We were doing that long before that movie!

    A bunch of us were sitting there at lunch one day, and someone complained that their chocolate pudding was like rubber. They pulled it out of it’s bowl, and bounced it on the table to demonstrate its rubber-like principles. I reached over, picked it up, and just flung it over my shoulder, to see how far it would stay intact in flight, and if it would bounce when it landed after such a flight. It was a physics experiment!

    Instead, it landed on someone. The next thing I knew, food was flying everywhere – spaghetti, soup, mashed potatoes, you name it, were in the air, landing on people’s hair and faces - a full-scale food fight was on! No one, except for those at my table, ever figured out exactly how it got started – thank God!

    One day, early in February, several of us were complaining about the boring weekends. We were deep into the winter blahs. I could no longer escape to Steubenville College for the weekend, since I was now banned from that campus. It was too cold and snowy to have a keg party at Toner’s Woods. We had to do something to break up the weekend monotony! If we could only throw a keg party at someone’s house…
  • That’s about when I remembered that Mom and Dad were going over to my Aunt Lollie and Uncle Roman’s house, all the way over on the other side of the city, on an upcoming Saturday night to play bridge. They would leave around 8:00 to go over there, and wouldn’t be back until well after midnight, pushing 1:00 a.m. That would give us a good 4 hour window to party, with time to clear everyone out, clean the place up – it could work! I volunteered my house for a keg party.

    We were thinking if we got 35 or so people, and charged $5 a head, $3 for girls (we figured with a discounted rate, we’d get more girls to come), we’d recoup the cost of the keg, with a slight profit. Four of us went in on the keg, and we would split whatever we came out ahead. 35 would have been a manageable number of people in my family’s large, old house. We put out the word in the halls of South Hills High. Kegger at Pete’s, Saturday night!

    This was way back in the stone ages of 1972, long, long before the internet, texting, facebook, youtube, twitter, or even e-mail. But, this party went “old-school viral” – apparently, many people were suffering from the mid-winter blahs, and word of my keg party spread like wildfire through those halls.

    That Saturday night, 8:00 came, and 8:00 went, but my parents were still home, and not moving in any kind of a hurry to get out the door. I noticed the traffic down on Berkshire Avenue getting pretty heavy. People were already arriving for the party! Shit! I sent Scotty and Cy down to direct the traffic, and to hold the hoardes off until my parents split the scene. As it turned out, Aunt Lolly wasn’t feeling well, so they weren’t going all the way across town to play Bridge – they were going three short blocks away to the Lindeman’s to play, instead. That meant they wouldn’t leave until 8:45 or so, and would probably be back before midnight.

    No problem, I thought. We just hold people off until they leave, then we let everyone know the party only goes to 11:00, then we’ll still have time to clean up. I had it all figured out.
  • What I hadn’t figured on were the sheer numbers of people. As soon as Mom and Dad finally left, it was like the opening of the floodgates. Dozens of people came up the steps from the street below in a wave, like a tsunami, flowing right through my front door. We were collecting the fees from them as they went by, and the wave flowed right towards the keg, set up in a tub of ice in the kitchen, which had hurriedly been hauled up from the basement where it had been stowed, waiting for my parents to leave.

    We never got an exact head count, but based on the money we made on the party, and the per head charge, it was close to 150 kids – a few more than the planned 35. It was the smash hit of the social season of my new school. Everyone thought I was the coolest guy, to be able to pull such a party off, in my parents’ house. I was riding on a wave of popularity that I never imagined possible in those first, lonely months at that school. I had truly arrived! I was feeling really good about life, as I walked around our large house, which had kids in every nook and cranny, on all three floors, and in the basement, and still coming in the door. This was living!

    Then, two of my older brothers, Brian and Ken, came home. They were both fit to be tied. “Pete, what in God’s name is going on here?” It was only about 9:30 at that point, and I was still figuring we could let the party go until 10:30 or so, then clear the hoardes out, and get it all cleaned up before Mom and Dad got back home, nobody any worse for the wear. I thought the kids were being pretty good, no one was breaking anything - just a bunch of kids having some fun on a Saturday night. In my parents’ house!

    Brian said, “we need to get this place cleared out – right now! Do you know what Mom and Dad are going to do when they find out about this? Do you have any idea how much shit you’re going to be in?” However, my attempts to get people’s attention to start clearing the place out were pretty feeble. Brian knew just what to do, though. He calmly walked around the house, and in each room, would announce, “The police have been notified, and are on their way. If anyone here is underage and drinking, you might want to leave – now.”
  • Just like that, the tsunami started flowing out the back door, along with the keg, and flowed over to the field behind Brookline Elementary School, two blocks away – and right down the street from the Lindeman’s, where Mom and Dad were playing Bridge! You could hear the sounds of the crowd up there, two blocks away, like the roaring of the ocean in a storm. The sound just washed down from there.

    With the house cleared out, we started the clean-up. Indeed, nothing was broken, but plenty of beer had been spilled, and no matter how much we managed to clean up, when Mom walked through the door, she announced, “This place smells like a brewery! What happened here?”

    I said that I’d planned to have some guys over for a night of poker, and way more showed up than I had planned for – about 35 showed up, I lied. “Thirty five people – here, in my house?” She just looked at me, shook her head, and said, “We’ll talk about this in the morning. Do something about that beer smell – now!”

    I knew I was in some serious trouble – but, in my mind at the time, whatever it was – it was worth it! I had arrived! (Little did I know, but I was soon to depart!)
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