At around the age of 15, I met a group of older teenagers who’d already finished with high school, shared a house and lived on the dole. I thought they were the height of teen cool because they could do whatever they wanted; woah.
I was still obliged to wear my school uniform and kow-tow to ‘the man’ but these young gents were free, living in a largish house near the centre of town that was a meeting point for we other teens to drop in at all times of the day. The lads were anarchic sages and their house a chaotic Valhalla– a marvellously ramshackle and glorious pigsty, financed by the gentlemen tenants’ pooled dole checks. Like ancient Greek philosophers, they lounged about and pondered many things while quaffing ale, spinning tall tales and trading japes while getting stoned, and playing their raucous music at top volume. They were a much-envied teen leisure class. Yet, there was trouble in paradise.. with only sufficient funds to cover rent and food OR drugs, at least one essential ingredient of their Bohemian lifestyle was bound to be lacking each fortnight.
One drug-addled evening, while ruminating upon this conundrum with empty stomachs, the teen wise-men had the epiphany that a solution to their cashflow problems was to steal a sheep. The paddocks around town were chock full of lamb chops just walking about, and the merry men reasoned that this supply of ‘free’ food made it possible to eat AND pay rent AND buy recreational chemicals. Genius! Enthused with this idea, and infused with drugs, they eagerly piled into an old truck like madcap clowns crammed into a clown-car, and off they went to nick a sheep in the dead of night. Chasing a sheep hither and yon through paddocks round and round all night long will deplete the energies of even the most stoned of stoners, and when the poor sheep was finally cornered and stuffed whimpering into the ute, those gentlemen of leisure were stone cold sober.
The sheepnappers drove back into town mid-morning, one anxiously sitting in the back of the ute with his parka draped nonchalantly over the sheep to disguise the lads’ still-bleating dinner from curious passers-by. I walked into the scene at this point when, back at their H.Q. in the cold hard light of day, the exhausted and now-sober away-team contemplated the logical conclusion of their midnight black-ops mission– namely, the butchering of the wailing animal. The elephant in the room was actually a sheep, and who exactly was going to kill it? The humans became sheepish at what they’d done, even as the sheep itself became more stridently vocal in its desire to go home, yawping mournfully as one shifty-eyed stoner after another wiped his hands of the responsibility of knifing poor Sheepikins. “Not me! I drove the truck!” “But I caught the sheep!” “Well I won’t do it, I came up with the plan!” and so on.
Eventually, it was agreed that one of them had a mate who was a butcher (or worked at the abattoir, I never understood which) and he could do the dastardly deed. This buck-passing breakthrough was celebrated with a fortifying bong-toot or two, as the terrified sheep shat-a-tat its pellets on the kitchen floor. The finer points of lining up the illicit back-alley butchery would take another day or so, and in the meantime all the surrounding households were alerted to the presence of their new neighbour; a wild-eyed sheep constantly bawling for its life from within the wastrels’ garage. Armidale’s finest were alerted, the sheep was rescued from the dinner plate, several twitchy deadbeats were grilled by John Law, the farmer was reunited with his homesick animal, and a few stoner ne’er do wells were charged, but I never knew who, or of precisely what, because their house disbanded.
After several months of their acquaintance I finally realised that a group I’d previously seen as The Round Table of Cool was merely a Teen Three Stooges on drugs. Yes, they could do whatever they wanted, but these galloots’ choices of how to use that precious freedom was invariably asinine. Tragically, they were tempted by a plump Sheep Fatale, and so the golden era of Stoned-A-Lot Camelot fell.