The Gowst

Because it was cool…that’s why

The only definition I could find for the word “gowst” (pronounced with a hard ‘g’)is some restaurant in Paris. I’m thinking that in 8th grade, none of us would have named our activity after anything in Europe. I’ll probably never know the origin of the word “gowst” amongst my friends in 1968, and I’ll die never knowing; but who the fuck cares.

We decided on Friday that on Saturday we were going on a gowst. It had to be planned carefully, because it involved the guys from around Yates Ave. and us on Pill Hill. The distance between the two being around 45 miles (or about 2 miles, depending on who you talked to).

The whole idea of the gowst was for the people from Yates would come up to Pill Hill on their Sting Ray bikes and we all convened…at 4 o’clock in the morning on Saturday. If someone didn’t wake up, we threw pebbles at their bedroom window.

It was very covert.

It wasn’t just guys, though. Our girls would come out, too. The girls didn’t take their bikes. They would get on the back of a guy’s banana seat, or ride on the handle bars, and if you got a girl to ride with you, it was something that was special.

Lori usually rode with me, unless she wanted to make me jealous, then she’d ride with someone else. It was usually a 50–50 shot. Being 12 years old was hell.

At 4 o’clock in the morning, we rode around the neighborhood and made noise. Occasionally, we rode over to the on ramp of the Chicago Skyway and rode up and down the empty ramp. It was 4 o’clock in the morning, for chrissakes.

Getting out of the house, and getting my bike out of the garage was the trickiest part.

Very covert.

Usually, we just sat around outside on our bikes, on the corner, always near a mailbox, and talk. And that’s why we snuck out of our houses. And that’s why we weren’t sleeping. Another thing I’ll never know: What the hell were we thinking?

When the sun rose, we rode over to Markon’s Restaurant and had breakfast. Usually, it was around 6 in the morning. By the time we all got home, the parents were awake and, to the best of my knowledge, none of them asked what we were doing up so early and why we were coming in the house and not leaving the house.

With both my parents being dead now, I’ll never know if they knew; but I always had my suspicions.

That was a successful gowst.

Rebels without a cause.

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