The voice inside the house said, "I have a gun."
A lot of things preceded this moment. Like the joy and wonder that I experienced upon waking the morning after my older brother's friends had TP'ed the trees and bushes and anything that stood still long enough long enough to be festooned with toilet paper. I was made aware at that time of the grand tradition of TP and how as much as it seemed cruel and borderline delinquent, it was really a grand show of acceptance. It was explained that you didn't expend that kind of energy and time on your enemies. That's was the purpose of eggs. In those days, I remember hearing stories of late night raids that inevitably ended with the number of rolls used to decorate someone's yard. "That one? Oh, it was twenty-five rolls. Epic."
When my brother was elected Drum Major, his buddies descended on our house that certainly must have put a dent in the supermarket inventories across the city. It wasn't just a prank. It was a celebration. A tribute. Every branch covered. The cars in the driveway looked like homecoming parade floats. The morning breeze made each tendril stand out like a white flag. We surrender. You got us. You got us good.
I went along on a couple of the retaliations. I remember one night when the girl whose house we were festooning came out on the porch - not to chase us away - but to take pictures of the event. With all this fun and good will, why wouldn't I want to carry it forward to my own high school experience?
On one particular evening, I was regaling my friends with tales of my brother's crazy antics and it occurred to us that we had just selected a new Drum Major. What better way to ring in a new era than to show how much we appreciated him than to relive those thrilling days of yesteryear? With nary thought or plan, we piled into two Ford Broncos and rolled out into the night, in search of a couple dozen rolls of toilet paper.
We were quiet, but not too quiet. We were teenage boys throwing great streams of white into the nigh sky. We giggled. We joked. We climbed into trees. We were on our way into the car port when we heard that voice: "I have a gun."
It was the voice of authority, or what passed for it in this case. It was our Drum Major's dad. We had overlooked the detail that he was a cop. Technically. He was the police photographer, but at that moment we were impressed with the level of commitment to public service the local constabulary put in their crime scene crew. We froze. Finally, I spoke. "It's us. We're um, with the band."
That didn't keep us from having to stick around and clean up ever sheet of single ply. The days of TP tributes had come to an end. When the debris had cleared and we meandered sheepishly back to the Broncos, there was some mumbling. "We should have brought some eggs."