Kim Nelson: Fear & Loathing in Winnetka

We were driving through Winnetka and headed towards the lake when the booze began to take hold.

“This is awesome! Senior year rocks!” shouted my colleague Josh, riding shotgun.

We had just left Kaitlyn Schwartz’s house in Wilmette. She had thrown a colossal pool party while her parents were in Barbados. Decadence, total decadence. 150 high school kids running around in Dionysian glory, hopped up on all kinds of substances: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Rolling Rock, Budweiser from a keg. All bought on their allowances from Mommy and Daddy. Madness, all around us. And the vomiting, my god, the vomiting. These kids didn’t know Schlitz from shinola.

“Dude, I can’t feel my face.” My colleague burped loudly.

I had stolen the family Volvo and my colleague and I were on our way to find the American Dream. Where would we find it? Not in Winnetka, that’s for damn sure. We had all the opportunity in the world stretched out ahead of us on the open road. I even quit my summer job at the country club–what me, carry golf clubs all day for bad tippers? Fuck no, not today, thank you kindly.

“Dude, pull over, I think I’m gonna puke.”

My colleague was beginning to get The Fear. That’s why we had to get the hell out of this place, to avoid the fear and loathing in Winnetka.

We were ready for our journey. In the trunk we had half a case of Miller Lite, a couple of Heineken keg cans, a few warm Old Styles and Josh’s mom’s Xanax. The only thing that worried me was the Old Style. There’s nothing quite like a man on an Old Style binge, and I knew we’d end up getting into that rotten stuff sooner or later.

“Who’s that girl?” Josh pointed out the window.

My colleague had noticed the hitchhiker before I had, a blond girl in $300 jeans standing on the side of the road. I pulled over and let her jump in.

“Hey. Nice grocery-getter. Are these your wheels?” She wrinkled her nose in distaste.

“Where to?” I asked.

“Back to Kaitlyn’s house. I ran outta there when the cops came and now I have to get my car. It’s the red Volkswagon Jetta with the license plate XOXO16.”

“Drive closer to those mailboxes,” Josh said, leaning out the window with a baseball bat.

“You’ll have to forgive my colleague,” I said to the girl. “He just found out he didn’t get into Madison. Want a beer?”

“Do you have the low carb kind–oh my god I am way too sober to go home and deal with my mom right now,” she said. Suddenly, her cell phone rang. She picked it up and began jabbering into it. “Hello?…Hey what’s up slut?…Ohmygod I know–”

I didn’t know how long we can maintain. How long til one of us snaps and kills the others. Can they hear what I’m thinking? I hit the brakes hard.

“What is wrong with you, freak?? I dropped my phone!” the girl shrieked.

“I had to stop or I’d hit those polar bears crossing the street.”

“You’re insane, my dad’s a lawyer and if my phone is broken your ass is grass.” She looked out the window.  “Hey that’s my car. What is Shelby Parker doing by my car?! Don’t touch my car you fucking junior or I’ll undo your nose job!” She jumped out and ran off.

She was gone, finally. Our journey had suffered a minor setback. But not even that could impede us. I refuse to stop until we find the American Dream.

“Hey, let’s stop at that Denny’s at the next exit,” said my colleague.


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