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?

Academia Waltz

       Before I begin this tale, I must first offer apologies to Berkley Breathed for lifting the title from the college paper strip he did so many years ago before Bloom County. I found it fitting and thus worth pilfering. Why reinvent the wheel where there is a perfectly good one just sitting there bolted onto some guys’ car? The purpose of this telling is not to offer some tender old fart style remembrance of the Crystal Beach boat or quarter drafts at Anacone’s, but to share some moments worth remembering of the old UB experience. So yes, old U of B, U of B, my alma mater by the inland sea, this Buds for you. My plagiaristic tendencies know no boundaries apparently. In the words of the great Raymond Federman, good authors think of new ideas; great authors steal them.           

       One of the great traditions at UB, one that remains in place to this day, is the free classified forum available to all students in the back of Generation magazine. While Generation always hosted a number of enjoyable features (my favorite being Beepo and Roadkill), the free personals were always good for cheap fun. For the most part they consisted of your standard lonely hearts, missed connections, gripes against those asshole frats, and your usual lovey-dovey shit, but could also be used to give people a hard time. During the Goodyear days, one such person was the Romano Cheese Woman. Her real name I think was Monica Romeo; a foxy little chick in my poetry class. Knaus was responsible for confusing her last name with smelly cheese, thus branding her for the duration of our stay.           

       Monica and I often talked in class and we were both surprised one week to see that some schlub in the class had posted a ‘secret admirer’ classified to her in the Generation. It was quite obvious who it was, given that this mook sat directly across from us (we enjoyed the horrendous circle format in this class) and mooned at her with big cow eyes to her considerable discomfort. Happy it was not me who wrote it, I had a great deal of enjoyment giving her a hard time. The ad itself was about as cheese gooey pathetic as one could hope for, and this was quickly picked up on by the multitude of smart asses. Each week to her horror, new messages of increasing devotion and graphic sexual suggestion would appear with her name attached. Knaus was quite enthusiastic about the whole proceeding and finally went so far as to post his own. Filthy enough to offend Red Fox, it broke her to the point of sending a nasty and uncharacteristically threatening response. By pure chance, Knaus and I happened to run into her very shortly after, and with wicked glee, I introduced Knaus as the author of the latest post. The look of pure scorn she shot him was enough to have him calling me a traitor for years.           

      Another venerable tradition, enjoyed only by those who dormed on the South Campus, was the wide scale theft of shopping carts from the Tops across the street. Although each day Tops would send some poor Schultz like cart boy over to collect them all up, each night at the foot of the escarpment dozens of them would be sitting there abandoned; bent metal versions of the Mary Celeste. We found early on that even without much money, a trip to Tops at 3:00 AM was a wonderful stress reliever and allowed considerable time to be killed rather than study. Most of these trips were made under the guise of seeking a snack, but while there, we had fun with the blood pressure reader and even gave turkey bowling a shot. The trip generally ended just shy of us being asked to leave, and we make it worth their while by making token purchase of some such delicacy as ugli fruit or mystery meat labeled ‘Tops Meat Dept’.           

       Best use of the carts, however, was not to bring home groceries. Some short time after Dan first began hanging around; we managed to convince him to allow us to push him down the hill in one of them. With little coaxing, he climbed in, extracted a promise from us that we wouldn’t tip him over, and away we went. Of course we got him going as fast as possible then tipped the cart over at the end to his outrage. What made this worth remembering is the fact that despite being so treated, he willingly entered for another go around the very next time with the same results. Like Charlie Brown’s obsessive compulsion to try to kick that football, Dan would reluctantly give it one more go time and time again, although on one occasion I believe we hit a tree before we could tip him. It was his surprise each time that made the joke worth repeating. I think Tops has since made it much harder to abscond with their precious carts, thus depriving new generations of sadists our delight.           

       Another tradition marked for and found by death during my tenure was that of local liquor stores that actually delivered to the dorms. Incredibly, these establishments were allowed to operate for years on end bringing beer, wine and hard liquor to locations known to have hundreds of underage students for every one that was over 21. The deliver boy, usually a student himself, was generally not very enthusiastic about having to truck back heavy boxes of hooch and thus was willing accept nearly anything as proof of age, up to and including a forged note from mom. The quickest of these was on the corner of Main and Windspear, and we managed to place several successful orders freshman year before they discontinued service the year of Goodyear. Public safety was not much of a fan of this tradition and may have been instrumental in having service cut off. I remember Aaron once sharing a tale of chase over a beer ball that ended poorly, and perhaps he will be inclined to share.           

       Most liberal universities have a tradition of protest and UB more than most, steeped in the radical hippie anarchy of the 60’s, students all pissed off about the war. This tradition has sadly died as I can see no signs of unrest amongst the lazy ass self involved Generation Y when I walk through the campus. In our day, however, there was at least still a spark alive, although with the death of the Soviet Union and the only war around being extremely popular with all, there wasn’t a whole lot to bitch about. The SA, in conjunction with that old hippie dude who just refused to graduate, still managed to find something to get fired up about. In my freshman year, the university rather than burying the cost in what would have been a completely unnoticeable tuition bump, decided instead to make a big show of charging students $70 a semester to ride the Bluebird shuttle back and forth between campuses. The receipt for this insult would be a laminated pass to be displayed upon each entry.           

       We were incensed to the point of vomitous rage. How could these fascist fat cat bureaucrats even entertain the notion of foisting upon the student body the responsibility to pay for the folly of building the campuses so far apart? Not only that, but providing this service for free so many years then jacking up the price once we became accustomed to this lifestyle. Unconscionable! Oh, they would pay for this attempted indignity. A rally was scheduled in Founder’s Plaza (how they must have been spinning in their graves at this injustice!) by the newly elected SA. Hundreds attended and were initially treated to near silence. The administration, probably with a good chuckle or two, cut the power to the mike and amplifier, leaving our frazzled leader to attempt shouting over the grumbling herd. Eventually they relented and the mike came to life and the comedy began.           

       We were treated and riled by impassioned speeches of liberty and freedom, and joined our fellow disenfranchised riders in song. Oh, how Steve Samples ears burned that day, despite our inability to rhyme his name to anything embarrassing or otherwise. A great number of our student leaders and their devoted followers went so far as to burn their bus passes in protest against the man. This logistically required the foresight to arrange another method of transportation home, which in the moment of passion most forgot and were thus found whining and stranded later in the day. How the mighty must have trembled on the fifth floor of Capen! We called upon them in loud voices to descend from their tower and answer to the masses. Their silence spoke volumes, and had not the power been cut a second time, we would have doubted their existence all together. Some doubt began to manifest as to the efficacy of our exaggerated theatrics.           

       As the crowd began to disperse, an excited gangly gentleman came bursting forth from passage between Capen and Norton. “We got one! We got one! Everyone, let’s take them all!” An enterprising hunting party had broken off from the main tribe and executed a covert mission while everyone was distracted. A meandering Bluebird, self considered apex predator in the campus environment, was taken by surprise. When it stopped to disgorge in the Hadley loop, the intrepid hunters surrounded it with ridiculous ease. While it was generally acknowledged that the Bluebird had the wherewithal to mow down these bastards with too much cockitude, conventional wisdom held sway. News of the kill reignited passion in the crowd. The issue suddenly became interesting again, and those who burned their passes saw opportunity to apply the right kind of leverage to at least get home.           

       The gangly guy and the capture team, not part of the SA, quickly assumed command in a bloodless junta. Orders were quickly fired off by the general. An estimated 4 additional Bluebirds were on the North Campus in various locations. Squads were rapidly formed and deployed. The fastest runners dispatched toward Ellicott and Flint/ Maple. The rest of us split between the bookstore and Augsburger. Knaus and I found ourselves in the Augsburger contingent. A Bluebird was barreling down the road, no doubt warned by the cries from its captured brethren. Before it could make the breakaway over the ramp to Millersport, luck held with us and the light turned red. It came screeching to a halt and we immediately surrounded it.           

       Peering thought the tinted windshield; we were filled with giddy delight. Before us were the iron grey curls and signature cop style sunglasses of a real bitch on wheels. The capture was no longer just a moral victory but the celebration of perverse pleasure in inconveniencing the most hated of all bus operators. This old bat was legendary for her cruelty and draconian captainship of her vessel. Lateness was inexcusable, as was dawdling, backtalk, and of course unscheduled stops. Many were the times when I bolted though the pouring rain toward the inviting open doors, only to have them slam shut at the last instance; just enough time to catch her smirk as the chill drove deep into my bones. On other occasions I bore witness to her refusing entry even in the most unfavorable of weather to those whose looks displeased her. Despite her complete lack of expression, I could tell she desperately wanted to mow us down, then back up and finish off the rest.           

       It became a Mexican standoff; neither side wishing to relinquish any little advantage. We of course refused to budge until explicitly instructed by the junta. She in turn held captive those poor schmucks who had gotten on the bus before capture and simply wanted to get back to the dorms before dinner ended. Though clearly agitated and outnumbering her, they sat firm rather than attempt forcible exit. Cruel Mother Nature sided with her own and it started to softly rain. We attempted negotiation to come in and warm up on the bus, but she sneered at the very notion. Discussion ensued and it was quickly determined that a full scale invasion would incur unacceptable casualties, and that continued occupation would no doubt inspire an insurgency in the riders, or at the very least lead to our identification by the administration. Lacking other options, catch and release was the new motto. With a clap of thunder, our rebellion ended. The following semester the fee was embedded in our tuition and as predicted, went unnoticed.           

      These were but a few simple tales of the SUNY Buffalo experience and more shall no doubt follow.

J.T. and We

       Where the giants of legend crunched bones, terrorized villagers, and spent a suspicious amount of time scampering after spry young bean stalk affiliated boys, the giant in our lives bypassed all of these traditions and wouldn’t consider drinking the blood of an Englishman unless it was the name of a potent new microbrew. I speak, of course, of the mighty John Thomas. A man mountain was he, as well as a smoker, a joker and a mid morning toker; apologies to Steve Miller and his catchy lyrics. This is the story of the mustachioed meathead and how he enriched our lives with the thunder and fury that only the truly large possess.            

       I first had the pleasure of working with JT during the halcyon days of Putnam’s the year it had its grand opening and came on line. On Monday nights I worked with Larry Fein making subs, but on Wednesdays, oh Wednesdays, the sadistic manager Scott Biehn moved me to the busiest area of the joint – The Putnam Grill. With a winsome lass taking orders and appeasing the ravenous student masses, the other student Doug and I were inundated with orders faster than they could be read off. It quickly became apparent that a third was needed if only to help keep up with the fries and the gruesome honey batter fried chicken that ate up the fryer space due to its unfortunate popularity. The solution was JT, a grizzled veteran returning from exile in the bowels of the Ellicott complex Lego-land. An unstoppable behemoth, he quickly took control and established his methods. “They’ll get their food when we’re done cooking it”.

       Brilliant! Here Doug and I had been frantically working to keep the lines down and the customers happy. JT had no such requirement and the pace slowed some. Grumble the spoiled hungry masses did, but JT issued a proclamation that anyone with a problem could be referred directly to him. Astonishingly, not a single patron chose the option of dressing down the surly kitchen juggernaut, a-drip with Kaola Gold grill grease and lightly powdered in MSG. Despite the slightly slower pace, the shift was stressing me out. On one evening I expressed my plans to attack the remaining 8 beers in the 12 pack I had left from the previous weekend. JT looked thoughtful for some time and remarked, “Yeah, if you pop them all at once and maybe drink them down with a straw right away, you might be able to catch a buzz off of that.” I laughed but he looked at me mockingly, embarrassed to be seen with someone of such lightweight material. It wasn’t for another few years that I found how piddling he actually found my tolerance; something I had previous bragged about. In any event, I was soon out of there, feeling my time in food service was done; the beckoning light of Collector’s Inn drawing me in.

       It was about a year later that I came crawling back to FSA (as detailed in FSA Follies), pulling an enthusiastic young Thies in with me. Once we were rid of the abrasive cook Helen, her replacement was found in none other than JT. He had no recollection of me from Putnam’s, all students apparently looking the same to him. As before, he took charge of the grill, allowing Aaron and I to only cook what things he felt beneath him. I remember spending more than my fair share of time making and buttering toast. Any dissent was quelled by a booming “make it happen!” We always did.

       As time went forward, JT began to open up a bit and he lowered himself to converse with us when not inundated with needy students always wanting their goddam eggs. While he was not what one would describe as a deep soul, he was full of interesting stories that he like to occasionally share and it was his choice of wording that made them so enjoyable. Although I’m sure not to her liking, he described his wife as ‘a big German woman’. “Got tired of screwin’ around, so I married me a big German woman” As I understood it, she didn’t give him much of a choice in the matter, although he accepted his fate with some aplomb and sufficient inebriation.

       On many occasions he would wax philosophic about the turns his life had taken. A milestone moment happened in his late teens when a judge graciously gave him the option of going into the Army or go to jail for a year. JT, a South Buffalo rebel, chose the clink over subjecting his magnificent mullet to the Army barber’s shears. Given is impressive stature and girth he had no concerns about Bubba in the shower and a bar of dropped soap; he could have been Bubba if so inclined, and I have always chosen to imagine that he was not. While readily willing to disclose the outcome of his crime, he was for a long time reluctant to reveal the event itself. Had it been anyone else, a humiliating ‘OFFICIAL’ story would have been developed and distributed, but in this case we decided to error on the side of caution and waited patiently for him to be in a good enough mood, or drunk enough to tell us.

       The day finally came when he told the tale, and it was well worth the wait. After eyeing up the joint for months, he decided to have a go at the McDonalds situated right on the corner of his street. A stick up? No, much more crafty – a break in. My assumption was that they generally moved the cash to some secure location before locking up for the night and he readily agreed this was the case and he knew it. His inspiration, however, was the rising cost of beef he noted at the nearby Tops. His theory was that he could abscond with the Mickey D’s supply of frozen patties and sell them at discount prices on the street. I vocally expressed wonder that no one from the neighborhood worked there and might put 2 and 2 together that the burger supply was hoisted and suddenly there he was selling frozen patties out of the trunk of his car half way down the block. He shrugged in disconcern. A plot this interesting must have been a head scratcher for the local PD; perhaps the feds were called in as well to crack it.

       No need for the feds as it turned out, John was the architect of his own downfall. He planned the heist for late one evening. As it so happened, he had an inside man as an accomplice. I imagined him sneaking up with lock picks, a map of the premises, a glass cutter and of course spray paint for the cameras. My imagination, as usual, missed the mark. His friend had provided entry by leaving the drive through window unlocked and able to be pulled open from the outside. Why, I asked, did he not leave the door itself unlocked? He stared for some time, and finally agreed that would have been better. Much better, as it turns out his method of entry was soundly thwarted by his love of the greasy fried beef. While he was able to make it in, found a carton of the burgers and managed to push them out the window, he then proceeded to get himself jammed in between the folding window and the frame. He dangled half way out for some time, staring at the thawing burgers beneath him, until a patrol car happened by and helped him out of the store and into the caged back seat. He tried to plea bargain, but the evidence was just too damning.

       Truth be told, JT liked his beer. Not that I’m trying to innocently segway away from the fascinating tale of his burger induced caged heat, but that part of the story is simply done, and it’s time to move on. Yes beer, probably whiskey too, and well, other things as well. One fine Friday, Aaron and I hitched a ride with JT to Caputi’s pub to meet up with some of the gals at FSA. It was a fine time, with pitchers, darts and a little pool. JT at one point decided he had an errand that absolutely had to be run and asked Aaron and I to come along with. Generally I wouldn’t think of getting into a car with a guy who drank 3 pitchers by himself in less than an hour, but he appeared to even a trained eye to be stone cold sober. We agreed and piled in his 70’s era Caddy, forged from solid Detroit steel. We made the errand, seeing a man about a horse or some other such doing, and were on our way back when the car in front of him suddenly stopped. JT, with his catlike reflexes that belied his size, halted instantly, although the car behind him slammed into us at full speed. We barely felt it.

       We got out to check the damage. JT’s car barely had a scratch, but the Honda behind him had its front end crumpled in right up to the windshield. The girl who had been driving the car was considerably distraught. Although he had to have been well over the legal limit, and assuredly in possession of things that authorities take a very unkind eye to, he instructed us to run up the street and call the cops. Was he really sure that was such a good idea? Even the girl in the crumpled Honda seemed to prefer we didn’t. He insisted, and so we did. JT, one cool cucumber with rich malty breath, calmly explained everything to the cop, with nary a worry in the world. To my amazement, the exchange ended with us going on our merry way back to Caputi’s to finish out the evening, leaving crumpled Honda girl alone to await a tow.

       On another occasion sometime after, I arrived home one Friday afternoon to find JT camped out on the front lawn of the Princeton apartment. He had with him an aluminum lawn chair, a 5 galleon bucket of ice, a case of beer (some of which were buried in the ice), and had apparently declined to venture out that day with a shirt. A tremendous spectacle to come home to. He greeted me with a loud, “Mikey!! I brought beer”. He held one up in demonstration to both myself and any interested neighbors. I had no other plans that day and decided that I would enjoy his boisterous company.

       After a few hours, we had actually managed to run out of beer, even though he had brought a full case and I had only had about 6 of them. This necessitated a walk over to Tops. For those who recall, this was a treacherous route, especially for those already 3 sheets to the wind, as it required making way up the side of a steep embankment and over a railing to the back of the parking lot. I ended up scraped and covered in dirt, but JT was just fine. While I thought a twelve pack would do us, he insisted on a case, partially I think, because he had ponied up for the first one and wanted to keep things even. I could afford only ‘the Beast’ and that is what we schlepped back down.

       JT, no more a shrinking violet then Dan, decided it would be amusing to give a loud shout out to any of my neighbors who might be passing by. I was mortified after a full years worth of painful efforts to avoid getting to know, or even make eye contact with, anyone who lived in the vicinity. My requirement to be able to move about the neighborhood with every expectation of not having to chat with anyone was in serious jeopardy. JT could not be stopped, and I soon gave up trying. Most of his drunken cat calls were ignored, with the exception of a comely ‘older’ (late 30’s) lady who responded by coming over. I was expecting a righteous chewing out given the nature of JT’s taunts, but before she could even open her mouth, he offered her a beer. Incredibly, she accepted and I dragged down a kitchen chair for her to sit in.

       She was a social worker on her way to visit a client under her supervision who lived across the street and had recently been released from prison. Soon he was invited to join us as well, making a statistically improbable foursome given the complete lack of anything in common. As it turned out, JT and the parolee did indeed have something in common, resulting in an errand to be run for which I somehow became volunteered to be JT’s representative while he stayed back presumably to drink the rest of the beer without me. The parolee, the social worker, and myself somehow ended up stopping in to a local bar he liked deep in the east side of Buffalo. I felt keenly aware that my skin tone made me an unwelcome individual in the establishment. My lack of shoes (I somehow ended up on this errand barefoot) was cited as just cause to have me leave. Relieved and tired of the stares, I informed the other two of the situation and that we should head on back.

       I soon found myself alone in the car, camped out in the parking lot in a neighborhood that would have made gonzo wrestler Junk Yard Dog feel uncomfortable. The other two, really having little use for me, declined to leave when I was forced to, in the interest of finishing their drinks and perhaps ordering another round. After some endless period in which I muttered “come oooonnnnn….” hundreds of times, they finally emerged. I had been at the point where I was seriously considering attempting to walk back from the Fruit Belt near Jefferson and Genesee, barefoot and wallet less. While I’m sure that would have been a much more interesting adventure for the reader, I’m not entirely convinced the writer would have been present today to tell the tale. I graciously accepted a ride home from the pair. When we arrived, JT was sitting in his car, and had been about to take off convinced that he had been fully abandoned.

       One of the last times we saw JT was during the fulfillment of a promise he made to us during the grill days at Norton. Each Monday, he would tell Aaron and I how he so enjoyed Saturday mornings as a local pub near him, Cigar’s, offered quarter drafts on Sat morning from 8:00 AM to noon. This apparently had considerable appeal to the wake up and get loaded crowd, of which JT was firmly a part of. Aaron and I were intrigued enough about this phenomenon to consider attending at least once, if for no other reason than to bear witness to the spectacle. Plans were made and broken a dozen times over, but one fateful morning well into the Princeton days, the call came to wake up and get loaded and Aaron and I picked up the phone.

       After getting some half ass directions from JT to his house, Aaron drove us down to South Buffalo where we met up with him and another cohort from the FSA crowd, a diminutive cook known as T-Man. The ‘T’ stood for ‘Tony’ and how he came about his annoying moniker I could never care enough to ask. We rode together in JT’s boat sized Caddy and arrived at Cigar’s precisely at 8, as JT was loath to miss even a moment of the paradise that quarter drafts offered his beer budget. Even at a young age, I had the inkling that the whole notion of this was inherently wrong on some level and managed to hang back to some degree, spending less than 2 bucks. Aaron had brought a few quarters with him and left with a couple. JT slapped down a $20 on the bar to serve as a tab, and I don’t recall him getting any change when we departed the premises 4 hours later.

       The place filled up fairly rapidly that morning, and aside from JT, who could part the Red Sea by his very presence, we had a hell of a time moving around in the sot filled establishment. The majority of the crowd was male, late middle aged, somewhat destitute looking, and unabashedly Irish. Go figure. It was a party of the finest old alkies South Buffalo had to offer, filled with blarney, good cheer, many toasts, a few shots, and a level of pure bullshit that simply overwhelmed the senses. I never knew that the Concord was used in covert bombing runs against escaped Nazi’s in Vietnam, but that very day I met no less than three different pilots of such missions! It was a gathering of unimaginable talent, bravery, innovation and pure raw grit, who through the cruel weavings of fate, would be sleeping it off in their cars or a park bench before making their way home that afternoon. It was well worth the inconvenience, the lost day, and the undoubted headache to come to experience this, but only once.

       We ended the escapade at JT’s where I fell asleep being watched by his children as Aaron spent some time fixing the computer of the big German woman who was likely JT’s wife.  We never saw him much after that, but memory lingers and I imagine him perched on that stool at Cigar’s drinking quarter drafts each weekend to come.

FSA Follies

        Old FSA represented one of the various means of employment we were forced into for the sake of making ends meet during the college years. As with most of the situations we accept when young and inexperienced, it, aside from the people, righteously sucked. This is by no means a request for sympathy as all readers have had their share of shitty McJobs. I would, however, like to share in the experience and allow all readers to respond with their own fun times, and lengths they took to meet the heavy burdens imposed on Knauses quarterly or biannual revelation of sums owed.

        Before delving into my own stories, I would like to first touch upon my favorite job held by someone else; that someone being Aaron and that job being his position at Parkside Candies on Main and Windspear. I don’t recall when he started there, but it was in the first year. What made it so enjoyable was Sunday afternoons when he would be left to man the joint solo, ruling the environs as he wished in his tyrannical German way. During these days, my cousin Ann and I would stop by for lunch and partake of the all you could eat soup bar, sometimes a sandwich, and always some candy for desert. The price was more than right as a check was rarely, if ever, written, and certainly not paid. In addition, we also received extensive tours around the back of the interesting and ornate old building. Sunday afternoons became dull and grey once the gravy train ended. As I remember it, Aaron came home one day a bit early and after almost no coaxing, admitted that he got the boot that afternoon. The owner’s pain in the ass son was incensed by the thickness of the roast beef Aaron was cutting and worked furiously to secure his dismissal. He succeeded and the days of free lunch evaporated like a beautiful dream. I have been bitterly resentful of his slicing ability ever since.

        Shortly after he got the can, I decided to help out my shiftless, unemployed housemate by getting him considered for a bright future career in food service. After taking a short hiatus myself, I accepted a position cooking mornings at Norton. This is where I had begun two years prior with CK before we were both shipped off to the flagship enterprise Putnam’s, and subsequently quit due to the tyrannical whip cracking of the dread manager Scott. The old days of Norton were a fond memory, making subs with CK and washing dishes with Emmanuel, who called everyone his cousin. The manager was Sue Wozniak, who took the hands off approach, much to our collective satisfaction. Posh and prim, she never allowed the drudgery of food service work sully her impeccable appearance. The best part, however, was the presence of the outstandingly attractive student manager, Adrianna. We all found it a shame when she hooked up with John Improta, a nice guy in his own right, but a killer to any fantasies that may have been brewing while admiring her from not far.

        Making subs was the most enjoyable part of this first stint, as I gained unrivaled popularity with student body. Not only did CK and I maintain a jovial relationship with our customer base, but I took to eschewing the use of the scale to properly weigh the lunch meat. My internal mechanism for correctly measuring portion sizes was out of calibration by several orders of magnitude in the favor of the customer rather than the establishment. This was a quality greatly appreciated by all but Sue and the perpetually dieting Long Island sorority girls who demanded low fat ‘toikey’ pitas on a nightly basis, reaching for them with their well manicured and emaciated hands. As mentioned, my success led me to Putnam’s where I fell out of love with the food industry and left around the same time as CK did, due to graduation on his part and a sense of ennui on mine, whatever the hell that means.

My triumphant return originated from a visit to my aunt. Dave Green, the new day manager, was looking for a hired gun to come work the grill, as they had a hard time keeping anyone for more than a few days. Since he couldn’t find one, I agreed to take the position, I think for the princely sum of $3.90 an hour. Paydirt! It was better than Collectors where I worked night; a place that will receive it’s own due in course. Once in, I soon found out why the position was difficult to fill. The difficulty was apparently Helen, a fiery redhead with temper to match. We got along just fine, but I knew bearing the weight of this duty was no one man job. I eyed Aaron as the perfect foil to her lunacy, and after greasing the skids with management, got him in.

        Working Norton this second go around was half heaven and half hell. The heaven was in the free food we were allowed to scarf down during our shifts. Although student workers had a limit to what they were supposed to take, a blind eye was turned for Aaron and me due to our taking a slot no one else wanted or lasted in. I was generally able to pack in enough calories that I only needed to eat the smallest of meals for dinner and still managed to gain weight. I can also admit that the work itself was marginally enjoyable as were the people. It didn’t hurt at all that my aunt was the union boss in back, and I never doubted that her presence gave me more of a carte blanch to do was I would more than the rest of the workers.

        The hell was in the customers. For a liberal college crowd attempting to dine on a shoe string budget, the average customer had higher expectations than the patron of a 5 star restaurant. Several in particular would fire off Napoleonic demands and often reduce the poor order taking girl almost to tears. Bad idea. I believe it was St Thomas Aquinas who once said, “Never fuck with he who prepareth thy grubbage”. Or maybe it was Paulie Shore. In any event, for those particularly annoying folks, shielded from view, we would play kick ball with their breakfast sandwich rolls, lick their toast and allow it fall butter side down, and other such tomfoolery. One woman, who complained each day that her dish was too cold, even seconds after being removed from the grill, caught my ire particularly. I suspected she was making the outrageous claim out of hand, just to get my goat. Exasperated, I took it back one day, ceremoniously removed the toast, and dumped her eggs (sunny side up), bacon, and homefries into the fry basket and plunged it all into the boiling oil. It was all then dumped back on to the plate and handed back to her, swimming in hot tainted grease. The message was successful as the plate never was returned again.

        Working with Helen was a treat unto itself. While it had been said for ages that no one could survive for more than a day with her on the line grill, both Aaron and I didn’t seem to have any trouble, and grew fond of her quirky, high strung ways. It was pathetically easy to get her worked up into such a tizzy that she had to go sit outside for a spell in order to calm down to a more workable level of ‘freaked out’. We of course attempted to actively cause this at every opportunity. It was a stressful gig at times with orders flying in faster than we could read them, with Helen wigging out, frantically splashing hot oil everywhere with wanton urgency, often getting as much on me as the hot plate. Like a cat with a can tied to its tail, I always expected her heart to finally explode within her tiny frame, but she somehow soldiered on, inspired by the thought of her pets and nightly glass of wine awaiting her after the shift.

        The day finally came when Helen decided to take on a less stressful position and thus extend her lifespan considerably longer. We said goodbye to her with reluctance, knowing the grill would never be quite the same. It certainly wasn’t as her replacement was a force of nature, a man mountain if you will, in the form of Big John Thomas. Where Helen had been a flighty nervous wreck, John was relentless as a glacier and utterly unflappable. “Make it happen” was his catch phase, and a strong sense of teamwork was inspired though it. John deserves an entry all his own, so that is all that will be explained of him at the moment.

        The most interesting of the characters we didn’t work with directly was Big Weave. I’m sure he had a real name, but can’t put my finger on it. Big Weave, a wholly enjoyable individual, was absolutely impossible to understand. I think my whole college career went by without me comprehending a single sentence the man ever uttered. He made ‘King of the Hill’s’ Boomhauer appear an eloquent orator in comparison. The story behind him (unconfirmed as I could never understand his answer when I asked him) was that his previous occupation was pimping and that he left it for food service ‘cause his mama didn’t like it’. Frankly, I never had any difficulty picturing him in a broad brimmed hat with peacock feather, burst free from the set of ‘I’m Gonna Get You Sucka’. I can only guess is that is that pandering is not so lucrative in Buffalo if accepting a food service job was the logical lateral move to keep up the lifestyle to which he had become accustomed, and if so, he chose wisely.

        Also worth a mention was Ron, who Aaron and I took to calling ‘Big Shirtless Ron!’ for some reason that escapes me, though never to his face. Like Big Weave, Ron also had a murky background I was never completely sure of. There were alternating stories that he was either developmentally disabled or had completely melted his mind on drugs. I think possibly both, although he readily admitted to the latter. He kept a pet rabbit named “Rabbit” that he doted on, and in whose honor he turned to vegetarianism, at least until his cravings for succulent cheeseburgers won out. Never exactly svelte, he had an issue with comments on his weight, and every so often some ill intentioned individual would make some snide remark, thus sending him into a rage. My aunt once caught wind of the plans of some scurrilous chaps who planned to egg him on to the point of violence, but fortunately she was able to nip it in the bud. Taking pity on him, she invited him to family functions where his presence always added flavor as he sought the constant attention of the elder generation and received it. He is a good egg, and I have heard from my aunt that he is still doing well.

        During the summertime, my involvement with old FSA extended to a catering gig, managed by the wise and powerful Berrafado clan, Buffalo’s most savvy restaurateurs. Although I had a summer job, I took the catering to both supplement my income and use the opportunity to pursue my quest for the affections of Joanne Zemszal, who was having boyfriend troubles at the time, and appeared ripe for a trade up as I saw it. This of course never came to fruition as I had not yet gained the life experience to know that a woman crying on your shoulder over some brute has already placed you in the same class as her girlfriends, but without the fear of you seeking her man’s affections behind her back. Ah the lessons we wish we could go back and tell ourselves, but this too is deserving of its own entry. Joanne, CK, and I worked hard those summers dishing out pancakes and roast beef to the ravenous CIPSI conventioneers. The following summer I didn’t bother as the additional work lacked the attraction brought by friends in previous times.

        The day finally came when the FSA elder Don Hosey saw fit in his inscrutable view to shut down old Norton and move operations down the hall to Talbert, where it was cleverly renamed ‘Berts’. Aaron had already taken leave of the service gig to instead spend his time lurking in the basement of Crosby, helping clueless students attempt to set up flashy modern VAX accounts, the certain wave of the future. To replace him, I once again applied my likely less than considerable influence to get Dan hired on. Dan, perhaps not entertained enough by the washing of dishes, took to accusing the Chinese foreign student working with him of being a communist spy. This agitated the poor guy to an alarming degree, who somehow must have taken the notion that the foul talking dish boy beside him had some sort of governmental influence. When nothing came of it, I think he finally got it that Dan lacked the connections required for late night abduction and questioning under torture.

        During his tenure at Berts, Dan also managed to embarrass me in front of the entire assemblage of employees at the annual Christmas luncheon and gift exchange. It was just my luck that Dan pulled my name to be my ‘Secret Santa’, and must have enjoyed himself immensely in shopping for me. There, in front of about 50 people, of whom half were elderly women, I had the pleasure of unwrapping ‘The Amazing Pocket Pussy!’, a hot pink molded rubber self pleasuring device reported modeled in exacting details of the flesh and blood region of the same area of a well known porn star. My face instantly turned red as I attempted to stuff it quickly back in the shredded wrapping as curious old biddies crowded around me asking to get a look at what I got. Most disturbing was that Ron asked me to borrow it for the weekend and give it back to me Monday. I still wretch a little at the thought.

I        spent the last year of my college life cooking there every morning, Monday though Thursday with Big John and Eileen, our order taker and toast butterer. There we would work furiously to feed the demanding masses who would foist dozens of orders upon us at once, expecting service in 5 minutes or less. To entertain ourselves, we would compete as to who could make the most outlandishly grand blueberry pancakes, quickly becoming a favorite item. We also experimented with flash frying different items, which is why I still maintain to this day that I invented the fried pickle. A claim no more verifiable than the rest of my crackpot ravings, and likely false, but one I will continue to boast all the same. After each shift I would leave for class, reeking of hot grease and eggs, and wondered why my attempts to chat up comely coeds in my classes never ended satisfactorily.

        The day finally came when I graduated and as I had been a student worker, found this passage of my life done. While I cannot say that I would trade the time spent, I was glad it was over. The benefit of working such a job is that it serves to inspire in some of us the desire to gain future employment that never involves cleaning up after oneself or asking someone if they would like fries with that. It was a long and rocky road getting to that point, but FSA was a fine first step.

Chester Cheetah Takes Thermodynamics

Back in sophomore year Knaus and I still clung to the desire to study engineering, and as a result we took a Thermodynamics class together. This was a 80 minute class twice a week. We passed the time in our own ways. Knaus would keep a countdown of seconds left until class was over, and sometimes he would poke me awake and point at his “T-600s” scribbling with a rare-Knaus bright-eyed smile. I would pass the time by engaging in nostalgia – recanting the “near… far…” skit from Sesame Street. I would get right in his face and say “neaaar”, then lean back in my seat as far as possible for the complementary “faaaar”. I am lucky Knaus did not stab me in the face with his count-down pen.

One on particular Friday we had an exam in Thermodynamics. The class was in Knox 20, a room meant to hold several hundred students. Knaus, Wolf, and I had some important party to go to that night, that I cannot remember at all. We were all anxious to go, particularly Wolf. The exam was at 7PM, after which we had to make a stop at Knaus’s parents house. It had been decided we would all meet at the dorm. Wolf foresaw being left behind, so he insisted on going to the exam with us. He would entertain himself by taking the exam also.

By the time I returned to the dorm at 5PM Wolf was sitting jittery at his desk and drinking his brandy form his bottle labeled “Yak Piss” so no one would drink it. Anyone who knew Wolf would not have been surprised if he really did have a bottle of Yak piss. I had no such drink as I wanted to remain sober for the upcoming exam, not that it helped. Knaus finally arrived and drove us over to the Amherst campus.

We all took sat down tot take the exam. I kept looking up between questions to see how Wolf was holding up. I half expected to see the effects of the brandy kick in and see him passed out. Not at all! Wolf seemed invigorated by his caper. He was busy scribbling away. After a few people started to filter out I noticed Wolf exit the exam room.

When I completed my exam I existed and found Wolf discussing the details of the exam with one of those engineering nerds who always sat in the first row. Wolf was giving this A student a raw deal”. The guy saw so hyped up about engineering he would blurt out his final answer with no prodding – he probably went back to his dorm and read more Thermodynamics, or designed a bridge, just for “fun”. I walked past Wolf and pretended not to know him in order to not foil his fun.

Geek: “What did you get for number two?”
Wolf: “What did you get?”
Geek: “I got 12 calories.”
Wolf: “Oh, I was pretty sure I did the problem right, but I got 18 calories.”

When Wolf had driven the geek away I asked him what he wrote on his exam. He wrote out that long bear in the woods joke for one answer, and another he showed all his work with “Professor Warner needs a good butt-fuck”. I doubt he earned extra credit. He signed the exam “Chester Cheetah”. His hope was Professor Warner would be so irate that he would explode during the next class, but nothing was ever publicly mentioned of Chester Cheetahs foray into Thermodynamics. It is ironic Wolf is the Engineer now.

When Knaus was finished we piled into his car and drove over to his parent’s house, above the “Ceramic Dreams” store they owned. What Knaus needed at the house was unknown as he corralled us into his sparse room and left us there for 20 minutes. We were both fearful to exit uninvited. While passing the time, in almost complete silence (in order to avoid the extreme ire of Knaus in his lair) we spied his large pile of unpaid parking tickets.

Eventually Knaus let us go, and his mom forced a candy bar in our hands. We then helped Knaus carry his stereo equipment down the stairs. The stairs had a rolled up carpet along it’s length. We proceeded down the soon-to-be flight of stairs. Knaus was first, I was second, and Wolf brought up the rear.

I had both arms full of stereo equipment. Knaus would have castrated me on the spot had I damaged it in the least.

Side note: we really do paint a dreadful picture of Knaus, albeit true.

I felt Wolf push my left shoulder from behind. Thinking he was engaged in tom-foolery trying to push me down the stairs for fun, when I was helpless, I gave my shoulder of firm shrug to torque his hand off me. In fact, Wolf was still drunk from the “Yak Piss” earlier in the day, and tripped on the carpet at the side of the stairs. He tried to catch his balance on me, but my shrug sent him ass-over-tea-kettle down the stairs past both Knaus and I. As we looked in surprise at Wolf splayed on the floor at the base of the stairs, Knaus gave him a stern look, “You knocked my candy bar out of my hand!”

Wolf claims he was not drunk, just clumsy. Why you would rather be known for lack of agility than just drunk?

The OFFICIAL STORY is he was drunk.

House Party Hooligans

      “Here we are now, entertain us” was an apt anthem to describe our generation in its youth, as first espoused by terminally defunct grunge rocker Kurt Cobain. While he chose entertainment in the form of the sharp end of a heroin needle and subsequently the business end of a Colt 45 (or however he offed himself; I can’t remember and can’t be bothered to look it up), we chose to seek out the best possible party each Saturday night. While at Comstock we often had to look no further than our own living room, the dorms were less accommodating.

            The beautiful part about living on the UB South Campus was that the dorms there were in convenient walking distance to all of the University Heights run down, student rented housing. It has often occurred to me what desperate landlord would consider renting his property to fraternities, sororities, and unaffiliated young douche bags such as ourselves? At the rental rates for the area, I suppose the choice was this by a slim margin over the crack addicts and escaped insane who could also only afford such accommodations. Despite the price being right, combined household incomes were often not enough to make the rent and thus the house party was born.

            An intelligently run (and I use the term loosely) house gig usually consisted several kegs dispersed throughout the premises, a $4 cover charge, half hour wait for the bathroom, the annoying chick asking everyone if they had some pot, and the dude who was clearly way too old to be there. In some instances there were clever draws such as free shots of Rumple Mintz for filling out a Discover Card application (completed and approved by and for one Mr. Chester Cheetah) of if we were in luck, a live band. Some itinerant groups spent a great deal on promotion and advertisement thus guaranteeing an early arrival of the police to break things up and cart away the instigators. The rule of thumb was to take the number of flyers per wall in the Student Union, multiply by 5, and that is how many minutes before 11:00 PM the Man would come and kill the good buzz.

            Band parties were great, but none so much as the Drunken Puppet parties on Tyler. Unlike our own attempts at the band thing (see Wolverines SF), these guys played the whole night though, cleared any noise issues with the neighbors before, and spread the word quietly. I can’t remember a one of their gigs that were broken up early. A great deal of their brilliance lay in that they decided to forego anything original whatsoever and concentrating their core competency on being able to cover the widest variety of bands from the 60’s on forward. The play list was eclectic; transitioning from the high falsetto of “Oh What a Night” to a rugged “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and back to a mellow “Piano Man” all within one set. There was something for everyone and nothing was so disappointing as to go to their final appearance in the spring of ’92 (although there was a reunion performance at Jimmy J’s on Bailey two years later). No one ever pulled it off better, including us.

            As entertaining as many of these shindigs were on their own, it was up to us to really make the most of them. Of all of us, Knaus took this responsibility to the highest level of seriousness possible. Prior to each event, Paul began to doubt the potency of the alcohol that would be present and its ability to allow him to achieve the chemical induced state he was seeking. Because of this he invented the pre-party cocktail consisting of a full bottle of Nyquil used to chase down the contents of an entire box of Vivarin. On occasions where he was feeling particularly challenged he would add a liberal dose of Dexatrim diet pills to the mix. While hardened junkies might laugh at the effects such innocuous over the counter pseudo-medications might have, they certainly produced a profound and disturbing change in Knaus. Like Superman being exposed to red kryptonite and its harrowing effects, Knaus would transform from a mild mannered, reserved and serious student to a crazed and violent wildman, just barely constrained by our combined efforts to keep him reeled in. Frankly, we wouldn’t have had it any other way, although I found it a minor miracle that even the most cash starved of enterprises deigned to let us though the door.

            The core group for these outings consisted of Knaus, Aaron, and I, although for the sake of variety we brought in guest stars from time to time such as Dan, Ann, JP, Schultz and even Jeff S. To my recollection, Dan was by far the most interesting as well as the most useful on those occasions when Knaus would finally become overcome with combined effects of the cocktail and beer, and lost it all together, sometime exploding into a fireball of chemical rage.  Poor Jeff was the most timid and it was just his luck that the one event we managed to drag him to got busted early causing him to burst into a flurry of panic. It probably didn’t help that I filled his head with the horrors of anticipated prison life, but in my defence it never occurred to me that he would consider an underage beer drunk to be grounds for harsh sentencing.

            Upon arrival it was custom to wait for our first beer together, but disperse soon after, looking for people we knew, waiting on the bathrooms, or waiting for more beer. Knaus and I would often take up positions at the keg itself, volunteering our services as pump jockeys with the hopes of meeting new and interesting people, preferably of the opposite sex. Performing our duties, which perhaps not having the desired aphrodisiac effect, allowed us to gain new skills such as administering keg stands and funneling. The added bonus was that we were always first in line. Generally we would be relieved of duty once we lost the requite motor skills to effectively pump, and would then disperse to wander about the premises. On one such occasion, I came upon Knaus sitting upside down in a chair. He was ringed by several seeming disciples, sitting cross legged on the floor and listening with rapt attention while Knaus spouted tales of murderous paratrooper bunnies. Appalled, I quickly made my exit before I would be associated with him.

            I don’t remember when it started, but Paul began a new tradition at one of the frat parties. You see, we didn’t care at all for the frats themselves; hating them with every fiber of our beings, but were grudgingly willing to drink their beer. In order to offset the outrage of paying the lords of date rape to enter their dens of iniquity, Knaus began stealing items from the premises. Nothing large mind you; generally just toiletries, small household objects, and occasionally cutlery. In one instance, he gleefully showed off a package of razors he absconded with, but when we reminded him that the house in question was not occupied by a frat, he insisted on returning to the party expressly to return them. His most interesting lift, however, was of a full bottle of charcoal starter that was to play an important role in our lives months down the line.

            Prior to that particular party, Knaus hit the pre-party cocktail a little more heavily than usual, adding Dexatrim and sinus medicine to the Nyquil and Vivarin, all on an empty stomach. By the time we reached the premises, he was no longer with us in any mental or personality aspect. It was not long after we arrived that his cocktail combined with the alcohol caused him to lose it entirely. He was busily and loudly demanding a sharp object from the frightened occupants when they finally insisted he leave. He did, with Aaron and I in tow, and revealed his theft of the charcoal starter half way down the driveway. Aaron and I were both annoyed at having to leave so early and decided to go back to the dorm, drink some left over GABs, and perhaps watch a movie. On the way back we decided we were a bit peckish and the yellow sign of a Subway beckoned. Deciding it best not to bring in Knaus and risk not getting fed, we set him on a bus stop bench where he slumped over, muttering incoherently, while we ducked in for a couple of Subway Melts.

            Exiting the Subway a few moments later, we immediately detected a problem. Someone, perhaps even himself, absconded with our Knaus. The Metro itself seemed a likely suspect, but given that I had ‘borrowed’ the last of his cash to get my Melt, we doubted he would have gotten far. The local gangs were not much for human trafficking in those days and probably would have only boosted his boots, leaving the unwashed sot in his place. No, Knaus had by some miracle of fortitude lifted his gangly frame and sallied forth, the trooper that he was. Utilizing the finest tracking skills at our disposal, we followed on his trail, presuming it was a bee line for the dorms.

            Upon reaching our rooms we were dismayed that our quarry had not led us to his den as expected. Foxy of him. Very foxy. We entered into some debate as to whether to eat first while our food was still somewhat warm and then look for him, or to look first as it had begun to snow. Heavy hearted, we suited back to reenter the nights air and threw open the door to find a worn and weary Knaus standing, fumbling his keys, with the charcoal started beneath his arm. He looked up at us uncomprehending, pushed past us ripping off his jacket, and passed out boots and all upon his bed. We watched TV for a short time until he began retching up on himself, which added nothing to the ambiance.

            The following day found him in better position to talk, after laundry had been done and other measures of de-skunkification. He related to me what happened. Enraged at being left on the bench like a common hobo and unwelcome sot, he lunged forth, resolved to get his own victuals from another establishment. By some minor miracle he made his way across Main and cut across the empty barren fields of the UB south campus. He recalled walking, then somehow encountering stiff resistance and absolute darkness. After some exploration, he determined the cause to be his face down condition in the snowy field. Thirst hounded him and he turned to the only port in his personal storm; the charcoal starter. It was a poor choice anyway you look at it. He spit most of it out and concluded a few puffs on one of his trademark Winston Selects would give him the clarity of mind to find his way home. Lady luck however blew the winds fierce that night, saving him from the ECMC burn unit. Said luck and perhaps the last shreds of self preservation led him back to the dorms soon after.

            Generally speaking, such narratives end with a moral, or pithy phase beginning with, “We learned a great lesson that night”, but in this case, I’m afraid it was not so. Truth be told, this was likely only the 5th or 6th closest anyone had gotten to buying the farm in our gentle care those early years of the 90’s. I never tried the fluid myself, even in my least coherent moments, but I hear it’s not much worse than getting shot in the ass with rock salt.

When Irish Eye’s Were Smilin’

     Of the many things that can be said about Buffalo, one of the truer is that there is no shortage of pride in being Irish.  Herein lies the tale of my personal journey from the rigid constructs of University sanctioned Hibernianism of the Irish SA to the unfettered pagan Celtic revelry of Mooneyism that led to the door of Comstock and beyond.  Pour yourself a glass of the greenest ale or stout Guinness, patiently wait for St Paddy’s day, and read this tale.                        

     By sheer force of coincidence, or perhaps divine malice, I found my employment first semester of freshman year making subs beside one Mr. Keith. Chris at the time was a jolly old soul, considered aged and decrepit by me at the advanced age of 28, but full of good humor nonetheless. While I enjoyed the idle banter at work, I became more intrigued by his persistent invitations to join the Irish Club on one of their weekly outings to Shirley’s O’Aces. Explaining my underage liability condition, he laughed and assured me not to worry. Not completely assured by the behemoth, I coaxed Knaus to also consider coming out despite his non-Irish heritage, as it had been explained to me that the green is in the soul, put succinctly by the Irish Club’s 100% Italian president.                        

     That first year was admittedly rather enjoyable as the group accepted Knaus and I as one of their own. We had weekly trips out to Shirley’s with Chris, Elvis (his real name was Pete something, but he was a ringer for Elvis Costello), Heather, Laura (our Italian prez), her brother Chris, Allison Barone, Wayne someone, and some others who’s faces, but not names, I recall. In addition, weekly meetings were held in Capen where we had stashed a bottle of Bushmill’s that was passed around at the conclusion. Occasionally we would have a beer fueled fund raising party or a field trip out to the South Buffalo Irish Center to hear the sounds of the auld sod and drink authentic Guinness and Harp black and tans, expertly poured and spoon divided.                       

     The penultimate experience that year was the highly anticipated horror classic, ‘The Leprechaun’. We were outraged, or for the sake of good press and liberal university standing, pretended to be. On opening day we made our way over to the Maple General Cinema 8, our homemade picket signs in tow, and marched loudly about the front, bitterly decrying the defamation brought to our noble heritage by the wee horror. That the supply of Bushmill’s was depleted once, and then again, in anticipation of the event I’m sure did nothing to enhance our image. While all local press had been contacted prior to the outing, all from the revered Irv Weinstein to the lowly slackers at Channel 2 declined to cover the event.                        

     The season end for any good Irishman is the holy day of St Pat. Freshman year it proved every bit as spectacular as one could expect. As the official representatives of the flagship of the SUNY system, the Irish Club was expected to make a proud and noble showing at the annual parade downtown. It was also imparted upon us to construct a most memorable float, and although the steering committee had been charged with the task since fall semester, we somehow found ourselves furiously working the very morning of the parade to prop up a half-ass and poorly painted Blarney castle on to the back of a trailer. Enticement was given to all in the form of screwdrivers.             

     In my own defense, I would like to make note of the fact that I had never had vodka previous to this event, and given what transpired, have eschewed it ever since. The screwdriver is an insidious drink in that it goes down very smoothly and has a powerfully delayed effect. I immediately noted the former, and not knowing the latter, thought them weak, and thus liberally drank my fill. I first noticed something wrong on the car ride down. From the back seat it appeared as though both Italian Laura and her brother Chris, who were kind enough to give me a ride, had sprouted additional heads. Numb, I didn’t think much of it until I tried to exit the vehicle and fell immediately to the pavement, skinning both knees. Looking up, I could tell it was going to be a beautiful day, and even more so if they would just be kind enough to let me lie.                       

     Somehow they managed to drag me to the staging area where I was grilled incessantly regarding my ability to march. A team player all the way, I vehemently affirmed that I could, and demonstrated by adding additional damage to my clothing and skin. There was some debate as to what to do with me and it was finally decided unanimously (as no one was willing to depart to run me home) to stuff me in the 18 inch wide space between the 2 walls of the float. The ride was bumpy and the incessant shouting as well as the cold (about 50 degrees and I wore only a sweatshirt) kept me from passing out. From time to time a face would appear to see if I still yet breathed. At the end, I was extracted, still the worse for wear, and handed over to my sister and cousin who had come to watch me march. For the sake of my pride and general welfare, I avoided the club for some months after.            

     As full of blarney and tempered good cheer as the ISA were, they did espouse the restraint and values expected of young university men and women. All hijinks and shenanigans fell well with those expected of the stereotypical collegiate types. Think ‘Beach Blanket Bingo’ vs. ‘Animal House’. I was soon to become acquainted with Bluto.            

     The first time I met Dan post high school, I was genuinely surprised to see him as I thought we already lived in the same suite. You see, I had seen Dan before, but only from the Wargames days in high school where I was under the mistaken impression that he and JP were the same person, given that I had never seen the two of them together and both had the same nappy haircut. As I can already hear the outraged cries coming from Carolina, let me clarify and say that my facial recognition abilities fall beneath those of even the lowest end software making the claim. I would be the one idiot fooled by Clark Kent. To put it in perspective, I once apologized to a woman who came to Comstock for not calling after I made out with her at a party several night prior (another story all together). She accepted and then admitted it was not her to my chagrin.              

     The first time Dan dropped by, I have no doubt it was for some gamer geek reason (A term I use at risk as the other contributors here like to be pretend to be elves on weekends. What are they going to do, smite me with a vorpal sword? Ha!) He came in with no introduction and immediately made himself comfortable. I was at my desk at the time trying to figure out how to glue my left nut to the wall. I looked back to see that Dan had taken his muddy shoes off and placed them atop my bed for safe keeping. I reacted politely that first time and asked him to remove them, which he did. Not 5 minutes later, I turned again to see he placed them on my pillow this time. My reaction was more forceful in this instance and I threw them off and warned him. This scenario repeated twice more until I was driven to a furious frenzy, primarily due to the interruption. My nut needed to be held in place for some time for the glue to take hold and Dan was making this task much harder than it needed to be. I flew at him in a rage, grabbed him in a headlock, and rammed him against the door, then out of it, slamming and locking it in his face. After 10 minutes of punishment time, I let him back in and we have been friends ever since.            

     I came to find that Mooney’s world was somewhat more ‘chaotic evil’ (a nod to the fuming g.g.’s) than that of the Irish Club and I soon began deliberately ignoring them in favor of the new. Granted, the ISA had whiskey and silliness, but Mooney’s world had Rocky, evil clowns, and strange characters with ridiculously well descriptive names. The tale of the clowns has been told and Dan himself will present on these denizens of his considerable social circle, hopefully including Ms. Tracy “In the Brown” Meme herself. Given the title of this article, however, I feel it necessary to bring up everyone’s favorite fucknut, Sean McMahon.             

     I have no idea where Dan found this guy and assume he was one of the illustrious M.O.H.’s both Dan and Dave Walsh claimed to be. He was an ignorant douche and the living stereotype one has of south Boston type Irish if one truly has a prejudice against them, but without the endearing ‘let’s go down to the Haavaad yaad and beat up some smaat kids’ accent.  The one time Dan brought him by, I recall him immediately setting in to giving JP a hard time regarding his orientation. Granted, JP’s coming out process had an irritating ‘in your face’ quality to it, but he was one of us and having an outsider come and harass him in his own home we considered unacceptable. Such a negative impression this cum stain made that even to this day we spit upon saying his name, like old Italian women who brought up the devil.            

     The only other instance he came into play is the time Dan brought Aaron over to his place for the apparent party of the century. Why the rest of us were not invited I do not know; perhaps it was the intense hatred of him we espoused. Aaron later related to me that they found Sean and some loser friend of his curled up on the couch in blankets watching old movies as he was expecting his parents to be home soon. In a classic Psycho move, Aaron before leaving managed to steal a goodly number of his father’s beers. It was later discovered and Aaron was banned from the premises for good and to our applause.            

     As the Ides of March in 1992 hit, St Paddy’s day was on us once again and we decided to have a dorm celebration. The celebration still to this day remains fresh in my memory even though it only involved cans of Schlitz, a bottle of green food coloring, and an endless repeat of the Pogue’s classic album ‘Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash’, played ad nauseum. As we didn’t have glasses, we made due by pouring the food coloring directly into the can, which may have defeated the purpose of visual effect, but was philosophically sound nonetheless. At one point someone found it amusing to empty the entire contents of the bottle into Dan’s half finished beer to the effect of coloring his mouth and the drool running down his chin a deep emerald green. The image of Dan dancing about the room to ‘The Sickbed of Cuculhain’ with big shit eating grin full of big green teeth will remain indelibly etched in my memory forever.             

     They say one Irishman is lonely sot and two is a fight. Truth be told, it was only a matter of time before there was a class of subcultures. Where the rest of the ISA drifted off to hither and thither, CK continued to come around well into the first year of Comstock. While most of the occasions were to watch Bill’s games on Knaus’s enormous 8 inch TV screen, he did make himself present for a party or two. While he and Dan never quite got along, things came to a head that fateful night when Carrie first donned her Chef Motherfuck hat and Dave crashed the Cavalier. Dan tells the story best in ‘The Most Obvious Thing’, but it was a land mark moment as I turned to watch CK’s pudgy fist slam into Dan, Dan’s head slam into the wall, and glasses go flying. It was a KO blow, and insurance that the two would never be in the same place at the same time again, and so ended by involvement with the organization, leaving CK to wander lost and adrift, until snared by his cultish church.