There are some things you simply can’t tell your parents when you are a freshman in high school. Or rather, there are some things you can tell them and probably should tell them but are too afraid to tell them. This was one of those times.
It was final exam time in what was my very first year of highschool. I was taking a science class and the looming cumulative exam had my friend and I pretty terrified. We were both decent students, but it was a lot of information and a bigger exam than anything we had taken in middle school. My writing-centered brain panicked at the mere thought of anything science or math related. So we devised a study plan.
We agreed to stay up all night on the phone diligently going over our study guides and quizzing each other. This was in the days when having your own phone line and see through Swatch phone were the cat’s pajamas (and saying cat’s pajamas was not, in fact, the cat’s pajamas). Our plan seemed, and was, pretty harmless at first minus our likelihood to talk about non-science related topics (read: boys).
Several hours into our all nightphone cram session, I mentioned that we would be super tired the next day and would fall asleep during our exam. This, my friends, is when things went slightly awry. My study partner suggested we get “a box of those energy pills they sell at the gas station” before school the next morning. I asked what taking those would be like, and we both assumed it would be like drinking a strong energy drink or big cup of coffee. Neither of which I had tried at that point in my life.
“Brilliant,” I replied. What could possibly go wrong?
The next morning, bleary-eyed and completely sure I remembered nothing from our cram session, I met my friend at school. As promised, she had bought a box of No Doz pills.
“How many should we take?” I asked. My friend shrugged and popped half the box into her mouth (danger, Will Robinson!). Wide eyed and startled, I laughed. And this is when things went from slightly to very, very awry. I held out my hand and took the other half of the box.
When exam time arrived, we walked into class completely and obnoxiously over the top giddy on caffeine. My teacher was fairly used to our hyperactive personalities (we were teen girls, after all) and told us to settle down. We laughed at everything. I thought “Man, these pills are AWESOME.”
A few minutes later, I was looking at the bubble sheet handed to me by my teacher. The giggles subsided as the bubbles began to swirl about on the page (not awesome). I felt myself grow cold and sweaty. My stomach lurched. I ran to the bathroom but couldn’t get sick. My heart was racing out of control.
We both asked to speak with our teacher outside of the classroom and (sweatily) explained to him what had happened. We were going to have to make up the exam and accept a penalty and extra credit work. I don’t remember how we left school that day, but we did and found ourselves at the mall…sick and too scared to go home and face either of our parents.
My friend eventually felt too ill to keep walking around the mall and called her mom. Her mom’s advice was to “walk it off” until the caffeine ran its course. So we kept walking sweaty nauseous laps around the mall, power-walker style, and refused to call my mom who would surely ground me for my idiocy.
That night I avoided my mom as much as possible and hoped she wouldn’t notice the loud racing heartbeat I heard between my ears. I was upset with myself for not only messing up my exam but for doing something that gave me tachycardia which, according to this infographic, is anytime your heart beats more than 100 times per minute.
I never took No Doz ever again, needless to say. And years later I was keenly aware of the dangers of too much caffeine in energy drinks when they soared to popularity among young adults. I didn’t even drink coffee until I was a senior in college. Even now I sit and wonder if I should quit coffee and caffeine for good.
Ok so that last line was typed while sipping coffee. I may or may not be addicted to coffee (totally am) but it’s my one vice (along with cake, pizza, donuts, and.. nevermind). So don’t preach to me about the dangers of my coffee habit. I’m well aware. Anyway, back to my story.
I never told my parents about the No Doz catastrophe that could have landed me in the emergency room. But I learned quite a sickly lesson from my shenanigans and that in itself was more punishment than anything my parents would have done.
The moral of this story? Kids, even smart kids, sometimes make really bad mistakes despite having good intentions. So be easy on them while they navigate life and let them know they can tell you anything. Even about their experiments with the dragon we call caffeine.
Thanks for reading, but it’s time for more coffee.