Wednesday, May 19, 2010

D.A.R.E. to be Different

As many of you may be aware, D.A.R.E. stands for "Drug Abuse Resistance Education". This was a program where officers would come to your classroom and tell you the dangers of drugs. It was a way for kids to learn about how drugs turn you into a loser and get you tossed in jail for just thinking about them. If you smoked or drank, then you were heading down a slippery slope towards harder drugs, prostitution, jail time, awesome sunglasses, anal rape (receiving, not giving), and probably death. It was a lot like being a celebrity, but more private and a lot less money involved.

What D.A.R.E. really did was teach you about all kinds of awesome drugs and what their effects were. As a 10-year-old kid, I had no idea what LSD or Ecstacy was, but a cop was suddenly coming to my class to tell me about hallucinations and tripping balls (probably not in those words). All I know is that when they started talking about how you could see dragons and shit while on drugs, my 5th grade mind suddenly found drugs incredibly intriguing. It was like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" come to life, only you just had to drop acid, sit back, and enjoy the ride! How could that not be awesome?

Oh yeah, the jail time and such. Come on, I was 10! Like I actually listened to everything. I heard hallucination and was immediately daydreaming I was Lancelot, riding my trusty steed to slay the dragon Yawgmoff, saving the princess Amgala and getting lucky (which at the time I assumed was like kissing but way grosser). D.A.R.E. pretty much held kids' attention right up until they started talking about the bad things drugs do, which is exactly what it shouldn't have done. In short, it was a disgusting failure as a preventative measure.

But, nonetheless, once you got done with it, you were able to go through a graduation ceremony. Which meant a certificate, pizza, cake, and (if you were lucky) a chance to write a speech to say in front of a crowd. Well, take a wild stab at who got chosen to speak? This guy. So I got pretty excited about being able to show off my awesome speech and let everyone know what kind of a great, drug-free kid I was going to be (read my previous posts to show how awesomely drug-free I ended up being).

Well, 3 years prior to this, my sister had gone through D.A.R.E. and never went to her graduation. Not because she didn't want to, but because my mom thought it was a waste of time and told her not to go. When it came time to go to my graduation, Mom still didn't want to go. Considering I had to give a speech, she decided to do what any good mother would do: she offered me five bucks not to go. Of course, being the avid drug resistance person I was, I refused the money and insisted on going regardless.

Nah, I'm just fucking with you. I took the $5. It's five dollars! When I was 10, that could buy an X-Men figure! I was gonna get Gambit instead of going to my stupid D.A.R.E. graduation! Ho-lee shit!

Years later, I would get to be president of Red Ribbon council (our high school's anti-drug program) and even participate in a mock accident scene we put on to show the horrors of driving drunk. I was such a role model for younger kids, it was actually kind of scary. All that in spite of the fact I never went to my D.A.R.E. graduation. Sure, I still got my certificate the next day, but it wasn't quite the same because I wasn't at the actual ceremony. But hey, it all worked out just fine.

That is, until I was arrested.

Now, the arrest itself wasn't anything remarkable. I was arrested for possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, and underage possession of alcohol. Yep, when I go, I go all out. Now I should point out it was found in the same car that I happened to be riding in and it wasn't actually mine (I swear officer). I did get charged because no one in the car fessed up (thus they charged all of us). Eventually I went to court, they "lost my case file", and all charges were dropped. No lie. Thank you, ineptitude of small town court systems!

The point of this meandering story is to tell the tale of my mother picking me up from the sheriff's station that fateful night. It was 1:00 AM and she came to get me. She said nothing to me the entire ride home, sitting in irate silence for a good 20 minutes or so. I was reeling at the verbal lashing I was going to get, wondering just exactly what was going to happen. I couldn't bear the thought of a lecture on this from my mother considering if I got a "B" on my report card, that warranted a 15-minute lecture itself. We pulled into the driveway of our house, and Mom stopped the car. She looked at me with that "I'm so disappointed I don't know what to say" look that all mothers have and my heart sank. She said only one thing:

"I just want to know why."

These words hit me pretty hard and it was almost worse than a huge lecture. I had to come up with something to respond with and it had better be good. I replied with the best thing I could think to say:

"I think it's because you made me skip my D.A.R.E. graduation."

Mom sat in stunned silence for a minute and I thought, for a brief second, she might actually slap me. Instead, she chuckled a tiny bit, and merely said, "Go to your room." I bolted up the stairs, heart racing, finally realizing what my brain had failed to filter out. How did I get away with it? I have no idea. I was asked to step down as Red Ribbon president (shocking), but the joke was on our school because it lost funding the next year and Red Ribbon was laid to rest. I had to go to court and, as I said before, charges were dropped. I had to go through some bad experiences, but hey, everything sort of worked out.

Years later, Mom asked me how I had worked up the nerve to say such a thing at a time like that. I said I figured I was already screwed, so I might as well try to make some humor of the situation. Because the charges were dropped, she was okay with everything that happened and I never got arrested again.

So in a way, skipping my D.A.R.E. graduation was probably the right thing to do. At least it made for a great snappy comeback.

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