The Crazy Things We Did To Skip School (And Get Away With It!).

By the time I had entered Jr. High, my adolescent brain was in full delinquent free-fall! I wanted to skip class, throw rocks at freight trains, chug beer and stay up all night! And my friends and I did our very best (or worst, depending how you choose to look at it), to achieve said rebellious nirvana.

We did indeed huck rocks with alarming regularity at passing trains as they meandered through town. Why we thought this was so hilarious is a concept now beyond my understanding, but at the time — it was lawless bliss!

On occasion, we managed to wrangle a beer or two at the expense of my older brother — unbeknown to him at the time, of course.

It was later into the school year, and summer was fast approaching, so our motivation to sit through laborious lectures and overhead presentations was dwindling rather percipitously. And that brings me to the Milk Run. An annual happenstance hallmarked by gaggles of student bodies tossed out onto school property and the surrounding area to embark on a planned run as a way of raising money for the school district.

This simulacrum of monetized athleticism was to take place on a random Wednesday in June. We’d known about it for weeks, and for weeks we lamented in each other’s company our shared disinterest at the idea of forced participation. It was during one of these colourful diatribes that an idea was born — We. Weren’t. Doing it! Simple, right? No…

Let me explain, and I’m likely going to age myself here…

When I was in Junior High, the Jerky Boys were at their zenith, and a debaucherous rabble that went by the name of, “CKY,” was emerging through granulated video clips that streamed over tenuous dial-up internet connections. The Jerky Boys were masters at prank phone calls and hilarious antics over the radio. CKY, now better known as the cast of, Jackass, was just starting out and gaining notoriety within the world of skateboarding, and pranking unsuspecting strangers. These ideologies and their skillful implementation were held in high regard by myself and my friends. Again, I don’t know why…

Regardless, our plan was as such: on the morning of the Milk Run, my friends would all congregate at my place, something that was done on countless mornings prior to that one, as I lived closest to the school. When they arrived, we would each take turns calling the school and pretending to be the respective parents of whomever we were calling in for.

Knowing that the school had caller I.D., we utilized the surreptitious practice of dialing [star] six-seven prior to initiating a phone call — a neat little trick for making an outgoing call set itself to “private number”. I felt like Danny Ocean, before even knowing who that was. The atmosphere was ripe with heist-like euphoria. We attempted several calls, but each one ended abruptly because none of us could keep a straight face or contain our laughter.

Eventually we managed to reign it in and place the first call. My friend, Dom, called on behalf of our buddy, Robbie.

*Ring… Ring…*

“Hello, J.L. Jackson head office, how may I take your call?”

Dom began to speak in an accent I can only describe as faintly Eastern European, with flecks of hyperbolized Minnesota! It’s like he had eaten something spicy, gross, and scornfully hot at the same time, and then decided to engage in colloquial exchange. After hearing Dom utter a mere three words, I dove for my pillow and buried my face into it like an ostrich fleeing danger. My muffled bouts of laughter was met with Dom vexatiously swatting at my arm in a desperate plea to get me to “shut the hell up!”

The first call was done. Dom, despite horrific linguistics had somehow managed to pull it off, Rob was now in the clear. Which meant it was his turn to call for Dom.

*Ring… Ring…*

“Hello, J.L. Jackson head office, how may I take your call?”

“Yes, hi. This is…” Before Robbie could continue, an uproarious escapee of laughter fell from his lips. Despite best efforts at containing it, it set itself free. He pulled the phone away from his face and tried to shield the office call taker from what was transpiring by covering the bottom end of the receiver.

None of us could contain ourselves. Robbie had one of those laughs that could generate levity at a funeral, it was hilarious as well as contagious.

A miracle happened that day; by some unexplainable hiccup from the universe, Robbie regained his composure and went on to craft a masterful excuse, freeing Dom from the bondage of forced exercise. He hung up the phone and it was now down to Drew and I.

I decided I’d volunteer, and picked up the phone and began dialing.

“What are you going to say?” Drew asked. I dismissed his query with over confident gesticulations making it appear as though I had already planned out what I was going to make up — I hadn’t the foggiest idea!

The phone rang.

*Ring… Ring…*

“Hello, J.L. Jackson head office, how may I take your call?”

A slight wallop of fright punished my insides, but I managed to overcome it and started talking. I lowered my voice and pretended to be Drew’s dad.

“Yes, hello there. My name is Mr. (Last Name Redacted), and I am calling because my poor Drew is sick as a dog. He’s caught a fever and has been throwing up all morning. I just don’t think, even in spite of my telling him to, that he’ll be coming to school today.”

The call-taker thanked me and noted that Drew will be marked as absent for the day. It worked!

We celebrated with congratulatory high-fives and jeers, but the job wasn’t done yet… Drew still had to phone for me.

He smirked at me as I handed him the phone, I didn’t like that look in his eye. Drew had been my bestfriend since grade six, I knew when he had mischievous intentions boiling afoul within him. We shared a brief unspoken conversation with our eyes, he ushered to me to relax, and trust him. This was the last call that needed to be made, and we’d be home free to traipse about town uninhibited, so I acquiesced and nervously handed the phone to Drew. He began dialing.

*Ring… Ring…*

“Sheesh, busy day today… Hello, J.L. Jackson head office, how may I take your call?”

“Ah, hello. How are you?” Drew asked while causing a grit to his timber and forcing a facsimile of British inflections.

“Very well sir. How may I help you?”

“Well, you see, I am Matthew’s uncle. Matthew Heneghan. He won’t be in today…” upon hearing Drew’s utterance, I began to feel a wave of relief, he was behaving himself. “Yes, he hurt his coccyx last evening while at ballet recital. I guess that unitard doesn’t offer a lot in the way of protection to a dancers bottom!”

My eyes widened with rage! Robbie and Dom fled the room, barely able to stumble due to laughter induced weakness. Drew continued…

“That boy… he was performing aggressive arabesques when an ill-timed grand-jeté caused our little dancer to land right on his boney rump! So, no running today, I’m afraid.”

After a few cordialities, Drew hung up the phone and brandished his million-dollar smile and said, “you’re good to go. They don’t expect to see you today.”

I stared blankly at him for a moment, I wasn’t sure whether to be pissed, or grateful. I mean, the plan worked, we were all in the clear — although I was now a fucking ballet dancer with an affinity for aggressive arabesques, or whatever the hell…

Drew chuckled and tapped me on the arm. Still miffed, I scowled back at him. Nonetheless, job done. Mission accomplished. Or so we thought…

We were about three-quarters of the way toward the mall when a collective paranoia set in. I think we’d all been feeling it during the walk to the mall, but none of us wanted to acknowledge it. We began to feel like everyone was watching us, each car that drove by could have easily been one of our parents or teachers. Soon, everyone that wasn’t part of our quattro started to look as though they knew what we had done. It almost felt illegal.

The tipping point was a sudden stoppage from all of us as a police cruiser slowly creeped on by. In retrospect, I don’t even think he looked at us, but to us, in that moment, I was sure he was calling for back-up and that the jig was up.

“Hey… should we… should we just go to this stupid run? I don’t really feel like going to the mall…” Dom posed the query. Unanimously we all conceded to that notion, turned around and high-tailed it back toward the school.

It was the one time in my life that I can recall feeling a sense of relief upon entering the doors of J.L. Jackson Secondary Junior High School.

To top things off, we all got called to the principals office at the end of the day. At some point while we were out on the Milk Run, the secretary must have noted the oddity in phone calls that morning and presented her findings to the principal, and since each of our names came across his desk, he felt inclined to investigate a little further.

We had a reputation for being little shits, well, I definitely did. And with that, the principal felt as though he had seen through our little ruse — and in fairness, he had! Thing is, we WERE present at the Milk Run. So even though he had this glaring call-sheet of evidence, he was also confronted by a perfectly legit attendance sheet, replete with each of our names as being marked “present” for the duration of the Milk Run that day.

Consternation befell our inquisitive principal, but ultimately he had nothing to go on, so we were set free.

And that, my friends, is how NOT to skip school!

Also, whatever you do, no matter what… don’t EVER let Drew place the call!




One thought on “The Crazy Things We Did To Skip School (And Get Away With It!).

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  1. I remember when you phoned Jenny Craig and told them you were so fat all you could wear was an old bedsheet. Good times!

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