Douglas McIntire

Douglas McIntire

I skipped out on you again. I’m sorry — that makes twice now I’ve let my writing duties slide but I promise I have a good excuse. This son of Brunswick was finishing up graduate school and earning his master’s in education. Take that — you freelance copy editors who never forgot to drop me an email every time there was a grammatical faux pas.

I can easily bet none of my former Brunswick teachers had me pegged as joining their ranks and I’m sure there’s a couple that would come out of retirement rather than risk the off chance I took the helm of their old classroom.

I’m a little surprised myself — especially considering my graduating class of 1988 went out on such such a horrendous note, I’m frankly surprised school doors aren’t somehow warded against any of us reentering.

You see, it was back in a time when Project Graduation was still in its infancy. The school would work with the graduating class to help put on a memorable night, free of alcohol and protecting us from the dangers of drinking and driving.

What they failed to protect us from was international waters.

At the time the ferry to Nova Scotia was the Scotia Prince and we had booked our wholesome night, sailing the waves to Canada while Madonna and Duran Duran played to a dance floor full of exuberant, pubescent cherubs.

It didn’t happen that way, of course, and rumor had it, Brunswick was no longer welcome aboard the ferry after turning it into “The Love Boat” meets “Pirates of the Caribbean.” With the anarchy that ensued, we were quite lucky it didn’t become “The Poseidon Adventure” to boot.

To be honest, looking back after all these years, the ferry line had some blame to share in the whole mess as well. They were, after all, the ones who filled the ship with teenagers and then chose to open the bars and duty free shop shortly after our departure. There was that and someone had to let word slip that we had passed the three mile limit and we were now under maritime law and only beholden to the Pirate Code.

Unable to not take advantage of the situation, I found myself amid several other students who had already cleared most of the shelves in the duty free shop of their nips. Not knowing my liquor I grabbed some benedictine, triple sec and something minty.

In the decades since, I can honestly say, I’ve never craved that combination again. So, maybe mixology topped out the list of unlikely careers just above teacher back then.

I downed the concoction and waited for the magic. It never happened although I did gag for a while and I suppose the oxygen deprivation provided a slight buzz. Thoroughly let down, I returned to my cabin.

When I opened the door, I saw two boys and their girlfriends already occupying the space. I didn’t recognize any of them but then again, it wasn’t the kind of meeting where I stood for any length of time trying to make out distinct features so I closed the door and left.

Back on the dance floor, our class president was blotto. Girls were slipping on their heels and a bunch of kids were attempting to sing, “Don’t You Forget About Me,” putting extra, drunkanese emphasis on “Hey, hey, hey, hey — Oooooooohhoooowa.” Apparently, they had something better than triple sec and lots of it.

The open seas were not a friend of the intoxicated lot, as they pitched back and forth on the dance floor, occasionally succumbing to gravity, landing with a loud FWAP! Worse yet, some not only didn’t get their sea legs, but he movement combined with the alcohol caused some very public projections.

The rumors were even worse than the dance floor carnage, as someone came below deck and reported students were jettisoning lawn chairs over the side.

This went on until dawn and as we approached Freeport, Nova Scotia, kids were ready to take advantage of the lower drinking age and pillage the shops in town to stock up for the return trip.

Kids hit the ground like little drunken Marines storming a beach but they were too late. A contingent of teachers headed off the raiding party and sent them directly back to the ferry.

To this day, I have no idea how they got there ahead of us. Did the captain send out a distress call to the school?

I like to picture a bunch of teachers being lowered over the side in long boats and rowing furiously to reach shore ahead of us. Even now, I can see Mr. Blake standing like George Washington at the bow while the whole English department manned oars while dodging lawn chairs.

We made the news. No, nobody was very proud of themselves and when interviewed, to a one, claimed innocence with words like “them” and “some” and “their,” actions ruining it for everyone. It quickly came to be known as Project Intoxication as yet another batch of grads were sent off to adulthood.

This is where the teacher in me wants to go on about the valuable lesson we all learned but there was none. We didn’t really talk about it, went on our separate ways and prayed our children would be just a little bit brighter. So, if you see the mangled, aged wreck of a lawn chair along the coast this summer, stop and raise a toast to the class of ’88.

Douglas McIntire is a writer and teacher in the Midcoast. If your parent was a member of said graduating class and you don’t mind paying for the dirt on them, he can be reached at [email protected]

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