Rock the Casba

       There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that this is a particularly stupid name for a story, but so far I do not have any that begin with the letter ‘R’. With ‘R’ being one of my primary sponsors, along with the number 6, I was reminded by a stern letter from ‘R’s’ lawyers to get with the program or face punitive litigation. Thoroughly frustrating! In any case, I have now satisfied the terms of the agreement and will proceed to recount some tales of past parties that occupy but the shakiest corners of our collective memories. As always, I make no apology for the stunning lack of accuracy and liberal use of libel and slander at the attempt at a more interesting story.           

       One such party that I have good recollection of is the surprise party for my 21st birthday, lo those long seven years ago, or so I tell people. I remember this party so well not because it gave me license to drink (Paul had given me that years prior with the use of some chalk), but because it was the only surprise party ever sprung upon me before or since, and came at a time when I needed some cheering up. One might wonder what horrid event might put a disgustingly cheerful soul such as me into a funk. Some might say that I was crushed by amazement that unrequited feelings toward some damsel remained as such, but in truth I was already over such things. Others postulate that it was the heartbreak of my case of Dutch Elm disease and Mange that I used to like to claim, which in retrospect, probably led directly to the unrequited business. No, in truth I must lay claim to my dweebish heritage and admit that it was the untimely death of Superman that had me bummed.           

       There is absolutely no debate that Superman was and is the greatest American, nay world, hero of all time, crushing such competition as George Washington, Charlemagne, Uncle Sam, and even the Hulk. I was flabbergasted that the bean counters at DC would have the stones to sacrifice such a true blue icon in the interest of pumping up some hype and that might lead to slightly increased monthly sales. Working at Collector’s Inn, I had the inside scoop (mostly from gossipy customers) that this was the real deal and not some namby-pamby marketing ploy. Big Blue was going to be gone for good, swimming with the fishes in Kryptonite cement shoes. I just prayed it would not be by someone lame like the Toyman. Worse, it was some brainless douche from outer space we had never seen before. I was outraged and inconsolable. In tribute, I painted the red ‘S’ shield upon my wall in teary reverence.           

       The day of the party Dave picked me up from work at Collectors, on time by some miracle, and took me to the movies. I should have suspected that something was up. As a rule, when Dave drove, one could kiss goodbye the notion of seeing any of the previews and probably the first 10 minutes of the film to boot. He treated too, which was another welcome surprise. After the movie we went back to Comstock where I intended on retiring to my room and drawing melancholy Superman pictures to further adorn my wall. Fucking Doomsday. I schlumped up the stairs and heard Paul call me from his room and issued an invitation into his sacristy. Smart men do not ignore invitations from Knaus, as he will only ask once and develop severe prejudice if rebuffed. I reluctantly opened the door.           

       Surprise!! I jumped back as if shot at point blank range with a harpoon gun. Entering Knaus’s demesnes was risky business as it was and I could never be sure there was not some open grudge dangling invisibly before me. In this instance, however, it was truly benign. The gang, led by Ann, put together a surprise party for me! Once I got to my feet and recovered my breath, I was terribly pleased with it all. It was a wonderful event, marked by much drinking of beer and raucous conversation. For some reason, the majority of the party remained in Knauses room where the cool kids liked to hang out. At one point Jason joined us and everyone was pleasant for a change, at least to some degree. At one point I remember Dan addressing him from across the room. “Hey Jason, would you mind terribly doing me a favor and stepping about 3 feet over to the right?” Jason, aflutter at the positive attention Dan was showing him, complied without question. “Thanks! I was downwind from you before” The rest of us appreciated the joke anyway.           

       While the more legendary of college parties wind down with people pairing off to go do some serious deep dicking, we didn’t have that kind of party being perpetually short on unrelated women. Instead, we choose the next best avenue, which was to watch something inane on our gigantic TV that everyone would get a kick out of. Paul’s Ren and Stimpy tape was a perennial favorite and it went into the attached VCR on this occasion as well. I took my usual throne; the chair front and center with the unusually high arms, and fell fast asleep as I generally did after the better part of a twelve pack.            

       I awoke later on and noted that everyone was in a jovial good mood. They especially seemed pleased that I had rejoined the festivities and could barely restrain loud laughter at my quippy one liners. Impressed with my own verbal acuity, especially after such a high level of consumption, I had great fun entertaining the crowd. Soon my female sized bladder got the better of me and I made my way to the bathroom. After doing my business and uncharacteristically washing my hands, I looked up and saw that someone had vandalized the mirror with lipstick. Filthy language and obscene pictures of male genitalia adorned it. No, correction, adorned my face. It suddenly became clear the source of my powers to amuse. I cleaned myself off and returned to the living room and the expectant hushed faces within it. Would I lose my cool and rage against this machine of malicious vandalism? I was in too good a mood still due to the effort and simply announced it was not my color.            

       Knaus naturally recorded the event of my disfigurement with plenty of pictures that he no doubt still has in his collection. There was another instance where I fell asleep on the couch by the mantle and was the victim of more malicious tomfoolery. In that instance Paul took pictures while JP attacked my sleeping person with inflated condoms. It was by accident that I even discovered this happened, as Knaus forgot to remove them from a stack he was passing around. Outraged, I demanded them, and to my astonishment, he gave them up. I destroyed them, but Knaus only printed more up from the negatives and held them out as incentive to discourage any perceived attack on his person. Effective, even if his reputation was already doing the job. I resolved to at the very least walk, stumble or crawl up to my room with my last ounce of strength before falling asleep in the company of these brigands again.           

       After this we entered the era of the Frank parties and the chaos that ensued though most of them. I’ll abstain from going over past details, but there was one instance that hasn’t been mentioned previously. As with all parties with this group involved, there were a great number of people, many of whom were unknown, covering a very wide range of ages. At this particular party, I grew concerned when I found a group in the yard who looked as though they were in high school. Early high school. I sent them home, but this evening I felt particularly panicked about the prospect of a visit from the Buffalo police. I was edgy all evening, but hit the roof when a report filtered back that Carrie and some her friend, having gone out to pick someone off, had gotten into an accident. That was pretty much all I needed. I got Knaus and Aaron together and we quickly emptied the house. Everyone left for Denny’s, but I stayed behind to clean up and erase any trace of a party that night in case we were paid a visit. Everything was dumped in the crypt and I sat in the dark in my room, waiting for the inevitable knock. It never came, but I recall us being somewhat more cautious after that, leading up to the attempted break in that severed relations between Clan Comstock and Clan Frank.           

       The next great party other than those already mentioned to death was New Years, ringing in 1993. Looking back at the pic, that party took place in the transition time while we still hung mainly with the old crowd from the dorm days, before the likes of the Franks became permanent fixtures. This party was notable in that it was the first for which we obtained a full keg. As with most other shindigs, this one was preceded with a careful stacking of all household goods and consumables into Jason’s room. I think this was also the last time that Mike Ende ever graced our door. This evening literally ended with a bang as Sean had brought along firecrackers and made a great show lighting them and tossing them into throngs of unsuspecting people. It was then that I realized that this would probably never be the kind of place where it was advisable to have nice things. In the future, ‘The Man With The Golden Hat’ would join the rest of our riches in Jason’s stank hole.           

       1993 was a year of many parties as it contained the intrusion of the Frank clan into our lives, not to mention the Dashwood contingent, and those kids who hung out at the gas station Dave worked at. It was a potpourri of fragrant diversity; a meeting of sharp and divergent minds and philosophies, punctuated by moments of inspired brilliance and obvious sarcasm more cutting than this very line. In truth there was ample drinking, the breaking of many fine and irreplaceable items, and of course the passive aggressive tormenting of Jason. This period was also proud to call home the celebrated Wolverines party; hands down the greatest event ever held on this slum lord’s dream of a block.           

       Following the Wolverine’s party, we could only really go downhill from there. We tried, however, work at finishing the left over kegs before winter hit again and they burst in our garage. Over the summer we were blessed with a grand opportunity. Some friend of the Franks was having an enormous ‘parents away for the week’ party near Lincoln Park. The planner for the event, some friend of Carrie, calculated she would be short on beer. Carrie knew we were desperate to unload the kegs and brokered a deal in which the foolish girl would pay us (OK, me) $40 up front and we would bring the keg with us. We loaded it into the back of Matt’s minivan and trucked it over there on the assigned night. To our naive surprise, the cops had beat us to the event and we wisely drove on by. Apparently a high school senior having hundreds of people descend upon the house raised a few eyebrows in the neighborhood. We beat a retreat back home and tapped the paid for keg ourselves. It was sour and rancid, such that not even Dan was able to stomach more than a few cups. The party girl, presumably still grounded to this day, never requested her funds back, nor were they offered.           

       During the summer months, Knaus also took to calling impromptu ‘gin and tonic’ parties in the backyard. G&T was Paul’s drink of choice, borrowed from his favorite fictional shady character, John Constantine. Those days were always interesting as Knaus would arrive home, usually on a Friday, with a big bottle of gin, a disproportionately small amount of tonic, and limes galore. On one occasion I remember Aaron, evidently fooled by the supply ratios, mixed up a whopping 22 oz drink with about 20 ounces of gin and 2 of tonic. I don’t think I ever saw him so hammered. On one such occasion, we dragged some mattresses out from the basement to serve as convenient couches on the scraggly back lawn. Many Sat morning arrived with a few of us sleeping out there under the stars.           

       The year plodded on with summer fun, climbing garages, an uninspired fight, an attempted break in, and a relatively quiet fall, all documented elsewhere, so I won’t inundate the reader with the same tired old crap I have fed to them before. For the most part anyway. The next major party event was of course the next New Years. By this time the Franks had taken their leave of us, Carrie having joined the Army and Mandy slunk off to give birth to a child of somewhat dubious pedigree. This event, however, was marked by the unusual presence of Louis, who generally shunned our more Bacchus inspired events, and can be found in the picture section emitting what appears to be a mighty roar for the camera. Also conspicuously missing are both Sean, who had already wisely begun divesting himself of us by this point, and JP who by then took to hanging with a trendier crowd.           

       This of course was in infamous party where Ken made his best effort to plow Rai-Ann on one of the basement mattresses, putting Jason into a considerable huff. I made a weak attempt at chatting up a mysterious blond in a red sweater who was somehow affiliated with Jason. Naturally she so often brought up her absent boyfriend, who apparently had better places to be on New Year’s Eve, that I finally gave up and resorted to chatting up an abrasive brunette, also brought by Jason. In retrospect, it says very little of the house’s ability to attract the fairer sex when every single woman in attendance was brought by Jason, who technically was not even invited to the party. We found it difficult, you see, to load his room with furniture while he is blocking the door in protest.            

       Some of the most entertaining parties held were those that we didn’t throw ourselves. Jason, for reasons still unknown, felt he had achieved the popularity, or even just notoriety, to throw profitable parties on his own. I don’t recall if he made 2 or 3 such efforts, but that he made more than one was surprising. The first I recall him throwing was the previously mentioned 80’s party. As Aaron remarked, throwing an 80’s party sounds like a tremendous idea now, but back in 1993 it seemed a little like jumping the gun. Perhaps he was just a man ahead of his time. As I recall, he spent no small amount of time decorating for the big event and even went so far as to procure a miniature Pac-Man machine, Michael Jackson posters (from the pre-white pedophile years), plenty of 80’s music and other knick-knacks strewn about the house.           

       As we are all aware of the conclusion to this event, I’ll focus somewhat on the preparation. Jason actually issued hundreds of invitations to this thing. Not only did virtually every acquaintance of his receive one, but so did the full staff’s of the Spectrum and Generation (for whom he occasionally wrote), his co-workers at Burger King (including Noseferatu), and every classmate. He tried to calculate how much beer he would need for the expected number of attendees and came up with 3 kegs, which he procured with the help of Rai-Ann and her trusty car. I don’t know how he got them into the basement as he was incapable of lifting clothes out of the dryer all at once, and Rai-Ann was by no means muscle bound. Knowing Jason, I suspect he rolled them down the stairs and hoped for the best. 

       All in all, I would say he spent a good $300 on the whole venture, which was close to 2 months rent. Given that he could never seem to pay his rent on time as it was, I asked him if this was perhaps too high risk a venture for him to undertake. Generally speaking, at the first of each month, Paul, Aaron, and I would leave checks on the kitchen table for Don to pick up. Jason usually left a note begging for more time. He offered to let me in on the investment opportunity and returns, but I was never much of a gambler and felt very certain I would not see that money again had I given it over. Nervous and excited on the evening of the big day, he waited for the throngs of people to begin arriving, and warned us that given the chances of going over capacity, Ann and Dan were absolutely not invited. Upon hearing this I called them both immediately.

       Dan told this story best, but for the sake of continuity in this tale, the party went as expected with a total of 6 people showing up, including Rai-Ann, an Indian couple and some other squirrelly looking mouth breathers who soon left. One of these very rare paying guests asked Jason if it was all right to smoke in the living room, and despite the fact that Knaus and I were in there at the time doing just that, Jason still told them no. They left a few moments after. When we moved in Jason declared the house to be non-smoking, which Knaus and I immediately disregarded by lighting up in front of him. He never tired in his campaign, but only succeeded in alienating several of the rare people he was able to coax over. At the end of the night, Dan and Ann sat side by side on the couch smirking, eyeing Jason hungrily; waiting for the last guests to leave before they pounced. Jason already crushed both emotionally and financially, knew he could not survive their vicious onslaught. He begged the Indian couple to take him with them, and despite their very obvious wish to do otherwise, could take the impassioned pleading for sanctuary no more and left glumly with him in tow. Once gone, we called the rest of the gang and polished off the better part of the only tapped keg. The others were eventually enfolded into our store of beer and were tapped at times Jason was out of town. I won’t bother recounting the second party of his that I remember as it went eerily like the first, although was a Christmas bash. A better theme, certainly, but still failed to draw a crowd.

       As 1994 plodded along and with many of the party heavy people gone from the group, the frequency of such events waned considerably. The very last bash was Dan’s birthday and although it was a momentous bash attended by a local celebrity, it paled to the glory of the Wolverine’s SF days. Shortly before moving out, Aaron and I took all the empty kegs back, including Jason’s, and split a tidy profit.

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4 Responses

  1. There was one event that no one has written about yet. That’s when Chris Clausen and Jason got into a fight. I rememebr it vividly, and I’ll be the one to tell it.

    Good entry Mike.

  2. I don’t remember this fight?

    As for Mike’s attempt to chat up the girls at the party, his famous line, uttered while visibly swaying back and forth, “My name is Michael, but you can call me Mike.”

    The mention of Sean Burns reminds me of the week he stashed his girlfriend at our house. This was a small inconvenience, but she earned all our admiration when she was stuck in the house by herself, conversing with Jason. She told him to “take a shower”, and he complied; perhaps the first such cleansing in weeks.

    On the point of the non-smoking house, I too desired to ban smoking, but I had long ago learned that one smoker in the house means it is a smoking house, and not being able to myself to side with Senior Pond Scum, I stood far on the side of smoking.

  3. I don’t recall this fight either, but would love to hear about it.

    I remember Heidi staying with us, but don’t remember why. I think it was something to do with a parental approval issue?

    I remember the line. I don’t remember the girl’s name; only that she looked alot like that blond muppet, and was also somehow affiliated with Jason. I was pretty hammered and remember talking to her authoritativly about Napalm Death, whom I had never heard of previously. Smooth operator that I was, I still somehow failed to close the deal that night.

  4. Naplam Death was a great band.

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