Movin’ Out

No, this is not some allusion to the Billy Joel classic, although I have no doubt that he would sue the britches off me for utilizing it in such an uncouth manner. The title pertains only as the natural sequel to the Movin’ In story, and should the bug eyed musician beg to differ, I will be happy to change it to something innocuous and unrelated like “Anthony’s Song” or some other such nonsense. Be that as it may, allow me to bend your ear and sing you a song of decline and fall of the Comstock Empire and those who dwelt within.           

       By the spring of ’94, the driving impetus that ignited our passion for the house and neighborhood grew flaccid. The days when the old pile of shingles was a regional powerhouse of both parties and interesting characters had long since waned with the schism between us and the Frank clan. True, the general level of peace and prosperity had increased, as did my grades, but some of the magic was no longer there. In addition, we had run out of clever pranks to torture Jason with, making him nothing more than a nuisance rather than a source of amusement. It was clear something had to change, or we would soon find ourselves responsible adults, graduating from college and entering the tedious world of employment.  This simply could not be. I needed another year, maybe two, before contemplating such horrors as a salary, the concept of 9 to 5, and worst of all, big ticket purchases.           

       Knaus was the first to formally announce his intentions. Dismayed by the sale of his childhood bed right from the room it so long occupied, he decided to reestablish firm connection to the womb by moving as closely back to it as comfort and good taste would allow. While he was not replaceable in spirit, he certainly was financially and we contemplated advertising for a suitable substitute. The idea of living there without the constant fear of the ever growing army of cats was not at all unpleasant. The males had taken to spraying all corners of the dump creating a truly rancid and acrid environment. It was also my hope that he would take with him the hideous vacuum that sported a conniving, malicious face. Knaus has gone so far as to name the abomination, giving Herbie yet further animistic powers. Drunk and sadistic, he would threaten to leave it with us, and then cackle at my visible dismay.

       The second blow came with the announcement of Jason’s intention of not moving out. We had somehow assumed that our concentrated efforts to create an environment where he not only felt unwelcome, but terrified. Instead our heaping of attention upon him, negative though it was, somehow bolstered his self esteem to where he mirrored the little orphan boy he resembled, showing the stones to ask for more please. Intolerable! Furthermore, upon hearing of Knauses intentions, he both called dibs on the good room and made clear that he had someone who wanted to move in. Faced with the very real prospect of both sharing a floor with him and having someone who actually wanted to enjoy living space with him move in was more than we could handle.

       In the background, Aaron had been conducting secretive dealings with his long haired, basement dwelling computer geek friend Chet. Chet reportedly resided in a veritable Shangri-la in the prosperous town of Amherst where the superior people dwelt. The very revelation that such a swanky domain would allow the likes of Chet gave Aaron and I both hope that perhaps we as well would be welcome within the borders. After all, they also took Mooney. Though I had not yet seen this paradise, Aaron filled me with tales of wide open spaces, fresh air, basketball courts nearby, a close proximity to Tops, and pizza delivery places that would venture into the neighborhood for home delivery. I was naturally skeptical that such a place not only existed, but would be within the economic confines of our salaries, which perhaps had been raised but a thin dime per hour since hire to a round $4.00 even.

       We began to contemplate the audacity of the venture. Did we dare? The pot was soon sweetened by none other than Dan. As it had been so mentioned, Dan was in the possession of a large collection of rare eclectic videos as such to cause the owner of Mondo Video to pluck his beard in envy. The vast majority of these were crap, patently offensive to even the most hardened pornographers, or some mixture of both, although there were some glistening diamonds in the cesspool if one had to stomach to fish them out. Sure, gems like Liztomania and tapes of MTV Liquid Television were of some note, but I speak of course of Big Red. Aaron had seen a few episodes in one of his forays into Dan’s basement pre-Medicine hour days and the boycott that engendered, and had since rambled on incessantly about the virtues of Red Dwarf. It sounded insipid and puerile to me, even after looking up those words to see what they meant. In order to shut him up once and for all and as partial reparation for Sid and Nancy, as well as Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, I agreed one day to watch the bootleg tape.

       To say I was absolutely enthralled is a gross understatement! The show was brilliant, incorporating the very best of science fiction, absurd humor and no small amount of shtick. With near orgasmic pleasure we followed the adventures of a slacker spaceman, the hologram of his dead anal bunkmate, the ships computer, and a creature that by incredible coincidence evolved to human appearance from the cat the slacker snuck on board millions of years prior. Each episode was cleverer than the last, except of course for the Queeg episode which was most clever, thus putting a little blip in my tidy little order of things. I digress. The pot being sweetened was the proximity to Dan, now right around the corner, and his promise to grow and share his Red Dwarf library.  As if the decision to move was ever in question, this tipped the skycaps.

       We elected to keep secret the location to where we planned to move as to reduce the chance that Jason might follow out of convenience. As such we went about enjoying the spring and summer with full knowledge that we would soon be divested of Jason, the cats, and the presence of annoyance in our lives all together (ha!). Most memorable of those last days was one of the epic first trips down to Allentown to enjoy the art festival. Lured down by Knaus, who actually had a real interest in the art rather than just to watch the other freaks, we had a rollicking good afternoon. Clams on the half shell, Italian sausage with peppers and onion, beer at Porters, and a surprisingly accurate caricature of Aaron at a computer; it was all wondrous under a crystal blue sky. In Buffalo there is nothing like a good outdoor summer festival to marginalize the vigorous fisting the winters give its residents. The day bespoke of the coming glory of life outside the big brown shitbox the place had become.

       Not surprisingly, come early summer, Jason began enquiring in earnest as to where we planned to hang our hats. We gave him no response, choosing instead to leave him guessing as to whether we would stay or not. We had given Don, the landlord, plenty of advance notice, and I believe it was he who tipped off to Jason that he would be homeless come the end of July. As per usual, he sure didn’t appreeeeciate it one bit! Of course he made every attempt to find out where Aaron and I were going, and Paul as well, but to no avail. You can’t blame him; we had put up with him for two whole years, which was far longer than any other housemate of even area relative. He had really had it made eating our food, using our soap (and toothbrushes for all we know), mooching our toilet paper and laundry detergent, and slapping down increasing value (and decreasing worth) IOUs in lieu of payment for rent or utilities. The barbs and arrows flung his way did nothing toward devaluing the relative worth of these things. As far as we were concerned, he could piss blood one someone else’s toilet seat, or back alley dumpster for all we cared.

       Aaron and I set up an appointment with the good folk at the Princeton front office and got the grand tour of the joint. The model unit they had set up looked pretty sweet! As promised, the complex was technically in Amherst, did boast a basketball court only a block away, had a laundry facility just a short walk over, and was in the near proximity to a wonderful wooden fort style playground that promised endless hours of fun and play. Furthermore, we had Tops only 5 minutes and one treacherous climb away. We would beholden no more to the price gouging machination of the Guy clan and the sadistic cattle prodding of Moustache Guy. Stamps were sold at face value, and as for the produce, if you could see it, you could buy it. Chet and Dan were trumpeting the praises of the neighborhood as well, each being much invested in having the mountain come to Mohammed for a change.

       The last days were relatively uneventful, save for the final Dan birthday party that has been heretofore discussed from many points of view. Jason became more frequently absent, no doubt searching accommodations equal to this exalted level to which he’d become accustomed. In all honestly, I have no idea what really happened to him. I think one day he just wasn’t there anymore, and I never actually saw him again. His room was abandoned, leaving only dust, dirt, and the lingering odor of his person. He took with him, as no evidence of disposal existed, his moldy basement mattress, the garbage picked baseball cups, and the jar of old bacon grease I had hidden in his closet 2 years previous, which he had discovered and then returned to its new home. I had expected some kind of weepy goodbye, and was overjoyed to be spared such crocodile tears the situation would necessitate.

       The actual move out was somewhat better planned than the move in, although it posed its own challenges. Paul moved out the day previous, soliciting help from his father, me and Dave. His giant steel desk proved to be the biggest headache, primarily due it being slammed against my head twice in trying to maneuver it down the stairs. I elected to go the easy route, renting a U-haul to get everything done in one quick shot. I had hoped to split this with Aaron, but he neglected to get the day off and preferred to utilize the many small car trips method everyone so enjoys. He requested, however, that I take over the king size couch bed he had been given that was stored in the garage. I saw no harm in acquiescing given my enjoyment of the use of the large truck.

       The first error I made logistically was picking a weekday to move. While my father and Dave were able to accommodate, no one else was, leaving just the three of us on a scorching 95 degree day. The second error was agreeing to take Aaron’s couch without first taking a look at it, and more importantly, attempting to lift it. The thing was a beast; an anachronistic dinosaur left over from when they made the metal bed frames from wrought iron and the mattresses from some heavy dense DuPont concoction long since retired. Dave and I each grabbed an end to lift and carry up into the truck. “Uhhhhg! Holy fuck! Are you fucking kidding me with this?” Despite both of us being relatively fit, and the truck being but 30 feet away on flat surface, we had to put it down to rest no less than three times before the tortuous ascent up the ramp. I was gravely concerned as to how we were going to extract it later on, but chose to move forward in any case.

       Reaching our destination, already hot, sweaty and badly in need of rest, we concentrated on moving my weighty collection of books and comics up, deliberately ignoring the big pink elephant in the middle of the truck. Exhausted, but otherwise completely done but for the couch, we looked at each other with sad resolution. There was some serious consideration of simply returning the U-Haul with the couch left inside as a free albatross to the next renter, or simply leave it on the lawn for Aaron to move up, but I was determined to set things off in the right direction and expressed such. Heaving, straining, sweating and swearing, we attacked it with the red faced vigor of cheese eating old man on the toilet. To our credit, we made it half way up the stairs before becoming stuck. Naturally, a neighbor demanded exit, and we were forced to undo what little progress we made, and retreated with it back to the outside. Undaunted, we decided then to be smarter than the couch.

       It suddenly occurred to my father, and was then passed on to Dave and I, that whatever man had built, could be unbuilt, preferably on a temporary basis in this case. Right there on the lawn, we unfolded the bed, removed the cushions and mattress and took them up as independent entities. Through diligence and scraped knuckles, we undid all the connections that secured the bed frame to the couch. By itself, this metal leviathan was a challenge to maneuver up and threatened to unfold with every turn of stair, but we managed to fit it in the room. The couch frame, now considerably lighter, still posed an issue due to length. We were forced to move it upward in a completely vertical manner, and acknowledged it would have been impossible intact. When all was said and done, the majority of the effort had been that damn piece of crap. They say God looks out for drunks and fools, and that day we could add Aaron to the mix as he arrived with his first load of stuff not 15 minutes later, spared the agony of the feat.

       The final act was to meet with Don a week later for the final walk though to about the remote possibility of getting our deposit back. We were shocked and disheartened to see that he had already thrown away all the cat eaten furniture and was busily tearing the place apart for a major overhaul. Certainly didn’t bode well toward how he felt we kept the place up. Amazingly, he agreed to our refund in full! With one exception. Jason had neglected to come that day (as we didn’t know how to contact him anyway) and Don let loose his annoyance. “That boy has been trouble from the get go. Every damn month I came by to pick up the rent, and then came by a second time to pick up his. Sometimes even a third!” It was better than we could have hoped for; a windfall of unexpected cash and a final fuck you to old Thirsty Puddles. We walked out and never looked back.

       A brand new chapter of the college experience had begun with all the new excitement to be.  Nothing would ever surpass the Camelot that was Comstock in her glory, but it was time for men to continue childish things somewhere else now, free from the odiferous lurk of Jason and the cats. The golden age was over, and little did we know that a dark age was coming, when free from common threat, we would turn upon each other to satisfy our lusts to be irritable. That, however, is a tale for another day.

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13 Responses

  1. Sleeper sofas are notoriously difficult objects to move, and I remember that one being the bitchiest. Did you consider that it brought bugs in from the garage?

  2. You’ve come a long way baby. From moving in to Comstock, in part to have enough distance between us and Dan so as to discourage his frequent visits, to moving into Princeton, in part, for the close proximity to Dan. Dan is a fungus that is not easily removed, but apparently ages into (I wouldn’t quite say fine) wine.

    I still have the Allentown art festival caricature, though it has not yet see anything other than the closed lid of the foot locker.

    I have not the foggiest clue who gave me that couch.

    Old, cheese eating man on the toilet – nice. That fucking couch was one of three we left for the next tenant when we vacated Princeton. Compensation for the supposed squalor we left it in.

    Reminds me of your damn bread maker which left more burn crumbs than made bread.

    This begs we tell the story of moving out of Princeton, or rather the time leading up to it.

  3. I did consider that it brought bugs! That is why it was exclusively Aaron’s couch.

    That bread maker may have just been crumbs to you, but it gave me the best damn sandwiches of my life!

    I’m saving the move out of Princeton/ how I joined the Air Force for last, when I can’t think of anything else to write about. Speaking of which, I think this body of work is closer than not to reaching completion. There are still stories to tell, but they are becoming harder to find.

  4. There are a good number of stories to tell here, but the ones I have left on my list are for me and Louis to write, you cannot as you were not involved, or only barely involved. I have one in the works now concerning various incidents at Larry’s parties. The real slacker here is Louis, who needs to tell such stories as the creamer incident.

    Mike, were you there any of the times we funnelated?

  5. We are also still waiting for the story where Louis saved Matt’s life. I’d be willing to do this if provided the details, as I have another incident to relate in an overall story called ‘Saving Schultz’.

    I was there for one of the initial funnelations. It was the time at Goodyear when we launched balloons, followed by the cinder block and JPs dishes. I was the puller for a few of those.

    I don’t think I was ever at a Larry party, aside from the one on Forest where we happened to run into him.

    I’m working on one now called ‘To Protect the Guilty’, in which names and details will be changed for the title purpose.

  6. I’ll provide you what details I have. If Louis does not provide himself your account will be the Official Story.

  7. Excellent! Creating the truth is forte of mine.

  8. I’m finishing up two further pieces one on Oddballs of comstock. Though it’s reall only one oddball Jeff Death. Whom everyone seems to know, and the other on the fight between Jason and Klausen. This is the soy sauce incident.

    And I object to the fungus metaphor. Imgine how boring your lives would’ve been without me! HA!

  9. Actually he described you as a fungus that aged somehow into wine. Remind me never to accept anything to drink at his house. Hm, for that matter, either of you.

    I greatly look forward to both entries!

  10. I am not a slacker – I am putting in all my effort in the pursuit of unrighteous Mammon, aka money. However, I will be providing an explanation of saving Matt, as well as a take on the creamer story, and also a take on JP claiming that my prom date turned into a lesbian and sawed her wrists open with a butter knife. All of this will be done without Wolf’s flowery piles of cow manure added, so if Mike wants to write some dreamed up versions of same, that won’t stop me from writing. In fact, I will still go back and write my version of whatever story catches my fancy. As far as the creamer incident, I am trying to think of any way to protect the guilty in that case.

  11. I meant fungus as a compliment, or did i?

    I don’t think there any anything about the creamer story that is any more embarrassing than what has already been written.

    I love the oddball series! Does this one include Matt’s comment about Jeff being the scariest individual he ever met, and his arm is as large as Matt’s head?

  12. I object! My bullshit would be classified far more gonzo than flowery. I can always fancy it up more if you like.

    Ah yes, the lovely Kara. I remember hearing that rumor, but since I knew her all though UB (she was in half my psych classes) never saw evidence. Then again, wasn’t her last name McKunt? That alone might incite someone to swing in the other direction.

    By the way, you have full bragging rights to tell the story of how she became your prom date after never even exchanging greetings in Butler’s class that summer. Pure balls that took!

  13. Believe me, I have conceptualized the story end-to-end including some small details that will not fail to amuse you. When I get settled I will write that tale. Good thing she was a charitable type, eh?

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