This one’s a double-whammy, mostly because I can’t remember which of the two was the big albums at the time among my circle of friends when I was a teenager living overseas.
In tenth grade everyone I knew got invited to some girl’s birthday party. I think her name was Evie, but I can’t remember for sure. Her parents had some friends over and they played cards in the kitchen while the rest of the 16-year old morons (myself included) ran rampant in the living room and out on the balcony overlooking the suburban neighborhood in the outskirts of Athens, a fairly-fancy area where lots of expats and richer families lived. The apartment was a big one that took over the whole second floor of this building, so there was nothing below us besides someone else’s apartment (which I think was empty at the time) and nothing above us but the roof of the building, which we could actually access from the outside. It was, in theory, the perfect setting for a party that, for most of the night, was a pretty cool party (someone later on accused me later on of stealing a CD from the stack of stuff people brought, which I didn’t do and I don’t think it went anywhere, which was weird, but anyway…)
We ate hot dogs and burgers and chips and drank a fuck-ton of soda, kids smoked cigarettes and made out on the roof, and we listened to music really loud. A few kids were obsessed with Biohazard, and like anyone in the 1990’s in alternative music around that age, at least five people brought their copies of the Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Colle and the Infinite Sadness. I’ve never liked either band honestly, something about the pretentiousness of the Smashing Pumpkins bugging me (I was also pretty deep into thrash-y Southern California power-pop-influenced skate-punk at the time). I’m pretty sure we played party games like all teenagers do no matter how cool they think they are, and since none of us were cool enough to go to the underground punk shows the older kids at school played at or went to, had our own slamdancing dumbness to whatever was on the stereo in the living room, usually Biohazard over and over again, putting the Pumpkins on as background music, I guess.
Christ, that is intensely embarrassing to admit, much less remember.
Anyway, as the night wore on, some kids from the street apparently tried talking to some of the people on the balcony and asked if they could come up and party with us, and over about ten to twenty minutes, that…kind of escalated.
So, long story short, about thirty guys ended up in the street outside this party, basically hanging out and implying they wanted us (the guys at the party, of course) to come down into the street and fight them. Thirty guys turned into about fifty, a lot of whom seemed to appear out of nowhere as friends called their friends, and in the end, someone’s dad from the back in the kitchen came out and saw what was happening, and we ended up locked in the apartment behind a big metal shutters that came down to lock the doors that led out to the apartment’s balcony while parents and rides were called and warned to maybe not come by just yet.
(Car culture, especially for teenagers, was not really a thing. Scooters and motorbikes were the desired way to get around on your own when you were 17, 18 there. This meant that for the most part if we wanted to get anywhere outside of the city proper, we were reliant on public transit, shank’s mare, or someone’s dad’s car.)
This was probably the first “real” party I’d gone to as a teenager, for the most part my social life revolved around reading comics at home alone, or occasionally going out to skate with locals or friends of mine, which could require a commute of up to two hours. It was so weird to, in an instant, find myself in what basically amounted to a siege, having to tell my dad over the phone that he couldn’t come get me quite yet because I was basically an extra in a Sunday night action movie. We could and occasionally did peek through the blinds, and it was basically just a group of dudes with their bikes, periodically revving them and having the lights of their bikes on, shining around.
Probably, I feel like I’m correct when I think I remember this whole incident wrong, that it wasn’t as bad, or maybe it was worse than I thought, actually. I’ll be honest, when I joke and say I’ve been hit in the head a few times and it might’ve scrambled my brains, I’m semi-serious. I don’t always trust myself about some of the things I remember, which I’ve been called out for by friends when bringing stuff up sometimes. I don’t talk to anyone from then anymore for a variety of reasons, so I wouldn’t even know how to go back and try to re-inforce this memory.
In what was, thinking back, the crassest but weirdest exercise of privilege ever, one of the parents there wasn’t an expat like a lot of our folks or a local, but worked for the US Embassy. Though there hadn’t been any American military at any of the bases in Greece for over a decade I think by then, there was a contingent of Marines stationed in the embassy as security detail…so someone made a call and an armored van full of high-n-tight haircuts and flak vests pulled up outside the apartment, making it very clear that this was a party that was bring broken up, no matter how many stories of “they threw beer cans at us” were said.
Man I wish we’d had beer.
I remember my dad laughing about it with the marines and the other parents there when he finally did pull up and we gave some other kids I vaguely knew a ride as well that night when it was all over. They weren’t kids I hung out with much, friends of friends who in my mind were infinitely cooler than me, and they got out in my neighborhood and hopped on a bus somewhere else, not home I knew. For some weird reason I also feel like we didn’t really talk about how crazy that night was after that in school, when we’d sit around and talk shit. I don’t know why I feel like that, because the fact that we almost started some kind of riot in the suburbs over some local dudes in weird fade cuts and flight jackets wanting to party with us.