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Should a teen ever leave his date at a party?

 By Stephen C. Schultz

The large Douglas fir trees were black silhouette’s against the cotton like sky that glowed as the city lights reflected off the low billowing clouds. There was a January mist in the air that was more than fog, but not quite rain. The moisture wrapped around you; cool and unnoticed, until you entered a home or a building and you realized that you were wet.

I was at the home of a friend of mine who happened to be a girl. We attended the same high school and had dated a few times and enjoyed each others company. While it wasn’t a serious relationship, it was a relationship none the less. 

Looking back, that evening started with a phone call, you know, the call where I was on the couch in the family room talking on the phone that was connected to the kitchen by a thirty foot phone cord. We were discussing what we wanted to do that night. She mentioned that she had heard of a party taking place not far from where she lived. She asked if I wanted to go. I was not much of a partier, but I thought I would go with her because it was something she wanted to do.

She opened the front door and I stepped in her house. I said hi to her parents, engaged in small talk and pleasantries and then we left. It was only a five minute drive from her house to where the party was. This particular party was taking place in a condo complex in the Southwest hills of Eugene, Oregon. It was a nice place and I found a parking spot just down the street. We got out of the car and walked through the mist towards the building. The condos were built into the side of a hill with large Douglas fir trees, alder trees, rhododendrons, Oregon grapes and ferns surrounding the buildings.

The garage of each unit was on the uphill street side, so we walked on a wooden deck walkway around the building to the front door that faced the downhill view of the small creek bottom draw below. As we walked along the deck, we passed a window that was cracked open about an inch. There was the unmistakable sweet, pungent smell of someone smoking a little weed. I could also hear some Van Halen playing in the background.

We stepped to the front door and my girlfriend opened it and walked right in. She must have known the person who lived there and felt comfortable enough to not knock. As I stepped through the door, I was immediately hit with the vibration of loud music, pot smoke hovering about three feet off the floor all the way to the ceiling and kids making out on the couches. I turned to my right where the kitchen was located, and there were five guys in constant motion. They had the kitchen table pushed against the wall. There was one guy lying on the ground while another was standing on a chair, holding a beer bong funnel near the ceiling. The other guy was on another chair pouring cans of beer into the funnel. The five or six foot tube hung down into the guy’s mouth that was on the floor. Beer was spilling all over the place and there was laughing and cheering and hooting as he choked and gagged on the beer.

The girl I was with found a friend of hers and started talking. I decided to use the bathroom, so I walked through the living room to the bathroom that was around the corner to the right and down the hall. I stepped into the bathroom to find the tub full of ice and a big silver keg lying on its side in the tub of ice. I walked back down the hall past a room with a closed door. I could hear voices in the room and it was most likely the room with the cracked open window we passed on the way in.

I walked back out to the living room and found the girl I came to the party with. I patiently stood there until I found a window of opportunity to speak. I mentioned to her that I thought we should probably leave. I told her I didn’t have a good feeling about being there and that it wasn’t a very good atmosphere to be in. Now, I had been to parties before, this one however, simply had a bad feeling about it.

She turned on her heals and said, “But, I want to stay. I’ve wanted to come to this party all week!”

I mentioned again, “It’s not a good atmosphere. I’m not comfortable staying.”

She responded, “Well, I’m not leaving.”

I calmly said, “That’s fine. But, let’s call your parents because they think you are with me. You can just let them know that I went home.”

So, she called her parents and found someone who agreed to give her a ride home. I didn’t think much of it. I drove home without any animosity or frustration. I walked in my living room, sat on the couch and turned on the TV. It was about 8:30pm and my mom walked down the hall and said, “What are you doing home?” I just mentioned that I decided to come home early and didn’t say anything more about it.

The following Monday at school, I was standing near the planter area where many of the students hung out before class. I was just talking with some friends and the girl I went to the party with walked over to me. We sat on the edge of the planter. I asked her how she was doing. She was a little quiet and shy.

I said, “what’s the matter?’

She simply said, “You’re right.”

I crinkled my brow and said, “About what?”

Then she mentioned, “You’re right, it is a bad atmosphere.”

I didn’t know what she was talking about at first. Then, I recalled the conversation we had at the party. I asked what she meant by that and what had happened. She wouldn’t say.  She simply stood up and walked to class. I started asking others if they had heard anything about that party and no one seemed to know anything.

To this day, I know something happened at that party after I left. It was most likely a bad experience of some kind. However, I have no idea what happened. This I do know…I am glad I paid attention to that feeling I had. I am glad I decided to leave.

I have often wondered if this experience had an impact on my career choices. I'm working in an organization that deals with teens who struggle with these very concerns. 

Now, this experience brings up some questions. Was that feeling I had simply coincidental with the fact that it was a rough party? Was that feeling a prompting or spiritual inspiration of some kind? Was it not a feeling at all, but my mind at work analyzing all the data and coming to a conclusion I wanted to leave? Have you ever had these types of thoughts or feelings? Have you had an experience where you had a feeling, but did not take heed…then wished you did? This is certainly something to think about!


Hi Stephen, I am a firm believer in following gut instinct, you did the right thing & most importantly you made sure there was someone to pick your date up. When I was in my mid teens I met a man who said he would give me a lift somewhere. My gut instinct was to run away but I ignored my gut instinct & got into his car, I know horrifyingly stupid. Once in the car we travelled for less than 5 minutes when another clipped his car & flipped upside down. Fortunately no one was hurt and I left the scene & never looked back and walked to the train station. That has stayed with me and I thank my lucky stars!
Yes Jennifer, that "gut instinct" is one thing I do trust. I have had too many experiences like this one to NOT follow that feeling when I have one. And, to this day, I have never regretted that I have followed that instinct. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.
Thanks Stephen, enjoy your weekend:-)
Great article, Stephen. Having been a middle school principal for many years, I can relate to this story. That said, kids know in their "heart of hearts" if and when something is wrong. They know it in their gut, but their gut doesn't always translate to the head deciding upon the right action. I would suggest that there is also an element of spiritual direction, based upon the family circumstances, but I know of situations where divine intervention has occurred for folks with apparently no religious affiliations. Thanks for sharing this thought provoking episode in your life.
Thank you Wayne for your insightful comment! Much appreciated!

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