“All that hate is gonna burn you up kid.”
“It keeps me warm”
It seems hard to believe now, but back in the day when Red Dawn came out, we really did think the world would end in some sort of World War III scenario. Being a teen during the waning days of the cold war we pretty much assumed that we were all doomed one way or another, so when we saw a movie about a bunch of kids taking to the hills to fight a guerrilla war against the Russians it resonated. What teen doesn’t fashion themselves to be fighting a guerrilla war against the adult world? After all, the thought of camping out in the woods with a bunch of guys, and gals, with lots of red meat, and firearms is as American as hotdogs, baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet.
In our own little world our enemies weren’t as clearly defined as European actors with bad Russian accents, and no one parachuted into the school yard to gun down our teachers, so we never did find a good excuse to arm ourselves and take to the hills. Instead, we substituted cases of tepid Old Milwaukee, and we took to the woods behind the Blind School. Sitting there on the old broken concrete rubble of construction waste, and learning how to shotgun a can of beer, we decided to christen the place “Wolverine Rock”. Rebels without a cause indeed. Even now I’m not exactly sure what we were rebelling against. Small town boredom most likely.
Like all kids in a small town, we couldn’t wait to shake the dust of the place from our shoes and leave for somewhere exciting. We were a bunch of overachieving working class kids, who were all on the college track. The “good” kids, that never got into much trouble, and did well in school. I don’t think you could have found a more straitlaced group of “rebels” if you tried.
It was the end of our Junior year, and we were all dying to get out of town. It was time to start looking at schools, and making plans for life outside the safety of our little bubble, and we couldn’t wait to start. We had no idea just how good we had it. 30 years later, I think most of us would gladly trade a few weeks of real life for another few weeks of life in May of 1985.
We are scattered to the four winds now. Of the 9 people that sat around drinking that night, not one of us is left in B-town. Only 3 are still in Western New York. The rest in Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, California, and Minnesota. A Diaspora of Batavians, boring people from other states with our sordid tales of small town life. I cannot tell you how much I wish we could all get together again for just one night. No spouses, kids, or adult responsibilities, just hanging out in the woods drinking beer and acting stupid. Was life ever really that simple? Will it ever be that simple again?
So instead, as the sun slips below the edge of the world tonight, and the stars blink on overhead, I will sit on my back porch and raise a toast to you all, wherever you may be. Then looking up at the sky above, I will howl in my best Patrick Swayze imitation, “Wolverines!”