Scenes from a Life: Breaking Curfew

I’ll begin by admitting that aside from never picking up my room, doing my own laundry, making my own bed, or helping with yard work, I was basically a good kid. I babysat my younger siblings for ten cents an hour. I got good grades. I didn’t test my parent’s patience very often. By the time I got to high school, I had never been grounded or had a privilege taken away. There was nothing to rebel against.

In tenth grade, a mixed bunch of us ranging from ninth to eleventh grade created a motley social group that started meeting on weekend nights down at the beach. There were a few unrequited crushes going around, but no one in the group was dating anyone else. No one was sneaking off for sex. No one was drinking, at least not in this gathering. It was an amazingly innocent group of kids who gathered around a fire ring and hung out to talk. Afterwards, we’d go back to one person’s house within walking distance and, if we were in a mischievous mood, make prank phone calls involving no obscenities. Remarkably innocent.

I had no official curfew, but on the other hand, I had no driver’s license. I usually had to call my parents for pick-up. On one particular evening, we’d lost track of time. It was about midnight when the doorbell rang. “It’s for you, Liz,” the host boy called out. My blood ran cold when I realized the time. At the front door stood my mom in her blue bathrobe and slippers.

Everyone saw.

“Time to come home,” she said patiently. She didn’t scold me. She didn’t ground me. She didn’t need to. Message received. And there was still nothing to rebel against. A brilliant tactic.

Epilogue: Thirty five years later (this past weekend, to be exact), I was at a high school reunion and EVERYONE in the group remembered my mom showing up in her pajamas as vividly as I.