I was with Jimmy the second time I got drunk, and I’m pretty sure it was his first. My first time was quite by accident. It began with the girl next door daring me to eat chili peppers. After frying my gullet with nature’s wicked spices she got into her parents liquor and poured me some nasty chasers. The little vixen brought out all kinds of unidentified fluids then challenged me to chug the stuff down. I only remember these concoctions tasting like kerosene as they ate their way down my tender throat with the fury of Hell’s fire. But as any brave, twelve year old trooper would do, I took it like a man. The last thing I remember was waking up on my front lawn hours later. I crawled into my house then into bed where I slept an entire day away. My first time drunk also led to my first ever hangover. I remember staring at my own green reflection in toilet water as I spouted off like a seasick beluga. I never wanted to drink again after that but Jimmy convinced me otherwise.
We stood anxiously in front of the shady liquor store on the boulevard. There the two of us waited for the perfect stranger to arrive onto the scene, one who’d be willing to help us in our mischievous errand. We kept our eyes out for anyone with that tell-tell look, an appearance of being non-threatening, compliant and sympathetic to the cause of teenaged wine bibbers. Anyone sophisticated or conservative or mature looking need not apply. Naturally, this ruled out any old geezers with gray or white hair or shiny baldheads. Slacks and blazers was also a deal breaker. This was a job that required somebody young and hip. Long hair, facial whiskers and worn out bell bottoms would identify the chosen one for us. After awhile the ideal candidate caught our attention. A shaggy hippy drifted out from the icehouse with his hippy-chick girlfriend clutched close to his side. They met our most crucial criteria: hip and over twenty-one, but not over thirty. “Can you get some wine for us?” Jimmy begged with eyes drooping like a love-starved basset hound. Our new hippy friends were more than eager to oblige us. However, they thought it might look a little conspicuous if they went back inside the liquor store for a second purchase especially after being seen talking to a couple of suspicious fourteen year olds. But our bushy partner in crime had a plan. Jimmy and I got into the backseat of his rusty old heap and we headed off to the market up the boulevard.
Our hairy pal rolled in front of the store then held out his hand over the tattered car bench. I thought he was giving me five, you know, the ol‘ hippy handshake, so I slapped his palm with mine. “No, the money!” he quickly corrected me. Feeling like a complete idiot I handed him the cash. Once our flower children chauffeurs disappeared into the market Jimmy broke into total hysterics. He continued laughing and repeating, “No, the money!” After about ten straight minutes of Jimmy busting his gut our hippy friends finally returned to the beat up rattrap we were sitting in. They climbed up front and presented us with an odd green bottle which resembled an overgrown gourd. It had a large round base with a long narrow neck and on the label it said Spanada in big happy letters. I knew this was quality stuff when I didn’t get change back for my two dollars. After doing our evil bidding the kind couple drove us to Sherman Oaks Park so Jimmy and I could offer a toast to peace, love and all that is groovy. We found a patch of grass to sit on then quickly unscrewed the cap and shared the Hawaiian Punch of fine cabernets. The only thing missing were candles and Englebert Humperdink crooning on the transistor radio. We sipped into the evening’s twilight until we were left with a lukewarm blend of sangria and backwash swirling at the bottom of our pretty glass gourd. And all night long Jimmy kept repeating, “No, the money!” Then he’d break out into utter hysterics.
The hour was getting late and the sky was growing dark and eerie. With a half bottle of Spanada sloshing around in each of our considerably small bellies, Jimmy and I decided to roam the dim lit park. That’s when we ran into a couple of girls from school. Neither Jimmy nor I had ever met them before but were very aware of their reputations. These were the girls moms warned their sons about. For one, they dressed extremely daring. The ultra-revealing outfits they typically wore did not appear to be a show of sensuality. There was a darker side to it. It seemed to be a blatant act of defiance, a statement against social norms. Unless one had a dark side it did more to repel lookers that to attract them. I’m reminded of a popular folksong of our day by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young called, ‘Teach Your Children.’ There is a line in that tune which states, “You… who are on the road… must have a code… that you can live by!” I would never suggest that CSN&Y should be considered poster boys for standards and values but even they promoted ideals that were widely embraced by the mainstream of secular society. The risqué style of Lisa and Diane led many kids to believe they had no code to live by. Furthermore, it appeared as if they were retaliating against any established codes of public decency. Any person with a heart of God would have wept for these two girls. They could not have advertised any more plainly that their souls were in desperate need of salvation. But that’s not how Jimmy and I saw things at the time. From our perspective, these were the kind of girls to run from.
If their fashion statement wasn’t shocking enough, they were also said to be witches. Just the kind of gals you want to run into late at night in the dark! These juvenile broom jockeys, Lisa and Diane, soon introduced us to an even drearier kind of darkness, one which we really had no interest in. It actually haunted us. They each explained how both their mom’s taught them from an early age the art of witchcraft and how to cast spells and even mentioned names of people at school they had pronounced curses upon. Some were teachers; others were classmates we both knew. They’d pluck hair out of their unsuspecting heads then use it in their efforts to cause harm. If that wasn’t creepy enough we were totally freaked out when these wayward witches presented their ‘statement of faith’; it was anti-faith and anti-Christ in the most literal sense.
Just as I had remembered Stan Angel sharing ‘light’ the young Elvira’s shared ‘darkness’ with Jimmy and me under the eerie shadows of a moonlit sky. I didn’t know it at the time but Satan worshippers have a gospel message of their own. It is one they even consider to be good news but to the discerning it is as damning as it is blasphemous. Lisa told us that Jesus was actually a son of Satan. She went on to tell us that God was so jealous of the devil that He went on a mad campaign to convince the world that Christ was really His son. Then she advocated the idea that God was using the false promise of eternal life as an attempt to lure people to follow Him. Now I don’t know if all Satanists believe this garbage about Jesus or if it is just some twisted lie propagated by some. All I know is that it was quite frightening and extremely disturbing to a junior higher intoxicated with sangria.
Even though I was fully backslidden by this time God clearly had His hand upon me. As I listened to Lisa and Diane carry on with all their satanic mumbo-jumbo I sensed the presence of something, no, Someone more powerful than darkness. Though I was not at a place in my life where I was seeking righteousness, I surely didn’t want any of this sewage. I didn’t buy it. It stunk to high heaven and the good Lord would not allow me to have anything to do with it. He would allow me to toast the moonlight with a jug of Sangria and he would permit me to pass out in my own puke but no way was He handing off the pink slip to my soul. I was His whether I wanted to accept it at that moment or not.
Sometimes I think the greatest evidence for the existence of God is seeing what mankind is reduced to when God is subtracted from his life. I see what my life became when I walked away from the Lord and it literally haunts the hell out of me. I never want to go back to that place. And when I think of two fourteen year old girls worshipping evil as part of a family tradition it truly says something to me about the heart of fallen man. It’s really quite horrifying. Such a depraved lifestyle bears undisputable testimony that there is an evil force at work in our world. I for one firmly confirm there is a counter-force that can overcome this dark power. Call me old fashioned if you will but I believe good still conquers evil. And I am convinced that there is a master creature behind the power of evil and a greater Master Creator behind all that is good. I also have come to understand that this Master Creator even loves lost little witches and gave His life for them that they might live.