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My stepson became a son when he paid for my dinner. He became an adult when he moved out. He became a man when he stopped doing his laundry at our house. When he lost his job and returned home, he became a household fixture. Then his girlfriend moved in and he became homeless, when my husband, Michael, and I kicked them both out. We still see Chris about three times a week, when he stops by to eat.
Chris is the world’s perfect boy, excuse me, young man. Everyone looks up to him, admires him. Once in a while, though, he makes a mistake. The biggest mistake of his life was when he held a forbidden party at our house one Saturday night when we were gone.
To his dubious credit, he did ask beforehand if he could do it. And we said no. He was twenty-four, but could not be trusted to have an unsupervised drinking party because at that time, he was still doing his laundry at our house. There oughta be a law.
Saturday (the day Chris had originally planned to have his party that would not be at our house) we went to Pismo Beach, a five hour drive from our home. Once we arrived, I checked my Facebook page for messages.
Facebook, if you don’t know, is a social networking website with over 900 million users. I avoided Facebook until a few years ago when I was forced to join because so many people had begun using it instead of email. The website is an ocean of private information people freely share because they think no one’s listening. Not true: I read in a news magazine and other news sources that Facebook was cited in one out of four divorces.
I had a few messages. My mom sent a photo of herself wearing a new bra I’d bought her, my sister sent a photo of herself with accidental pink hair she meant to dye red, and my best friend, Myra, sent an old college photo of us and our boyfriends drunk as hell in our dorm room.
I wondered if Chris was still having his party and if so, where it was. So I looked at my son’s Facebook page.
There on his Facebook photo page entitled “Bastille Day in Alamo” was an invitation announcing an “Ale Party” on Bastille Day, July 14. My husband and I looked at each other. It was July 14. On the front of the invitation was a photo of our lovely home in Alamo. Other postings gave our address, directions to the house, and there was a nice photo of Chris in a beret, raising a mug and holding a bag of McDonald’s french fries.
My husband and I immediately went into emergency mode. “Call the police!” I cried.
“Yes, call them so they can arrest me before I kill him!” shouted Michael.
We left about fifty messages on Chris’s cell phone, but no one called back. So we threw together our luggage and sped home.
It was 10 p.m. when we returned to our house. Noise and cars were everywhere, in the driveway, on the front lawn, up and down the street. Young people wandered, shouted and swapped sloppy kisses behind our oleander bushes. A few disapproving neighbors stood outside their houses watching.
When we walked into our own house, two young men challenged our right to be there. “It was,” they said, “a closed party.” It was obvious that the party was plenty open to young people and we didn’t fit that mold.
With the help of an old Boy Scout bullhorn, my husband announced to the party guests that we were Chris’s parents and we had called the police. The house exploded with healthy young bodies sprinting for cars. Inside, we could hear bottles crashing as people threw them in their haste to escape. Tires squealed painfully and the revelers were gone, except for a few stragglers who had not found their rides. These lost souls wandered down the street, then disappeared.
I will not go into the cost or the headache of repairing the damage from Chris’s party. After it was done, we presented the bill to Chris and took away his laundry privileges. By the time he was twenty-eight, he had paid it all off. How proud we were that day.
Chris is now thirty-one. For his birthday every year, I buy a huge basket and fill it with different kinds of ale. Sure we forgave him. What else could we do? After all, Chris is the world’s perfect son.