It’s my typical Friday night. My hands are digging into a bag of pretzel thins someone acquired by digging through the family pantry. I’m in a dark house that’s blaring music, full of partial strangers, and smelling strongly of beer and cheese and I‘m not too sure where the cheese is coming from. The speakers click off from down the hall, followed by nervous murmurs and then the ominous, “It’s a wrap!” Swarms of teenagers come pouring out of every aperature of a house I found by utilizing the helpful tracking abilities of Find My Friends.
Hopping into the car we hear it. First it comes quietly, more of a question, really, awaiting the approval of peers. The murmurs become louder and turn into shouts. “Summit!” “yoooo Summit!” “Get there!” Angsty teens yell out of car windows as the fleet assembles. Followed by a round of both cheers and groans, I grab the wheel begrudgingly and begin the long journey up to that tiny, windy, cold, platform on a hill.
The 10-15 minute drive (depending on how hard the driver is trying to impress his or her passengers) is full of sharp, blind corners, narrow road, the occasional near collision, and the accidental shining of one’s brights on an unsuspecting middle aged man in a robe taking his dog out to relieve himself. Once at the top, the drive in, or parade, really, is carefully orchestrated. Find the most profane rap song, make sure the bass is high enough to dual function as a back massager, and roll in either way too slow, so everyone can get a good look, or way too fast, to again, impress your passenger (if you have to try that hard…)
After parking and angling the car for the quick getaway when the 5-O inevitably arrive, my “squad” is ready. Casually approaching the throng of teenagers surrounding the few cars whose speaker systems aren’t already blown out, we try to make out faces in the pitch black.
I warily navigate myself through the gatherings which are carefully partitioned by grade. After a few awkward encounters with those kids I had class with last year and haven’t seen since, I give up on socializing. Hovering near a car’s open door, the cluster of kids jammed inside give off some much appreciated heat and I manage to stay somewhat warm.
At this point I’m pretty ready to leave but my friends haven’t gotten a good enough snap story yet, so here I am. To my right, an uncomfortable looking couple tries to maintain conversation over the howling wind while the girl attempts to hide her regret in wearing a skirt. To my left, a group of girls have engulfed themselves in a blanket and have an uncanny resemblance to a giant burrito. I immediately take back the thought, for now I am not only cold and bored, but hungry.
Somehow I’ve managed to make small talk with peer acquaintances for over an hour and maintain composure. Just when I fear I can’t handle the boredom any longer, the divine red and blue lights flicker against the mountain, casting shadows of salvation.
They scatter everywhere. It’s a mad frenzy back to friend’s cars, I hear someone begging for a ride down because they were left and someone else is frantically calling an Uber. My friends and I jump into the car. I happily pull into the train of red tail lights slowly making their way back down the mountain, with an annoyed but secretly thrilled Mill Valley police officer in tow (This is the most exciting thing he’s done all week!)
Everyone who doesn’t have an 11 PM curfew (and those few daredevils who do) flock to In-N-Out for a recap of the night’s events. Swapping gossip for greasy french fries and sharing laughs in a warm, lit restaurant, I can’t help but wonder why we didn’t just come here in the first place.