Never, and I mean never underestimate the ability of teenaged boys to make bad decisions. Put a group of teenage boys together and that potential goes up exponentially.
It was in the late summer of 1981 when that group of teenaged boys decided to get in my dad’s not quite finished batch of homebrewed muscadine wine.
At this point let me say: Hi. I am Butch Renfroe and I was one of the teenaged boys in this story. There were three of us, which is I guess the bare minimum of what could accurately be called a “group of teenaged boys”.
Ty, Joe, and me. Last names are not used here, but let me just say that if you knew me at all back then, you know who the other two guys are.
Anyway, let me set up the scene for the drama that is about to play out here with this list of bullet points:
- Mom and dad were out of town to visit my grandparents in Oklahoma
- I was told to not have any company over and that my older sister would be checking in on me
- I did indeed have company over after my sister checked in on me then went back to her house
- Dad had a batch of muscadine wine brewing
- Bad choices ensued
My folks had earlier in the summer acquired a large amount of muscadine grapes. Most of the fruit was made into jelly and canned, but enough was left for dad to mash up and put into two huge stone crocks that were made for home wine making. Dad had mentioned a couple of days before that he would probably be bottling up the wine as soon as he got back into town.
As I showed my friends the two big crocks of unstrained, unfiltered wine. Someone had the great idea of sampling the batch. After all, there was a whole lot of wine here and surely my dad would not miss a little bit being pilfered. So we, being the untrained but highly motivated types, decided to filter the wine through a couple of clean dishtowels into one of those old Tupperware 2-quart plastic pitchers that most of your folks had in the 70’s and 80’s. I think this process got most of the lumps out. Mostly.
Being the sommeliers in training we were, we served the vintage over ice in yet another great Tupperware item popular back in the day: the 32 oz. tumbler. We sampled, and it was not bad to our sophisticated young palates. So we all got our big tumblers full of wine and sampled it. Then we sampled some more. Then some more. Again.
It was at this point I need to point out that this was a school night. See, the reason I had not accompanied mom and dad to Oklahoma was because school had just started. Besides the school work I may miss, I was also in the marching band and we were busy learning our new routine for the season. But the important take away is: It was a school night.
Back to the narrative.
Things got fuzzy real quick. Much fun was had by all. Lots of laughing and joking and carrying on. Ty and Joe at some point stumbled down the hill to Ty’s house where Joe would spend the night. I was attempting to retire to bed because as I have pointed out, it was a school night. My sister might cover for me, but I had no doubt that if the school called to enquire about any absence, I might get in trouble. So, with that knowledge, even in my highly altered state I decided that come what may, I was going to get on the school bus in the morning and go to class.
I attempted to go to sleep, but my bed decided to start doing spins and twirls. At least that is what it felt like whenever I closed my eyes. After a few minutes of my bed doing somersaults, my stomach started sending me subtle messages like, “You idiot!” and “Bad idea, Sparky!”. Finally, my stomach had enough and told me things were about to happen. Really bad things.
While throwing up is never fun, the dry heaves are another thing altogether. After driving the porcelain bus for… oh I don’t know …an eternity or so… I managed to get back into bed and pass out. I slept for what felt like at least 10 minutes of good quality sleep before an air horn started going off right beside my ear. At least that is what the alarm clock sounded like to me.
My head. What had I done to my head? There was some bass player from a metal band in my head pounding out rhythmic riffs with every beat of my heart. And light! Oh my how the light hurt my eyes. I could only open them just a bit and the morning sunlight streaming through my bedroom curtains was like a little ray of God’s judgement!
My head hurt. My eyes hurt. My hair hurt!
I managed to get into the shower and get dressed. The bus trip to school was hell. When did the people on here get so loud?
I am not sure how I made it through the first half of the day. At one point, I passed Joe in the hallway between classes. He looked like I felt. We just looked at each other and never said one word, the but look we gave each other spoke volumes. Basically though, the look said, “We are stupid” and “That was a very bad idea”.
By the time lunchtime rolled around, I had started to feel human again and thanks the the near miraculous constitution of a teenager, by the time I got home I felt fine.
I managed to clean everything up from our night before, and mom and dad got home the next day. If dad ever got wise to the fact that we drank about a gallon of his wine, he never let on. But let’s face it, I learned a lesson anyway and any punishment he could have legally doled out on me would have paled in comparison to the pain of that first, horrendous hangover.