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.

Poster Boys

Bros With Fros

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coolness

The Official Story: Dan

Dan has previously posted the details of some of the minor Comstock characters. But who is this main character himself? In what may become a series I present to you an in depth look at the man himself, Dan.

To coincide with the title of this piece let us start with where Dan came from. Dan started as an unknown freshman at a well known local Catholic school. Dan and another unknown freshman, Matt, crossed paths, and found there was something of a friendship there. I do not know the details of their first meeting, perhaps they themselves can shed light on that incident. Who would have guessed the road their chance meeting led them down. The important thing was that it was Dan’s fault we all come to know Dan, and it was Matt’s fault we all came to know Dan.

When this duo encroached upon the gamer club at said Catholic school the radius of their infection was astonishing. Not only sinking claws into other students, but reaching into across two-lane roads that should have been four lane roads. A surprisingly long half-life did this collision of carbon did have. I myself felt safe, but through my friendship with Louis I was infected.

Dan is someone you have to experience. I used to feel I had to interact with him in order to keep an eye on him, and while that was true for a period, the majority of the time I wanted to see what weird people and experiences he would bring about. Life is to be enjoyed, so if you ever have a “Dan” in your life, I suggest you get all you can from the relationship. Although you need to take a break from Dan every now and then.

I am not going to attempt to organize the following incidents in any fashion, as that would be counter to the spirit of “Dan”. So here they are, strewn about, much like your sense of decency after encountering Dan.

Dan has a knack of making a lasting impression on almost anything he encounters. I obtained a board game about computer hacking. The player in the lead, at the end of each round, was given a cardboard shuiken and declared the “Net Ninja”. As with any game our group took part in, the fun was being a jerk within the rules. As such, when Dan became the “Net Ninja” he made a motion across the table as if to “hit” us all with the shuriken and boisterously declaired, “I am the Net Ninja! WHAAAAAA!”

You have already heard of Dan’s Dashwood Society. There is a lost video I saw once of the antics of the Society one Friday Medicine Hour. This included Mucabala Dan running naked, except for a long fake beard through the Tops parking lot. Another portion was Dan himself, in his Reverend garb, drinking a conyak and being interviewed by Brian. The interview was a good 45 minutes long, and as the interview progressed Dan threw more sheets to the wind, and became more belligerent. Hard to imagine.

Dan was an early inscribed name on The Plaque along with the original name, that being of Larry. A rare evening together with the two forces of chaos gave us witness to this exchange:

Larry: *blah, blah, blah* anal sex *blah, blah, blah*
Dan: *blah, blah, blah* anal sex *blah, blah, blah*
Larry: “There are no feelings for her when you are about to finish. Those last few strokes are POWER strokes.”
Dan: “They ARE!”

GENEROSITY

Every now and again Dan would surprise us with his generosity, like when he was approved for a Discover card. Suddenly he was always offering to buy you a Coke or coffee at Denny’s or Tom’s. These where his favorite late night hang outs. Often with himself, writing, and finding more strange creatures of the night.

The most generous display of Dan’s generosity was already detailed in The Night of Revelations, but another generous moment was when Dan showed up to our weekly “poker” night with Sake. This was a time of relative inexperience with the world, and so the knowledge that Sake was to be served warm was unknown to any of us. Despite that lack of critical knowledge, the sign of the Sake coming in a giant jug should have been a tip off. Dan, Rob, and myself where quite eager to sip the Oriental treat. We all took at a swig, and the taste was dreadful. We all endeavored to complete the glass we had already drawn. Dan gave up, while Rob and I finished the glass, the worse for doing so. Recanting this story invokes responses of dejected head shaking.

When we all used to get together Sundays Dan would show up early (which was merely on time) in order to perform a dramatic reading of the Weekly World News. It was a chargeable performance listening to the normal stories of “Bat Boy Found!” and the readings of “Dear Abby” which Dan was particularly fond of since she answered her letters in a a Dan-esque manner, i.e. “Dear Loser, Get a life and stop bothering me.”.

SIDEKICKS

I arrived at Dan’s place to pick him up, and as usual, waited for him to finish whatever he was doing (never ask) in the kitchen. I took note of a new addition – a fresh hole in the wall. I say fresh because I had been in the kitchen two days prior, and no hole was present. When Dan emerged I inquired. “Oh, Mucabala Dan did that with a dildo.”

As we can judge by the high popularity of the Tracy Mehm post some of you remember when the story of this Dan associate was in the news. Some may remember another story in the news. The story of a naked man stuck on Goat Island, and how they had to helicopter him to safety. The man was drunk and jumped into the river to ride over Niagara Falls. The extreme cold of the river sobered him immediately. He managed to get to Goat Island before plummeting over the Falls, although the raging water stripped him of his clothes. This young man of good judgement was stuck on the island until morning. A good use of the $10,000 it cost to rescue him. This was one of Dan’s friends.

PERSONALITY

Dan is never one to shy away from awkward situations, especially if that means having a conversations with total strangers. When Louis was about to leave the state for grad school we where all over at his place for a party.

Louis: *slight panic* “Hey! Where’s Dan?” (it is always wise to keep an eye on the whereabouts of Dan at a party)
Aaron: “Last I saw he was outside.”

Dan was indeed outside. He had become a welcome member of the table old retired guys drinking and smoking in the car port. They all loved Dan. This brings me to another point about Dan, at least the old Dan. When I brought Chris around I wanted him about Dan. I said if he is nice to you he is setting you up for something. Just to get to me, Dan was always nice to Chris.

When Mike’s wedding came around I was curious as to who I would be sitting at my table. I thought perhaps Paul, if he showed, but I knew, as soon as I learnt he was attending, Dan would be there, and so I was not worried about a boring time, with no stories. Dan rambled on to a female guest at the table for 15 minutes before she revealed he already knew her. Dan quickly recovered and then hit on her pregnant friend, who was married, but the husband was out of the country (they where in the military). I later found Dan and Mike’s mom laughing it up on the balcony during a smoke break. Still more humorous was that Dan had rented a car for the first time to drive up to the wedding. What does he pick as his first rental car? A bright red Corvette, manual, which Dan does not know how to drive. I watched in amusement as he “drove” (jerked) away with a smile.

SKILLS

Dan has dipped his toe into the cooking water. He attempted to make jell-o form his own toe nail clippings. It takes a lot of clippings to have enough for jell-o. Dan was kind enough to leave these in a CLEAR container on the kitchen counter for all to see. Tragically, Dan’s mom threw out the container, thinking it something gone bad when Dan had near collected enough. Distraught, he tried again, and successfully made a smaller batch. I don’t know who tasted the finished product, but I’m sure that feat earned them a place in the Dashwood Society.

Dan has dabbled in the arts as well. For a time he created a comic strip “Unspeakably Violent Jack”. As with many things, Dan drew inspiration from him friends. The “Unspeakably Violent Jack” character was based on his own, thank god only, imagination. Other reoccurring characters where “Dastardly Evil Matt” (Matt), “Cubicly Rubix Louis” (Louis), and “Musically Bloated Brian” (Brian). There are others that hopefully Dan will remind us of, and more importantly I hope Dan can post the comics themselves. To show this is a seasonal post, I recall one of the comics that outlined how to head-butt Santa from the back and push his skull out his face.

Perhaps Dan’s most impressive skill was self-gratification. In the middle of Denny’s he boasted ho he could masturbate without using his hands. And immediately proceeded to demonstrate by holding his arms in the arm, and gyrating his pelvis in an unspeakable manner. The typical Dan grin was fully apparent. Dan must have been exceptionally successful that night for no more than 30 seconds of god-less pelvis gyrating has passed before he quickly excused himself to the restroom.

For better or worse you now know more about the character of “Dan”.

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.

Reader Submission

One of our loyal readers emailed this in to us after spotting it on vacation in SC.

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.

My Half Day of Hell

This is the real story not the Official Story of my break up with Carrie. With a fictional one around, passing itself off as believable, now the truth can be told. 

One long. One short. Being a romantic interest for anyone has never been on my short list of things-to-do. I often find myself completely oblivious to the attentions and flirtations of the opposite sex. Since so much of my private life is spent in intense solitary study, when I do make a public appearance it I go full bore to capture as much fun a possible. I don’t do anything to impress or show off; my sole objective is to amuse myself, usually at someone else’s expense. As I’ve stated before, it’s one of my natural geniuses. This has tended to cause a blind spot where women where concerned, as I simply never noticed their interest.

As such, my relationship with Carrie was stumbling and odd. Generally, as my fun-time activities were insulting others, drinking, and reading for 8 hour stretches; the rest of the time I went along with whatever the hell she wanted.

“Let’s go here,” She’d say.

“Will there be booze and people to pick on?”

“Yes.”

“Well, what are we waiting for?”

The entire affair was viewed through an alcoholic haze. We’d go out, get drunk, have sex at someone else’s house, recuperate for a day, and do it all over again. This was fun, but Carrie’s ambition was a life in the army, and I was wasting my life in college. She enlisted and I was rather upset. I didn’t want to let go of the good times, so I made a desperate play to hang on. Having brilliant hindsight skills, I see that it was doomed from the start. I had an inkling at the time as well, but thought fuck it. It sure seemed like a good idea at the time. We became engaged two weeks before she went in, and all of her relatives seemed to embrace me. So all was well with the world.

A lot of the problems with our relationship came from the fact that we generally had different views on life. To her, people acted a certain way, listened to certain music, , thought a certain way, talked a certain way, and only watched certain types of TV and music (mainstream, i.e. crap). And I… well I did and thought whatever I wanted without constantly gauging what others did. It’s not just that she had rigid views , it’s that she seemed terrified of going outside of the. A class xenophobia I’ve noticed in people whose education doesn’t extend beyond high school (and nearly everyone I’ve met who’s a Southerner.) In short all she wanted was to fit in (the army being a perfect place for that) and I couldn’t care less about the whole thing. Which is my blessing and my curse.

Let’s face it. It isn’t that I just enjoy crossing these invisible social lines. It simply is that I often don’t see them. This can cause all sorts of odd and embarrassing situations. Only embarrassing though if you care.

The departure was a tearful affair, and it threw me into a depression that lasted days. I was lonely. My one outlet was getting stoned and drunk at Rocky Horror. By that time I had made friends with a new group of people, the core of which founded the Dashwood Society. Our motto was, “Anything for a laugh,” and we attempted to fulfill this at every opportunity.

This is pivotal to the story, because through Rocky Horror I made the acquaintance of a wonderful new individual, who is now a trucker through America’s heartland, Rob. At the time, Rob was just some guy with long hair, that showed up regularly at Rocky, with a laugh like a braying mule. I wasn’t until I attended the luxurious Erie Community College North Campus, and was part of it’s famous Honors Society that Rob and I became fast friends.

Through him I met a host of other people: Ian, Atomic Don and Mary, plus many sundry others. He lived at, the then infamous, 64 Windspear. The parties at which made Comstock’s pale in comparison. I later became friends with several of them, but was chiefly known as “that weird guy Rob hangs out with.” He lived there with Ian and a number of others, who had established it as “THE” party palace, where alcohol was on tap 24 hours a day. Many times I met fascinating inebriated people, had long talks and formed deep ties of friendship, then never saw them again.

My first remembered meeting with Mary was at Rocky Horror. She and Rob came in, said, “Hi,” and sat down. Quite a ground breaker. Still what do these things matter? Mary had moved in with the 64 Windspear crowd, after an altercation with her parents, about her dropping out of college.

Rob and I became fast friends. We hung out, gamed, shot-the-shit, drank and generally fucked around. Then tragedy struck 64 Windspear, like a tragic thing doing tragic things. All of the purchasing and distributing of alcohol caused people to shockingly come up late with the rent. A couple of months after I met them, they all got evicted. Rob and Mary were homeless, and I, again always generous with things not mine, offered them a place to stay at my mothers. My Mom, after coming home and meeting two strangers and being told that they would be living there for an undetermined amount of time, welcomed them. Rob was given the upstairs room, next to the attic, and Mary the basement apartment. If you think Mary got the raw deal, I have to point out that it was summer and the un-air-conditioned upper floor became incredibly hot. This is something Aaron can certainly attest to, when he lived in it for four months one summer in 92, only to pay for one month, and now has finally paid the back-rent in 2008. My mother says , “Thank you,” Aaron.

Life turned as normal. Rob bought his infamous mail truck, and joined the NOCO team. Mary got a job at Wilson Farms. They stayed for a bout two months and then found a place in the upstairs apartment of 84 Windspear which had been repopulated with friends of the originals, so the parties kept on going. The only problem was that Rob and Mary had neglected to tell the landlord that they were moving in, so on periodic occasions they would have to franticly pack up their stuff and scurry below decks, when the owners brought perspective tenants by.

I sent and received various letters to Carrie all through boot camp. She had come home briefly, and we spent two weeks together before she left again.

Mary’s and my friendship endured, and without my noticing it, expanded. At the time, of course, I didn’t see the tell tale signs of Mary’s initial attraction to me. As I spent most of my life just drifting along and only half paying attention, I tended to miss subtle hints until they were thrust upon me. It culminated one night when we drunkenly exited the Windspear apartment and walked down the unlit back stairs. I was a step below her, talking inanities, when she said,

“Dan?”

I turned around, replying, “What’s up?”

When she grabbed my head and attempted to kiss me. Due to the landlords being too cheap to supply light bulbs, she misjudged where my mouth was and slid a probing tongue up a nostril.

As dignified as the scene was, she quickly recovered and apologized. We had a nice heart to heart where I explained that I was engaged, had genuine feelings for Carrie, and that we should just be friends. The phrase “head up my ass” should probably surface here. Not to say that I wasn’t flattered and into Mary, but I had made my choice and decided to stick by it. With perfect hindsight this was the right and wrong thing to do.

Still we continued on having a good laugh and enjoying life as much as we could. I can say that with Carrie, I probably enjoyed the idea of being engaged more than the actuality of it. Still a time of reckoning came, and I saved up some cash and offered to fly down to some hellhole in Virginia, where Carrie was stationed, to stay a few days on her base. She seemed genuinely pleased with the idea.

From what I understand, if all of the military bases in Virginia were shut down, the state’s entire economy would collapse. Nice, and it shows. From what I saw, the entire state was filled with greasy, ill-kempt rednecks, wandering around, getting drunk, and beating on each other. “You don’t want to mess with me man. I’m a hurricane, locked inside a box of tsunamis!” Flaunting some idiotic macho posturing best left in the school yard, but seems to occupy the majority of unofficial military discourse. Bluff, bully, big talk, drink, fight, such is a soldiers life.

I flew into some airport, and sat around for a few hours waiting to be picked up. Finally she and some others did arrive. We embraced, but I noticed a certain hesitation in her hug. Like she did really know what to do. She introduced me to some of her friends, with whom I didn’t fit in at all. My hair was long and curly, pulled back into a ponytail, and my dress sense was haphazard. As one black guy stated, “Boy sticks out like a sore thumb around here.”

It was later explained to me that Carrie’s actions over the next few days were quite deliberate. She didn’t want to be attached to me anymore, but was too immature or passive-aggressive to tell me. She decided to piss me off in order that I would end it, without her having to.

Right away she acted as if I were a fifth wheel. She would go off and talk to people, and not introduce me. Didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I was staying at her barracks on base, which was verboten, so I was not to do anything when she wasn’t there. The days passed in excruciating boredom. Lucky for me I enjoyed reading, or I would’ve gone crazy.

I was only there three days and it was the longest of my life. We went each night to the club on the base, where she went out of her way to dance with other men in front of me, and then tell me about it. She often got massively drunk, talked a lot of shit, and often slipped off; leaving me behind to do whatever.

It wasn’t all bad. I met a couple of good guys, and we hung out and drank. However, having little knowledge or interest in military culture, our conversations were somewhat limited, whereas that’s all they talked about. Looking back at it, I think they only enjoyed my company because I listened to what they said, without trying to one-up them, and agreed with whatever they said. Which is my habit when confronted with an area beyond my immediate understanding.

Still I was pissed. This “fucking bitch” was acting all kinds of assholic for reasons I didn’t understand. But I thought, I’m out of here in a few days, just let it slide and go home. She was always funny and didn’t react to changing situations well. What’s a decent man to do? It’s all for love (or desperation).

It all came to a head the night before I left. She was drunk of course, needing a few belts of Dutch Courage to face the moment. It started with her bitching at me for sitting on her bed too hard. Making some bullshit claim that I could break it, and that she would wind up paying for it. An obvious attempt to create an argument that would lead to a break up.

My “whatever” attitude, refusal to rise to the bait, and sprawling on the bed with shoes on (ala Mike’s dorm); all of this took the wind out of her sails. So she sat down, and said,

“What do you think’s going to happen between the two of us?”

I outlined a naïve plan that seemed plausible at the time. She sat there stupidly looking down, and shaking her head as if in a Rain Man state.

“I just don’t think it’s going to work.”

I sat up. “What do you mean?” Knowing full well what it meant, but deciding to drag out the agony even longer.

“Us. I don’t see it happening.”

“Umm … uh.”

“Sorry.”

“Okay.” I said, not winning her over with eloquence. I took her hand, kissed her and started to take the engagement ring off of her finger. She snaked her hand back.

“What are you doing?”

“The engagement is over. Give me the ring back.”

“But this means so much to me and…” Blah blah blah; she went on. I don’t remember the specifics, but it was sappy, drunken and sentimental. By that time I was passed it. It was over. My heart was broken and I was dying inside, but I wouldn’t show it. I was determined not to give in and go out with some class and dignity. In the end, I had to wait for her to pass out and then take the ring off of her finger. Very classy.

She woke up the next morning and the ring was never mentioned again. I assumed that she forgot about it, but perhaps not. Neither of us having transportation, we had to catch a lift to the airport from a totally obnoxious prick, who spent the entire time bragging about how great he was. He would then ask me a question about my life, and go on about how he would never do anything like that, and how beneath him it was. A perfect end to a perfect evening. She was quiet on the journey to the airport, held my hand in the cart and gave a long kiss just before I left. Actually, I got to the airport three hours early, but she didn’t want to wait around, and I wasn’t in the mood for anymore nonsense, so I just said goodbye.

One might think that a period of mourning is in order here, and there was about twelve hours worth, from break up to hook up. Moving on was a lot easier than one might hope. First of all, living in another state, it was easy to cut her out of my life. I wasn’t going to accidentally run into her again or anything embarrassing like that. Plus, most of her friends got on my nerves so I didn’t socialize with them, when I wasn’t with her. Thirdly, in the back of my mind I felt that it wouldn’t have lasted anyway, so I guess I was just glad the entire thing was over with. As for Carrie, well, she should have tried harder. Still I was alone, and didn’t like the feeling.

I flew back to Buffalo re-reading James Thurber’s “My Life and Hard Times.” My mother picked me up at the airport, and was relieved to hear that my engagement was over. We never talked about it after that. I was depressed and needed cheering up. After throwing my shit in my room. I wandered over to 64 Windspear for some liquid cheer.

Rob was watching TV and Mary was sitting on the floor reading a book. They both greeted me warmly.

“Hey Dan,” She said, “How did it go with Carrie?”

“We, uh, broke up.” I said softly.

“Really?”

She smiled, and I caught a glint in her eye. Well what do you know? I thought, looks like my half day of hell is finally over.