Knaus and I

            Since drafting ‘Thies and I’, it became apparent to me that some of the characters found herein and such probably require similar tales to be told. Chances are that in the collected edition, the T&I story will follow this one and thus what I am writing about probably makes no sense at all, unless you are a clever enough monkey to skip about or perused the formidable table of contents. If not, I’m certain you are already confused and having made your way this far, you might as well continue, as my words, I am certain delight to you even more than fresh cherry cobbler.

            Though it is probably of little interest to the reader, I met Knaus the same way I met Psycho, at one of the Wargames meetings. He had somehow, and without my knowledge or consent, been brought in by Louis to help ‘run the day to day operations’; something I was perfectly capable of pretending to do. Although threatened by the intrusion, I discovered early on that he was mentally in the same magnitude of bizarre that I was; something that I found strangely comforting. We also found ourselves taking the same art class in sophomore year, which is where he picked up the long discarded moniker, Mouse. As each of us took to the comic book style of art, I introduced him to Collector’s Inn, pleasing Jim to no end, as Knaus always seemed to have a wallet full of cabbage every time he walked in.

            That year I also managed to create another connection by bringing Dave to the art show where Knaus and I were showing off our wares. Within 5 minutes of meeting each other the two were wrestling like dogs in heat in the parking lot. A beautiful bromance was born, and one frankly, that I sometimes became the third wheel in. This was my first and only successful attempt at integrating groups of friends from previous periods in my life with newcomers, probably because it is usually something I try to avoid.

            The first time I stayed over at the Knauses over night, I knew I had met my match in oddness. The kitchen table was covered with newspapers, atop which were a collection of batteries in various stages of disassembly. Knaus revealed that he was performing detailed dissections on them, and although I had abandoned my childhood attempts at alchemy, I resolved to put my chemist hat back on and see what forbidden substances I could take apart at home, resulting in many burns. Knaus also revealed that day his own particular brand of logic when making scrambled eggs. I witnessed him dumping in quantities of vanilla extract into the mix, and when I pressed him on why, he stated that vanilla made things taste better, end of story. It was a principle that could simply not be argued with, though I will say they were pretty sucky eggs.

            That first sleepover was also memorable as it revealed Knaus to be as daring an intrepid explorer as I was, perhaps even more so. We decided to walk over to the old Thruway Mall from his house, taking a back channel along some old abandoned rail road tracks, something Dave and I used to do ourselves. After screwing around there for a while, we headed back utilizing a “shortcut” Knaus claimed to have intimate knowledge of. Somehow we became lost in this area, readily observable by entering these coordinates (42.904482,-78.786821) into Google Maps. This delightful looking “park” area is in truth nothing of the kind; the area is actually an industrial dumping ground amidst a swamp treacherous with piles of corroding hulks of strange machinery and murky channels of slightly frozen over sludge and water filled ditches. Did I mention it was February?

            Knaus led us deep into this wasteland with was what I feel were deliberate intentions to cause me the maximum amount of discomfort possible. We scurried around the piles, snagging our jackets and flesh on the razor sharp edges of rusty metal and frequently plunged one or both legs into one of the horrendous bogs. A mixture of snow and drizzle started to come down, further obscuring our limited view and sense of direction. For several hours we wandered, forced back to the center by the presence of trains or some insurmountable obstacle. Eventually we found our way to one of the side streets and took the by ways back, ending up in Town Park on Harlem. There we were accosted by an angry gentleman we affectionately referred to as ‘Dickhead’ afterward. With our muddy disheveled appearances he mistook us for a pair of sophisticated second story men who had been doing some breaking and entering in the local area weeks prior. We managed to convince him otherwise, but he banished us from the premises anyway.

            Despite the horrendous trip through the bog of doom, I let him convince me to accompany him through the tunnel that runs beneath the Galleria mall shortly after it was built. We began the journey in the mall proper and had Jeff along in tow. We got some cheap flash lights at the Dollar Tree, the kind that you have to hold down the button to keep lit, and ventured to the start of the tunnel, resembling old timey Roman catacombs. Jeff freaked within the first few feet and pledged to meet us, if we emerged alive, around the other side. Creepy does not begin to describe it. Pitch black, sterile, with a slow creek running through. At some points you could look up through a grate and see the happy shoppers walking above in a very different world. Near the end we found a side tunnel and began to venture down. An indescribably horrific noise, however, led us to believe a cult of Satanists was looking for fresh sacrifices, so we bolted out of there post haste.

            We managed to maintain a tight friendship through high school even to the point where I hooked him up with my cousin Ann for the senior prom. He was actually supposed to return the favor hooking me up with his cousin Lin, but fate intervened and I ended up going with Ende’s girlfriend’s friend instead. Before high school ended and after we both got accepted to UB, we made arrangements to become dorm mates the following fall; a service UB was willing to provide as roommates with prior friendships were less likely to cause administrative headaches by requesting room changes mid-semester. We were assigned to Schoellkopf hall on the South Campus on the fourth floor reserved exclusively for freshmen men. Not an ideal choice by any means, but it was a start.

            Our living arrangement was an interesting one, defined by the contract we drew up on the first day that allowed for privacy with female visitors (never required) and the settling of disputes on the field of honor. The field of course turned out to be whatever manner Knaus chose to enact his insidious revenge. In order to shield myself from him better, I constructed an enormous wall from the top of my desk, almost to the ceiling that I referred to as my ‘fire hazard’ as it consisted of mostly paper. Knaus respected the wall to a minor degree, though would often tear pages out of the phone book to turn into paper airplanes and launch them over in miniature raids. Fortunately for me, he had not yet stumbled on the notion of lighting them afire just yet.

            At least once a week we would trundle down to Shirley’s O’Aces, with or without the Irish Club, and stumble back in the wee hours of the morning. It was a grand tradition that later moved to Anacone’s but always followed the same pattern of cheap beer, some sort of bar food, and a traditional playing of William Joel’s classic, ‘Only the Good Die Young’ on the juke. On the walks back we would wax into bizarre conversations, such as what we would do if we stumbled upon a patch of decapitated heads on stakes. Knaus, I recall, immediately concluded that he would take as many of them home as he could carry. Hmm… it occurs to me that this post, as well as some of the others, will probably be deposed as evidence against the defence argument that he is sweet and silent as a lamby-pie.

            As a gift that year, Knaus procured for me a small collection of mice, one male and two females. By April the collection had grown to 42 mice and stunk up the room with great aplomb and all too frequent defecation. One weekend, when we least expected it; they made a bid for freedom. I came back to the room Sunday night and immediately noticed something different. The large tank I kept them in now sported a hole where there had been none before and no mice where there had been 42 before. Looking over at my desk I bore witness to the one named ‘Stripe’ after the Gremlin’s character dive into the moldering water in my hot pot, swim across, and jump out the other side slick with putrid grease. Furious, I called Knaus’s house to get him to come help round them up, but no one picked up. By the time he returned that evening at 11, I was sweaty, disheveled and had managed to recapture 3 of the slowest; the rest defeating my best efforts with ridiculous ease.

            Knaus did manage to help me capture the rest in a comedic run about, John Hughes style, with head clonking, crashing falls, frequent collisions, and all manner of events that would indicate the mice were far cleverer than we. At the end it was Knaus and I against Stripe, the lone hold out, and we were hopelessly outgunned and maneuvered. At some point the little bastard made it into the hall and we happily bid good riddance, but he made a surprise return a millisecond before we shut the door. Finally, improbably, Knaus got the mouse and a day later the lot was taken to a pet store with the most likely final destination in a large reptile of some sort.

            Knaus at this point, and for years on forward, became the prime initiator of trips down to Alleghany to get lost, camp, or make every attempt to get injured in course of photographing wildlife and wee pretty flowers. Most of these trips simply involved a lot of hiking, though there were several traditions that had to be met each trip. One was a visit to Thunder Rocks where we would climb around and scale the impressive boulders. Second was the trip to the legendary beaver damn, the jumping off point where we all got lost that epic journey recounted in ‘How I Became a Horseman’. If this chapter precedes that, well, tough luck. Finally, no trip was complete without a stogie enjoyed usually on the trail leading down from Thunder Rocks to the stream that led to the dam. Due to our impoverished condition, these were usually Dutch Masters, but on one occasion toward the end, we enjoyed authentic Cubans.

            Despite the abuse suffered at his malicious hands, and in spite of the fact that he took to calling himself Malfeus for some reason, we decided to room together the following year rather than take chances on a devil unknown. Common adventures shared between all the roommates in that situation are recounted far too often elsewhere, so I will concentrate on a few items unique to point of this post. While it didn’t trouble us in the past, at least not me anyway, a point of contention came up regarding both my habit of snoring loudly and engaging in distracting sleep talking that made little to no sense. These things enraged Knaus and from time to time I would awaken to see him standing over me gritting his teeth in fury. At site to keep you awake at night assuredly.

On several occasions I did some sleep walking as well, always to his inconvenience. One happy night he was treated to being awakened by me piling the contents of his desk on his sleeping head as “they were about to start air brushing”. Another night I somehow found myself in the hall way, locked out, necessitating a furious pounding on the door until he unhappily let me in. His remedy was to play the same Nine Inch Nails CD on auto repeat each and every night; a condition that kept me from ever really falling asleep soundly and led to many missed classes after sleeping through them on the 5th floor of Lockwood.

Knaus also had an excellent habit of distracting me from schoolwork; something I heartily embraced. He’d look over at me from his desk, exclaim, “I have waaaay too much work to do”, then pull out the latest issue of ‘The Mask’ and commence to reading. This always resulting in me aping his behavior as Matter Eater Lad was far more engaging than BF Skinner. He also had a way of dragging me out to Anacone’s and such on nights before an early morning class. Always with the one-upmanship, if I had an important lecture, he would claim a critical final. He probably did as it was shortly after this that it was strongly suggested he change majors from aerospace engineering to something more his speed like basket weaving or photography.

Knowledge of fine and classical music was an area in which Knaus felt I was severely lacking and attempted to educate me in. Prior to knowing him, I was completely unaware of the iconic 90’s superstar band Transvision Vamp and how they rocked the air waves with such classics as Trash City. We had the opportunity to see them in concert once and to this day I contend that lead singer Wendy James was looking me dead on with the hairy eyeball, such was my magnetic presence in the crowd. I also learned of other enduring legends such as Savatage, Shriekback, and was treated often to the cat like wailings of a post-Blondie Debbie Harry. I’m sure it was musical ignorance that I often sought out knitting needles to end the agony.

When we finally all moved to Comstock, Knaus took on a more reclusive role especially once Aaron and I began our reindeer games and intimidation campaign. Still, on occasion, he would emerge from his oft locked sanctuary and announce he was on a quest for alcohol and trundle down to Anacone’s with or without anyone else in tow. Despite his apparent either shyness or unwillingness to speak in general, with a few beers in him a charismatic demagogue emerged who drew in the enfeebled masses. Often in such circumstances we would find him amidst a crowd of drooling hangers on, gulping up his every ill spoken word. If anyone thought to supply him with endless brandy the world could easily have another JFK or David Koresh, such was his inebriated cult of personality. 

In those heady days of yore he introduced us to one of my favorite summer festivals of all, Allentown. His enthusiasm for going downtown on the subway, slurping raw clams and beer, and looking at all the art we couldn’t afford was infectious! Since those days each trip back is a search to recapture the raw joy of Buffalo’s first summer festival of the season. We used to badger Knaus about entering his own photography as the camera apes down there were pulling down serious green for the same tired old shots of the Central Terminal and shit, but he was unwilling to lay down the cabbage to rent some space despite being able to command four digits a pop for abstract snaps of me eating dog food or Litter Box Jam. Even now I hope to run into him down there, but so far he has declined to compete.

As time progressed he emerged less and less unless it was to bang away on the worlds oldest word processor or not clean the cat box which had become an impressive tower of feces. Once, however, he emerged in a manner most unusual. I came home and was surprised to hear a small commotion and a female voice coming from behind Knaus’s door. As ¾ of the house, a demographic to which both Knaus and I belonged, were not currently being seen with female companionship, this stuck me odd. A bold enquiry led me to believe that Aaron and my cousin had ensconced themselves in there, apparently without Knaus’s knowledge or permission. I began to sweat at what he would do to them, or so I still contend, and when he came strolling through the side door like a thundercloud of death I gently broke the news to him in order to bear the brunt of his immediate wrath.

To my surprise he remained nonchalant about his sanctum sanctorum being so rudely violated. I could only imagine that he was saving his volcanic outburst for the soon to be damned. I threw myself in his path, but he simply stepped over me, the ashes from the cigarette dangling from his lips blinding me from making further pursuit. I managed to come up behind him just as he opened the door and prepared to bludgeon him before he could blast them with his eyes with a bolt of eldritch energy, but while I looked around for an appropriate tool, it became clear that the three of them were really in cahoots. The story, as I was led to believe, was that Knaus egged on by Aaron and Ann in their little exclusionary ka-tet, used a bed sheet tied to his handcuff ring above the bed to shimmy down the side of the house if for no other reason than to annoy me.

When the Comstock project wrapped up and Knaus moved back to his folks, much to their soul crushing dismay I’m certain, we worried he would become a fixture in our past; more of a relic than the hideous goat lamp we absconded with. In the final months we saw very little of him as he spent his time elsewhere and discouraged questions as only Knaus could. At times he would bring Malice, his familiar, along with him as they embarked on dark and mysterious deeds. Instead we were delighted to find that he now actually chose to spend more time in our vicinity, often making the long haul over to Princeton and joining us for our very frequent beer and movie nights. The newest recruits to the Whole Sick Crew, like Jenn with the tongue, Mary, Rob, Chet, and even Dave’s new interest Jennifer took a shine to him. It was the silver age of Knaus and we thought it would last forever.

When things at Princeton degenerated in the last year or so, Knaus, perhaps feeling the Discordia when mom and pops were on the outs (I’m pops by the way), kept his distance. Meetings with him became consigned to long evenings of coffee with myself, Dave and Jen or old school excursions to the forest where to my dismay, increasingly longer periods of time were being devoted to setting up complex equipment to photograph wild posies. When I broke the silence about my intended enlistment to him and Dave, I received open support, though some degree of skepticism as to my true intentions. Anyone who knows me well has difficulty pinning me as a ‘Yessir!’ style military man, except perhaps in the tradition of ‘Stripes’.

While in Basic training Knaus became my most frequent writer, a condition I was intensely grateful for. Basic was a dreary place in which I received frequent verbal comeuppances and days would pass without hint of a smile. Knaus, however, managed to coax out of me the very first laugh out loud with his long and convoluted tales of his wanderings with Dave in the land of UB looking to fulfill the Celestine prophecy. I attempted to share with the other folks, who could all use a giggle as well, but apparently I was the only one cracked enough to appreciate the mad ramblings of shellac headed penman.

Despite the distancing he displayed prior to my departure, he certainly made himself available on a near constant basis when I managed to make it home on leave. Although he had a full time job, not to mention achieving high year tenure at Work-n-Gear, he still managed to drag himself out each and every night until the wee hours. Not only that, but since I didn’t have a car at my disposal, he even drove. Fun nights of pool and beer were spent at old Anacone’s, Bullfeathers, old favorite Caputi’s, and of course our new favorite down on Franklin, the Sanctuary (or Spankuary as it was sometimes known) with its midget bar tender and gothic crowd who moved in from the now defunct Icon.

When I returned for good, Knaus came by to help move me in, although he conveniently showed up just as the very last box was removed from the truck, but had a bottle of SoCo in hand and was forgiven. I don’t recall much after that due to the illness, except that the annual Christmas exchange with Dave resumed and that a screening of our old classic ‘Eric the Viking’ was made to break in my new digs. Next thing I knew I was waking up in a hospital, bored from my near death experience only to have it relieved by a considerate Knaus shipping me a hefty load of books overnight.

In the year or two after my return, Knaus was around for a time, but gradually began to slip away into the night. He was a force to be counted on when Tiffany came to visit, once again eschewing work (since I couldn’t, new in my crap ass job at GP:50) in order to entertain her during the days. He was around often in those days and I think made one last epic trip to Allentown with us. He was also instrumental in decorating my pad with his home grown bonsai trees, necessitating me to line up someone to water them every time I went out of town.

Advertisements

Tops Never Stops

Before we discovered the gloriousness that is Wegmans we frequented Tops. It has been well noted already that during the Princeton Era Mike and I made at least a daily trek to Tops since it was so close. Another beacon to the hospital white walls of Tops was Matt’s long-time employ at Tops on Delaware.

Matt was one of the first employees to this branch of the Tops franchise. He had an interview in the trailer on the lot while the building was still being constructed. Some relative of Matt was involved so it was an easy position to acquire, not that cart-boy is an excessively hard job to get. Matt started work in Spring. His plan was to work until the first day of snow, and then quit. “Matt doesn’t work in the snow” was his mantra.

Months later the Matt was pushing carts when he was called into the office. The Tops lords had vision enough to see that Matt was more than a cart-boy. He was immediately reassigned to an inside position in the Butcher’s Block. At the close of his shift that day Matt stepped outside and gazed up into the sky. The first snowflakes of the season gently fell upon his brow. The gods had smiled upon our hero. He was not longer a cart boy. But you must pay the gods a price; Matt was still employed at Tops, or in an indirect way Ahol (the parent, and appropriately named, company of Tops).

Speaking of Ahol, the scuttlebutt is that the local mafia allowed Ahol to purchase Tops as long as they maintained control of the Tops Union. This is all hearsay, so if I wake up with the horse head in my dead tomorrow you will know the arm of the Buffalo mafia extends to the West Coast.

On our way to Comstock to waste time, we took great joy in visiting Matt during his work hours. This was particularly true when he was a lowly cart boy. On one of the rare occasions we had Sean with us we made such a trip for supplies. Sean was known for his fearless driving and his habit of stopping at Noco to “fill er up” with whatever change he had in his pocket. I was once a first-hand witness to his purchase of 32 cents worth of fuel. Today that is not enough for them to let you lift the nozzle.

We spoke to Matt on the way into Tops. He had just spent a considerable amount of time in the classic “stack a fuck-load of carts together from all across the parking lot” so he could push them all back at once. His cart-stack lot was near the Tops entrance, and when we returned from purchase of our supplies (Mountain Dew, pretzels, frozen burritos, etc.) we found Matt no where to be found. As we left Sean took the opportunity to drive his car into the cart-stack Matt had painstakingly constructed. He pushed the cart-stack to the far corner of the parking lot. At first he drove at a slow pack, until we saw Matt running at us, at which time Sean sped up. The exceedingly heavy cart-stack was left in the farthest corner. We sped of laughing. At least we gave Matt something to do for the last hour of his shift.

Once inside, Matt quickly rose to the rank of 95% Butcher. What is 95% Butcher? After a year of working primarily in the Butcher’s Block Matt observed that the only difference between an official Butcher and an experienced meat man, like himself, was knowing how to properly cut 5 specific meats. As there 5 meats are expensive, they did not let anyone slice them, nor were they purchased frequently enough for Matt to get enough practice. We all spurred him on to complete his training and have a viable skill. Eventually Matt was able to get in enough practice in two of these elusive meats, so he settled at 97% Butcher. As I conclude this section it strikes me that this post will burn a few of Matt’s bridges.

Matt was a valuable Tops associate for nearly seven years. He quit before hitting the seven year point because that would be when a part-time associate would be granted a 401k. While the rest of us saw this as an obvious fruit to grab, Matt saw this as a sign he had been defeated by the preverbal Man.

Continuing this HR showcase of Tops benefits we come to the period when Tops began selling Tops branded apparel. Tops management required employees to wear this apparel initially, no doubt to spur on the awaiting masses who couldn’t possibly hold back from spending thousands on Tops sweatshirts. The slap in the face was that associates were required to pay for these required textiles. What a joke.

Tops exposed us to several characters, and once again showcased the intelligence of the average person. The most memorable example of this was when Matt related some story of some random activity of our crew. “What does phallic mean?” interjected one of typical Tops zombies. Matt was befuddled that he did not know what phallic was? He now had is shift project. He left the blob with no better knowledge and spent the rest of him shift polling all his co-workers as the meaning of phallic. To his astonishment one one other employee knew the word. During his polling he even received commentary that phallic was not a common word many people would know. Matt left his shift to relate this happenstance to the rest of us. Until this incident we did not know it was possible to NOT know what phallic meant.

Matt mined a number of girlfriends out of seven year stint. I recall one who became a vegetarian because she was fat. Success! She lost weight. Unfortunately she was still not satisfied, so she pushed the envelope even more, and became vegan. This relationship did not last long.

Matt also met the same girl that absconded with Matt and James in the infamous “I’ll never set foot in a gay bar” story that was the first post on this blog.

An experienced Matt sat in the Tops atrium enjoying his mandatory earned break. A frantic woman ran up, “There is a used condom over there!” “Really? Where?” The woman took Matt half-way across the parking lot to what was absolutely confirmed as a under condom, still filled with a “rush of excess fluids.”

Matt concluded his inspection and headed back, but to the dismay of the woman, he did not return with any cleaning equipment. Matt, instead, plopped himself back on the atrium bench. “Aren’t you going to clean that us?” she explained. “Lady, I’m on my break.”

The bulk of Matt’s time at Tops had him stationed in the Butcher’s Block, or as we more affectionately referred to it – the Meat department. Matt divulged two secrets of the Meat department. One; they kept a small Igloo cooler ready to go at someone, ironically usually one of the professional butchers, cut off a finger and was rushed to the hospital, finger piece encased in the Igloo cooler, to have it sewn back on. The success rate was quite high. Two; the Meat department kept an open bowl into which they threw any scraps, be they on the floor or wherever, into this bowl. When the bowl was full, then they ground up the scraps and sold it under the label of “meat”. Funnily enough, years before, during the Goodyear era, I had spied one of these and bought it for the label humor.

Matt enjoyed a time where he was double employed. His second job, the more prestigious one, was the all powerful Mighty Taco on Sheridan and NFB. Mighty Taco gives you a week to study the menu before taking a test. You have to know all menu items, and their component’s with amounts from memory. Matt passed and became a Mighty Taco employee. We gave him a goal of finding out what the beef was, as he felt Mighty Taco was superior to Taco Bell in every aspect, except the beef. Since this was sacrilege we was to solve the mystery now that he had access.

Matt soon grew to dislike the manager. She ruled with an iron fist, holding weekly meetings that Matt was 2 minutes late for once. She fired him for this. Matt suspects that he was really fired because he was telling the other employees how the manager had terrible skills, and was a bitch to boot. He did not notice until too late that she was in the building, and overheard, walking in on his conversation just at the end of Matt’s tirade. He never solved the “Riddle of Beef.”

Like the recent rash of professional athletes that pretend to retire, Matt too had an encore tour at Tops. I made a visit to him once during this tour. He was working the night shift stocking the frozen foods isles. Like the athlete that plays one more season when he should have walked away, it was sad to see Matt, the once lord of part-time associates, reduced to a zero visibility position.

Another of our crowd spent some time employed at Tops, Chester. He gleefully gave us reports as to his rapid rise to the “Express Lane”, giving us tips as to how he became one of these best of the best. He switched sides from making bewildered fun of the Tops cashiers who wore rubber thimbles to wearing one himself.

Having been a Tops associate for such a long time, Matt was well versed with the employee handbook. There was a statute of limitations on anything you did of five years. The exact day the limit was us, he spilled the beans of what he had done to his co-worked in the back of the store, as he was leaving for his shift. It took Matt 2 minutes to walk our the front of the store, and by then the news had traveled faster than his ironically unmeaty legs could carry him. An example of just how efficient the Tops grapevine is.

What was Matt’s hidden crime? Back when he was still a cart-boy he abandoned his post, walked across the street, and saw a movie at the old Super Saver Cinema. When the movie was over he walked back across the street and took his break.

Saving You More?

Thies and I

            Whereas I have absolutely no doubt that the title character would prefer that I instead named this piece “King and I”, his attempts to get us to call him by this and other canine nicknames never quite caught on. This chapter, my tenacious little titans, is the long overdue answer to the earlier post, ‘Wolf and I’ by the author I now wish to roast in return. In truth, I don’t recall his version being necessarily a roast per se, but it’s been some time since I read it and thus feel required to fire back on a just in case basis. Truth be told, probably enough already has been said about this scurrilous lad, but a bit more, conveniently packaged should appease the hungry masses.

            I first met Thies back at St Joes at the old Wargames club meetings. At the time I though he and another character Booger were one in the same, and he undoubtedly attempts to make the same claim. I later came to realize that he was a separate yet similar entity all together, imported like a case of old cheese from foreign locals. Louis, who grew up in the near vicinity of him decided to bring him in to pad the ranks of the growing club with ardent supporters who would back his illegal status as dictator for life. In truth I believe Louis still runs the St Joes Wargames club from afar using hand picked successors and monitoring meetings closely in his strange box. In any event, I never chose to engage unless trying to actively kill his character; a trait I charmed everyone with.

            I quickly forgot him and the rest of the crew, but for Louis and Knaus who I was unable to shake all together. In my freshman year at UB, however, he found a way to creep back into my glorious vicinity. I was rooming in Schoellkopf hall on the south campus with Knaus when around the spring time his began having long phone conversations with some person known as ‘Psycho’ like a couple of old Mary Sue’s clucking away with girlish pleasure. My Holmsian instinct should have kicked in at that time and Thies’s face should have popped immediately into my brain, but alas, it did not as I doubt I ever knew his name and certainly not his new nickname. I did, however, have enormous appreciation for him as oftentimes he would abscond with Knaus for long evenings, leaving me the room to myself to watch whatever I wished on his TV/ VCR combo or rummage through his stuff.

            Eventually it came to pass that I was expected to meet this ‘Psycho’ character and Knaus invited him out to Shirley’s with us; a time I know I recounted elsewhere, so will keep to the short version herein. In any event, he proved considerably verbose, regaling me with tales of times he played pool before; a topic of considerable fascination akin to the checkers tournament my aged neighbor attempts to impart to me as I flee from the car to the garage. He did, however, hold his own in chugging down whatever shitty beer they were pouring and even went so far as to join us for garlic bread and cheese at Mike’s Big Mouth after. Unfortunately he failed the ultimate litmus test when he both failed to and objected to joining us in our ritual pee against the old Presbyterian Church on Bailey. We saw no more of him that year.

            Despite his constant crimes against my person I opted once again for occupying a dorm room with Knaus, and we found that we would be moving up to the big time at Goodyear. Little did I know that Knaus, in his typical underhanded and Machiavellian fashion, made arrangements with both Thies and JP to occupy the adjoining suite next to ours. I exploded with rage as I was under the misguided hope that sitcom style zaniness would hold true and through a mix up that room would contain some nubile coeds instead. In any event, I didn’t recall who these two putzes were anyway, so grudgingly acceded, as if I had a choice.

            I was forced to admit that the admission of these two extra individuals to my world turned out to be not such a bad thing. For one, I was no longer the sole object of Knauses malevolent intentions, leaving me to sleep considerably easier at nights. On top of that, I got to enjoy the show as Thies and JP locked horns from the get go, initiating a vicious graffiti war with indelible markers that remained a fixture in their room for the duration. Psycho, as he became known as exclusively, but for a brief time in the spring when Knaus renamed him ‘Brownie Buttfuck’, provided all manner of amusement on his own. We came to find that offering auditory descriptions of penis tortures, a conversation mysterious in its origins, was enough to make him curl up into a little ball on the floor, quivering and drooling, until we departed the premises.

            In those days we were also always seeking to define our signature look. Having at the time a full head of hair, I entertained notions of adopting the classic ‘Marvel’ wedge haircut seen on Wolverine and others, though it never panned out. Instead I settled for the classic 90210 sideburns and rocked them, Dylan McKay style. Psycho, not to be undone, grew a magnificent pony tail flowing from the back of his head in shining auburn like a good Catholic schoolgirl. In truth it exceeded no more than an inch and protruded like the turgid member of an especially hairy elf, but we forgave him the immodesty of it.

            Psycho proved to be very adept at commodity trading both to his advantage and our appreciation. He, unlike the rest of us left to fend for ourselves, was bequeathed with a fully loaded meal card that was not only good at the Spot cafeteria in the basement, but at Domino’s as well. Generally the transaction worked like this. I got paid on Fridays, cashed my check, gave Psycho his due, and then spent the rest on comic books. Due to my status of then being broke, I came to rely on advances from the meal card to feed myself delicious chicken sandwiches and pizza through the weekend until I could milk the sweet teat of freebies at food service once again. Though I paid no interest on the advances, I made up for it in other ways such as applying a good 4 lbs of meat and cheeses on his subs when he came through my line.

            Another delightful trait we discovered was his willingness to eat almost anything back then. I believe this was attributed to his nearly absent sense of smell; the only possible reason he would culminate his culinary odyssey with a plate of Nasty Olde Sauce. In the Goodyear days it was limited to more mundane fare, though I did bear witness to him once gagging down and subsequently upchucking a whole handful of jalapenos during a critical game of ‘truth or date’ with Ann and Tammy, the only two female visitors our room ever received. His amazing ability did allow him to survive on food stuffs such as popcorn for long stretches of time, much like a wharf rat.

            Although it became somewhat unavoidable after the toilet incident, Psycho was one of the driving forces that led us to the dark door of Comstock. While the rest of us could have theoretically returned home, Psycho’s parents up and moved all the way across the country when he went away to college. An apocryphal version of the story has this occurring without his knowledge, and that he returned home with gear in tow only to have the door answered by strangers, but this has never been truly verified or disproven. In any event, he needed permanent digs and lingering in the poorly ventilated basement of the Mooney’s, having his belongings mutilated and urinated on during weekly Dashwood Medicine hours was not along term solution. I, wishing freedom from any burdens of home life, and Knaus, with parents wishing themselves free of the burden of him being at home life, joined him on his quest with the inspired help of Dave.

            Due to events not worth recounting yet again, Aaron was relegated to one of the back bedrooms at Comstock, conveniently next to the bathroom and in clear ear shot of Louis’s frequent Mighty Taco cacophonous BMs. Unfortunately for him; he was also next to Jason which in truth helped to cement our alliance and friendship. Jason really got off on the wrong foot with him as in their first ever meeting, after he feigned that he poisoned the pizza Psycho and his girlfriend were eating with a packet of silica gel that said very clearly, ‘not meant for human consumption’. It was a slight Psycho was not to take lightly and the memory of it fueled many late night planning sessions filled with diabolical plots to irritate him. It also didn’t help that Psycho, a neat freak, was constantly cleaning up dishes Jason left wantonly about, or that I was only one to clean the kitchen floor, the magnet for the constant rate of spillage.

            The supreme efforts expended to make Jason’s life slightly less tolerable forged a bond and with Knaus rarely present anymore, we found ourselves in cahoots more and more often. Aside from just being bastards, we also adopted traditions of walking all the way to Tops from Comstock on Sunday afternoons and lugging back as many groceries we could carry. Part of the tradition, if I recall correctly, was the treasured procurement of Nestle Quick brand chocolate milk, which we would enjoy quaffing down in great gulps upon returning home, flaunting the empty containers at Jason and Knaus who were forced to drink the suspect drippings from the tap. Originally these shopping trips were meant to be at the L&T, but after Moustache Guy refused to sell us produce 2 minutes before opening (it was already on display!) we decided to boycott his wares. All food items upon return were marked with big angry notes, aimed more at Jason than the vengeful Knaus, who ate little, but what he damn well pleased.

            We also found ourselves in cahoots regarding TV watching habits and came to dominate the living room, so long as Knaus wasn’t present and it served to intimidate Jason who would be immediately outvoted from the show about the feelings of macadamia nuts he was already in to in favor of ‘Treehouse of Horror’. Knaus kept an enviable collection of authentic bad movies in his room, locked away safely while his TV combo was ritually abused. We found ourselves, much like Thursday nights in the dorms, creeping up on him, elbowing each other, to ask if we might borrow one of them for just a little bit. The answer, never guaranteed, was sometimes yes, and we would revel in the tale of an electrocuted man or some nonsense. After a while this became no longer necessary as my position at Collector’s allowed be to borrow, at no cost, any of the collection of very crappy horror movies my boss rented out to local creeps.

            Through my association with Collector’s I was able to pull him into my extra geekified universe of comic collecting. I got him started with ‘Heavy Metal’ magazine, a gateway product, for which he actually got carded at Seeley and Kanes. Next I made comics available free around the house, just sitting in white box for anyone to sample, and indeed, he did. Finally after months of grooming I was able to pull him into the shop and get a firm commitment to collect not one, but several different series to be kept in pristine condition with bags and boards. Unfortunately the line I got him stated on, Marvel’s ill fated ‘2099’ venture, turned out to be too sucky for words and those comics, so lovingly preserved, have not only devalued substantially, but actually depress the market value of any property they are housed on.

            Another commonality, I almost forgot, was our mutual love of fresh French fries; dripping with salt and hot oil. Living where we did the take out options were limited and any fries ordered were generally limp and soggy, and unworthy of our exalted palates. With a ‘can-do’ spirit not seen since old WWII era film reels, we rolled up our sleeves, boiled us up some oil in the wok Knaus procured but never used, and set to work peeling spuds. The results, well perhaps not as tasty as carnival fries, were certainly excellent and enjoyed several times over our stint there; that is until one of the girls Dan brought over yorked up in the remains.

            When the time finally came to depart Comstock, partially because Knaus decided to once again become a burden on his parents, and partially because we all but set fire to Jason and he still showed no signs of leaving, Psycho and I decided to continue our living arrangement, but in a better locale. Unbeknownst to me, Chet had snuck in the picture and became an unsavory influence, filling his head with castles in the clouds regarding the wondrous land of Princeton Courts. I suspected that Chet’s plan all along was to secure a couch near by where he could crash when his Chinese dad was drunk and pants-less, but nevertheless, we ended up there. I was sold on the convenience of Tops, right up a near vertical path behind the place. For Psycho it was the beacon of the hoops courts, which sold me as well on the idea of getting in shape.

            The first year went surprisingly well. The key to it all was our mutual obsession with TV shows generally no one else ever watched. Weekends were filled with basketball and full on tackle football over at the school to be followed by all manner of wonderful programming. The Adventures of Pete and Pete, X-Files (till I made him hate it), Lois and Clark, Seinfeld, the Simpsons, Dan’s Red Dwarf tapes, and finally Space Ghost. Such was the fabric of our character that bonds were so easily formed over the emissions of a smallish cathode ray tube.

            We also continued to have minor adventures, although most were not of the same quality as Comstock. The first Halloween we entertained ourselves by blowing up the Jack O’ Lantern I carved behind Tops. It was a marvelous spectacle and naturally Knaus forgot to bring his camera. We made frequent walks up to Tops in those days, right up the old path, sometimes waist deep in snow. We also grew a great love in ordering food from Jacobi’s, though still bear the guilt of probably killing one of their delivery boys by ordering in a terrible snowstorm and demanding satisfaction. The manager said he was never heard from again. Well, that day anyway.

            After some time though, the cracks began to show. It was fairly amazing that thing went well so long for basically two jackasses who had strong reputations for not cohabitating well. Slowly, I began to wax more slovenly and he grew more rigid in his German authoritarianism. I think much of it had to do with the fact that our TV watching habits took a turn south. Sure, we would always have Seinfeld, but I began gravitating toward the Discovery channel and shows about how to make cheese, while he insisted on watching things like Division 3 High School basketball and curling. Lights on or off? The debate grew thunderous to where on one occasion I replaced the perfectly good bulb in the Ugly Lamp with a burned out one I kept on hand for such an occasion.

            On top of that, he grew monstrously dependant on the gaming. Where I had taken great pains to cultivate a comic addiction, Chet trumped my Tylenol with codeine with smack in the form of Bloodbowl and Magic cards. Night after night I would haunt the living room, lights off, soaking up the flickering radiation from the tube. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Psycho, Chet, Matt and the rest would howl and bark, banging the table in wanton ecstasy because one idiot trumped another’s ‘Elf Taking a Whiz’ card with ‘Orc With The Green Apple Splatters’. I ventured in, with much snarling, only for food or a beer. They in turn would only invade my domain to use the can, a frequent unwelcome intrusion brought on by excessive Mountain Dew and Mighty Taco consumption.

            On many occasions they brought me to rage. Once, after a long Saturday at Collector’s, I came home with the express desire to consume my delicious Mrs Paul’s Pirogues that I procured for just that purpose the day before. I lifted the delightful blue box in the freezer. Way too light! Peering inside the tattered side, I would see but one lone surviving member rattling around, mocking me; too little to assuage my hunger. Pounding on Psycho’s door I demanded satisfaction. One fortunate thing in my favor was that Psycho, regardless of any other faults, was unquestionably honest to the point where it caused problems, such as when I needed him to lie about my presence to avoid friends and loved ones. Was it you? No. Matt? (I was hoping, as I felt he needed a good comeuppance for being so smarmy about working out in his mom’s basement) No. Dan (always the most likely) No. Chet? No reply. Chet? Silence. I had my man. I immediately called over there and got him after haggling with the Chinese woman for 5 minutes regarding what I wanted. I gave him a verbal lashing that really resulted in nothing. Faced with the prospect of dining on one of the Tony’s pizzas, I went to bed hungry.

            Eventually we stopped associating with each other on any level other than grunts or sarcastic pointed questions. I did my best to drive him from the apartment by any means necessary. It was an iron contest of wills between two juggernauts of stubbornness; either one willing to run a sword through his own bowel for even the opportunity to scratch the other. Eventually this grew old and we both made secret plans to move out and screw the other; he eyeing a cavernous basement apartment beneath some old building, and I eyeing the sky. Through some means I forget, our mutual plans became revealed and frankly, it made things much more comfortable in the end. We were able to reestablish cordiality and help each other move. When he finally departed and I had the place to myself for a few days, always my goal, in a tiny way I even missed the old goat, especially calling him ‘Boscoe’, which made him erupt in foul rage.

            By the time I came back from the Air Force, relations had fully normalized and we returned to the old days of bad movies, Allentown, basketball games, and meals. As much as I loath to give anyone credit, he was one of the only 3 friends of mine to make journey to Jersey for my wedding. Last I saw him; he handed over the treasured UB table, confiscated so many years ago; my legacy now for safe keeping. The best of times, however, will always be those moments after duct taping Jason’s room, high on a Quick sugar rush, munching home made fries and watching ‘Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers’ and worshiping at the alter of Green Arrow Mark Pike. You had to be there.

A Tradition Like No Other

The Comstock and Princeton era’s birthed a number of traditions, most formed out of boredom, laziness, or lack of choice.

Every holiday has it’s own traditions, especially *mas.  The most persistent and pervasive of all Comstock traditions was the Brown Bomber.  Mike’s grandmother took great pride in baking.  All throughout the year Mike would come home with a coffee tin of baked goods, but especially around *mas.  What is a Brown Bomber?  It is not a Fraternaty initiation, nor another of Larry’s army stories, but a golf ball sized sphere of rice crispies and peanut butter coated in chocolate.  Sounds awesome!  They sure are, but after you have had hundreds of these suckers you are done.  Done for good.  Mike, myself, and every single character of the crew tasted defeat after a handful of Brown Bombers, even the immutable Paul fell.  The only one left standing was Dan.  No doubt due to his thick stomach walls earned with his mom’s pork chips and the infamous pickle jar.

The next tradition started before Comstock, but was engulfed by Comstock.  that was Mike’s dad’s Bills-Miami party.  Mike’s dad would open his garage to a big party with lots of food, guys, and a big TV.  Aside from myself, Paul, Dan, and Mike the party-goers were comprised of grizzly old men from the neighborhood.  Inevitably they would spin tales of of Jack Kemp, and various other “old man nonsense”.  EDITOR’s NOTE: I can’t wait to be an old man and use my growing collection of crazy old man behaviors; when the sole purpose of my remaining life is to both others.  One of us would make some comment about some Bills player that was a group favorite just to roust the old men.  By 1999 the Bills height of power was diminishing, and Miami was sucking with no Marino, hence the party moved from the Miami game to a random other game.  With this move the fever of the party waned, and along with Mike entering the Air Force, coupled with the Paul’s decent into hermit-hood, and my detachment from Mike.  that last thing I wanted was to spend MORE time with Mike.

Many television programs made their way as a Comstock tradition.  The first of which was the original Beverly Hills 90210.  This started when in Goodyear.  Given no cable in the dorms at the time, we where stuck with 3 channels, 2 of which where often blurry.  Only the soon to be beloved Fox was routinely clear.  Paul, Mike, and I decided to make one of our routine trips to Tops in the University Plaza.  Paul held us up for a minute to use the bathroom.  As all readers know by now, this “minute” lasted way more than a minute.  In the meantime Mike and I flipped on the TV just in time for the start of the weekly installment of the antics of spoiled rich kids played by 30+ year olds, some balding and pretentious enough to purposely mispronounce their name.  By the time Paul emerged, hair gel in tact, Mike and I where hopelessly locked into the show.  Only 5 minutes remained.  The siren song of Beverly Hills did not release us from it’s icy grip for another several years.  It is odd what you become engrossed in when your entertainment options are limited.  If it hadn’t been for Paul and his meddling hair.

Many other TV shows where targeted by Mike and myself over the years: The Adventures of Pete & Pete (I recently bought the Season 1 DVD), the classic Degrassi Junior High (the story of a Canadian junior high, which recently made a comeback in the same fashion as Saved by the Bell: The New Class), and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman – the draw of Dean Cain, former Buffalo Bill and sprinkle in the famous line from the first episode..

Terri Hatcher: *long tirade about how she is the experienced reported, and Dean is some punk, closing with how any co-authored pieces will have her by-line above his*
Dean Cain: *smirk* “Got it.  You like to be on top.”

Other, less obscure, programs became Comstock favorites also, including Seinfeld and the Simpsons.  These where both recorded on VHS tape and a formal event was help where Mike and I split up the tapes just before he entered the Air Force.  Dan often barged into Princeton Sunday night just before Simpsons time.  He tried initially to barge in during the show, but when we refused to answer, even though with the TV blaring, it was quite obvious we were in there.  Dan would bring some strange movie or British TV over to watch after, but Mike would always go to bed early, and since I would relish any time I could spend at home with Mike gone or asleep I would watch said weird program with Dan.

The X-Files was a favorite of Mike and mine both, until Mike ruined it for me with his fanatical behavior.  No sounds during the show.  No one over.  Disconnecting the phone.  Watching it in as much dark as possible.  I grew to dislike the X-Files, and stopped watching it after the first season, never to return.

While living at Comstock itself we where stuck with Paul’s TV/VCR combo.  We where also stuck with the same 5 movies.  Having watched them all, including when we broke down and watched Frantic, the default because One Crazy Summer.  I lost count how many times we watched this.  mike often fell asleep long before the end.  Clutching his Daisy Duke beer can handle, and occasionally talking in his sleep.  When Mike talked in his sleep you could ask him questions and he would reply, uttering such gems as “I had sex with 30 houses and stuff.”

All these years of limited viewing left us fans of MST3K, and after some buffer time when Princeton vanished, and the Comstock era ended, we started a new tradition of Crappy Movie Night.  We would gather with pizza and beer, and watch 2-3 terrible movies.  The event was a success only 50% of the time, but then again , what kind of incentive is Manos: Hands of Fate or Lolita.

The final tradition that also held favor for several months, long after Comstock was over, was Travel Friday.  In an effort to not end up in the same bars each week we forced the issue.  We would gather and car pool over to some restaurant/bar that no once had ever been to, and engulf some dinner.  If the place was god we would stay, and if not then we would head to some new place that was unknown to all or most of us.

There are certainly other “traditions” that could be mentioned, like someone being trapped in the Comstock bathroom every party, or Jason getting upset with Dan, but those are left for another post.

Special Delivery

The bane of Matt

The bane of Matt

No, this is not about Dan’s ill-fated dive into the movie business. You will have to wait until later to hear that story. This is a different kind of story. This is the story of faint, eerie, and mysterious echos emanating from the far reaches of a dark, misty cave. This is a story of that which pierces a man’s heart like a icy toothpick. This is a story of feelings.

As we have grown and plugged into “normal” life more and more, my friends and I have scattered across the country. Perhaps we are burrowing deep to hide until it is time to explode in world domination! Are any Homeland Security Paranoids listening? While technology has given us a good measure of contact, there is a non-filthy touch that is missing. I choose to satisfy this urge with the vehicle of the U.S. Postal Service, of which I was an employee for a very brief time. Put simply, I send weird shit to people.

This started when the first of us left the motherland. Louis was in Illinois, attending grad school for a subject he selected “just because”. As frequent readers of this blog may remember Princeton was the era before Mike left for the Air Force. He and I shared an apartment, and entertained frequent guests. One day we where overturning all the couch cushions for a reason I cannot recall, but it was a long and difficult process given the three long and elaborate couches we owned. As an aside, we left all three when we snuck out in the middle of the night. I hope they are all safe and well still at Princeton, or at least that big, metal fucker left a dent in the wall or someone’s knee (spellchecker knows “fucker”).

While exploring the couch crevasses we discovered a very smashed brownie. It was luckily still sealed in clear plastic, but there was no labeling of any kind upon the wrapper. Mike and I were nought concerned for how it got there, but what kind of brownie it was. Like a bolt from Valhalla the idea hit us.

“Louis is in grad school for chemistry. He must have access to a lab for analysis!”

With that we grabbed a free USPS Priority envelope, crammed the brownie in there and shipped it off to Louis. We forgot about it shortly thereafter, only reminded when Louis called a few weeks later…

“What is this?”

“A brownie we found in the couch for you to analyze.”

We are still waiting for the report.

Here we reach a time of long pause between “shipments”. I picked up the practice again when I was in Japan, knowing Mike’s affinity for weird foods. I shipped him some freeze-dried squid, and strange shaped Japanese candy. He was very thankful. Whenever I find some odd food idea I grab it for Mike. I have sent him a few things over the last few years.

Another friend of mine always raved about how great Ikea was, and invited me to travel up to Toronto, the closest Ikea to Buffalo. Why do I want to drive 1.5 hours and waste the entire day just to get a couch? It was only years later I visited an Ikea and learned they have all kinds of stuff. Things that would have been vital for me, especially at a cheap price, as a college/just out of college individual. As a result I purposely placed the blame on the very man who tried to introduce me to Ikea. Realistically he is the last person I should take revenge upon, but who said “shipping” is logical. For his actions my revenge took the form of a smashed Ikea fountain drink cup from my first trip to Ikea. That son of a bitch got his.

The next example is a personal shipment. Those familiar with those of this blog well know Louis’s fanatical addiction to Mountain Dew. Because of this, while on a drive to his home in D.C. we left a 2 liter bottle of the Nectar of the Gods on his door step, rang the door bell, and hid around the corner. Moment’s later we heard the door open and the expected “Uh!” I suspect that if we had not then emerged Louis would have cradled his sweet liquor back inside, leaving us for dead.

The camera on your cell phone makes the perfect tool for “shipping” pictures of weird findings to others. I often send pictures to Mike of weird foods that he loves so much. I sometimes buy these to send him, like the tiny, dried fish snack I found in Japan. Weird beer labels also make their way in digital format to Mike. Louis gets pictures of oddly-shaped containers.

When I find these items my wife used to shake her head and call me weird, but she occasionally links a product to a person before I do. The most recent was when Louis was visiting us. Where were in Chinatown, waiting for our Ghost Tour to begin. We wasted the time inspecting the isles of a Chinese trinket shoppe. My wife found a whined up masturbating monkey. No sooner had she pointed this out that she said, “That would be perfect for Dan!” And right she was. A week later I found a comment on this blog as to Dan’s confirmation of receiving this shipment.

I may be forgetting some of the other shipments I have sent over the years. I’m sure my fellow posters will remind me.

Some advice. Do not include any letter, label, or explanation with your shipments. Just smile as you drop them in the mail, and wait to get the inevitable email. You need to link the trinket with the person you send it to. The USPS has free Priority envelopes and boxes to ship your “hello old friend” package. I urge you to stay connected by shipping unannounced items to your friends. I have received threats of being sent shipments in return, but nothing yet. Since I am far more organized than any of my friends I will believe it when I see it. Will this post be the billboard material they needed to follow through?

Only last week did I happen to come across some plastic eyeball glasses, which today have found their way into the mail, addressed for Matt. I am hoping this will scare him out of his hermit state. Why is this a match for Matt? Matt has a fear of any eye being poked. In the past I was taken along to Darien Lake with Matt and his girlfriend, and her friends. I bought a large, inflatable eyeball hammer to torture Matt with. After arming his girlfriend with the information she promptly bought an eyeball keychain, which she used when appropriate. We all have a little Dan in each of us. Anyway, if I hear some response from Matt I will leave a follow up.

Dan sent his own special delivery to a girlfriend many years ago. Back in the time of Goodyear, Dan was in the pickle (not his mom’s pickles) as to what to give as an Xmas gift to his girlfriend of maybe a month. This girl had the proverbial everything. What did she not have? Dan thought of it! A double-ended dildo (why is dildo not in the spell checker?) A nice “gag” gift. Unfortunately for his girlfriend’s shame, and Dan’s relationship, she opened the gift in front of her parents. The next time she saw Dan she walked up to him and poked him in the eye. And such is the origin of the lens in Dan’s glasses that forever fell out.

Dan’s relation to this post is not yet complete. Like the other authors on this blog my writing has improved greatly, but one of the least frequent authors has always possessed a certain skill with the pen. Dan has been drafting elaborate stories well before I ever met him. You have read a scant few of these on this blog, but arguably his greatest tale saw little light. Let me remind you of the Dashwood Society, or was it the Church of Unconscious Revelations (I never know which took responsibility for what as they had the same membership). Whatever group it was, they decided that pornography was the channel of choice for their creative outlets. You see, a group like CUR needs to have a project to focus on at all times, lest they be distracted into apathy and drinking. Within minutes Dan had constructed a marvelous script.

Knock on the door.

House Wife answers. She sees a delivery man holding a package, but no pants.

Delivery Man: “I seem to have forgotten my pants. Do you have any place I can put this?”

Activities ensue.

The project was titled “Special Delivery”, and Dan selflessly volunteered to play Delivery Man. A woman was cast as the House Wife, but when she read the “real” script she left.

“Special Delivery” will never sit beside “Taming of the Shrew” or “The Merchant of Venice” as it should, but you – the loyal reader – will know.

Wolf and I

Now that we have 100 stories out there, our readers will have a pretty good picture of the setting of Comstock. It is time we delve a little deeper into one of the key relationships around Comstock, not to mention I am saddened that my name has not been more prominent in the recent posts.

As is obvious by the title, this post centers around the evolving relation between Wolf and myself, one of the lynch pins of the whole Comstock experience. I am going to take you through the story of our relation (God! Have I said “relationship” enough already! As Mooney would say, “We are not Gay!” :)) from start to finish.

The first time I met Wolf was when I visited St. Joe’s to join Louis in the “War Gamer’s Society”, a society not a club – club’s do insufficient damage. Unbeknownst to me I would here meet a number of future hooligan associates include, Wolf, Knaus, Schultz, Burns, and JP. I am not good with names-to-faces; it takes me a few meetings to match them up, so much to their future anger I thought Mooney, Wolf, and some guy named “Booger” were the same person. In my defense, on each of my visits only one of this trio would appear each time. There is nothing else memorable about this first meeting with Wolf, mostly due to not knowing who he really was, and since I had just been introduced to so many of Louis’s school comrades I selectively choose to ignore some. As there was nothing particular of note with Wolf I found no problem in placing him on the “ignore” list.

The next era was when I sophomore year when I moved into Goodyear. These dorms were setup to have two doubles with a shared bathroom. Wolf/Knaus in the nicer (carpeted, TV) room and JP/myself in the other. This is where my relationship with Wolf really began and grew with many stories that have already been described. Perhaps the most ritual interaction, besides the Thursday night drive with Knaus to stock up on GAB, was Saturday mornings. Wolf worked at Collector’s Inn, while I did nothing. He would arise early and want to bum use of my SUNY Cash Card to get cheese covered=waffle fries from the glorious Spot in the basement of Goodyear. I can’t say as I blame him as this was food for a god. Many visitors came just for this delicate masterpiece. The Saturday conversation unfolded like this:

“Hey?”
(in a Knaus like funk, as I was sleeping) “What!”
“You going to Spot?”
*loud sigh* “Yeah”

I would inevitably arise and would quickly turn gleeful as we approached the beloved waffle fries. To his credit, Wolf knew this would be the case, hence his lack of restraint when awaking me, though he always did it from the other side of a closed door.

Our third act of the Wolf/Thies combo was Comstock. Here there is not much to say as most of this blog is centered around the many hijinks this commode-like habitat festered.

Our relationship blossomed mostly around the common enemy of Thirty Puddles (named so for his bed wetting, not his spilling of drinks). It was during this era I enjoyed

letting the cat horde assault Wolf’s beloved xmas tree, and learned of his Bills outlook. He was not interested in football, except Miami, except the Bills games. If the Bills won it was the greatest game ever, and if they lost, it was the worst game ever. Consequently each week born a new watershed. After two years of success, it was only logical to continue our roommate-ship. Which leads up to Princeton.

The first year was good, some of the stories have been told, but as the second year grew on our activities together grew to a minimum, other than whatever we could do to aggravate the other guy into going to bed so we could watch the TV. Wolf sat in the dark to “create a movie theater” atmosphere, and used his infernal breadmaker, whose crumb avalanche lead to the cockroach squashing incident foretold. I’m sure more tales can be posted about this time that I care to recant presently.

Our final act as roommates was to divide up “the tapes”. Since the time we entered Princeton we advanced our technology to include a VCR. We frantically began to record episode after episode of “Seinfeld” and “The Simpsons”. We had 10-12 volumes of each. Not only was the content of the volumes timeless hilarity, but the increasingly poor quality was a reminder of simpler times that were starting to erode away. Many nights have one or both of us fell asleep on the couch (often in a drunken stupor) with one of these modern art-worthy recordings playing all night – continuing to erode the tape without anyone to enjoy the antics archived upon.

We are now in the final chapter of the Wolf/Thies saga. After Wolf had entered the Air Force. It was only after we had stepped away from each other for some time, and had to deal with “real” jobs on our own that we both admitted that we had enjoyed that last year as roommates, instead of trying to annoy the other. Wolf offered up a final Comstock-ish proposal. Upon leaving the Air Force we began playing basketball with Chris, Chet, and myself on a weekly basis. He proclaimed his embarkment on a new journey, each step to be progressed to after the successful completion of the previous step.

1. stop drinking (achieved for a time with non-alcoholic beer)
2. lose weight (basketball helped a little, with #1 helping a lot)
3. stop smoking (he cut back for a period, but never quite got here)
4. regrow hair (untouched)

In summary, Wolf and I shared much laughter over the years, and provided the other with a minimal amount of aggravation. Even at the end of Princeton we were polite agitators.

From Booger to good friend Wolf served a purpose. Wouldn’t you like to have a Wolf too?

If It Ain’t Nailed Down…

        Of the many laudable pastimes we engaged in during those lean college years, from drinking to gaming to giving a smelly young man a really hard time, the most questionable of these was our lack of inhibition about theft. The lean years obviously don’t refer to the protuberance of our middle age bellies, but the complete lack of liquidity we suffered, our assets all tied up in the dubious investment of book learnin’. It is no wonder than that there existed a certain ease of justification in the fine art of petty larceny. Although none to my knowledge went so far as to outright shoplift or burgle a private citizen or business, there was no small degree of pilfering when it came to items held mainly in common share. This tale will recount said deeds in hopes that the entertainment value generated will make up for the minuscule monetary value lost, if any.

        The first such event worth making mention of was what I consider the pivotal moment wherein we transferred eras from Goodyear to Comstock. I’m talking of course of the day room table. It was the last day the dorms were open, and there was a considerable amount of hustle and bustle as hundreds of students packed up their belongings to take them to wherever they spent the summer. Aaron, whose parents moved away a few years previous and saw fit to take his personal belongings, and presumably his furniture, to Albuquerque, was bereft of a place to call home for the summer. The previous year he had endeavored to take the bus all the way out and I cannot imagine a more hellacious mode of conveyance. In conversation he confirmed the presence of the same variety of troglodyte one generally finds on the city buses; a fact of little surprise. Airfare at the time was relatively cheap and the trains cheaper still, leaving only the cash starved and mentally challenged left to utilize the services of Greyhound especially across country. On such a long voyage I can only theorize that the ‘don’t poop in the bus bathroom’ etiquette was abandoned making for an especially odoriferous journey.

        Having survived, he retained the mental capacity even with such company to vow never to travel this way again. As luck would have it, he found other accommodations for the summer sparing him the choice between the dumpster and the bus ride. Dan’s mom, possibly to dilute and mitigate the effects of just having Dan around all the time was kind enough to offer up either a spare room or the basement; I forget which and thus spare myself the inevitable correction. This being well before the inception of the Dashwood Society or Church of Unconscious Revelations, the option didn’t seem all that threatening, so he took it with little reservation or glee. The sum of his possession, however, consisted only of those clothes and knick-knacks he had strewn about the room with nary a meager stick of furniture to call his own. Under the auspices of something being better than nothing, his hunt for at least something was on.

        While the dorm rooms did indeed contain a few nice pieces, having them go missing was very traceable to the person who occupied the room. We were already in enough debt over the replacement cost of the toilet that incurring further wrath from the student housing authority seemed unwise. Aaron could not help but notice, however, that the day room contained a number of nice items, solid, stout and true. The wood was thick and sturdy and as we were to find out, pretty heavy as well. A test lift of one of the big tables took it out of the running. The chairs were nice, but largely unnecessary as at this young age it was not much of a discomfort to sit on the floor or any item that would serve as a perch. Just right were the end tables that could serve as a gaming table, coffee table, or convenient foot rest. Aaron saw these and he coveted.

        Getting one of these out would be no easy task. The university naturally disfavored the removal of common law items, especially when one has no intention of returning them. Somehow, perhaps because he was dating my cousin at the time, I was roped into helping out. The strategy was simple; hide in plain sight and act like we know what we are doing. We brought big bundles of blankets down to the day room, and acting exhausted from the 30 foot trip, happened to set them down on the most pristine of the small tables. Having gotten a good breather, we coincidentally decided to get moving again just when the halls were clear of students. There must have been some confusion in the lifting of the blankets again, for somehow the table itself became tangled in the mess and was hoisted up as well. So the story would have been in the event of questioning.

        Despite the presence of elevators and the increasing heaviness of the table, we decided to take the stairs in order to leave the lifts open for those on legitimate business. The sheer laziness of our generation ensured the stairwell would be clear, and for the most part it was. Upon reaching the ground level we felt it would be best to take the side exit as opposed to the main one. Pausing only for a few breaths here and there, we shuttled the table all the way across Main to the Mooney house. Not once were we questioned or was any mention ever made of a table being found missing. A fortunate thing, as I’m certain we would have been the prime suspects given the infamy we gained over the year, culminating in the toilet explosion. Surgically extricated, the table has been a group possession ever since and a prized trophy of past glories. It will be passed as such down the generations, though likely with the SUNYAB branding against the wall to avoid uncomfortable questions.

        The table I feel started the slippery slope descent into a Robin Hood philosophy of theft for just cause, or because we really needed something. My professorial hero, Raymond Federman, had interesting thoughts on the matter such as “it’s not a crime to steal a book so long as you read it” and “good writers come up with good ideas, while great writers steal them”. I was happy to share these quotes with my comrades and it was generally agreed upon that the sentiment was a correct one, and that it could be righteously applied to other areas as well.

        Working for FSA, especially freshman year in the dish room at Norton with Luis (a nice fellow who used to throw plates at me when they came out the other end of the machine still dirty), I could see the amount of wasted cutlery in items that were accidentally thrown away or twisted out of shape by creative members of the student body. Given the number of items FSA was already losing, would it really be so terrible if some of those items, instead of being broken, bent, or lost, instead found their way into our backpacks? I mean the FSA did provide these items to serve students food off of, and we were students who occasionally ate food off of dishes with flatware, so wouldn’t our use of such at home be justifiable. We felt yes, yes it was and subsequently built up a fine collection of ware. These, along with the Camel cups from the Wolverines party, served as the official Comstock china set.

        Our house rich with items to eat off of was next found to be lacking to deal with the inevitable conclusion of those meals some hours after. From the get go there was some amount of confusion as to what constituted common items amongst the 4 of us. One extreme was Knaus who felt that all items had set ownership that was sacrosanct to the level of severe retaliation. At the other end, to no great surprise, was Jason who held a more socialist view of ‘from each according to their means and to each according to their needs’; a philosophy that coincided well with his complete lack of means and high degree of needs. He was the basis of my suspicion that those who argued strongest for equal distribution of wealth are universally those willing to do the least amount to get it. A number of threats managed to clear up any confusion with him over the notion of ‘house detergent’, ‘house beer’ and ugh, ‘house soap’. The last was verified by Aaron who was the lucky one to find a blond short and curly on his Irish Spring. Toilet paper, due to the frequent presence of guests, had to be a house item.

        The problem with house items is that everyone has high motivation to use them to their fullest utility, and almost none to procure them on one’s own dime. In the beginning we attempted to be civil about it, taking turns and all, but that quickly degraded into a number of unfortunate incidents where napkins, paper towels, or worse, coffee filters, had to be used in place of the real thing. Aaron, still brash from the table adventure, became our official roll man; probably because he had the largest backpack. During lull times he would hunt the bathrooms of Lockwood, waiting for them to empty out and steal each and every roll. This hunting ground proved less attractive once he was warned that his timing coincided with an underground homosexual rendezvous point. From there he moved on to the computer labs as it was unlikely that those who occupied them would prove much threat.

        Although it was considered to be bad form to steal from each other, it would happen from time to time, primarily based on need. Food was the primary target, especially when the loss could be covered up. For that reason I cultivated a liking for items none of the rest could stomach, such as anchovy pizza and tins of sardines. The item we really wanted to steal was cable, from Jason. Jason, always low on cash, late with the rent, and complete non-contributor to those few items designated house ones, had the audacity to have cable installed, but only in his bedroom. It was a slap in the face that stung like blazes and once again, we coveted. Paul was the project leader; assigned the task of splitting the cable off and running it to the living room TV as well as only he claimed the knowledge to make this happen. Happen it never did; as I said, Paul was assigned as the task leader, thus guaranteeing no action would ever take place. I consoled myself by immunizing my nose to the stench through increasing exposure, and dragging a chair into his room when he was away to watch MST3K, the X Files, and an occasional very special episode of Blossom.

        The subject of theft wasn’t just limited to our one little band of miscreants, but may have been endemic to the student body at large. The most telling example of this was the political scandal that erupted the fall semester of our junior year. A new SA president and staff had been elected and promised to be the start of a glorious new era for the organization. Our new president was a bright and motivated woman who seemed dedicated to bring forth positive change and had a better slogan than her opponent who spouted the old ‘working together we can make a difference’ line. As it turns out, he probably could have compared to the treasure we got. Within a few weeks of being elected, she pilfered the treasury in order to help her family with some crisis. True, a seemingly justifiable action of a person in a real bind, but what a disaster. Although it had no bearing whatsoever on the action or intention, by coincidence she just so happened to be the first minority female elected to that position. The tragedy is that there were no doubt many who linked one with the other, reinforcing tired old stereotypes as they fight to hang on year by year. Her name was stricken from the roster and she was quickly replaced by Joe Fox and forgotten.

        As the years moved on we abandoned the practice of grabbing anything that wasn’t nailed down, moving instead toward seeking honest ways of attaining possessions. Legitimacy, however, never quite equaled the same level of excitement we felt with that well varnished wood beneath our fingertips in the stairwell.