I was 19 the first time I ever left the USA. My friend Dan had a 7 day pass or a break or something from the military academy he was attending. Through some long distance phone calls, that cost a few dollars, my 4 other friends and I found out Dan was going to be in staying with his roommate in Rochester NY. Rochester was only a 6 hour drive from Philly. Even better was that Rochester was only a 2 to 3 hour drive from Toronto. That's Canada. The legal drinking age in Canada in 1989 was 18 years of age. If you do the math it all equals a road trip.
The plan was to leave Philly at 9pm, arrive in Rochester around 3 AM, catch some Zs, pick up Dan, leave for Toronto at 9am, stop at Niagara Falls, and arrive in Toronto around 1 PM , perfect for lunch time. The schedule, we figured out, would give us the maximum beer consumption time while in Canada. The plan also called for us to stay two nights in Toronto. Where? We had no idea.
Five of us packed into Rob's station wagon and left at 9 PM. We stopped to get food and drinks for the drive and hit the highway. We were going to take shifts driving, 2 hours a person with some one else in the shotgun seat to keep the driver awake. Somewhere around 11:45 PM the plan got messed up. I was driving and Tober was shotgun. Tober kept falling asleep. Every 15 minutes or so he would wake up and smack me in the face. It was his way of making sure I was awake. I pulled over around 1:30 AM and we switched drivers. Tober was Driving and Jon was shotgun. We were only about 2 hours away from Rochester. I told Tober to just stay on the highway for about an hour and then to look for the signs for Route 390. The rest of the guys and I were going to sleep. About 5 minutes before the Route 390 signs both Tober and the shotgun fell asleep. Thankfully the highway we were on was straight. About 5 minutes after Route 390 they woke up. They kept driving and driving looking for signs. We drove about 2 and 1/2 hours out of the way.
The 5 of us eventually made it to Rochester, picked up Dan and headed to Canada. We stopped at Niagara Falls. The white foam at the bottom of the falls reminded us of the head of a beer and so after 20 minutes at one of the natural wonders of the world we jumped back in the car and drove to Toronto.
This is what I remember of Toronto. We stayed in a dorm converted to a hostile for the summer. We drank lots of beer. Someone slept in a laundry washing machine. We ate at Wendy's and were confused by the money exchange rate. We drank lots of beer. Two of us got lost in Toronto while the others walked the streets looking for them. We drank lots of beer. I got my ear pierced. It hurt. Bob got his ear pierced. Bob screamed louder than I did when his ear was pierced. We drank lots of beer. There was vomit and public urination. Budweiser is an import in Canada. We went to a night club. We ran out of beer money. Sweeny B shirts.
We left Toronto in bad shape. Not the city but us. We had an 8 to 10 hour drive ahead of us. We were only stopping for gas. Someone had to pee and decided to go in a Gatorade bottle. At about the 3 hour mark of the ride home the car really started to stink. It smelled of urine, beer farts, teenage body odor, exhaust fumes, vomit and an all encompassing funk.
When I returned to work at the insurance company I heard lots of whispers about my pierced ear. A man having an ear ring in 1989 in an office setting was still a bit, I don't know, taboo, I guess. I wore the ear ring for about 2 months, when my department manager hinted that I would never get promoted in the corporate world if I had my ear pierced. He told me he "could not conceive the idea that other managers would offer me a promotion" as well. I took it out. I never put another ear ring in again. That Halloween I dressed up as a sperm for work. I asked my manager if sperm could get promoted. I hoped he would use the word conceive again. He did not. He also ended up transferring me to another department.
Why am I writing all of this? Two days ago my left ear lobe started hurting. I felt what I thought was scar tissue. I squeezed the area and I must have burst a cyst or something in the area where the piercing was. I may have screamed louder than Bob did 20 years ago. Pinkish-white gross stuff squished out of my ear lobe. It smelled like the station wagon on our way back from Canada. Cloudy half-memories of Toronto oozed out of my ear.
There is hole in my ear lobe. Should I re-pierce it in attempt to get back some of my youth?