Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The True 'Til Death Pact

This column originally appeared in Fuck You Fanzine (Issue 2, Volume III) in April of 2002.

Of all of the kids I came into this scene with in those last few months of 1986, I was the last one to break my edge. The first one in the crew to hand over his x’s was my buddy Mark. I remember getting the news about Mark secondhand, the day after John Kercher’s 1990 New Years Eve party. From what I heard, Mark was absolutely hammered, and he had spent a good portion of the night jumping from the second-story roof of John’s house into shallow snow drifts. Apparently, he was the hit of the party. Mark confirmed as much when I saw him the next day. I was sad that he broke his edge, but it never affected our friendship.

After that night, the dam burst and a wave of beer washed my straight-edge friends away one by one until finally, at the age of 22, a True til’ Death Ronny Little met his maker at a soccer house party on the campus of Textile College in Philadelphia.

She was the friend of a friend. She was hot. She was interested. She was bringing me one beer after another, and I was drinking those beers one after the other. I got wasted. I got laid. It was one of the best nights of my life. The next weekend, I went out for drinks with my non-edge friends who welcomed the crew’s last holdout into the ranks of the fallen with a shower of beer.

It would be nice if I had done some things differently. Of course, breaking my edge wouldn’t be something I would’ve done differently. I enjoy the occasional night of drinking, and the circumstances surrounding my initial edge-breaking were just awesome. But if I could be 15 years-old again, and find myself yet again in a tight-knit group of straight-edge kids that each swear they’ll never touch a bottle, I would suggest some kind of “True til Death Pact.”

I’d pattern the pact after that storyline where a bunch of WWII grunts sitting in a foxhole with bombs exploding all around them decide to make some kind of pact to get them through the night, where the last remaining survivor would reap the spoils of some secret stash of stolen Nazi booty. In my situation, if I could do things over, I would have all of my straight-edge buddies each chip in $100 to buy some insanely collectible record, or collection of records, which would be awarded to the last remaining member of the crew who was still standing hard. That would be something to talk about. That would make things interesting. Hell, if I had done that years ago, and it was Walk Among Us on pink vinyl that hung in the balance, I still might be edge to this day.

Of course, none of us thought we would ever break our edge, so making any kind of pact like that would’ve seemed pretty pointless. There wouldn’t have been a winner, right? Ah, but eleven years later, I know much better than that.

Chances are if you’re straight-edge, have a bunch of straight-edge friends, and are reading these words right now, you may actually be delusional enough to think that you and your friends are nailed to the x for the long haul. While I can think of some kids in New Jersey who have actually accomplished that feat, it doesn’t look good for the rest of you. That’s my not pessimism speaking. It’s simply a matter of history.

If True til Death was exactly just that – the day you drank was the day you died – I think it’s safe to say that over the last decade, the casualties would’ve been staggering. We’d have enough names to put on a slab of granite the size of the Vietnam War Memorial; single-spaced, with both sides of the monument filled to its limit. Think about that.

When measured in those terms, the track record of the average straight-edge kid doesn’t exactly inspire any kind of confidence. But I’m pretty sure there are some of you sitting there reading this, saying to yourself “not me. I’m dedicated.” I would counter that you’re in denial.

So if you’re smart, you’ll gather your straight-edge friends together and pick some kind of prize for the last man standing, because, if you actually believe you’re going to be True til Death (and 99.5% of you won’t be), you might as well put your money where your mouth is, and make things interesting.

I Have Spoken.

Ronny Little
Patron Saint of Edge-Breakers

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