To add to drinking game:
- Take a drink every time Doug runs away from home
- Take a drink every time Doug gets dragged back
After a summer of chasing girls, Doug transfers to a school with them. He tells us that anyone from a military background was sought after by girls, and that he was “a prime specimen, physically fit, tanned, and confident.”
And so modest and humble, too. (Actually, young Doug is kinda cute. At least, I think I’d find him cute, if I was straight.)
He tells us that boys respected him because he could fight, and that all the girls wanted him. He then goes on to tell us that the acceptance of his peers caused him to do things for “love and acceptance.” And I am confused, because I thought these people liked you, why…. yanno what, nevermind.
Doug starts stealing money and cigarettes, and does whatever dares people tell him to. He earns the nickname “Wild man,” and I wonder how he would react if someone called him that today.
One day, to impress some girls, Doug says he’s going to run away. He gets a reaction out of the girls, and feels like he has backed himself into a corner, and has to go through with it. He steals $300 from his mother and hikes to the woods by his old military academy. He stays there for a few days before giving up and going home.
At least no one could laugh at me now.
Um, I would be laughing like crazy at you were you my schoolmate. You let your peers pressure you into running away and living in the woods. I think the joke’s on you.
I have to give Doug some credit for realizing the torment he put his parents through. And then I wonder, did his parents not call the police? If not, why. If they did call the police, how were they not able to figure out that Doug bought a bus ticket? I could buy them not finding him in the woods, but even then it wasn’t hard for police to check the train stations.
In any case, Young Doug clearly didn’t learn anything from this experience because he and some friends decided they were going to run away to Mexico and run a cannabis farm.
Now I kind of want to write a short story about a parallel universe in which they actually succeed and Doug becomes a multi millionaire and we all buy weed from Batchelor Farms.
In any case, they decide to smuggle the marijuana seeds into the country by carving out a compartment in the pages of a bible. Because no one ever did that before. No one would ever think to look through a bible for drugs!
Doug tells his friends to dress really nicely, because they’ll ignore you if they think you’re well off. One of his friends ignores the advice, and gets caught. Doug and his other friend think about how dumb he was for not taking advice, and I just have to wonder if the kid even had nice clothes?
Doug and his friend abandon their partner to the police (well really what else is there they could do? Turning themselves in, while noble, would have consequences and you can’t blame them for not wanting to face them.)
Unfortunately for the other 2, the guy who got caught rats out Doug and his friend. They all wind up in prison.
…with a ten year old boy who had killed an old woman with a baseball bat for her money. Just looking at him made my flesh crawl.
Why are they locking up harmless runaways with murderers? Why did the ten year old kill an old woman? Is a ten year old old enough to be tried for murder? No seriously, what do you even do in that sort of situation? Hang on, is it possible the kid was exaggerating about what he had done and Doug believed him? Is Doug just really really gullible? If I was in prison, this sounds like exactly the kind of thing I’d say to freak out my cell mate.
Doug says that one of the officers in juvenile hall tried to witness to him, but that Doug didn’t appreciate it, because he was
“too full of prejudice from things my Jewish friends had said about Christianity.”
Those Jewy Jews, causing others to be prejudiced against Christianity. Christians, of course, are never anti Semitic at all.
Doug’s mom and his friend’s mom bail them out, so the officers put them on a plane to New York and give them all their stuff back. Doug says that this was a mistake, because instead of going into the terminal when the plane landed, he and his friends jumped the barricades and ran. And nobody saw them.
This is a jolting reminder that not only did the events of this book take place pre-911, this book was written pre-911.
The world has changed.
In any case, the boys take a cab to the train station, where they go north. They buy some gear and go camping. Doug writes that the two boys hiked through a graveyard, which is a perfect opportunity for him to discuss the State of the Dead. He shoehorns in the usual Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, 10. I will give him some credit for limiting this to 2-3 paragraphs instead of going for a 5 page mini bible study on the subject. Doug isn’t subtle, but he’s also not as terrible as some writers.
Anyway, they hike up the mountain and it gets cold and snowy. They set up camp, eat, decide to leave the sterno can burning to warm up the tent, then fall asleep. The plan to warm up the tent works a little too well, and they wake up in a puddle. Because that’s what happens when you set up a tent in a snowbank and then leave a heat source on. Doug and his friend Abandon the tent and sleeping bag and walk down the mountain, dripping wet, to the nearest bar. Doug tells us that “less than $10” was enough for a burger with a double order of fries.
Oh how times have changed!
When the bar closes, the person who owns it offers to let Doug and his friend stay for a while in exchange for work.
This lasts a few days, before the owners figure out that the kids are runaways and turned them in.
The cops take them to the station, where Doug explains that they figured out who they were quite quickly, as they dealt with runaways every day.
Hold this thought, because in the next few pages Doug will successfully fool the police for about a week. Maybe I should let that pass, though. Maybe he’s slowly learning.
Doug’s mom is furious with him, and sends him off to live with his father. “I’ve done everything I can think of for you!” She tells him.
Look, I get that this was the 1970s, but even then, they had these things called therapists. Surely it’s evident by now that Doug needed one, badly? Even if he didn’t have a mental illness, (and I can’t say whether he does or not, because I’m not a professional) it would still have benefited him to have a professional adult in his life he could talk to about the things going on in his life.
His wealthy father, at the very least, should have thought of this.
Doug says his stepmother tries to be nice to him, but that he is so desperate for love he makes things miserable for everybody. He doesn’t go into much detail, just says that eventually his step mother decides that either Doug has to leave, or she will.
I’d tell her Sayonara, because my child will always come before any potential hypothetical spouse. Doug’s father does not agree with me, and moves him into a hotel, and sends a car every day to pick him up. Doug spends half the day working for his dad and the other half at school. He doesn’t like being treated like a slave with little control over his life, he tells us. Which is kind of odd because it seems like that’s kind of how life at the military academy he enjoyed works, but what can I say about consistency.
Insert more paragraphs about Doug getting in trouble, bla bla. He runs away (drink!)
He gets caught by the police for indecent exposure (he was skinny dipping in an ocean.) They take him to the jail, where he lies about his name and who he is. This works for about a week, till he accidentally name drops a real school he went to, and from that alone they find his father and call him.(Drink!)
Doug’s mom decides he needs a school where he can express himself. She read about a new experimental free school, and, at their wits end, his dad decides to go for it, because they’ve tried everything else. Except therapy, of course.
Yanno, I kinda feel like the first 3-5 chapters of this book could be summed up in about 3 sentences: from about the age of X to X, I ran away from home multiple times, each time being dragged back by the police. Finally, I ran away to live in a cave and didn’t get dragged back. Oh and in between running away I got in lots of trouble, did a lot of drugs, etc etc.
I almost feel like Doug, here, makes the same mistake as I have seen others make. They jabber on and on and on and on about the shit they used to do, and then maybe they spend the next 5 minutes talking about Jesus.
I haven’t finished the re read of the book yet. It’s possible that Doug spends just as many chapters babbling about Jesus as he does about pre Jesus life.
However, that’s not the point. I don’t think both sides should get equal time. I think one’s pre-Christian life should take, at most, 5 minutes. Or 5%, whichever is smaller.
Doug talks too much about his pre-Christian life, almost as though he remembers it fondly. Regardless of whether or not that’s how he really feels, that is the way it comes across.
If Doug wanted to tell the story about Jesus saving him from a life of pain and heartache, he would’ve condensed the first 5 chapters into one, maybe two.
No. What Doug wants to do is tell a good story that will leave people shocked and entertained. I’m not sure if he is aware of this, or if he honestly thinks that by telling his story, he is warning people not to follow in his footsteps.
Unfortunately, stories like Doug’s have exactly the opposite affect. Rather than leave listeners with the impression that Jesus is the way, the answer, the speakers/writers leave their audience jealous.
“Look at all those cool experiences Doug got to have,” the listening high school student thought. “I wish my life story was that interesting. I wish I could hold crowds spellbound as I tell story after story of how I smoked pot and played with Ouija boards.”
This, right here, is why, even as a Christian. I never told my testimony. I was worried that people would become too interested. My story would only have drawn them away from Jesus.
Which, every so subtly, is exactly what stories like this always do. So you know what, keep reading them.