The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Ledger Publisher 

Column: Braveheart


January 29, 2020

There were probably a lot of people I graduated high school within Wyoming that instantly matured as they took their next steps in life, but this was certainly not the case for myself or my trusted crew The couple of years following high school were very eventful, never dull, and included a lot of pranks.

Looking back, it may seem a bit childish now, but my friends and I went back and forth so hard at each other with our pranks that I once was left screaming in the bathroom at 4 a.m. because of Mel Gibson.

Probably my biggest partner in crime at the time was my friend John and it was never a great idea when we were together. If I was a match, he was gasoline and we fed off each other in the worse way possible for everyone around us. I think anyone who had to share a room with us on school trips would always be so frustrated and never get any sleep after the tornado that hit them. When we were not causing chaos with other friends or unsuspecting strangers, we would turn on each other. Once on a school trip, we had both climbed onto the roof of our hotel from the window in our room. When I wasn’t paying attention, John had gone back into the room and locked me out. It’s not easy to get back to your room in a snowstorm from the roof of a hotel.

John was not afraid of much and even though his Dad was a teacher at the high school, he would call into the office and pretend to be the father of several students to excuse them from skipping school. And it worked every time.

I graduated a year before John and was excited to get back to town my first summer after college and reconnect. We instantly picked up where we left off and it was a great summer. My mom had recently purchased a cabin a few hours north of my hometown and would be gone every weekend so I had the house to myself and John would invite himself over whenever he wanted. We would also like to invite other people over too which was a bit problematic, but still a lot of fun.

Because John was a frequent guest at the house he knew exactly where the spare key was and would sometimes come over while I was at work and leave me really strange and random gifts. He would also try to freak me out. He was the manager at the theater and on one occasion managed to end up with a life-size cut out of Mel Gibson from the movie “Braveheart”. I had finished a late shift at McDonald’s and came driving up my street to find someone staring at me in the kitchen window. I was freaked out and did not want to go outside. The other car wasn’t home, so I knew my mom was still at the cabin. I reluctantly went inside to find Mel “William Wallace” Gibson standing in the kitchen. It was creepy and I did not like it at all. I told him to quit leaving that thing in the house and he listened.

About a month later summer was coming to an end and I went out with a group of friends that did not include John who was working a shift at the theater. We had a great time and I didn’t end up making it home till after 4 a.m.

I vaguely remember going into the kitchen to heat up some leftover Shakey’s Pizza which I lived off that summer and miss dearly, and then went downstairs to wash my face, brush my teeth, and head to bed.

The moment I walked into the bathroom I instantly fell to the ground and started screaming. There was an intruder and instead of running, grabbing a weapon, or doing anything else I dropped. Probably not my finest moment, but it was late, there may have been a few beers, and I was not expecting a man in a kilt in the bathroom, aka Mel Gibson. I grabbed the cutout, marched up the stairs and threw him on the front lawn and it was not there the next day.

I haven’t seen John in about 16 or 17 years and would love to reconnect. I’m afraid if I do though I might end up with an unwanted house guest from Scotland.


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