By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
One of them sped off, revealing two boys and two girls, probably seniors, standing near the curb.
I popped the collar and rolled down the window.
"Hey guys, what's up?" I barely recognized my own voice. It had taken on some kind of 90210-meets-Dora the Explorer tone. One of the guys was lifeguard-cute. The other, a blond, not so much.
"Who's that?" the lifeguard asked, squinting and peering into the car.
"Nobody," I said, cagily. Very coy. Already I was failing miserably. My girlfriend in the front seat came to my rescue.
"Are there any parties going on tonight?"
"Uh, I think Brian Bassinger's having a party or something," said the blond guy, prompting his girlfriend to speak up.
"You guys can't have him!" she said, rushing to put an arm around her stud's rather round waist. "He's mine!"
No problem there. "Where's Brian's house again?"
"St. Andrews," said the lifeguard. I could see the blond kid's girlfriend getting a little antsy, and I didn't want to wind up on the wrong end of her acrylic nails, so I thanked them and drove away. I had no idea where St. Andrews was, but it couldn't be far. A few minutes later, we saw a Wrangler and another truck pull over to the side of yet another idyllic residential street. Surely the group of sophomore and junior guys inside would be able to point us in the right direction. Once again, the 90210 voice took hold of my throat as I put the car in park.
"Are there, like, any parties tonight?" I asked, after exchanging pleasantries about the kick-ass nature of the Scots football team. The question was met with blank stares, then a blunt response.
"Who are you guys?"
"We're from Mansfield," I replied, as if his question were utterly preposterous. "Do y'all, like, know, um, Brandon..." my voice faded. For the life of me, I couldn't remember the kid's name. My unabashed friend in the back seat lowered her window and yelled.
"Yeah, I know that kid," one of the guys said. "Is he a senior?"
I avoided the question. "His house is on St. Andrews. Where's that?"
Blank stares. Good God, I thought. These kids live in a town that's less than 2.2 square miles, and they don't know where Brian Bassinger lives?
"What are y'all doing now?" I asked.
"We'll probably eat," shrugged the kid in the driver's seat. More blank stares. Not a talkative lot, this one. Just ahead of us, the impatient-looking guy in the Wrangler was watching our exchange in his rearview mirror.
"What about after you eat?" I asked. It was like pulling teeth.
"Hi, who are you?" yelled my now overzealous backseat girlfriend, at the Wrangler kid.
"DAVE!" yelled a voice from the other truck.
I didn't have time for this kind of disorganization. I had to think fast. Too fast. I looked at the driver of the truck.
"Give me your phone number."
Did I just demand digits from a 17-year-old? I did. Oh God. By this time one of the kids had gotten out of the truck and walked up to my window to inspect this car full of party-crazed bimbos. The kid fumbled his phone and started reciting a 214 number, then added, "His name's Jimmy."
"Thanks, Jimmy!" I squeaked, as I pounded the number into the keypad of my incredibly clunky, incredibly non-flip, incredibly un-cool phone. I tried to hide it by dialing under the steering wheel, but this kid wasn't fooled. The driver did pick up his cell, though, so we had the right number. It was time for a peel-out. "Bye, Dave!" we screamed, waving out the sunroof. It would be the most excitement we'd see all evening.
More stops and more conversations with wary Highland Park kids revealed our worst fears: no party, because the football players have a post-game curfew. Even a call to Jimmy left us with no leads. We did find St. Andrews, after giving up and stopping for gas. As we pulled out of the station, the street sign rose in front of my Jeep like a victorious arch-nemesis. But it was after 2 a.m. There would be no debauchery tonight. Or maybe I'd been lied to, and these kids were just plain lame.
"We were CNN's top news story," says Chief Darrell Fant, Highland Park's top-ranking police officer, in a phone interview, a tinge of embarrassment in his voice. After the warehouse party was busted, Fant says Park Cities law enforcement realized they had a serious substance abuse trend on their hands. The year before, in 1998, they'd handed out 209 citations involving minor alcohol possession and consumption. So far, only 58 incidents are on the books for 2005.