Prose: When We Would Wag

From hiding in a boiling hot emergency fire exit in an attempt to smoke pot to hiking up a tropical mountain waterfall to drink $5 bottles of wine.

BY Mathew Bell.

Wagging school has produced some of the most influential experiences leading up to my adult life. From hiding in a boiling hot emergency fire exit in an attempt to smoke pot to hiking up a tropical mountain waterfall to drink $5 bottles of wine. Whether we ended up shrugging off the consequences or faced them head on in the principle’s office with inverted body language and a sorry not sorry look on our faces. We laughed, we worried and we will remember these stories forever.

One time in year 11, one of my mates decided he didn’t want to be at school for the day and would rather go get stoned, ah what a delightful choice I was faced with. This friend had to be one of the coolest kids at school and I was his accomplice. He was a part time apprentice chef, he had the charisma of an accomplished bard and we had money, smokes, a place and a plan.

The decision was finalised once we jumped the fence, ran across the road like a couple of stray cats and set forth into the city. All we had to do was encounter one of the older hoodlums that hung around, give them some quick cash or a bud and hike home to satisfying safety. But the shops were bare; we checked all the spots, shrugged and hid for a smoke in the lower parking lot to think.

That’s when a lady approached us, a thin hippy with floral clothes, probably in her thirties. She asked for a cigarette and my mate hustled out a question of his own. “Do you know where we can get some weed?” I vividly remember my friend asking. She replied with a yes, beckoned us to follow and we patrolled through the shopping center with purpose. Just before we left the shops she stopped, we stopped, we then watched as our leader stepped towards one of those candle scented product stores and smeared a thick sample of organic cream all over her face. Puzzled and a little grossed out, we were then allowed to continue.

Our next stop was a payphone across the street, my friend gave the lady some coins to call her contact but there was no answer. A few more calls and our new destination became a couple of suburbs out of the city. No worries for us. That was where my mate lived. Lead by this lady to the nearest taxi rank, she asked if we could buy her a drink as we passed a street side smoothie stall. With the lady’s helpfulness and our hopefulness in mind, my friend gave in to her request. 7 dollars down, we hopped in a cab and eventually arrived at yet another payphone. My mate paid for the ride, which must have been another 20 bucks out of his pocket, being the champion that he is.

So this strange lady, who made small talk every now and then with my mate during our journey, called her friend once again until the phone rang out, she left a message and informed us that we were probably out of luck. Disappointed and quickly regretting our decisions, the lady inquired, “How much are you guys after?” and we replied with “Just a stick”. That’s when the cream smeared; smoothie guzzling flower child casually clarifies. “Oh, you said weed, I thought you said speed. I can get weed back in town.” My mate and I shared a momentary glance of “what the fuck”, declined her invitation to walk back to the city and left her. Defeated and frustrated, we settled for smoking some dope ass resin my mate had remaining at his house.

That’s basically the end of the story, we got high, laughed and questioned each step of this weird experience. With no real consequences apart from wasting our money and time, we were able to look back at that day and laugh. It could have gone better, it could have turned out much worse, imagine if that person had answered the phone. We’d have either gone to their house and had to explain the situation to a serious drug dealer or they would have come to us and these 2 kids had stuffed them around. We also wonder why this adult was so keen to help a couple of young students get hold of heavy drugs, surely she had plans for the day, but ended up on a huge detour to nowhere, probably to get her fix.

So we look back confused at our life lesson and find the comical side of things, often referring to this lady as a crack head. Did we learn more than we would have that day in school? Probably not, but this memory sticks with the both of us. It’s an experience that has influenced our decisions from then on, and just one of the stories I enjoy telling of when we would wag.

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