My old pal Skippy had a knack for finding inexpensive entertainment, which was a benefit in our impecunious younger days.
One Friday afternoon, he and Mingo and I were sitting on the church steps watching the world go by when Skippy had an idea.
“Let’s go on a road trip!” he suggested.
“Why do we need to go on a road trip?” Mingo inquired reasonably.
“I’m sick of looking at the same old view. We need some adventure in our lives.”
We discussed the motion, but Skippy could be persuasive when he got a bee in his bonnet, so before long we found ourselves on the freeway headed for the Twin Cities.
Mingo’s cousin had an apartment in a northern suburb. The cousin was going to be out of town for his weekend of service as a soldier, but he consented to let us crash at his place as we had several times before.
After an uneventful journey down Interstate 35W, we secured a beachhead at the cousin’s apartment.
“OK,” Mingo said. “Now we’re here. Where are we going to have these adventures? At a club?”
“Well,” Skippy replied. “I’m a little short of cash at the moment.”
Mingo and I looked at one another. We had heard this before.
“You mean you’re broke?” he said accusingly.
“As the Ten Commandments,” Skippy replied happily.
Mingo uttered an exasperated sigh.
“Then how do you propose to pay for these adventures?”
“I have an idea about that,” Skippy replied.
“Enlighten us,” Mingo invited.
“It’s graduation season, prime time for all sorts of graduation parties.”
Again Mingo and I exchanged glances.
“Two small points,” Mingo observed. “One, we don’t know anyone around here, and two, we haven’t been invited to any parties.”
“You need to have faith,” Skippy responded. “People aren’t fussy about that sort of thing at grad parties. The parents are so happy their tax deductibles have made it to the finish line, they’ll celebrate with anyone. And besides, it’s not so important to belong in a place as it is to appear to belong.”
Mingo and I considered this. There was some truth to what he said. Soon, we were patrolling residential neighborhoods looking for prospects.
Skippy noted that it was easier to get lost in a large crowd than a small one, so we sought a bigger soiree.
“There!” Skippy exclaimed pointing to a sign on the side of the street announcing “Stephanie’s Party,” with an arrow. It looked promising so we followed it.
“Remember,” Skippy said, “avoid getting caught in a group of kids. The students know each other, so strangers tend to stand out. Make sure there are at least a few adults around. That way, they assume someone else knows who you are, and most people won’t want to offend you by asking who the blazes you are.”
We stopped at a large, amply landscaped house. The yard was lit up, and the garage door was open revealing a lavish spread within.
A couple who looked like an advert for gracious living appeared to be greeting newcomers. Skippy set a course straight toward them.
“Good evening!” he exclaimed. “You must be Stephanie’s parents. I’m Charles Wentworth. Stephanie and I were classmates. And I don’t believe you know our friends Richard Percival and Bennett McLane,” he said with a sweeping gesture, indicating Mingo and I.
“Good to see you men,” the father said beaming. “Jack Spencer and my wife, Dorthea.”
“Pleased to meet you,” the woman said cordially. “There’s plenty of food in the garage, so please help yourselves. You’ll find Stephanie around back by the pool.”
“Don’t forget to get yourselves a drink,” Jack added. “There’s a keg in the corner and booze on the bar.”
He looked like a golf pro, with a white polo shirt, deep tan, and a beaker of scotch in his left hand.
We thanked them for their hospitality and went to avail ourselves of the offered libations.
Jack only stocked top-shelf spirits, which made our hearts sing. We soaked up as much as we could without attracting attention, and tucked into some of the finest delicacies we had enjoyed for ages.
During this time, we mingled with the adults, but were careful to keep moving so no one got comfortable enough to ask embarrassing questions. Skippy prattled on about whatever came into his head, while Mingo and I said as little as possible and tried to remember the false names Skippy had inflicted upon us.
When things started to get too cozy, we thanked our hosts and made our exit. We never did meet Stephanie.
We repeated the process a couple more times at other parties with similar results.
We returned to the cousin’s apartment satisfied and happy.
“You see,” said Skippy with a wave of his hand. “Who needs money when you’ve got initiative.”