“Well you know we could run a drug test on all of you …” and we all instantly look at our shoes. Fortunately, we were with the headmaster’s son (even more fortunately, it was a prep school that didn’t want to make a lot of trouble for itself, reputation-wise, with families and we were those who showed “promise” — of the four of us who were sophomores, the three of us who weren’t kicked out later matriculated to Columbia, Pomona, and The University of Chicago, thanks Academy for sending us there!). “Dudes, we’re bummin we’re so blue,” Heath Cohen was saying, the senior who drove us (NOTE: Leaving school — for a period and a period only — was a SENIORS ONLY privilege, you couldn’t “sign out” if you were a junior, you wouldn’t dream of it) kept saying, as stoned as we were (one bowl turned into three turned into four … ) and using all the vernacular he was fond of and known for, some of which has endured in the culture at large, some hasn’t. “We’re nibbed in the bud!” Hands gesticulating. “Let’s face it!”
“Heath.” The Dean of Students had a relationship with him — Heath confided his home-life troubles to him, of all people, he was known to be a hard-ass, but it happened to be true — so he’d respond to him a certain way. (I could put a exclamation point there, but that wouldn’t convey it. Maybe better to put the single word, the name, in italics.)
This went on for a while.
ULTIMATELY, since we had to go to a “counselor” (our parents paid, for six weeks or so; we muttered noncomittally, then went back to our lives) and endure “Academic Probation” (a teacher had to sign after every class — EVERY DAY FOR THE *REST OF THE YEAR*). they got their “ringleader” and left the rest of us alone, see above. (“We’re just looking for the ringleaders,” the former-military seeming guy told me once in a special session after school, and all I could think is *That’s fucked-up*, we’re goddamn teenagers and all. Later, the “push the System” and “ringleaders” verbiage and accompanying worldview would come up rendered in “Gravity’s Rainbow” … I recognized it … the disciplinarian mind … the Nixon and Gordon Liddy era … ) But, he meant two people, one of which had gone with us and one of which hadn’t. The one who had ended up getting kicked out. The tension broke, and the ’80s started to wane and become something that turned into the early ’90s: “be excellent to each other” it said in Reed’s art room, painted there by somebody, Jeff Berman most like, a guy a year older than me who did o.k.; like Brock Vond’s snitch network program in “Vineland,” it was losing the interest of people in higher-up places, it was getting hard to fund and justify. Or so we thought, for a time.