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8 Rites of Passage All Ohio Teenagers Go Through

by Matt Hershberger Jan 23, 2015
1. You made your parents drive you out of state to go see a concert.

Nothing ever comes through Ohio. Sure, the occasional show will stop in one of the “big three Cs,” but most of the major tours skip from the east coast to Chicago, so you’ve got to bully your parent into driving you to Chicago, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, or Louisville to get to see your favorite band.

2. You went “Jeeping.”

Maybe you call it by another name — but at some point, you’ve gotten into a friends car, and have just driven around for fun. Maybe you stop at a restaurant, maybe you stop at a friend’s house, or maybe you’ve just cranked up some music and drove in zig-zagging patterns. Regardless of what you called it or did, in car-heavy Ohio, a huge portion of your pre-drinking social life takes place in the back of an automobile.

3. You had to turn down cow-tipping.

As far as I know, no one ever actually went cow-tipping. It always sounded kinda boring and maybe a little bit cruel. But some jackass who was bored of driving around or hanging out in someone’s basement suggested it, and you had to pretend it was a possibility before shooting it down in favor of something else.

4. You partook in at least two illicit activities in the backseat of someone’s car.

One of your first hookups was almost certainly in the backseat of a car — how far it went depends on the person, but cars are probably the only reliable place for teenage privacy in Ohio — and on top of that, you’ve probably driven to rich neighborhoods to smoke pot. “Why rich neighborhoods?” outsiders might ask. Because the police in rich neighborhoods don’t want to pull over teenagers for getting high. Those kids could have wealthy parents who often donate money to the local PD. If you haven’t gotten high in the back seat, maybe you’ve tossed water balloons at passing cars. Maybe you snuck sips of a 40 back there. But you’ve done something wrong.

5. You learned to love drunk food before you learned to drink.

Let’s be honest — most Ohio cuisine that is affordable enough for teenagers is drunk food. Not that BW3’s, Wendy’s, and Skyline aren’t all delicious foods in their own right — but they were clearly cooked for people who are too smashed to care about the presentation. As a Cincinnati teenager, the day that I didn’t spend at least some of my time in a Skyline Chili was rare.

6. One of your teachers came up with a half-assed excuse to take a field trip to a theme park.

Not that you ever complained, but it always sounded a little thin when your physics teacher said that you were going to Kings Island or Cedar Point to “learn about kinetic energy.” You spent the entire day running around from roller coaster to roller coaster, not learning a damn thing, and probably losing brain cells on some of the more rickety roller coasters.

7. You actually hung out under the bleachers at high school football games.

It sounds like an embarrassing Americana cliche — hanging out under the bleachers, maybe making out with someone wearing heavy braces — but it seriously happened. High school football games are major social events, and everyone goes to them — but not quite as many would actually watch the game.

8. You went “cabrewing.”

Not only is it illegal for you to drink underage, but it’s also illegal to be operating any sort of watercraft under the influence in Ohio. Which makes cabrewing complicated. There just aren’t many places to hide a cooler of beer in a canoe if a cop stops you, and it’s not as if a canoe is the most efficient getaway vehicle. At the same time, is there anything better than floating down a river or a stream while having a few beers with your friends?

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