We took shots until we broke the shot glass on the concrete, and the next morning, once again, I learned that I wasn’t immortal. Thanks to alleys, I was able to receive that lesson without getting arrested -- our town’s police were focused on church parking lots, and even if they hadn’t been, there were simply too many alleys to patrol.
You’re probably asking, “OK, but can an alley also expose religious hypocrisy?” You bet it can. During a middle-school rampage of theft and vandalism, my friends and I burgled the contents of a Jeep Cherokee parked out on the street. Upon discovering that one of the cassettes we’d stolen was by Christian pop songstress Amy Grant, one of our more god-fearing brothers freaked the fuck out and told us we were all going to hell.
Not 20 minutes later, we came across an old MG in an alley. The same guy thought it would be a great idea to push the car until it gained enough momentum to fly out onto Hillcrest, a busy enough street even at midnight for this to be an unthinkable idea. Thank Jesus, we outvoted him and together went on to do less life-endangering terrible things. (He is now a religiously reconciled biologist.)
There’s one last alley I’ll bring up. One weekend, some older dudes from my high school threw me into a car and said, “We’re going to the Alley of Death.” No further explanation was offered. My reaction was fear, mixed with “Oh, sweet, I get to hang out with these cool older dudes.”
We sped through the night until we reached The Alley, at which point the driver turned off his lights, revved his engine and blurred through the dark until we hit a precipitous dip that dropped your stomach like the Conquistador ride at Six Flags. Everyone screamed, and then we pulled out of it and returned to our usual demeanor of too-cool-for-screaming, but knowing in our hearts that the best rites of passage are rides of passage.
You can’t go creeping through alleys as an adult -- even if I still lived in Texas, in a sense, they’d still be something I missed. But like so many other parts of my suburban Dallas childhood, they remain something that defines me. Probably a bit too much, but hey, what can I say? I’m a tortoise.
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David Blend is the Director of Content at Thrillist Media Group. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram if you like laughter and hate envy.