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

And sure, everybody needs a break; the legal system certainly isn't perfect. But the laws should be applied equally. Maybe if she finally lands something heavier than forgeries and drug charges, and gets herself into Starke, Uncle Dubya could slide in a presidential pardon and set her up in a cushy post with the Carlyle Group.

By 1997 our arena had changed. High school was a two-year-old memory and Dirk and I were chugging through community college and the challenges of the twenty-year-old male -- the same, pretty much, as the challenges of the seventeen-year-old male. The booty was still hard to get, but booze had gotten easier with some fake IDs we'd made on an old Mac.

Illustration by David Hollenbach
Illustration by David Hollenbach

Cheers on U.S. 1 and Seventeenth was a regular hangout for us. It was a routine story: acquire booze under false identities, get busted by the ever-revolving door staff, get chased. So we were hanging out one night appropriating some gin and tonics when we bumped into a seventeen-year-old Nayib Estefan and some pals of his who'd been doing a little drinking. Joey, as he liked to be called ("I tell 'em Joey because some mouths butcher my name") was a decent kid who played down the famousness of his parents. We'd met him at Gulliver during our sophomore year -- before his expulsion -- and he was a halfway decent drummer who'd held his own on some rock standards at some battle-of-the-bands shit we'd seen.

Though he was a nice guy, he still got railed by some of us because he had the biggest and most expensive (and most puke yellow) drum kit we'd ever seen. It was straight out of Def Leppard or Poison. It was hideous to look at but sounded great. He bragged a little about the kind of equipment he had access to, his dad being Emilio Estefan and all. How he'd hung with Nestor Torres and Celia Cruz. We wondered about that, what that would do to Nayib in the long run. Our birthdays had uncles and aunts, not Grammy winners and platinum holders.

He wasn't a burnout or a drunk. Not on campus. He'd gotten a bad break on silly kid stuff. Prank calls. He was a class clown. He'd been pulling some stunts on the phone with kids' parents that ran the gamut: "Well, Mr. So and So, I was calling from Gulliver Preparatory to inform you that your son was found masturbating in the locker room." Stuff nobody pays any mind to except hysterical mothers. So while we were sitting at Cheers, pounding our drinks and getting loose, he told us how his parents in a celebrity shock-move asked the school to throw the book at him. That's why he got expelled. We chitchatted about that, and in the comfort of the bar's patio he regaled us with stories of life on the road, dealing with overpaid tutors, his mother's concerts, getting drunk with roadies, and making out with nameless groupies. Sounded glamorous to us.

At the same time, though, it seemed that, unlike Noelle, he'd ended up winning. Who wouldn't want the rock life with the endless parties and nameless chickies? The cloak of the name comes through. In retrospect, examining these two kids, it seems almost unfair that one's artistic background allows for certain excesses, while the political scrim of the other's commands strict discipline. Some aren't cut out for the limelight. In Joey's case, it seems like parenting had some effect. Picture Emilio and Gloria late at night in bed going, "Well, he sure pissed off plenty of folks and besmirched our name, but the little bugger's blood and we gotta save face."

"So what gives, Joey? At seventeen you sneaking bottles in?"

Nope, he said. He just put it on his credit card, no ID check, no hassle.

Dirk chided him that the real reason as to why he got laid so much wasn't his name and fortune, but the way his eyes drooped with lazy intoxication when he was drunk.

"Bro, don't be a dork; I get laid cuz I got a sweet dick."

"Que sweet dick y que sweet dick -- the chicks cream when they think you're gonna give them a shot as back-up dancer/singers for your mom."

"Nah, man, my dad would tear my ass with a strap if I ever got caught pulling that shit. They were nice with the expulsion and all, but I can't fuck with his music."

But what about the bottles?

"Bro, I've never had a problem buying drinks here, anywhere." To show us his prowess, he bought all the rounds that night. Got shitfaced and drove home with some friend. One of the friends, a slimy hanger-on, had nodded in silent agreement all night.

Cheers, of course, is gone now. Joey is of legal buying age and supposedly living it up in Los Angeles. Surely he knocks back a few on occasion. It's his goddamned American right. But faking prescriptions and demoralizing the spirit of rehabilitation is not, right?

But where are the good times? Why the bleeding questions? Why the hassle? Where's the rocking hobnobbing with loaded bastards? Where's the dirt? There's plenty in this Thurber album: The Iglesias kids were cool, Enrique a bit of a dork sometimes but not a bad guy (Dirk swore a fatwa on his ass because a wayward water balloon, launched from Enrique's future-microphone-crooning hands, splashed on his khakis during an early-morning recess). Raja Bell was already displaying the talent that now has him employed in the NBA. Some kids with Bacardi ties weren't the boozers you'd expect them to be. And there were others. Most I didn't know, and many who shared my background. We weren't social butterflies, but we got around on friendly terms.

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