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I was sitting shotgun in my own car, another Friday night for the teenage population in Lake Forest. I started the night by driving but throughout the night we would be switching off. I would drive for a little, and then another person would drive for a little, so we all took an equal share. Each week we would switch cars too, so the gas bill wasn’t just put off onto one person. It was a developed system, a tried and true system that was never discussed or verbalized, but worked. Almost always we could find something to do. But there are always those nights that fail miserably. Our group would get stuck packed into one car like sardines and drive around listening to ridiculous music waiting for a call from someone, anyone that there is something to do. The highlight is almost always meeting up with more people. For most of the night groups are meeting up, only to meet up with more groups. For us this creates a problem. Once our group reaches exponential numbers, we all realize no one wants everyone over to their house. And thus there is a problem to loom over all others problems: What to do, and where to put all these people.
So there I was, sitting shotgun in my own car as we drove around the backstreets of Lake Forest looking for more people to get together with to go bowling, laser tagging, hang out, or even go to the movies with. The air that night was frigid cold, but inside the car it was warm with the bodies off all of our friends. But it would get so hot in the car a window would lower frequently. We soon got another call to meet up with more people, looking around we realized there wasn’t enough room for more people in the car. We already had two people in the trunk, and four people as passengers! Blaring music and making jokes we drove around town wasting time before anything picked up. The problem with what to do was quickly solved as we fell back on our usual plan. We would meet at a place of food. Usually it was a McDonalds, either the green one in west Lake Forest, or the Fort Sheridan McDonalds.
“Chipotle? McDonalds? Just pick one!”
“Well, I already had dinner at home so I don’t care!”
“Ah, who is hungry? Let them decide!”
“Fine! We’ll meet at Chipotle!”
“Which Chipotle? There are three!”
That night, we had already picked up several groups from different areas around the town. It sounds obnoxious but it gives us something to do and somewhere to go before anything happens. Eventually, our group decided to split away from the others and head back to someone’s house. It ended up being my house. We played Rock Band with the bravest of us singing in front of everyone else. We eventually got around to putting in a movie for those who couldn’t enjoy the beauty of Rock Band. The phone calls would come in and I spent the entire night deciding who could come and who couldn’t come while also trying to manage the current “activities” of my friends.
“Hey, what’s up?” I asked into the phone while telling someone not to jump over my coach.
“Nothing really, who are you with?” The kid at the other end inquired.
“I’m with a lot of people. I’m too lazy to give names.” I would say back without wanting to talk.
“I hear everyone is over there, can I come over? I’m only with three people…” He tries to ask casually.
It was a number game more than anything. I only let a certain amount of people inside my house at any given time. Since some kids went home early, it would open up slots for other kids who still had nowhere to go. It was never fun being the host, and that night was no different. The drawback of our system is the fact that it is usually the same people who host. This can make the system very frustrating at times.
But by the end of the night everyone always ended up somewhere. Even if you got split off from your group and ended up at a house you had never been to before it was still somewhere to go. There are always people to hang out with. By the next morning, everyone realized that it was still a good night, because they had been with other people. Even if they hadn’t done anything, it was a Friday and nothing is still something.