Eighth Grade Vandals

December 13, 2009
By , Mtn. View, CA
“I know, let’s go t.p.ing!” someone said as we discussed what to do on our very first night officially out of grade school. My eighth grade graduation was earlier that day, and now about 15 of my friends and I were avidly discussing what we should do that night. With that one remark, my eyes grew wide with anticipation as all my friends went into an excited frenzy. The excitement began to grow within me, to the point where it would soon overflow and bring me down with it. I could already picture myself as a stealthy agent on a mission to take down the houses in a white glory. I could picture myself rolling over the grass into the shelter of bushes to avoid detection. I was already making dialogue in my mind of friends exalting me endlessly for my astonishing tactics. I was riding on a cloud of bliss.
“O.k.” Olivia said and with that she went to go ask her mom to take us. A mom driving fifteen fourteen-year-old girls around to go t.p.ing at 12 in the morning… it could not get much more bad-ass than this. As the mom put on her coat, you could even tell that she was into this with her big puppy dog-like eyes revealing her childish willingness and excitement.
“SHHHHHHHH” is all you could hear as we neared our first victim’s house and a cloud of silence engulfed the car. We silently toppled out of the car and disbursed into our areas of the front yard as we went to work with our toilet paper. The house was starting to look like a winter wonderland with coats of snowy coverings on the lawn and white banners draped from the trees and bushes. Then there came lights. And the sound of a car… it was getting closer. I froze like a deer in the headlights. I always knew I was bad in stressful situations, but I didn’t expect myself to completely blank like that. As the car neared, and a million thoughts ran through my head on whether I should run, hide, or play it cool, I suddenly felt a yank on my leg that brought me down to the safety of a bush seconds before the car drove by. Close call.

With that house complete, it was time for victim number two; mission in progress. “This is the last house, ladies,” the mom informed us as we filed out of the car with moans of disapproval. We discretely as possible closed the gap between the house and ourselves as we were faced with a dilemma: how to get away without being caught. We could try to run, but that was way too far and in the open; a definite no we would be seen for sure. We could try to hide, but the front of the house was pretty bare and would not conceal all fifteen of us girls. Then I came up with the best idea I’ve ever had, or so I thought at the time.

“Let’s hide in the backyard!” I said in one breath, unable to keep in the excitement of my master plan. I had a glow of pride about this idea, but little did I know that this feeling would soon be reversed. We all tiptoed over to the fence as quietly as possible as we waited for our signal to advance. And then, with the green light, a hand reached up to unlock the latch, and it was too late. WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!

All the girls screamed and dispersed like a bunch of ants evacuating their flooded nest. It was a chaotic mess as everyone stumbled over each other, pushing and shoving, trying to get as far away from this dreadful black beast as possible. It did not help that this dog was black as night, and nearly undetectable in the darkness. Then suddenly, my feet stopped under me. I wanted to tell myself that this dog would be okay and to continue towards the car like all the other girls, but my conscience was telling me otherwise. The dog could get hit by a car and die, and it would all be my fault. I would never be able to live with myself.

“Come here, doggie,” I heard myself say. It was like I was watching myself from far away. Why was I doing that? I wanted to tell myself to run for it, and let the dumb dog figure it out for itself, but I couldn’t. I grabbed the dog by the collar and began my walk of shame. It was as though my body and my mind were on a different channel; my mind was the little red devil on your shoulder, telling you to do what seems best for you, but my body was the humble white saint on the other and the good always wins. As I walked the dog, hunched over so that I could get a good grip on his collar, I was overcome with embarrassment. It felt like a century as I made my way down the dimly lit street towards the ominous house at the end. I didn’t even know what I was going to say to the mom. The house was growing closer and nerves shot through my body as I tried to think of what to do or way. As we got closer, the dog pulled harder and harder to get back to what was familiar and took off to get to its owner, whose shadow was hardly visible in the doorway. I was left standing alone and awkward not knowing whether to talk to the person or simply run away. In the end, I managed to mumble “sorry” and quickly turned to get out of that awful situation.

I jumped back into the car, and soon the red on my cheeks from embarrassment had faded. All the girls swapped stories of how they had gotten away from the dog, or had been pushed and trampled over, or had almost been eaten alive. Looking back, the embarrassment of it all has gone away, and I try to tell it like I’m the hero who saved the dog, but in reality that night is simply remembered as a good time. The best night of our eighth grade year.

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