“Mind nobody’s business and keep the noise down when you throw an immigrant social”

Mr Chang owned a Chicago-area trailer park and was a close acquaintance of the mom of my friend Johnny. During our senior year of high school Mr. Chang let Johnny and our other friend, Kingston, rent a trailer to live in.

This wasn’t like one of those John Hughes movies where all the cool kids partied at rich North Shore homes, but for us it was a big deal. We had a place. To party. To drink. To sex.

I remember going with Johnny and Kingston to meet Mr. Chang. Although he had an office and his own trailer at the park where my friends were renting, we met Mr. Chang at a nearby warehouse in an industrial section of town. The only thing we knew about Mr. Chang was his involvement in several businesses, including low-budget film production and, rumored had it, porn. When we walked through the doors at this warehouse Mr. Chang was sitting in a big leather chair watching a skinny guy dance to the theme from a Friday the 13th movie while wearing nothing but jean shorts and a pillow case over his head.

When this “audition” was over Mr. Chang called us into his office. I was surprised to discover he wasn’t Asian, despite his name (our friend Kingston is Chinese, by the way). Mr. Chang was bald with a full salt-and-pepper-beard and a nose that looked like a large fist. He went over some of the rules and regulations of the trailer. He scanned the three of us and warned us to “mind nobody’s business and keep the noise down when you throw an immigrant social.”

When we left we encountered the guy who was dancing, sans pillow case, which had been covering up long wild red hair and buck teeth. He was sweaty and drinking a Diet Coke. “I know about you guys,” he said. “I’m gonna come party with you.”

I helped the guys move in on a late September afternoon. Our school’s homecoming bonfire was that night and we planned to bring classmates back with us for our first party. While we were moving in we saw several half naked women and men come and go from another trailer nearby. One of the guys was dressed like Zorro. We also saw camera and lighting equipment.

I was looking forward to hanging out at the trailer because I would be the Dj at the parties and I thought it would be a good way to impress Mackenzie, a junior transfer student from New York. I read a school article about her when she moved into the area that summer. At first I fell in love with her picture. But that was nothing compared to when I saw her the first day of school. She looked like the cute sister of a Disney princess. She joined the drama club that my friend, Cece, was active in. I planned to  talk Cece into having some extra rehearsals at the trailer. Their first play, written by Cece, was called “Free Winona.”

I didn’t see Mackenzie at the party, but Johnny’s older sister was there, and she brought someone whose name I only recall as being “Shempel.” He was a chef and brought mushrooms, but not the restaurant kind. He and a group of other kids were playing a drinking game. The trailer was packed. Pom-pom girls, stoners, geeks, jocks, and the German club shared the trailer’s narrow hallway as kids made their way in and out of various rooms. Someone even had a Ouija board.

As the DJ, I remember the first song I played. I don’t recall the others. Except the last one, because that’s when Mackenzie walked in.