Clydesdale Rescue

It was early winter in our first year at Comstock when we first began to suspect that something was amiss. While strange thumping and animal noises were commonplace in the rear of the first floor where Aaron and Thirsty bunked down, the quality and characteristics took a noticeable turn. In addition, occasional screams could be heard from Aaron’s room late at night and the following morning he would turn up with massive u-shaped black and blue marks on his face or extremities. He attempted to explain them away as commonplace household mishaps and we took him at his word. The pervasive dung odor was attributed to Thirsty, and perhaps not unjustly.

Further suspicions arose one evening when a massive fur laden hoof crashed through the wall of Thirsty’s room and launched his weak and pale frame spinning askew into the radiator so recently christened with Schultz’s urine. He made claim that in his trip through the air he caught glimpse of a brown behemoth through the hole, but upon regaining consciousness found the far side was conveniently covered by an iconic Cheryl Tiegs poster. We disbelieved him en masse and he eventually let the matter drop.

Revelation came one glorious morning as munched old eggs for breakfast. The smell of them scrambled with the last of the vanilla extract awoke a dark seated passion in the beast. It reared up and brought down Aaron’s door with an irresistible double whammy and strode out. Knaus and I stood by helplessly as the first Clydesdale we had ever seen outside a commercial strode into the dining room and took to devouring our carefully prepared meal. Aaron came running out sheepish and apologetic, full of unfulfilled promises to replace them with fresh or more recently expired eggs.

A palaver was held between the three of us, Thirsty exempt as he took to sleeping more and more ever since the kick. The truth came out, bit by bit, through the course of careful questioning and torment. He had fallen in with a splinter group dedicated to the rescue of Clydesdale horses from all current ownership, and as with like programs for various species of dogs, warriors for the cause were expected to house and care for specimens in transition. He had thought to keep the effort secret to avoid our mocking fun, and with careful timing and the removal of several door frames had managed admirably. With precedent being set by Knaus’s far more destructive cat Malice it was impossible not to accept.

Aaron was relieved to no longer be forced to sleep beneath the ever shifting beast in close quarters, not to mention an impressive defecation schedule. His frequency of showering decreased, though not to Thirsty’s level. For the rest of us, the inconveniences began to grow but initially balanced by Aaron’s jauntier attitude. He lugged about a weighty tome titled “Astounding True Facts and Accounts of International Clydesdale’s” and quoted from it incessantly. The veracity of the claims were questioned but independent research held them true.

Did you know that if the level of Clydesdale poaching in Gabon were to reach a world wide scale, the species would be extinct by 3013?

Did you know that in 1743 a Clydesdale was appointed Prime Minister of Prussia for a period of 17 days?

The quotes were an educational experience, as was the continued presence of Francois, whom Aaron was having a challenging time finding local placement for. An inquiry from the Barksdale dog Food Company was rejected as being contrary to the spirit of the cause, as was a subsequent one from the good people at Elmer’s. An ad in the Pennysaver generated little interest, as did tacky fliers stapled cockeyed to random telephone poles. In the mean time, our lives evolved.

Did you know in 1977 a Clydesdale named Brasie May was the first of her kind to swim the English Channel?

Thirsty was the first to suffer most and as a direct result of the initial beating. The rest of us discovered early on that strategies used to keep the others from our food had little effect on Francois. Even my pizzas covered in anchovies and onion, generally sacrosanct and unmolested in the fridge, would be wantonly removed and consumed by vociferous horse even as I beat at his haunches with my balled fists. We took to taking most meals out of the home except for Thirsty. Three times a day he would cook and bring his meal out to the coffee table, and three times a day Francois would find a new way to distract him and devour the latest offering before Thirsty could react. He grew weak and shaky, but stubbornly determined not to disrupt his routine of taking meals while enjoying reruns of ‘Quincy’.

Did you know that teams of Clydesdales won 4 of the last 37 Iditarod’s?

Without warning the number of horses doubled, but the problems increased by several orders of magnitude. Another daring rescue had been made and Aaron drew the short end of the stick despite much of the membership currently supporting zero Clydesdales. Luck of the draw perhaps, perhaps. Aaron’s German obedience was ours to lament, though he now too would feel the effects as well. The state of the house, deplorable as it was to start, deteriorated quickly.

Did you know that in North Dakota, SD, Clydesdales actually achieved suffrage a full 20 years before women?

I grew enraged on a daily basis. Sitting in the chair with high arms enjoying my stories I would suddenly hear rustling about the Christmas tree I had set up in the Florida room. Each time I would spring to my feet to find the two of them attempting to ascend it for the purposes of batting about and destroying the precious glass ornaments with which I decorated it.  I had filled a spray bottle with water and vinegar and unleashed it full into their faces, but they actually seemed to like it. A full week before Christmas the tree was done, a gnarled mess leaning haphazardly against the glass doors, denuded of even a single bauble. I was despondent with a heart full of vengeance.

Did you know that Clydesdales were critical to the capture of an Enigma machine in WWII in one of the craftiest submarine capers in history?

Food became a problem. Jason’s large pasta dishes were enough to sustain one Clydesdale, but certainly not two. With each meal he would prepare, Francois and Bon Scott would set to battling over it through the living room as Thirsty cowered beside the couch. Growling and fur flying everywhere, the winner would quickly gobble as the loser would eye Thirsty with a cold gleam. I was the unfortunate witness the day Malice was cornered, stomped, and devoured and took no relish in reporting back to Knaus. Aaron, under threat of dire vengeance now had to lug 100 lb bags of Clydesdale chow back from Wilson Farms on his own. I asked him why he chose not to employ the sturdy horses in this endeavor. It was no choice he reported; putting the beasts to work was antithetical to the mission. His back grew stooped and bowed as 4 trips were required per day.

Did you know that Clydesdales, in their most natural form, are equipped with razor sharp retractable adamantium claws?

With an assured food supply, elimination occurred with a frequency beyond Aaron’s ability to keep up, especially since he now spent close to 4 hours a day going to and from the store. We took great care to avoid the steaming heaps until Aaron would come through with his shovel and dust bin, but it was not uncommon to see one indented with a sock print followed by shitty tracks disappearing into Thirsty’s door. The smell grew unbearable and the infestation of large green bottle flies was no longer confined to Thirsty’s bedroom. Female visitors, rare to begin with due to constant substitution for coffee filters for toilet paper, became a thing of the past. One night, drunk on a stash of beer they had not found and consumed yet, I opened the back door and determined that they would be outdoor horses from thence on.

Did you know that Clydesdales are the creation of Poseidon, patron god of the ocean, Budweiser beer, and ironically, the spotted Appaloosa?

Francois and Bon Scott took up temporary residence in the garage, having chased away or eaten Wrinkly Bill, the cat and previous tenant. It seemed a peaceable solution at the outset until they both went into heat at the same time keeping the neighborhood awake with intolerable whinnying at all hours of the night. To our collective dismay the pungent scent of their pheromones combined with the cacophony was enough to attract a local wild stallion that impregnated them both. Hormonal and hungry they terrorized the neighborhood. Aaron attempted to corral them with some chicken wire to no avail. Desperate, he removed the side door entirely and discovered they would roost indoors at night given the option and freedom. We rejoined the suffering of the neighborhood at large; they bearing the brunt in daylight hours and we in the evenings. Miserable all.

Did you know that Clydesdales when viewed from an oblique angel are often mistaken for woodchucks?

They grew fiercely territorial and harder to live with by the day. Thirsty, whom they already associated with meals, was assumed eaten following his sudden disappearance and Aaron’s discovery of a pair of grey underpants amidst the feces. We never really found out for sure and deflected all inquiries from relatives. Aaron grew nervous by the day as they tore into the bags of chow with unholy vengeance before he could even set them down. He lost two digits and part of his elbow in a single week. I tried to keep a locked door to prevent intrusion, but they found a way to pick the lock and I was thereafter treated to frequent intrusion, sometimes in moments most private. Efforts to find permanent situations for them were redoubled, but it was a hard sell.

Did you know that the bones of heroic Clydesdales were used in the construction of the impenetrable Castle Greyskull?

We resented the inconvenience, but in a sense we thought of them as family, secretly approving of some of the services rendered. Change was forced unexpectedly one day by Don, our landlord. Initially, he offered no objection to the great horses and even offered unique praise when learning of Thirsty’s probable fate having once identified him as trouble from the get go. Bon Scott, however, had a bad habit and a beef with Don. Coming over to mow the lawn one spring day he was surprised by a Clydesdale charging full tilt from between two houses and ramming his truck off the road. We explained the dent could be easily buffed out, but he was done; they had to go. He rang Barksdale and they salivated.

Did you know a Clydesdale was the winner of the very first episode of ‘Bowling for Dollars’ and that they were disallowed thereafter, such was the blow out?

Blackjacking Don and locking him in Thirsty’s old room was a calculated risk, but we couldn’t bear seeing their pictures on bags of kibble. With Knaus’s unusually large supply of ether we drugged them soundly and tied them to the roof of his Cutlass. Together, we drove them down to Salamanca and released them into a local pasture, ignoring the protests of the family picnicking there. We drove back in tears, but in ensuing years swelled with pride each time the news reported on the mighty herd ravaging the Southern Tier and northern Pennsylvania. Rescued from commercial labor, they do God’s work now.

Did you know this book was written, published and distributed solely by Clydesdales?

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.

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?

Title Bout: Klausen Vs. Jason

Come one, come all! The fight of the decade is under way. In one corner we have Jason “Thirsty Puddles”. Ignore the stench and filth. Cut through the albino tinge of the skin and green teeth. The man’s a killer. The dirty wisps of what once was human hair cling to his scalp, as he flexes his toothpick arms, and runs screaming towards his prey. Moldy sweaters and dirty pants, stiffened with grime, complete the ensemble.

In the opposite corner we have Chris “Minus-One-Testicle” Klausen. Pseudoly-muscle bound. Rippled with which might have been biceps and triceps, if he ever worked out. A swaggering brash youth, long head-banging hair, with pushed out T-Shirts and ripped up jeans. Ignore the fact that Schultz nearly threw him off of a cliff, while climbing on his back like a screaming spider monkey. This boy’s ready to rock.

So ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, hermaphrodites of all ages. Step up to the plate and take out your soy sauce. It’s time for the fight of the ages.

It was a drunken summer night at Comstock, one of many. People had come and gone. Mouse was passed out in his lair. Mike was stumbling around the house, and Aaron had gone of somewhere with Ann. The Clan Frank had stopped by and were toasting to the God of Beer well into the night. Klausen had brought along his woman at the time, Cathy, and Jason, who normally scooted away from our social situations became stupidly enamored of her.

Jason had one too many beers and found himself listening to his inner douche-bag, the one that tells him how great he is, and that oxygen’s for losers. He wanted her and he would posses her. He could feel the connection flowing between them. If only she felt it too! It would only take a quick glance into his bloodshot eyes, and she would be overcome by the love bonds between them. If she had no sense of smell it would’ve been a snap.

Needless to say, the situation was ludicrous. Jason, pushing forward his strands of hair, stared at Cathy from across the room like she was a packet of peanuts, and he couldn’t wait to tear it open and taste the salty goodness. He leered for a good thirty minutes, his mouth grinning stupidly, then he decided that it was time to act!. Every chance he got, he sidled up to her trying to insert himself into the conversation, a prelude to his future-hopeful attempts to insert himself into her. She would be standing amoung people, glasses placed precariously on her nose, chatting about whatever empty headed vacuous nonsense came galloping over the horizon, then there was Jason adding useful tidbits, like:

“Yeah?”

“Oh really?”

“Tell me more!”

Fascinating. Enlightening. Artfully witty repartee. Worthy of Oscar Wilde. But for some reason, Cathy did not respond, and was actually creeped out by him. Maybe she didn’t read enough stories by turn-o-the-last-century homosexuals.

From the outside it was pretty obvious what Jason was doing. Everyone who was not talking in the group around Cathy, was pointing and laughing at Jason. Of course, this happened so often that Jason didn’t notice.

It was like a slow moving tribal dance. She would move to one place, and Jason would move over there. She would move again, he followed. Her friends would surround her, he would wait for an opening, and BOOM. He was in like Flynn. Mike, slipping into his nice-guy persona, attempted to give Jason a piece of advice about him not having a chance, but to no avail. If Jason had ever listened to anyone, he would’ve taken a shower once in awhile.

Klausen was getting ever more agitated. Here was this scumbag attempting to hit on his girlfriend right in front of him. Normally Klausen would’ve gone into ballistic mode about then, but as he later told me, he didn’t want to piss off the guys living there by putting a smack down on Jason. He was considerate like that. We should add that Klausen, for all of his bravado, rarely got into fights. It that typical Buffaloian way, he talked a big game, but usually did not have to play. He was more of a threatener and intimidator.

The waltz moved outside. Jason was being pushier and pushier. He was openly following her now. All to the delight of everyone, except Klausen and Cathy. Then first blood. Klausen “accidentally” jerked his arm back and elbowed Jason right in the chest. Jason stumbled back several feet and spilled his beer all over my pants. He looked around stupidly, not knowing what had happened, and said to me “Why don’t you get out of my way,” even though I was originally nowhere near him.

Jason went back in for another beer. The discussion in Cathy’s group led around to what a disgusting weirdo Jason was, and how to get away from him. Mike may have gone to bed at this point, I’m not sure. But the idea came around that if you couldn’t evade him by going out, then go up!

Onto the roof of the garage we climbed. An easy place to access, by balancing on the chain link fence at the back of the property and hauling yourself up. Beer and agility never really seemed to go well together, but I remember that we used to do this semi frequently. Still the small party clambered up and things continued on peacefully till Jason’s return.

He came out, and stared around confused. Where had everyone gone? Had they disappeared? Was it hide-and-seek? He tried a hesitant cry of, “Cathy?”

Klausen then lost it. “Motherfucker get the hell out of here!”

“What?”

“You heard me. I’ll kick the shit out of you. You think you can take me, huh? Step up to the plate!”

Jason was disturbed and disorientated. Most people tried to get away from him, and this one was asking him to get closer.

“No no. I uh..”

“Fuck you man, just fuck you. Make your move. Yeah!”

“Uh I just…”

“What? What was that?”

Jason unmanned before true love, turned yellow and slunk off. He would bide his time, like he always did. While leaving he muttered, “I’m not going to do anything.”

Klausen turned around. “What did he say?”

Which is when, with my finger on the proverbial button, I decided to play Nuke ‘Em, and let slip the dogs of war.

“He said you’re not going to do anything.” I offered.

“Motherfucker!” Klausen jumped of the roof. “Holy shit!” I thought, “This ought to be good!” Klausen zipped across the yard and was in the house after Jason in a second. I cautiously climbed down and went after him. The roof emptied, as they others mirrored my own thoughts.

Entering the house, I heard yelling and screaming coming from the living room, with something large being pushed around, and a loud thump on the floor. In the living room, Jason was getting out of a decrepit plush chair, and Kalusen slammed him back down into it.

“You said I’m not gonna do something. I’ll fucking do it right now.” He aimed a shot at Jason’s head, but only managed to hit the wall, as Jason curled up into the wailing ball. Screaming and crying, he made very little sense.

“Come on! Come on!” Klausen hit the wall over and over. Jason finally just broke and ran. Out of the house and into the cruel streets of Buffalo, leaving the front door wide open. Where he went I have no idea.

Klasuen just watched him go, and shook his head. “Motherfucker.” He mumbled. Angry and pumped, he declared, “I want to kick his ass.”

“Well you know, you ought to do something to his room.” I agitated. Demostarting how, being a provocateur was one of my natural geniuses.

“Good idea man. Let’s go!”

Off we went on a merry ride of fortune and fun. To the back of the house we ran. I pointed out the door, and Klausen slammed his shoulder into the door, bursting it open.

That was when I saw the kink in the plan. “Trashing Jason’s room” is a bit of an oxymoron, as there was little we could do to damage it that Jason had not already done. It was filthy, disgusting, covered in grime. No one would go near the bed, and his clothes were all piled in a corner, waiting for their yearly wash. It looked like some wild beast had been penned up there, and built a nest in the corner.

Still we gave it the good old college try, and did our best to make chaos out of chaos. The drawers were pulled out of the dresser and all of their contents dumped onto the floor. The closet was ripped open and hangers, unused in an age, were tossed about. Klausen then discovered a jar of pennies and had a great time spinning in a circle letting them fly about helter skelter.

To me something was missing, and I knew what it was. I had to point out to everyone which was Jason’s room. We needed a marker to identify it as such, in case we needed to come back at a later date. I went into the kitchen to look for a useful medium for the sign. In one of the smudged glass cabinets I discovered an old bottle of soy sauce. Perfect. I went back to the room, which now had various pieces of paper fluttering about it, and wrote Jason’s Place on the wall. I knew he’d be pleased at my thoughtfulness.

The game wound down, as everything that could be tossed on the floor was on the floor. Boredom now settled in. Cathy said she was tired, and Klasuen decided, “Fuck it. Let’s get out of here.” We said our fond farewells, and they departed into the night. I remained to enjoy what was let of the evening.

A few hours later. Jason returned, and soon followed Aaron and Ann. Shaking with rage, and his buzz completely killed, Jason stepped into his room and hollowed at the destruction there. Ann, Aaron and I went to look.

Jason stood in the middle of the wreckage, fists clenched in impotent fury.

“Jesus Jason,” I said, “What did you do?”

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.

Cold and Lonely In the Deep Dark Night

       The tales told herein this post, unlike most things on God’s green earth, have nothing whatsoever to do with Meatloaf and his big swinging bitch tits. Nor do they really have anything to do with each other than serve convenience. Dissimilar in nature, yet stuck together like a baboon duct taped to the back of a bucking naked Angela Landsbury, I hereby present the tales of some things that I happened to remember while thinking unkind thoughts of Comstock.           

       The first of these events is one that has been brought up time and time again, yet remains an untold story; or in fact may have been told but I forgot and cannot be bothered to look it up, so am beating you with the details unnecessarily. I speak of the memorable night when I held captive and furious several poor youths against their will under tortuous circumstances. This, mind you, was long before I entered the rarified echelons of the military industrial conspiracy where such doings are not just tolerated, but expected. No ill intention went into the planning, yet the results could not have been more perfect, as the impression left upon the collective psyche such that 14 years of schooling, Mountain Dew, and prodigious amounts of fantasy role play gaming were not enough to remove the destructive influence. Louis, this story is for you; a kindness in sparing you the pain of bringing these words to paper.           

       It was 1993 and I had signed up to take a modern culture class with the great Satan of the English department, Professor Fred See. He was known amongst average circles as Prof See Minus given his fondness for his namesake letter grade, with just a touch of panache added on to the end. I had taken one of his classes before, and despite being a first hand recipient of his unkind homonym inspired curve, decided to buck the odds and give him another go. The rotund man with walrus moustache and abrasive Santanic humor (the jolly old elf), was captivating and I was determined to follow in his path, inspiring enmity and grudging awe in those unfortunate enough to fall under my spell. See was free and wild with his recommendations regarding movies, and had a particular fetish for the escapades of grandfather punk band The Sex Pistols; notably bad boy bassist Sid Vicious.           

       Fred felt that the epic story of old Sid and his wretched skank of a girlfriend Nancy was best summed up in aptly titled biog “Sid and Nancy”. To hear old See describe it, the plot was a towering romance between noble star crossed lovers set in the grimy streets of London and Vegas, with liberal doses of whiskey and heroin thrown in to provide a little color. It sounded great, and I looked forward to the life changing event I knew watching it would be. Lacking the minimum requirements needed to obtain a Blockbuster card, however, I was forced to play the waiting game. The game was a short one, as I found that day upon arriving home on a sweaty August afternoon that Knaus owned a copy that for some reason was not in with the rest of his stash. Perhaps it was that the title screamed ‘chick flick’ to me and I so overlooked it. I was determined to watch at the earliest available opportunity.           

       The late summer of ’93 was hotter and sweatier than an overweight runners swamp crotch. Add Jason in the house and smell was considerably worse than the analogy. During such times there was always a careful choice to be made: do we bear the oppressive heat and stank of the living room and bask in the calming light of our enormous entertainment center, or do we forego the comedy stylings of the Fox network and instead engage in witty beer fueled conversation in the night breezes? The minions of the zoo crew were barking toward the latter. My overwhelming desire to see the cinematic masterpiece described earlier inspired genius that night. Why can’t we have our cake and eat it too? (a value I still espouse as I see no point in having one without the other). I demonstrated though simple diagrams how this could be done. The crew hooted and clapped and jumped grinning about the furniture.           

       Atop our Florida room stood a roof of angular pitch such that a person perched upon stood only small chance off accidentally rolling off into the driveway. The access to this heavenly veranda existed only in my bedroom, though the one window of the three that had been sufficiently freed of paint to open. The environs were a favorite stomping ground of the cat, even in winter, and it was not long before we humans, inspired by her intrepid bravery, set forth on the same journey. By some miracle the aged timbers held strong, and on such warm nights we would sit and gawk at the shady undertakings of the Mailbox Gang. In this instance, an impressive addition was made to the plan. Aaron, Louis and Matt each filed out the window with pillows and chose seats of best comfort on the shingles. I balanced the TV/ VCR on the radiator and exited myself, pulling the TV into the open window frame. Thus secure, I popped in ‘Sid and Nancy’ and let it play.           

       I don’t especially recall much after that. It had been a long day, as I had worked, and then consumed some number of beers thereafter. The movie proved to be less captivating than I had been led to believe by that fat boisterous liar, and in all honesty, I found their very voices to be wholly offensive to my eardrums. Quickly losing interest, I lay my head down on the pillow most in front of the TV and closed my eyes for but a moment to the dulcet sounds of, “Naaaaanncy! I wont some piiiiizzzza!” Blackness followed and I only have second hand accounts of what transpired thereafter.           

       For those who have never been exposed to my odious sleeping habits, I will lay aside all defenses and take for granted that my snoring would put a misaligned McDonnell-Douglas jet engine to shame. Further compounding the problem is the condition I enjoy that prevents any purposeful effort, reasonable or otherwise, from waking me. The roof contingent became rapidly aware of the predicament they were in being subject not only to my subhuman nighttime noises, but the hideous screeching of the actors in the film. Unable to converse and otherwise pass the time due to the din, watching this three hour train wreck was the only viable entertainment option.            

       Plan A of course was to simply turn off the TV and make an exit, happily leaving me to sleep or roll off the roof in good time. Given the seating configuration and a cold logistic analysis, it became rapidly apparent that not only did my offensive sleeping form block all exit, but also access to the TV. There would be no relief thus from the sensory assault. A vigorous attempt to wake me was thus employed with no success whatsoever. Had someone of the malicious caliber of Knaus or Dan been present, I have no doubt that I would have been set on fire and subsequently rolled off the edge if need be, but this contingent was too soft and thus suffered the ritual ass pounding of the weak. The suffering grew as time progressed and the liberal amounts of beverage taken to stave off the heat made their way though the process and begged relief. I don’t know if any of them decided to brave it, but a previous close brush with death led me to believe that relieving oneself off the precarious edge was the errand of a fool soon to become Darwin’s bitch.            

       It is my understanding that Louis suffered the most that night. His senses gouged rough by the horrendous acting, bladder near bursting, and cordoned off by a sleeping flatulent man from his beloved sugar, he edged a little closer to the insane. Aaron and Matt, more used to my penchant for providing frequent undesirable circumstances surrendered themselves to fate. Academics and students of human behavior study to find that moment when a Hitler or Ted Bundy transforms from a painter or salesman to a homicidal monster. Had things progressed any much further, Louis would have been able to tell them, masked, strapped down to a dolly and thinking dark thoughts of lambs. Lucky for me, the movie ended and a Sex Pistols song of such heinous quality played during the credits to thwart even my vaunted sleeping ability. I awoke with a start.           

       “Oh my god, finally! Get out of the way!” Before me and pushing with great urgency was a highly agitated Louis sporting a look of such venom that I was quick to comply with the request. Little care was taken into consideration as to the delicacy of Knaus’s valued machine as Louis punched the stop button and shoved it out of the way on to my bed. Aaron and Matt each looked at me with some degree of trepidation that I might suddenly fall asleep again. Both knew, but would never tell how close I came to having Louis, driven beyond what the human mind can take; puncture my scrotum with a rusty roofing nail. I learned a valuable lesson that night and vowed to never again watch ‘Sid and Nancy’ atop a roof with an irritable chemist present.            

       The second night time story has nothing whatsoever to do with the first, other than it takes place at night and involves no small amount of discomfort. I shiver to this day thinking about it; the night the furnace went out. It was our first winter at Comstock and a hoary one at that. From the start of January on, Buffalo experienced one of the longest below zero spells it had ever had. Moving away from home into a house in a shit neighborhood involves many challenges and adjustments such as buying toilet paper, feeding oneself, doing laundry and whatnot; obvious things. There are then the less obvious things, such as learning to subsist in substandard housing with old plumbing, malfunctioning bathroom door handles, and little to no insulation. It is the last of these that caused much discomfort that particular winter.           

       No two ways about it, when the weather gets down below zero, we were uncomfortably cold. Lacking any type of ‘do it yourself’ type knowledge that may have mitigated the problem, we resorted to the remedy of convenience – turning the thermostat as high as it would go and leaving it there constantly. It occurs to me now that Dave probably knew of such things as putting plastic over the windows, sealing doors and whatnot. I can only imagine that he took some sort of perverse pleasure knowing we were freezing our buns off and paying a hefty $400 a month to do so. We groaned at the weight of Knauses quarterly statements with teeth a chatter. I was the fortunate one, having the longest length of radiator in my room, and was often quite toasty even when the rest shivered in their chilly hideaways. On many nights I would abscond with Knauses TV into my room and watch movies (more often than not, porn) in relative comfort, caring little for the suffering of Jason, who was usually the only other one there in such times.           

       One night, however, my winter refuge was lost to fate. It was a Saturday night and I arrived home and took a shower after my shift at Collector’s Inn, which I often did after dealing with the subhuman creatures who rented his horror movies. I settled down to watch SNL and could not help but notice it was even chillier than normal in the living room. As time went on the comedy stylings of the great Tim Meadows even failed to warm me and I then noticed that I could see my breath. Foolish Knaus! Always turning the thermostat down before he left. I went to adjust it and froze; it was up at the highest setting. In a burst of panic I bolted over to the radiator and felt it. Ice cold! The water gurgled though it, pushed forward by the arcane pumping mechanism, but it was frostier than the blood of a yeti and began to actually serve as a cooling mechanism, pulling the little remaining warmth from the rooms. Panic began to settle in as the night was expected to break records and the harsh winds pounded our windows. It was time to call Don, our intrepid landlord.           

       In the mean time, Jason and Aaron arrived home. Knaus, either preternaturally aware of the situation though the reporting of his dark familiar or having been the one to break the furnace to begin with, remained conspicuously absent that night.  We stood nervously about, donning progressively heavier layers of clothing, and like complete fools, thinned our blood though the intake of beer. Don finally arrived and made a harsh diagnosis. Yup, the furnace was busted. He called around, but at 1:00 AM, was not able to find a repairman until the following day. He advised we turn on the water to keep the pipes from bursting and hunker down for a long cold night. With a wink and a nod, he bade up adieu, hopping in his nice warm truck and speeding back to Lancaster and the embrace of a well heated home.            

       We looked at each other worriedly. We had not even the means to build a fire for warmth, and must make due with what little provisioning we had. I had known from scouts that staving off hypothermia could be done by clustering naked bodies together and sharing warmth, and knew Aaron knew this as well having been an Eagle Scout. We eyed Jason warily; this would never happen. I didn’t say it, and neither did he, but we simultaneously calculated that given Jason’s body mass compared to our own, we stood a substantially better chance of surviving the night then he. True, our collective survival chances improved substantially if we decided to take the homoerotic route, but we were willing to forego this given the potential that this smelly silica slinger would freeze his nuts off and bother us no more. The decrease in my own survival margin was acceptable risk. We all parted ways and retreated to our respective rooms. I coaxed Malice into mine, risking her wrath for the promise of fur.           

       I had read somewhere that a multitude of layers is the key to survival in Antarctic conditions, and as such donned as many as possible; my whole collection of sweatpants and sweatshirts, stretched to the limit over my padded frame. The hoodie was decades away from popularity, but my anticipation of the trend served me well and allowed good coverage for my ears. I dove under the comforter and winter weight sleeping bag atop. Nestled in the cold, yet comfortably warm, I found sleep.            

       My alarm woke me early the next morning. I rose, shuddering and shaking, the cold having permeated every layer through the still of the night. The cat of course seemed nonplussed and I could not help but wonder if she had stolen the heat of my breath overnight, leaving me soulless and frozen. I had to work at Collectors that day; a condition that would force me to get dressed. How I cursed the fates, shivering beyond control to don a simple pair of blue jeans, legs so frozen as to rip into my exposed skin. Fortunately, I had arranged a ride that day, as I would have been absolutely unable to make my customary walk. “My god, you are blue!”, my father exclaimed seeing me. Unable to speak through the chattering, I rode in silence, only moving to crank the heat. When I arrived at work, I took the space heater behind the counter, turned it to full, and placed it directly next to me. By the end of the 6 hour shift, I had finally gotten to the point where I was no longer shaking. I have never been that cold before or since and the memory haunts me to this day.           

       How Jason and Aaron fared and survived, I still do not know. I could speculate that they found warmth in the aforementioned manner, deep in the night knowing no one would know, so I will, no doubt inspiring furious protest. The furnace, however, was fixed and life went on without further consequence.