House Party Hooligans

      “Here we are now, entertain us” was an apt anthem to describe our generation in its youth, as first espoused by terminally defunct grunge rocker Kurt Cobain. While he chose entertainment in the form of the sharp end of a heroin needle and subsequently the business end of a Colt 45 (or however he offed himself; I can’t remember and can’t be bothered to look it up), we chose to seek out the best possible party each Saturday night. While at Comstock we often had to look no further than our own living room, the dorms were less accommodating.

            The beautiful part about living on the UB South Campus was that the dorms there were in convenient walking distance to all of the University Heights run down, student rented housing. It has often occurred to me what desperate landlord would consider renting his property to fraternities, sororities, and unaffiliated young douche bags such as ourselves? At the rental rates for the area, I suppose the choice was this by a slim margin over the crack addicts and escaped insane who could also only afford such accommodations. Despite the price being right, combined household incomes were often not enough to make the rent and thus the house party was born.

            An intelligently run (and I use the term loosely) house gig usually consisted several kegs dispersed throughout the premises, a $4 cover charge, half hour wait for the bathroom, the annoying chick asking everyone if they had some pot, and the dude who was clearly way too old to be there. In some instances there were clever draws such as free shots of Rumple Mintz for filling out a Discover Card application (completed and approved by and for one Mr. Chester Cheetah) of if we were in luck, a live band. Some itinerant groups spent a great deal on promotion and advertisement thus guaranteeing an early arrival of the police to break things up and cart away the instigators. The rule of thumb was to take the number of flyers per wall in the Student Union, multiply by 5, and that is how many minutes before 11:00 PM the Man would come and kill the good buzz.

            Band parties were great, but none so much as the Drunken Puppet parties on Tyler. Unlike our own attempts at the band thing (see Wolverines SF), these guys played the whole night though, cleared any noise issues with the neighbors before, and spread the word quietly. I can’t remember a one of their gigs that were broken up early. A great deal of their brilliance lay in that they decided to forego anything original whatsoever and concentrating their core competency on being able to cover the widest variety of bands from the 60’s on forward. The play list was eclectic; transitioning from the high falsetto of “Oh What a Night” to a rugged “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and back to a mellow “Piano Man” all within one set. There was something for everyone and nothing was so disappointing as to go to their final appearance in the spring of ’92 (although there was a reunion performance at Jimmy J’s on Bailey two years later). No one ever pulled it off better, including us.

            As entertaining as many of these shindigs were on their own, it was up to us to really make the most of them. Of all of us, Knaus took this responsibility to the highest level of seriousness possible. Prior to each event, Paul began to doubt the potency of the alcohol that would be present and its ability to allow him to achieve the chemical induced state he was seeking. Because of this he invented the pre-party cocktail consisting of a full bottle of Nyquil used to chase down the contents of an entire box of Vivarin. On occasions where he was feeling particularly challenged he would add a liberal dose of Dexatrim diet pills to the mix. While hardened junkies might laugh at the effects such innocuous over the counter pseudo-medications might have, they certainly produced a profound and disturbing change in Knaus. Like Superman being exposed to red kryptonite and its harrowing effects, Knaus would transform from a mild mannered, reserved and serious student to a crazed and violent wildman, just barely constrained by our combined efforts to keep him reeled in. Frankly, we wouldn’t have had it any other way, although I found it a minor miracle that even the most cash starved of enterprises deigned to let us though the door.

            The core group for these outings consisted of Knaus, Aaron, and I, although for the sake of variety we brought in guest stars from time to time such as Dan, Ann, JP, Schultz and even Jeff S. To my recollection, Dan was by far the most interesting as well as the most useful on those occasions when Knaus would finally become overcome with combined effects of the cocktail and beer, and lost it all together, sometime exploding into a fireball of chemical rage.  Poor Jeff was the most timid and it was just his luck that the one event we managed to drag him to got busted early causing him to burst into a flurry of panic. It probably didn’t help that I filled his head with the horrors of anticipated prison life, but in my defence it never occurred to me that he would consider an underage beer drunk to be grounds for harsh sentencing.

            Upon arrival it was custom to wait for our first beer together, but disperse soon after, looking for people we knew, waiting on the bathrooms, or waiting for more beer. Knaus and I would often take up positions at the keg itself, volunteering our services as pump jockeys with the hopes of meeting new and interesting people, preferably of the opposite sex. Performing our duties, which perhaps not having the desired aphrodisiac effect, allowed us to gain new skills such as administering keg stands and funneling. The added bonus was that we were always first in line. Generally we would be relieved of duty once we lost the requite motor skills to effectively pump, and would then disperse to wander about the premises. On one such occasion, I came upon Knaus sitting upside down in a chair. He was ringed by several seeming disciples, sitting cross legged on the floor and listening with rapt attention while Knaus spouted tales of murderous paratrooper bunnies. Appalled, I quickly made my exit before I would be associated with him.

            I don’t remember when it started, but Paul began a new tradition at one of the frat parties. You see, we didn’t care at all for the frats themselves; hating them with every fiber of our beings, but were grudgingly willing to drink their beer. In order to offset the outrage of paying the lords of date rape to enter their dens of iniquity, Knaus began stealing items from the premises. Nothing large mind you; generally just toiletries, small household objects, and occasionally cutlery. In one instance, he gleefully showed off a package of razors he absconded with, but when we reminded him that the house in question was not occupied by a frat, he insisted on returning to the party expressly to return them. His most interesting lift, however, was of a full bottle of charcoal starter that was to play an important role in our lives months down the line.

            Prior to that particular party, Knaus hit the pre-party cocktail a little more heavily than usual, adding Dexatrim and sinus medicine to the Nyquil and Vivarin, all on an empty stomach. By the time we reached the premises, he was no longer with us in any mental or personality aspect. It was not long after we arrived that his cocktail combined with the alcohol caused him to lose it entirely. He was busily and loudly demanding a sharp object from the frightened occupants when they finally insisted he leave. He did, with Aaron and I in tow, and revealed his theft of the charcoal starter half way down the driveway. Aaron and I were both annoyed at having to leave so early and decided to go back to the dorm, drink some left over GABs, and perhaps watch a movie. On the way back we decided we were a bit peckish and the yellow sign of a Subway beckoned. Deciding it best not to bring in Knaus and risk not getting fed, we set him on a bus stop bench where he slumped over, muttering incoherently, while we ducked in for a couple of Subway Melts.

            Exiting the Subway a few moments later, we immediately detected a problem. Someone, perhaps even himself, absconded with our Knaus. The Metro itself seemed a likely suspect, but given that I had ‘borrowed’ the last of his cash to get my Melt, we doubted he would have gotten far. The local gangs were not much for human trafficking in those days and probably would have only boosted his boots, leaving the unwashed sot in his place. No, Knaus had by some miracle of fortitude lifted his gangly frame and sallied forth, the trooper that he was. Utilizing the finest tracking skills at our disposal, we followed on his trail, presuming it was a bee line for the dorms.

            Upon reaching our rooms we were dismayed that our quarry had not led us to his den as expected. Foxy of him. Very foxy. We entered into some debate as to whether to eat first while our food was still somewhat warm and then look for him, or to look first as it had begun to snow. Heavy hearted, we suited back to reenter the nights air and threw open the door to find a worn and weary Knaus standing, fumbling his keys, with the charcoal started beneath his arm. He looked up at us uncomprehending, pushed past us ripping off his jacket, and passed out boots and all upon his bed. We watched TV for a short time until he began retching up on himself, which added nothing to the ambiance.

            The following day found him in better position to talk, after laundry had been done and other measures of de-skunkification. He related to me what happened. Enraged at being left on the bench like a common hobo and unwelcome sot, he lunged forth, resolved to get his own victuals from another establishment. By some minor miracle he made his way across Main and cut across the empty barren fields of the UB south campus. He recalled walking, then somehow encountering stiff resistance and absolute darkness. After some exploration, he determined the cause to be his face down condition in the snowy field. Thirst hounded him and he turned to the only port in his personal storm; the charcoal starter. It was a poor choice anyway you look at it. He spit most of it out and concluded a few puffs on one of his trademark Winston Selects would give him the clarity of mind to find his way home. Lady luck however blew the winds fierce that night, saving him from the ECMC burn unit. Said luck and perhaps the last shreds of self preservation led him back to the dorms soon after.

            Generally speaking, such narratives end with a moral, or pithy phase beginning with, “We learned a great lesson that night”, but in this case, I’m afraid it was not so. Truth be told, this was likely only the 5th or 6th closest anyone had gotten to buying the farm in our gentle care those early years of the 90’s. I never tried the fluid myself, even in my least coherent moments, but I hear it’s not much worse than getting shot in the ass with rock salt.

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6 Responses

  1. Good old Knuas. I recall a party in the basement that was so packed (it was their annual beach party, complete with sand on the basement floor – very confusing when you can’t see the floor to expect the feel of sand) we were trapped in the corner of the basement, with the dryer, which Knaus promptly puked in. After 15 minutes of hanging his head, we popped up and was ready for action.

    I also remember a basement party were a door was the bar, and Knaus entertained the crowd with his door carvings.

    I engaged with Knaus in theft one night, without Wolf, we attending a party and on they way back stole a cinder block from a construction site. The block lived in the middle of our dorm room until it was broken into pieces and the pieces funnelated out the 7th floor window.

  2. The beach floor party was the first in which I was introduced to slam dancing. In fact, I was engaged in this activity when Knaus puked in the dryer. He also did this in the dorm dryer as well. Interesting when the washer is so much more convenient.

    The night of funnelating the cinder block was the same where we funnelated JPs dishes out the window as well. Glorious times!

  3. I am just ecstatic you are all posting. I am being reminded of tons of stuff. Your frequent posting is dragging the rest of us along with you. Dan and I are posting more often, and Louis has posted a few times, but certainly contributes with comments, as we all do.

    I can’t wait for the day I get an email from some long-lost Comstock personage that says “What the fuck?” 🙂

  4. I figure that is bound to happen sooner or later and will bring us one step closer to le grande reunion. You know, this August is 15 years since we moved in there!

  5. I remember it was always a hassle getting back from a party when Mouse was around, because he would insist on taking a long and round-about route, and he would become quite loud and obnoxious about it. Screaming in the street at 2 in the morning.

    All of this really is beginning to make me wonder about Mouse’s mental stability. You two had daily exposure to him, and I’m seeing a weird pattern with him.

  6. I honestly never really thought much of it. He was just Paul. Sure he created ‘Animal Divorce Court’, and painted unicorns with rainbows, and became unspeakably violent when drunk, and invented Timeslip to the dismay of all gamer geeks, and well, and all that other stuff. Put in the right setting with the rest of us though, he probably appeared as the more normal of the bunch. I never really worried about him going off the deep end or anything. He was just a weird motherfucker, just like the rest us. Good material for stories though!

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