High as the Sky with Noelle & Drunk as a Punk with Nayib

The governor's daughter and the Estefans' son weren't exactly model students at Gulliver, but they had some serious fun -- and so did I

With the school year in full swing and the recent newsworthy personal advancements of some old schoolmates, I can't help but recall some past relations. Time has obviously tempered my views, but with someone like Noelle Bush, who was recently and successfully discharged from a court-appointed drug-rehab program, I (like others) can't wait to see the next fuckup. Call it animal (media) savagery.

My friend Dirk and I weren't privileged kids. We were seventeen-year-old sons of immigrants. Typical family stuff -- parents worked hard to better themselves and provide a comfortable life for us. We took this seriously, even as we messed around, pulling regular kid stunts. In high school we drove disposable Jap cars, my Datsun wedged between shiny Beemers and sieg-heil Porsches in the parking lot at Gulliver, perhaps Miami's best -- and most expensive -- private school.

Scholarships got us through the front door. The students who paid the full bite were mostly out of our reach. Not that they were all out of reach, and not that we didn't sometimes get tight for chicas like Noelle Bush, who was Dirk's type. But the closest we came socially was sucking down iced coffees at Joffrey's in the Grove (where Dirk doubled as counterman). Most of the chicas in our class went there to smoke their recessed-filter cigarettes and waste afternoons talking shit. We didn't have much nerve, but the jumpy bumming of smokes brought us within smell and tactile range. "Peached," as we thought then.

Illustration by David Hollenbach
Illustration by David Hollenbach

Which I know now to have been a voyeuristic, creepy thing to do, but we meant no harm. Most of the time we were cooked up -- working -- anyway. A week into our junior year, 1994, Dirk was covering the counter while I was out back in the alley negotiating an eighth of bad pot from some bum. Back inside, Dirk told me about some broad from his homeroom who'd been ordering a croissant and cappuccino and raving wildly about a crazy five-kegger she'd be throwing over the weekend 'cause her folks were in France. She'd been rapping to some obviously flamboyant guy-pal of hers. It was one of those "everybody's gonna be there" soirees and she was babbling happily till she recognized who'd prepped her order. Dirk figured the fear of being rude to the working class is what got him -- and me -- invited.

The day of the crazy kegger we spent the afternoon at Dirk's, mixing down some nosebleed from the tablespoon baggie of smack we found in a friend's bedroom. It was a scam we'd pulled before, in which we mixed any household powder we could find into the cellophane of a cigarette pack, and then passed it on to the weenies at Gulliver as high-grade shit -- for about 30 bucks. There would be a high in it, but the cut -- which could be as mild as ground aspirin or as rough as Ajax (if we were fucked up), had been known to gut out noses.

A five-kegger affair in Cocoplum sounded like a good idea as long as the security guard would let Dirk's van through. The snobby residents association had been known to issue fines and ultimatums against neighbors who didn't screen carefully. But whatever, I had a good feeling 'cause plenty of luscious booty would be there getting wasted. Like all teenage boys with dreams of moist thighs, we got to talking about the potential chicas and Dirk's hard-on for Noelle -- an itchy feeling he'd been having since he was in eighth grade and she in seventh. But he'd never acted on it because of paruresis and the Secret Service. In my few years in the States (I'm from Venezuela), I'd only known the Clinton administration, but Dirk came from England during the senior Bush's reign. Noelle and her brother, George, had executive-protection details at Gulliver while Grandpa ran the White House, so poor Dirk had to live for four years thinking something was wrong with his bladder.

"Paruresis, man. Shy bladder syndrome. Serious shit." Dirk's classes were in the wing of the school where the Secret Service had set up shop. Apparently, with their constant cups of coffee, they were in the can a lot. Ole Dirk always got stuck next to one with a buzzing earpiece each time he had to relieve himself: "The SS don't pee like regular people. They splatter assertively. Plus it was kinda hard to handle yourself with some big black guy packing heat next to you, hitting you with killer eye-rays. I ended up, like, blocking or something, not flowing. And then peeing a lot on the phys-ed yard, which got me in trouble."

Maybe now, since terrorism came in, that doesn't seem so odd, but before school security had been beefed up to accommodate O.J.'s and the Estefans' kids and keep them out of paparazzi scopes, school was just school. Except for the Bush kids. By the time I graduated, closed-circuit video cameras were normal. Maybe a quick look at the school's history will clarify certain matters.

The Gulliver school started as a way to accommodate the educational needs of vacationing New England children early last century. This elitism, this mentality, was cemented when Gulliver was purchased by Marian Krutulis in 1952. Her addiction to raising the bar on educational development was no passing fancy; her husband had been a faculty member at Coral Gables Senior High. While she didn't impose a restricted-enrollment policy, she managed to seclude things pretty well by relocating her school to what was then the wilderness of south Coral Gables/Pinecrest. The economic and population boom that followed was surreal, and the pockets of the residents overflowed with gold. Gulliver has garnered many awards, including the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. The staff is dedicated to the continued pursuit of academic genius. It's easy to see why the rich and famous would enroll their kids. The foliage alone costs more than heavy-duty barbed wire. The security cams shame the Kremlin. Kids and their toys are still kids and their toys, right?

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