I remember my first real party...
...you know the kind I mean, the kind with--*drum roll*--alcohol? As a teenager, I was fairly clean-cut. I did what my Mom and Dad said, for the most part. Once when I was 14 I had a few drinks from a friend's beer bottle at a school dance, but other than that....clean.
In Grade 12, we moved to a new town even smaller than the one we had been living in for two years. The kids at the school were nice enough, but they had known each other since Grade 1, and I was definitely the outsider. One day, Shirley asked me if I wanted to come to her place for a party Friday night, beer and barbecue. I couldn't believe she had even asked me...she knew I was the preacher's daughter! I lamely said I'd ask my mom, never expecting her to say yes.
I asked my mom straight out, with no pleading or "I'll be good!" She looked at me and smiled and said, "Go ahead, honey. Sounds like fun." Was this trust? Yes, it most definitely was! There was no lecture, no warnings about the evils of alcohol...just trust.
So I went to the party. There were only 33 kids in my class, including me, so almost everyone was there. Most of them were drinking beer. I remember one of the guys standing at the barbecue pouring beer over his steak, something I had never seen done before. Someone asked me if I wanted a beer. I said no thanks, but is there any soda pop? Sure, in the fridge, help yourself. I think I had half-expected to be mocked and ridiculed for turning down the beer, but nobody even noticed.
I remember "White Wedding" howling through the speakers and all of us singing along with Billy Idol.
I didn't stay really late, but I had fun. I felt like a bridge had been crossed, like I had hung out on alien turf and been accepted as I was. Perhaps it didn't dawn on me then, but I had also accepted these other kids as they were, without expecting them to clean up and come to church or youth group or Bible study. It sure made a difference in how I was treated at school...not quite as much of an outsider, a little bit more like someone who belonged.
I hope I remember to trust my daughter when she wants to walk on alien turf. It's a good place to learn about people, a good place to learn about yourself, hanging out with the "aliens". You realize there really isn't any difference at all, to speak of.