This one is going way back. I was probably 19 or 20 years old. Back in those days the drinking age was 19 in Minnesota and 18 in Wisconsin.
It was the summer after my freshman year at the University of Minnesota and my brother Brian and I were heading up to Northern Wisconsin for a 3rd of July celebration. That’s right, the 3rd of July. My brother Brian had a buddy from work who had a cabin in this town of Shell Lake, Wisconsin and for some reason Shell Lake celebrated the 3rd of July instead of the 4th.
It was a family reunion of sorts, my three cousins, Mike, John and Bob meet us there. All told there were eight young men ready to roll in this one lake town. We bought a keg, tapped it and settled into the parking lot of the public park near the boat landing (I guess you could do that back then). It was way before the actual town festivities began so we were just hanging out, drinking beer and listening to the car stereo.
There was a basketball court at the park and I wanted to play some hoops with my cousin Mike. Mike was a great basketball player and I was no slouch myself. I had never played with him before and was looking forward to it. I figured Mike and I would rule the court all day. But it didn’t happen. Mike and I should have slaughtered our opponents but we had no Mojo. I wasn’t hitting shots and we were not communicating. Perhaps beer had something to do with it?
Basketball was forced to come to an end by Mother Nature. A big ass thunderstorm was coming across the lake. Heavy winds, lightning, thunder...the whole thing. All of us took shelter in this big brick public bathroom. From there we watched as the storm wreaked havoc. When someone’s fishing boat went rolling by we boys started hootin’ and hollerin’. When a lightning bolt practically “clapped” us, we shouted out with drunken cheers again. This went on for twenty minutes or so when it calmed down and the clouds broke.
When the sun broke from the clouds, we had a pretty good buzz going on and we were starting to get hungry. My brother’s friend had a buddy who lived in Shell Lake. I don’t remember his name and never saw the guy again. But he was a great guy and I recall that his dad played football for the Baltimore Colts in the old days. Anyway, this guy brought us to a bar in downtown where they were having a pig roast--all you could eat. On top of that, beers were a dollar.
The bar owners must have jumped with glee when they saw eight big boys saunter into their little bar ready to spend money. We chilled in the bar for a couple hours, gorging on pork, swilling dollar beers and playing pool. Then it was time to head back to the parking lot for the start of the real party.
We were humming along pretty good by the time we got to the parking lot and re-tapped the keg. The crowd was starting to gather for a country music show that would be playing in the park. Until that time, however, our rowdy bunch was pretty much the soundtrack to the party. I specifically recall the defining song of the weekend. It was “Monkey Man” by the Rolling Stones. My brother Brian’s buddy and I were singing “I’m a monkaaaaaaay! I’m a monkaaaaaay, babe!” We no doubt sounded like shit, but who cares, we were having fun.
As the country music band started, we had to tone it down. We couldn’t have conflicting music. Our Shell Lake host knew of a party in town. We probably shouldn’t have piled into our cars but we did and took a drive out into the Wisconsin back country.
When we walked up to the house. The party had clearly commenced. Loud music blared from the house, people were shouting and the door was wide open. We waltzed in to what was the wildest game of “Indian” I had ever witnessed.
For those who don’t know, Indian is a drinking game where each player invents a hand gesture. When a player is “it”, he has to do his hand gesture and then someone else’s. That person has to repeat their hand gesture and then do someone else’s. If a player messes up in the rapid hand gesture gauntlet, they have to drink. All the time this is going on, the players who are not “it” have to pound their hands on the table.
This was a particularly hearty game of Indian. It was like out of a Warner Brothers’ cartoon--completely zany. The participants were pounding the table so hard, the table legs appeared to come off the floor a few times--and it was on carpet. The beers were splashing onto the table, but miraculously they didn’t fall over. My cousins and I were standing in awe directly across from this wild eyed bastard. He was the sansei master of Indian. He dominated play and was head cheerleader.
We ended up leaving the party soon after we arrived primarily because the last of the beer was bouncing around the Indian table. Therefore, we got back in our cars and went back to the parking lot. Things had pretty much wound down at the park. We were basically the only people left. We were thinking about packing it in as we sipped one last beer. But then a pleasant surprise came upon us--two teenage girls.
The first one was kind of a Plain Jane. The other, however, was hot. Not only that, she was “ready for some football” if you know what I mean. Just like that, eight wasted young men who could barely drag the last beer to their lips, suddenly brightened up. This young hottie wasn’t trying to hide a thing. Her goal was clear--get laid.
She had us by the palm of her hand. She instructed us all to gather around her. She told us all to take off our shirts, which we did. Then she proceeded to feel all our chests. She had no hesitation doling out criticism if a guy had man boobs or not. As she commented on the quality of our chests, the other guys were sure to dispute the call and mock the other guy mercilessly.
Eventually, it was time for her to make a choice. We all stood their teetering back and forth in drunken, silent anticipation when she chose my cousin John. That son-of-a-bitch.
John and this girl strolled off into the darkness. The rest of us stood there like dumbfounded dingleberries until the Shell Lake guy came up with the idea to go into the woods and spy on them. We couldn’t resist the temptation.
There we were, seven drunk young men, averaging six feet tall, tiptoeing through this dense forrest on the damp leaves trying fecklessly to not make any noise. It was a new moon that night and we could barely see our hands in front of our eyes let alone see two kids humping in the woods.
“Get the fuck outta here!” My naked cousin John shouted. We were practically standing on top of them and still couldn’t see them. We bust up laughing and took off back to the parking lot.
Eventually my cousin John ambled out of the woods and we called it a night.
As is the tradition, here is the song that commemorates that 3rd of July celebration in Shell Lake, Wisconsin--“Monkey Man.”