Monday, March 31, 2008

Are you a Turtle?

Back at West Springfield High School, and probably at every school, some of us have a right of passage which is the beginning of drinking alcohol. When I went to high school, the legal drinking age for beer was 18. Because of that, beer was not too hard to get. Someone always had an older brother or sister, that they had caught doing something that a parent might not find as amusing. This would depend on the family, but some activities might be breaking curfew, getting caught with a member of the opposite sex in a compromising situation, finding their stash of cigarettes, seeing them get a speeding ticket, purchasing explosives. Anything that could be used to coerce them into buying you and your friends a case of beer, would be used. Because beer was hard to procure, we never had very much and getting drunk was not much of a problem. If someone had too much, we’d figure out a way to get their car keys. Get them started to sober up, drive them home, and generally try to keep them from killing themselves.

Please understand this is all very foggy. At the time of this being written, 33 or 34 years have passed. And beer was involved. Somewhere along in there, someone, somehow, became a member of the Turtle’s.

For some strange reason, becoming a member of a drinking club, appealed to us. We decide that we must also be initiated. How to accomplish this where we won’t kill ourselves and most importantly, not get caught by the police? Or, a fate worse than death, caught by our parents? Sounds like a ROAD TRIP. Not just any road trip, lets make this a camping trip. The guy who is going to initiate us is a total masochist. The plan starts to come together. We pick a three day weekend in the spring, so we hope to have some decent weather. We obtain permission from out parents to go camping. He scouts out a mountain that we can go hike and climb on. He picks a dozy. Old Rag Mountain in Virginia.

On the appointed Saturday, we get together with enough camping gear for the weekend and head out to the mountain. He’s decided that we must each carry up about eight beers, so we don’t run out during the initiation. He’s also decided that we will hike up the rock scramble way. This path included several places where you were doing rock climbing. Handing each others packs up and such. One spot, the trail required us to remove our overloaded packs and crawl on hands and knees, through a semi-cave. We spend the entire day driving out to the mountain, climbing up to the summit, and then backing down a little bit to find a camp site. He thought about performing the initiation on the summit, but thought better of it. Shoot, we almost fell off when we were still sober! We set up camp, put the warm beer someplace to get it a bit cool, and cook something to eat.

Once dusk starts to settle in, the initiation is explained to us. What have we gotten ourselves in to!!! He informs us that we must first chug an entire twelve ounce beer. He tells us that once we do that, we will then play a game. A drinking game called One Red Hen. There are a few renditions of it. He further explains that he will recite a line of the poem, and there are ten lines. We then take a SWIG of beer and recite the line. If he thinks we are not taking a large enough swig, we have to take another one. If we mouth off, or don't follow his instructions, we swig more beer. He informs us that while the three of us carried up eight cans of beer each, he carried up a flask of bourbon. This is used in case we run out of beer. At the time, I don’t think I’d ever drunk more than a beer and a half all at once and this guy is talking of running OUT at eight beers. So, we take turns. Swig, repeat “One red hen”. This is looking easy. Next person. Back to the leader. Who then says you take another swig and must repeat “one red hen, two cute ducks”. We proceed. We are doing just fine past round three and round four. Three Brown Bears and Four Running Hares. By the time we get to number five, we are popping the tops on our third can of beer and our leader lets this one fly!! “Five Fat Females sitting sipping scotch and smoking cigarettes”. Remember, you still repeat the first four! It was all downhill after that. Well, not really, we fell down the mountain, but not off it. I have no idea how we got past

Six sloppy slop shooters slopping out the slops
Seven Siamese sailors sailing the seven seas and singing sea shanties

Eight Allegheny alligators eating African apes

Nine naked Nanook natives, nursing Napoleons’ nipples

Ten, slit sheets, slit by Sam the Slithering sheet slitter.

But we did. They are burned into what is left of my brain.

After we finish this, our leader then asks us to attempt to sit back up and listen carefully. We then learn that we STILL have to attempt to answer the Turtle Initiation Questions. Then, and only then, will we be told the secret reply to the International Order of the Turtle question. OH man! Six or eight beers down and we just NOW get to the actual initiation!! I think we tried to hit him, but fell in the fire, tackled the tree, rolled into the poison ivy. He finally gets us sitting up, or at least within ear shot for his questions. Our replies to the standard Turtle questions, are probably the same for everyone. We blurt out all sorts of sexual answers and groan when we are told the “correct” answers, which are all bad jokes. Somehow, we survive this and head to our tents.

Rooms spin around when you are drunk off your keister. So do stars, tents, trees, and mountains. It was not a good night. I remember staggering off to a tree and throwing up burned hot dogs and beer. My tent mate was not as fortunate. He passed out in his sleeping bag and proceeded to throw up IN the bag. We had to drag him and the bag out. He had no recollection of this the next day, but quickly made his way down to the stream to wash himself and his bag. We laid our soiled bags out on some big rocks and tried to make our heads quit pounding. Our fearless leader decided to cook up some powdered eggs and bacon he’d brought up. Just looking at it, was enough to start another round of dry heaves. He then takes a shot of bourbon and has the nerve to ask us it we were ready to start drinking again. Around noon, we started feeling a bit better and climbed back up to the summit. It was funny looking down at the rocks below and seeing our gear laid out in the sun. By the end of the day, we we not feeling too bad. The next morning, we broke camp and decided to climb back down using a forest service road and skipping the rock scramble.

What was really funny, was when some jerkola friend asks me "Are You a Turtle" in front of my parents. I give the standard reply. My mom looks shocked, my friend and FATHER bust up laughing. Mom want’s to know what this nonsense is all about. My FATHER then reminds her of being a Turtle and proceeds to ask about where and when we were initiated.

Are you a Turtle? YBYSAIA….

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh reading this...yes I am a Turtle. We are group of about 15 ppl on the Island of Cyprus in Europe, who gained our qualification about 4 years ago from a Master Turtle who was visiting the island...however i must add ours is quite different.Perhaps a little obscene too. lol. Take care Turtle.