Not the Love Bus

It has been a long time since I graced these virtual pages with an eloquent tale of romance and victory. You will continue to wait. This is a story I though I had already told. It is a story that has left an indelible mark upon Mike, and now so it shall mark you.

Let’s hasten back to our freshman year at UB. I had completed my first semester, and has spent my break back in New Mexico with my family. Boy, what a mistake. Spending four weeks with them conquered me of ever needing to spend more than a few consecutive days with them. My month-long semester break was over. I had used the time to reflect. I had discovered I had some annoying behaviors that I decided to stop, and I had decided I wanted to move out of mechanical engineering and into computer science. Unfortunately I was too scared to switch majors after only one semester so I stuck with engineering for the rest of the year, and it became crystal clear I was correct as I spent less and less time on my engineering studies. Be I am jumping ahead. The long and short of it was it was time to head back to Buffalo, and I was going to travel by bus.

Why on earth volunteer to take the bus across the country? Well, it was not exactly voluntary. My parents were still my primary source of income, and my father felt that taking the bus was a good experience. Just like how on family vacations he felt it was best to start the day by 7AM and was angry I was wasting the opportunity by sleeping in the car instead of staring out the window as we rolled back endless amber waves of grain and cows across the mid-lands.

Knowing this would suck going into it, but ecstatic to get away form my family again, I was willing to take the blow and hightail it out of Dodge, Dodge actually being almost eight hours further east than Albuquerque would have been a blessing. So I purchased my bus ticket, and two days later my father dropped me off at the Albuquerque bus station and I sprinted inside to board my Greyhound. I was to be a 38 hour trip, with 2 stops to transfer buses. Not so bad since they drive through the night, and I figured I could sleep away much of that time. By the end it took 50+ hours. Keep in mind this was the pre-iPod days.

The first leg was the longest. It was a 12 hour drive to a bus transfer. It was early evening when I left Albuquerque, incidentally we took a left turn out of town. I boarded what was the most jam-packed vehicle of any kind I have ever seen before or since. Even though I always board vehicles early so I have a solid choice of seats, I got one of the last few seats. There were several old people and families with many small children who also boarded early. Luckily the last seat was with the only other lone traveler, a 20-something black man who clearly did not subscribe to single-serving friends (a la Fight Club) as I did not. We sat next to each other for 12+ hours in silence. Each of us listening to our walkman and sleeping. Our only communication was the occasional nod or eye roll at the family who took the several rows behind us. This family consisted of a dad who did nothing, a frantic mom, and 3-6 screaming children. I saw 3-6 because they moved in a chaotic cloud of constant motion that made it nye impossible to count them. Kicking seats, running up and down the isle, screaming, poking, etc. My seat-mate and I kept them at bay with an aura of hatred with apathy and disgust. Honestly I did 90% of the work here, providing him a shield, as I had the isle seat. Maybe this is where my desire to procreate dissolved.

When we finally arrived, they took out a giant Spam key and unfurled us like oily sardines, and after that trip we were all oily. Not having a window seat, and avoiding all eye contact I had not surveyed the landscape until I was peeled out the bus. As I made a slow 360 to force blood to once again pump through my extremities, I saw we were literally nowhere. In every direction I was nothing but sand. There was only the bus station. A lone sign of civilization. I wondered if I had slept through the Apocalypse.

The station was one giant room, with a counter, and a lot of seats. They did have the seat TVs, but I had spent my change on the vending machines, and the mutt behind the counter had never heard of quarters.

To enhance our experience they gave us two choices. The transfer bus was overbooked, picking up several lost souls at this station – and I think they were literal wraiths, so we could cram onto the bus that was leaving in 10 minutes, or wait FOUR FUCKING HOURS for another bus. Myself, and two others, including my former seat-mate elected to wait four hours once we learned the later bus would be virtually empty. I had suffered through 12+ hours of excruciating hell already, what was a few more? At least it would be quiet without those damn kids.

I can’t recall how I spent those four hours. Due to the boredom and heat I entered a zombie-like state, and not the fast-moving zombies that are popular today. I was ecstatic, sweaty and exhausted when the bus finally arrived. The wait was well worth it. My row-mate and I joined only three others on the newer bus that had cushy seats and working AC. Did I forget to mention this first bus had half-ass AC and seats one level above the shit bench seats you get on a yellow school bus. I boarded and we sped off above a relative heaven of transportation. A business-class womb with wheels.

I was so enthralled by the new bus that I have no idea what happened until I pulled into the next bus station for my final transfer. According to my original itinerary I should have been setting foot in Buffalo, but due to my self-induced delay I had to wait several hours for another bus. This bus at least knew what the concept of change was, and had some surrounding structures and populace.

I wasted most of the time here studying the Amish family who was also waiting. I was fascinated that the Amish were taking a bus. I was also certain an explosion of famed Amish anger would take place at any moment. The family consisted of a father, mother, and two boys (about 10 and 12); all very Amish looking. What keyed me into the potential entertainment, was not just their handling of their misplacement in modern society (albeit this cruddy bus station was hardly the height of modern society), but that both boys had two black eyes. Was this the result of an improper churning of butter, or a disastrous raising of a barn? I have no experience with the Amish, other than buying a delicious pie on the side of the road once, so I make no commentary on them as a whole. No smiting of furious anger took place. They boarded their bus without incident, but the purpose was served; I had passed the time.

My final bus ride proceeded without incident. I arrived at the downtown Buffalo bus station. Finally, home again! Damn. My trip was not yet over. I had to get my ass back to the Amherst Campus. I struggled my bulky luggage the several blocks from the bus station to the train and managed to board. I spent an uncomfortable ride back to Main Street Campus. All the while I was made more uncomfortable because I had not purchased a ticket, relying on my pitiful looking state as payment enough for any ushers.

I was able to get a ride from Louis back to the Ellicott Complex. That was no joy.

I finally made it home. I derided the bus as the worst form of transportation ever. I vowed to never ride a bus again when traveling greater distances than across the city. I have made many vows in my life, but none was more serious. This is also the only one I have ever kept. The bus sucks.

Advertisements

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.

How to Save a Life

While this blog has documented many a humorous or bizarre situation which occurred in the Comstock era, there were also occasional moments of high drama. The following tale may lack the raucous humor of some of the other posts (particularly the fictionalized Saving Schultz) but certainly reflects one of the most messed up situations I ever personally witnessed or participated in. It begins with tragedy and ends with a farce. Gather round…

Some time during the time while Matt was dating Mandy, there was a major party planned at Comstock. I do not know who provided the beer ball, who launched it, or when it was. I know only that the night began with Matt informing me that I would have to “keep an eye on him” because he was going to get good and drunk. Since I didn’t drink, this was not an unusual request; I would bring my trusty 3-liter of Mountain Dew and witness the hilarity as everyone else got stumbling drunk. I did not count on the X-factor of the Franks. 

Matt proceeded to go around drinking and chatting up people; I lost interest in following him for a while and socialized with more interesting folks (Matt got boring after a few drinks). At about 1030pm someone ran up to me – I think it was Mandy or Carrie – and says “Quick! You’re sober! Come outside, we need a driver! A girl passed out drunk.” Naturally, I went outside, but I was quite unprepared for this scene. In the center of 8-10 people was a sprawled out very very underage girl, blitzed out of her mind and in fact unconscious. I had never seen her before in my life. Chaos was breaking out everywhere as it seemed she was pretty much unresponsive. Now, any responsible adult would have called 911; but there were none to be found. Certainly such an action would have resulted in a stampede of drinkers exiting the premises and probable arrests for the hosts. So, instead came the standard cry: “GET HER THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”

Big problem. No suitable drivers. Wait, I’m sober. So is Pete O. I want nothing to do with this situation, so I get Matt’s keys and give them to Pete. Quickly, the girl is loaded into the minivan along with Pete, me, and Klausen – it turns out that ‘Niki’ (probably not her name) is 14 and dating this 18/19 year old guy. Why the hell I got into that car I’ll never know. I was certain we would be arrested as we sped off. We had been sent with the instructions to “take her to Patrick’s brother’s house, he is a paramedic”. This did not seem right – I demanded that Pete head to the nearest hospital. Sure, we would be locked up on sight, but neither of us had been drinking and we really had no idea how she got into this state. In my naievete I assumed we would be cleared, and that the house would be cleared out before much damage could be done by the police. In any case, this didn’t look good. Pete drove towards somewhere (I have no idea where he would have taken us), Klausen cradled ‘Niki’ in the passenger seat, and I flipped out in the back seat; he was trying to get her to say something, anything, and it wasn’t happening. I reached forward and touched her neck… I swear I held my hand there and felt no pulse at all. That had to be one of the worst HOLY SHIT moments I have ever experienced.

Suddenly, Klausen got an inspiration. He shook ‘Niki’ violently and yelled in her ear:

“IF YOU DO NOT WAKE UP RIGHT NOW, I WILL TAKE YOU HOME TO YOUR MOTHER!”

I have no idea what kind of f**ked up home life this girl must have had, but the effect was instantaneous. I swear that she sat up instantly and began projectile vomiting. From limp and unresponsive to rigid and puking in 1 second flat. The only thing I can compare this whole thing to was the adrenaline shot scene in Pulp Fiction; and I swear that this happened 2 years before that movie came out. One, two, three… seven times she retched and fouled the front seat of Matt’s car. Gasping and choking, she was clearly revived after this purge. Instantly, Pete turned the car around. There was no way we were getting arrested if she wasn’t dying. It was off to the fabled house of Patrick’s brother, where the care of two EMTs awaited our alcohol-poisoned passenger. We pulled into this house – containing several large strangers that I (again) had never seen in my life – and deposited our cargo, leaving the drunk (and crying incoherently) Klausen there as well. I returned to the back seat, opening the window to relieve the stench of vomit, and felt sweet relief as we drove to the safety of Comstock … or so I thought.

For reasons which I cannot explain or contemplate, some time later I drove with Matt back to the paramedic’s house. I do not know who else came on the trip there, but when I arrived the count of lifeforms was as follows: Me, Matt (completely shit-faced drunk and incapable of conversation), Klausen, ‘Niki’, some other female friend of ‘Niki’, and 3 large burly EMTs including “Pat’s brother”. They asked me to come inside, with car keys, while Matt laid insensate in the minivan. I had a bad feeling about this, and it was soon confirmed. I was informed that ‘Niki’ had continued vomiting while at the house; this was good for her BAC but revealed the source of her inebriation to be the unmistakable fruit of the vine, red wine. Klausen and the other female informant had determined that the only person who had wine at the party was none other than the same Matt now lying in the minivan, awaiting his fate. They demanded street justice be delivered for the crime of providing so much wine to a 14-year old that she nearly died. A trial was convened on the spot and the EMTs gathered to judge. One of them, 250 lbs on a light day, was clearly ready to deliver a beating Matt would not soon forget, if in fact he retained any brain capacity post-concussion. “Patrick’s brother” and I sat across a table: it was clear that if Matt was to avoid a beating then I must act as his attorney.

Boy, is his ass lucky that I don’t drink and was fairly quick with my reasoning. It’s also probably a good thing that Patrick’s brother was not aware that Matt was allegedly boning Patrick’s girlfriend. I began by vouching that I had “been with Matt the entire evening” and had not observed him interacting with ‘Niki’ in any way. Furthermore, I reasoned, how were we to know that he had administered wine to her personally? Could he be held responsible, if he set his wine down and she obtained it? It seemed reasonable, I thought, that the person who brought the 14-year-old to a drinking party bore more moral responsibility for her condition. Fortunately, Klausen was out of earshot as I tried to divert any possible culpability with Schultz, although I did clearly hear his protestations that he was going to “kick Matt’s ass for giving her wine” in the other room. One of the EMTs wisely kept guard between Klausen and the exit door, else Matt would have received a premature sentence of an ass-kicking in the van. Given Matt’s state there was no chance for him to use his legendary quickness to escape a cudgeling. For a full 30 minutes I wrangled verbally with the “prosecution”, using every excuse possible for Niki’s state: Matt may have left the wine on a counter, I saw Matt drinking beer, someone else gave her the wine, maybe more than one person had wine, Matt was never outside while Niki was found there, etc… Finally, it came down to this: the guy said to me “I don’t really know you. Why should I believe you?” I reasoned with him, I was an honor student and a non-drinker. I had no reason to support or condone the provisioning of alcohol to some 14-year-old girl (who I had never met), and I claimed that Matt wouldn’t have done such a thing either. I also reasoned with them that they really weren’t the kind of guys who would be pummeling a reckless drunk, and Klausen would calm down after he sobered up… in any case, it would be best if the whole matter left their property. With a stern warning and a sigh, the accusers relented and I was permitted to depart with Matt’s sorry ass intact. His only punishment was the fact that he had to clean up a vomit-stained van the next day. Other than to acknowledge that I saved him from a beating, we have rarely discussed this for two reasons: one, I doubt he remembers anything; and two, every TV show has told us that a good defense lawyer never asks his client if he is guilty. I might not like the answer. I will stick with my perfect record: 1-0 in the court of street beatdowns.

Excess Fluids

For some time, I have been berated by the other posters here to put my thoughts down in writing, and I have struggled with a unifying theme. I now give up on that and present you with a few barely related tales for your amusement. Much of the detail may be at Wolf-like accuracy although I am pretty clear on the final story.

Despite our limited means, the group of us (or some combination thereof) often found ourselves eating at restaurants (usually at an ungodly late hour). Naturally, the most common habitats were Perkins, Denny’s, and Mighty Taco. As you may imagine, these excursions were not marked by a sudden improvement in the behavior of the participants, despite the public location. Mostly, we were treated to the usual stares befitting a group of gamers ranting publically about whether a single goblin (summoned into a closet) could slay the entire group with just a short sword. There were one or two times when behavior went well beyond the pale.

One day, for some odd reason, Dan was eating with Aaron and I at Mighty Taco (others may have been present, but forgotten). It was generally agreed that we should not act out too much in Mighty Taco, as we needed the comfort of returning endlessly for more bean burritos and Cherry Coke (consumed by all, except for Aaron with his frequent nacho fixation). Despite this, Dan as usual would not be restrained and insisted upon speaking freely whenever he sat down with us. As I recall, Dan’s philosophy in this matter was that free speech was his *right* and anyone attempting to restrain him would pay the price – to quote Dan, “PUBLIC HUMILIATION!”. On this particular occasion, prompted by Aaron, he began to elaborate (while we ate) upon an alleged experience with fisting:

Aaron: “So what was it like, Dan?”
Dan: “Well, first I got myself slathered in lube up to the wrist. Then, after working up a good lather, I squeezed my hand together and RAMMED IT IN HER ASS!” (shouted)
(At this point, the nearby family was quite startled at this exclamation. I recall looking around sheepishly.)
Aaron: “And then what? How did she react?”
At this point, Dan was in full out acting mode and stated in no uncertain terms:

“Well, you see, first there was a RUSH OF EXCESS FLUIDS THAT POURED OUT!”

This led to full out flight by all parties seated near us. We nearly immediately had half the restaurant to ourselves. This incident stands out in my mind as far more inappropriate than the “In The Brown” proclamations at Tops, and should form a significant part of the legend of Mooney. If anyone asks why he was not at my wedding, they should probably re-read this tale.

Another story which seems to have been forgotten is the tale of Matt and the “guy who only wanted to have a drink with Matt”. Recent speculation on this topic leads me to write it down, and those in the know will smack their foreheads and wonder why they did not embellish upon this tale first. Matt began his college life at ECC City. However, at end of a semester (1st, 2nd, whenever) we asked Matt when he would be ready to move up to UB. He explained that he would be going to ECC North the following semester, because he did not like it at ECC City and as a result was not doing as well as he should. Despite Matt’s other oddities this came as a surprise, because he was known as having a decent Intelligence (but, according to some well-regarded observers, low Wisdom). Knocking it out of the park at ECC City didn’t seem like a big stretch. Further inquiries led to the astonishing result that he had apparently received 4 F’s and a D in his coursework, because halfway through the session he had stopped attending and never went back to finish the courses (I have always wondered about the professor who still awarded a D). However, much more interesting than Matt’s poor decision to not drop the classes was the reason for his sudden avoidance of the place.

As the story goes, Matt was trying to leave one of his classes on the top floor of the ECC City building. However, he encountered a guy (whether street person or classmate was never clarified) who was strung out on drugs – allegedly PCP or something of its ilk. The unnamed, undescribed individual wanted Matt to go across the street for a drink with him. Matt deferred, being below legal age at this point and uninterested in the company of said crazed, stoned individual. However, the junkie would hear nothing of Matt’s denials, and insisted forcefully that Matt accompany him to the bar. In a classic move, Matt proceeded to run down the stairs. Now, as described to me (I have no firsthand knowledge of the place), the City campus building had a stairwell or atrium which was up to 4-5 stories high. Matt fled downstairs to the lobby, while the acid tripper watched him run. At the bottom, Matt made the mistake of looking up at his pursuer. To hear Matt tell the tale, at that very moment his future drinking buddy smiled and leaped right over the railing. One imagines this guy assuming a skydive position, falling in slow motion, grungy clothes flapping, until WHAM! he lands sprawled out in a heap right at Matt’s feet. Seeing someone hurl themselves off a balcony onto a hard floor would be bad enough; as the story goes, however, thanks to the drug-addled state of this daredevil, he immediately stood up and seized the helpless Matt. They proceeded across the street for a drink, after which Matt was released, his paranoia leading him to never return to the site of this shocking incident. I’m pretty sure Matt also got fake throat cancer shortly afterwards, which might have helped prevent the dropping of classes.

Having been scarred for life by the sight of a man leaping from 4 stories and surviving (or 4 steps up the stairs, if you take other people’s version), stricken with swollen glands misdiagnosed as possibly fatal thyroid cancer, and crawling around his house for days with a near-bursting appendix, Matt eventually still recovered to attend ECC North and UB, putting him well in-line with the rest of the group. This was also very convenient for Dan, who was able to obtain an ECC North ID with Matt’s name and info on it, but Dan’s picture. That was a bucket of laughs until Matt got the overdue library notices and figured it all out. Interestingly, Dan was also known to identify himself as “Matt” when he needed an alias for the occasional casual encounter; a tactic which he must have taught to Eliot Spitzer. (For those not in the know, Eliot Spitzer used the alias “George Fox” for his interactions with the escort service; George Fox is a “good friend” of the ex-governor’s in real life. When I read this, I thought immediately of Dan and Matt). I will not reveal the details of those casual encounters here, other than to note that if you are going to hook up with a random chick at a Metallica concert, using an alias is probably best practice.

So, having now seen how Matt became reunited with the rest of the group school-wise (myself excepted), we must turn our attention to a final legendary encounter. One evening, I met up with a fairly large group at Denny’s on Niagara Falls Boulevard. This was a place we knew well – the same place where I recall Matt once emerging from the restroom and stating point-blank to his girlfriend, “No matter how good you are, you will never be as satisfying as a good dump.” Ever the romantic! In any case, the group this night consisted of Matt, Sue (the Boot), Dan, myself, and some additional meat sacks. I have no idea who the meat sacks were and they might even have been people who mattered; but my memory of this night only consists of what transpired between the four named individuals. We were seated in the following pattern:


      Dan  Others..
      ————–
Sue  |
Matt |
      ————–
      Me   Others…

Of course, Sue was with Matt at the time. I do not recall if this was before or after she went from Dan to Matt to Dan or Matt to Dan to Matt or whatever that whole incident was. In any case, Dan, Matt, and I were having some type of deep conversation – most likely about Spelljammer – when we noticed that Matt seemed distracted. Now, Matt did occasionally tend to get a dumbfounded look on his face, but this one seemed like his eyes were glazed over. It was then that I noticed that Sue’s shoulder was moving. Matt’s breathing seemed somewhat affected and I quickly looked away and back at Dan. Dan, no stranger to porn, also detected the tell-tale signs of some “manipulation” going on – under the table and presumably inside Matt’s pants. Here we all were, in a Denny’s, only 2-3 feet away from the too-intimate couple. There was no escape for me either, as I was in a booth. Dan looked at me, shook his head and said in a relatively low voice, “I can’t fucking believe this, man.” For some reason, I picked up the small, white package of liquid coffee creamer at that point. I twirled it in my hands, looked at Dan, looked at Matt, and looked back at Dan. At no point in my life was I more in sync mentally with Dan then at that moment. Instant recognition of my thoughts appeared on my face as Dan said loudly “JUST DO IT, MAN!!!”. I looked again at Matt’s face; he seemed puzzled by the fact that I was holding forth a coffee creamer, since I was drinking Coke.

In a moment of misplaced compassion, I turned back to Dan and said “I just can’t”. Well, one thing I can say is, Dan is a man of action. He immediately seized the creamer from my hands, ripped open the package and proceeded to hurl it into Matt’s chest and lap with perfect aim. The effect was instantaneous; Matt’s eyes widened as the white drops of creamer splashed a line-like pattern up his body, contrasting sharply against his prized black trenchcoat. Before Matt could even object, Dan followed up with a shout:

“SORRY MATT, DID YOU HAVE A LITTLE ACCIDENT!!”

Naturally, the rest of the table which had been oblivious to the situation was now staring at Matt, dripping creamer from his chest, as he said “Dan, what the hell!” Sue seemed to be having quite a laugh over the situation, which only made Matt angrier. I do not recall the exact exchange between Dan and Matt, but it boiled down to the following points:

Dan and I: “What the hell did you expect to happen, doing that right next to us at Denny’s?”
Matt: “This trenchcoat cost $300 and you threw creamer on it!”

Matt refused to even give Dan a ride home, declared him an ex-friend, and stormed out with Sue in tow. Fortunately, I had driven to the restaurant and gave Dan a lift, with much rejoicing on the way home. This part of the story was classic enough as-is, especially if you could have seen the look on Matt’s face. However, the real payoff came a day or two later when we reconciled with Matt. He admitted the humor value of the entire operation, and moved this into the category of legend with the following summary:

“The sad part is, Sue really thought I had finished.”

Tops Never Stops

Over the years of Goodyear, Comstock, and Princeton, there was one more-or-less constant presence. I speak of course of the Tops behind the Amherst Theater; it also happened to be in front of the Princeton Apartments and next to the backyard of one Rev. Mooney. It was an unfortunate distance from Comstock, and even when someone had a car Wilson Farms beckoned, but frequent trips to Dan’s house and the desire for any type of obscure food would dictate a “run” to Tops, the home of cheap food and many a sugar ration.

In the passing of years and acquisition of roughly 10,000 gallons of Mountain Dew, it was bound to happen that notable events would occur at Tops. Some of these have been previously told of, such as Dan shouting “In the BROWN!” somewhere around the checkout aisle, or some feeb’s naked run through the lot; others are lost to history. In fact, as I write this, I realize that very few of the Tops connected stories are related to the University Tops; nevertheless I shall tell these and move on to the rest of the story. No doubt the comments on this subject will be better than my telling.

One instance that Larry has never ceased to tell, and which I will relate here, is the time that for some reason I drove Larry to Tops. Why this occurred I cannot say, because it was nowhere even close to any of Larry’s stores; but I assume I was somehow returning from or headed to ODS in Williamsville. Either way, to hear Larry tell it, we were walking in “Aisle 9” when the following occurred:

“Larry… Stop.”
“What, dude?”
“Something bad just happened. We need to leave.”
“What??”
“I just drew mud.”

This was followed by Larry nearly dying of laughter, and me trying to find a solution to my dilemma. Naturally there was no better alternative than to head over to Dan’s house, where Dan was not expecting us at all, but luckily was home and not naked. I demanded immediate entrance to his bathroom, and defiled it thoroughly. As some kind of brutal reminder of Comstock, there was no toilet paper and I had to call out for assistance from Dan (of all people). Apparently disoriented, Dan complied and I was not even forced to use sandpaper or some kind of paper towels (missed your chance there I guess). One side note here – Dan talks a big game about his crap eating films, but he is thoroughly disgusted by a description of bodily functions. I will spare our readers the details, but I reveled in telling Dan this tale and am somewhat hopeful that this memory will cause him discomfort.

Aside from diet-induced exploding intestines, the other story I know of related to the University Tops is that Chet worked there. This is not particularly interesting, except that it came up one day in a discussion of Chet’s economic philosophy. I made some sort of salary related comment, to which Chet responded:

Chet: “$50,000/yr should be enough for anybody.”
Louis: “That’s bullshit.”
Chet: “Bullshit? I had to work full shifts bagging groceries for $3.50/hour. That, sir, is bullshit!”

I should note that this was probably years after he worked at Tops, but who knows. This exchange might be meaningless but it stuck in my head so I am writing it down. Another random fact: when I worked at UB in the summer of 92, I walked from the chemistry building to Tops each day to get lunch. Lunch usually consisted of a sour cream donut, a chocolate chip muffin, and a 24 oz Mountain Dew.

Of course, Tops was also a welcome presence across the Buffalo area (this was in the days before their merger with bland corporate Giant Food, and also before Wegmans literally browned Tops into irrelevance). Many were the associations with Tops, not the least of which was that Schultz worked there. He worked at Tops for years, rising through various ranks to become associated with the meat department. This led to many hijinks and hilarity as it was common practice to go find out if Schultz was at work, and bother him in various ways during his break. It also introduced various unsavory Tops workers into our midst, since Matt would date them. In any case, I cannot order the events of Matt’s Tops career in chronological order, so I will simply spew them forth in a stream of consciousness fashion.

The first incident I recall was the time Sean B., Aaron, and I visited Matt while the poor unfortunate Schultz was on cart duty. It was a fairly cold, windy fall night and we taunted him as he slowly wandered the huge parking lot on Elmwood Avenue (next to Channel 4!) and stacked cart after cart for a long journey back. We decided without question that Schultz had to try harder to earn his scratch, so as he took one train of carts back to the store, Sean drove his station wagon (the one with wood paneling) over to a lone cart which was kind of close to the entrance.  We signaled Matt (to be sure he was watching) and then Sean skillfully drove the station wagon right behind the cart, pushing it slowly it first, and then faster, almost alarmingly fast, driving the cart from one end of the parking lot to the other end – in fact, a remote corner near the street. Matt’s expression of disgust was priceless. I think we did this or something like it more than once that night. For pure harassment value this had to rank slightly above asking Matt (or any other server at a Denny’s, IHOP, or Perkins) for a milkshake. (When you order a milkshake, they are required to clean the machine afterwards, and apparently it sucks.)

Another effect of Matt’s time at the Tops meat department was his sudden, but short-lived, “no red meat” diet. Matt declared one day that he was sick of “meat, meat, meat!” and that was it. There would be no more beef or pork for him; he was a chicken and fish man, that was it. I didn’t understand how that was possible given our frequent consumption of Mighty Taco and Burger King, but for a time he did stick to Bean Tacos and Chicken Sandwiches. Matt further explained that “working in the meat department is incredibly gory. One of our policies is that blood, bone, fat, and gristle are free. Last night, some lady asked for a bucket of blood. Why the hell would someone want a bucket of blood! I guess she was making some kind of vampire soup out of it. We had to practically milk the sides of beef to fill up this bucket with blood. Then you get the people who ask for the fat and you have to take all these goopy shavings of fat. It doesn’t make you want to eat red meat.” I guess it doesn’t. The question I had was, who asks for gristle? But it never was answered.

Tops was also the subject of idle speculation on living a life of crime. Schultz once revealed that the “cash room” had over $400,000 on a typical week day before the money was taken out of the store. Our theory was that no one would expect you to rob a grocery store, and this would be a lucrative way to rip off cash… certainly far better than bank robbery, and safer than knocking off an armored car. The difficulties in such a plot are twofold: One, the cash is largely in change and small bills; and secondly, the cash room is somewhat vault-like and located in a corner of the store with cameras. One could never hope to take on the Tops behemoth in a standard robbery, lest you end up like the fools who tried to rob the Wal-Mart in Amherst years later (at opening time no less – dumbasses). Thus was the plan of the EMP bandits born. The team attempting to rob Tops would use a large truck, like a full size pickup or van, and knock out all electronics with some type of EMP weapon. Then the truck would be used to haul the loot away, apparently after somehow also demolishing the wall. We never really planned that part. I’m sure it is for the best, since we also didn’t possess a portable EMP device or any means of laundering $400,000 in small bills.

Speaking of crime and Tops, one of my classmates at Canisius worked there as a stock boy. One day he was assigned to work security just before Thanksgiving. Sure enough, he watched a guy walk out with a turkey without paying for it. As he put it, “The guy just tucked it under his arm and marched out, as if he owned it!” Of course, the employee did nothing, because he was not getting paid enough to actually confront a shoplifter. This shows a flaw in Chet’s logic: he may have had to bag groceries, but what the hell, he didn’t owe his penny-pinching employer anything either for his meager take. Such is capitalism.

Eventually, the age of Tops faded. Matt ceased working there, became a UB employee, and eventually lost his hard-working, two-job ways in favor of railing against the man and being a “liver”. If only he had taken up the offer to become a butcher, he might have remained a productive citizen rather than having his mind corrupted in the highly-overrated university setting.  After the Princeton days, Tops became just another destination in the car, too inconvenient to attempt when Wilson Farms was always closer, and not good enough for Wegmans lovers such as MikeO. The Royal Ahold corporation sacked all of the corporate types (bet they were making more than $50,000) and moved operations out of state. Nowadays it is indistinguishable from other cookie-cutter grocery stores, although I hear they are going to try a comeback under new ownership. For most of us, it is now irrelevant, but I suppose Wolf may reap a slight benefit if they return to past glory.

Because this story, and particularly the ending, is so weak, I will relate one more tidbit of information. Every year he worked at Tops, Matt would proclaim his triumph; he survived the “annual purges” that occurred every year before the union contract required a 25 cent per hour pay hike. He managed to quit on his own terms after a long tenure. I guess even Schultz has his day.

And, unlike Tops, this post finally stops here.

Next Wave

       There is an old saying, out with the old and in with the new that really has no application here, but I will utter nonetheless. Over the course of reporting on the plethora of misremembered doings over these past pages, it has occurred to me that a sizable contingent of folks have been mentioned far less than their fair share, and must be given due time. Where the Clan Frank has taken up significant time and digital storage with their silly adventures and ne’er-do-well undertakings, those who filled the vacuum after their departure were a much classier lot, if of course anyone in our association can be given that distinction. Be that as it may, they did prove to be significantly longer lasting and far less destructive.           

       Before we introduce this group and before they are built up as some sort of paragons in your feeble imagination, it is best to once again recount the severance with Clan Frank that opened up this new age to exploration. The death knell, of course, was the attempted break in and my squashing of their right to party that summer’s day in ’93.  After that things never quite reverted back to the wild splendor of wanton partying. A good thing, and key I feel to our collective survival and freedom as it was only a matter of time before someone was killed or arrested. Carrie, bless her, was the first to publicly point out that I had the beginnings of a bald spot forming in my lustrous thick mane of hair. To this day I hold her partially to blame for the subsequent spread that now occupies almost 80 percent of my cratered dome. It made letting go all the easier.           

       Things were finalized once Carrie decided to enlist in the Army; a fate I sneered at, feeling entrance into the armed forces was for the rabble. History has a talent for highlighting with great gusto each and every time I must wearily eat my words once again. Engaged to our very own Mooney, she departed for boot camp and the thrilling life of a ground pounder where I assume she still exists, albeit hopefully raised to considerable rank. I recall seeing her only once after that, upon her return from boot camp, looking very much the same, but gussied up in full dress uniform. She made great show of her ability to execute crisp facing movements and timed marching; a skill I was never quite able to pick up in my own adventure a few years later down the line. Unfortunately the distance provided too much of a barrier for the romance to continue, especially when Mooney lacked a set of wheels or unlimited funds for air travel. It is also my guess that she fell victim to the same condition as most women in the military. In an environment of 10 men to every 1 woman, even the homeliest of young women is treated like the belle of the ball or a buck naked, hot to trot Ann Hathaway. I’m not saying Mooney couldn’t live up to competition against hundreds of buff army guys hot for a piece of tail, but I certainly seem to be implying it.            

       Dan was never one to let heartbreak slow him down more than a few hours, and it wasn’t long before he was back on the horse again. It seemed that there was a string of dimly remembered women he brought by with enticing monikers like “Psycho Carrie” and whatnot. As so delicately stated elsewhere, the defining characteristic of the majority of these women was that they tended to drink up to the point of yorking in our cookware. Further details regarding the disbursement of said women after is a hotly contested topic and will be decided elsewhere, even if my version is the official one.           

       One fine day I arrived home to quite a surprise. It appeared to me as though the mailman arrived and bore a striking resemblance to the Cowardly Lion. Dan and a somewhat familiar looking woman also emerged from the unusual conveyance and joined us inside. The mail truck driving hair bag was of course none other than the famous Rob Leftwich. The familiar looking brunette was Mary Serio. It took me some time before I could place where I knew her from, such is my facial recognition talent, and eventually she did me the service of reminding me. Some years prior I had been in hot pursuit of a tall leggy blonde named Joanne Zemszal whom I worked with in food service. Where in my impression things were progressing steadily toward full blown romance, in her mind I was already firmly entrenched in the ‘like a brother’ file. My first experience, by the way, with that line that is so dear to all men. Many theories abound as to why that was, but Mary had her own impression.           

        On one of the many occasions in that summer of ’92 that Joanne and I got together, we ‘doubled’ with her friend and her friend’s boyfriend. Be that as it was, I think I can be forgiven my impression of the situation. Who brings their brother to double with another couple? The complete lack of physical progression in the relationship may have been a dead giveaway to a sharper man, but I simply attributed it to a genteel coyness on her part. On this occasion I drove, having borrowed my father’s boat of a Caprice Classic, and the four of us headed out to a nice night of dinner and a movie. Again, something real couples tend to do, but don’t mind me, I’m not bitter, just vindictive. Vindictiveness, however, was not the root cause of the true reason the evening was so memorable; just lousy driving on my part.

       Upon emerging from the movies, we found that some douche bag had parked extremely close to the passenger side of the car, making it necessary for me to get in and back up to let in Joanne. I did so, directly over her foot. She was quite gracious about it that night, and I forgot completely about it, never attributing the mistake for being the reason behind the sudden and steep decrease in time spent together for the remainder of the summer. Mary, of course was the friend we doubled with, and she took delight in the occasion of our reunion to recount the story. In her version, being privy to Joanne’s more forthright views on the matter, it was revealed that she had been quite miffed about the occurrence.  Perhaps not the catalyst that drove her back into the arms of the boyfriend she had been complaining to me about, but possibly one of the many reasons I was not on the guest list of that wedding.

       To this day I’m not completely sure how this new little group became enmeshed with ours. Just as Schultz brought in the Franks and Clausen from ECC City campus, I think Dan discovered this group at the far more prestigious ECC North.  As I understand it, all were connected through attendance of Sweethome HS and consisted of Mary Serio, Rob Leftwich, Char Lipkus, Ian Chrystal, and that strange dude Craig with the white hair and beard. There actually may be no connection whatsoever, but the sum of them appeared almost simultaneously on our doorstep and thus to my understanding are all part of one big happy group.

       Mary, as I mentioned, I had met before and it was not long before she and Dan became an item. For all of us who knew Carrie and the lot that followed her, Mary was a significant trade up for Dan at a time when the smart money had him reduced to courting transvestite hookers before the years end. Where there was a significant overall skepticism that there must be something wrong with her, she proved in time to be a sweet and enjoyable person. The box office success of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ allowed for a willful suspension of disbelief that she was able to overlook things like cum milkshakes and gorilla masked porn endeavors and dig him for his rakish charm. In any case, she was easy on the eyes and never broke in or threw up in my house, and in that way made herself welcome. Her staying power was also impressive, as of all the women mentioned herein, she demonstrated the ability to put up with the lot of us for the longest by far.

       Rob was an easy going character and overall cool cat who so happened to resemble the love child of the cowardly lion and the lead singer of Metallica back in the good old days before they jacked you up for stealing their music. His other distinguishing feature of course was the wildly popular mail truck. On a few rare occasions I was treated to a ride in the precarious mail bag seat on the left hand side. Early on I hoped for an ally; someone who would resist the siren call of the GURPS mafia and be willing to attempt to meet women on Sat night instead of mimic whimsical fairy folk prancing about the realms of imagination. Alas, he fell in with them right quick. They claim to be born as such, but fundamentalist geeks such as I know that it’s a choice that through prayer and frequent beatings can leave their wicked hearts. I know, having had a few ten sided dice thrown in my past, but with the healing power of Superman, was able to keep sin away. Anyway, disappointed as I was, I was able to forgive him anyway. I mean the guy had a mail truck!

       There are probably dozens of Rob stories I am completely unaware of, although he was a pretty innocuous guy, so who knows. It was always enjoyable on those Sat night when we were able to extricate the gamers from the Keebler Elf try to have some fun on the Elmwood strip sipping Guinness at Bullfeathers or Coles. On those nights we could generally find Rob holding down the counter at the We Never Close. True to their word, they never did, despite the many times Rob found himself staring down the barrel of a Saturday night special and handing over the hard won proceeds from the sales of smokes and Corn Nuts. You had to admire his tenacity for hanging in there for so long, even if he wasn’t shot as many times as Apu. Some years later he traded up for a job at the Zoo, where aside from the occasional freeing of lorikeets, the customer base proved considerably less threatening. I never really knew what happened to the mail truck and assume it died an uninspired death, perhaps perched up on blocks in front of a trailer.            

       The rest of this group I never knew terribly well. Although I’m tempted to come up with inspiring tales of courageous and nefarious deeds, my ears are still ringing with the howls of outrage from previous ventures similar in nature. Ian I knew only as the French looking fellow, jauntily bedecked in trademark beret (unlike Brian who was savagely bedecked as such), and deeply in cahoots with the gamer crowd. He assumed the role of Mary’s boyfriend once she and Dan suffered a mutual break up. A surprisingly risky breach in the common etiquette of not dating a friend’s ex, but mitigated I think by the existence of a common acquaintanceship prior to Dan entering the picture. In any event, it proved to be a smooth transition with impressive lasting power until, as I understand it, very recently.           

       Char I met only a few times, and not even completely sure if she had any type of deep association with the rest. Unlike Mary she kept a greater distance from the doings of the Mooney-polar end of the circle and was more associated with the Thies-centric sphere of influence. This was during the period when Aaron had pledged Dan’s destruction for such outrages as the milkshake and quasi cult formation. Not that this stopped congenial association for the mutual sake of gaming, but during the increasingly rare times that no dungeon master was present, venomous tirades were spewed as regular as Old Faithful. As such, Char never got sucked into the full depravity of our world, having come after the period of grand unity.           

       Finally there is Craig. He I’m truly not sure of the association and remember only for a few distinguishing traits. He may have been a MOH and not a Sweetpea at all, but nevertheless, I have to cram him in somewhere. He resembled a miniature version of Rob at least to the point where I had the two confused for a period (likely a direct cause of my mild Prosopagnosia). The annoying quality about him is that he immediately fell into the same role as Social Disease Joe Saad. Alone with my thoughts cruising down the North Campus spine or drifting through the plaza, out of nowhere, there was Craig. To my endless delight, he never really had anywhere to be and was always going in my direction. Any great pains I took to avoid or shake him were completely ineffectual. Worse yet, and unlike Joe Saad, introducing him to others was completely useless in mitigating the effects! While it was possible he could only be transmitted sexually, unlike casually as with Joe, I was not willing to explore that option.           

       His other distinguishing characteristic, as reported by Dan anyway, was that he considered himself to be akin to an Adonis. Everyone who heard this found it surprising. Now, don’t think I’m knocking Rob here, as the points of resemblance were really related to the glasses, long hair and beard. Craig had whitish hair and the strapping build of Schultz. That amount of hair on such a small space gave the appearance of Cousin It with a blond hooker dye job. Dan once related a story in which he, Craig and some others took a trip to Canada. Waiting at the border in line to cross, some women began flirting with them. Craig, certain it was aimed directly at him, begged to be let out of the car to join the women in theirs. I have full confidence that this virgin fool had expectations of a grand orgy, probably right there on the side of the road. Dan, or whoever, out of some unexpected sense of decency or kindness refused him exit, leaving him to pout miserably for the rest of the trip. I can’t help but think this would have made a much better story had things gone the other way.           

       In sum, this next wave added value to our fracturing group, perhaps providing some much needed glue through the bitterness of the Mooney-Thies wars and Thies-Wolf ‘lights on or off’ television watching battles. I believe one of them is also responsible for contributing the snazzy zebra couch that appeared one day at Comstock and was recognized as the least dated and most structurally sound piece of furniture in the room. We can only hope that the silent lurkers who feel their ears burning with this telling sound out.

To Protect the Guilty

       It stands to reason that in the folly of our youth, we have attached to us adventures and escapades we might now find embarrassing to the point of wishing those who bore witness and remember would just go ahead and die. Be that as it may, the stories surrounding such social discomfort are likely quite entertaining for the rest of us. While none told herein exceeds in scope and shame those revealed, or personally related, about myself, I am honor bound by the pact that holds this protracted bull session together to respect the limitations of those who embarrass easily, or who may have spouses who are even remotely interested in these ribald old yarns. While the names and identifying details have been changed, and some may not even be about anyone likely to read this blog, if you do, I’m sure you know who you are.           

       Back in the glory days of Goodyear, there lived down the hall from us a remarkably attractive coed known to us only as Denise. As many of the gentlemen in the hallway oft gathered on Thursday and weekend evening to drink the fruits of the frequent beer runs, talk would invariably focus in on her many admirable attributes. Let’s be honest here, that is not how we put it, but maturity has overruled even my lack of good taste to repeat the vulgar ramblings of drunken 19 year olds at the height of their sexual powers. While the majority of the language was construction site standard (though always out of earshot), one person in particular always had a particularly imaginative list of actions he felt would be ideal in courting her favor. I believe the list included chains, peanut butter and a cricket paddle. Who were we to judge? He seemed like a normal enough fellow although I hadn’t known him long. In any case, his perverted ramblings inspired an idea.           

       I consulted Knaus, always a valuable resource when bouncing around a potentially bad idea. He was in favor and urged me on. I sat down at my desk, and in very slow, deliberate, looping script, I composed a hand written note taking into account his peanut butter paddling fantasies, then kicked it up to a whole new level of raunchy kink. I must say, it was a masterwork, and would have done even the likes of Mooney proud. Let me segue for a moment and explain why a counterfeit note written by me wouldn’t be instantly detected. Since my freshman year at Joes, when banned from doing so by Mr. Jakiel, I had completely given up script as a form of writing, turning exclusively to printing. When writing fast, my script is completely illegible, but when done very slowly, it could easily pass for that of a female. Chances are, no one in Goodyear had ever seen me do anything but print. I dotted the ‘i’s’ with little hearts for good measure, signed it from Denise, and slipped it under my unsuspecting marks door.           

       As expected, it was quite well received! The recipient was not at all reluctant to share the passionate listing of sticky brutal things the object of his lust was so inclined to put into writing. I could imagine the excitement this inspired, and the considerable distress the note seemed to have experienced since delivery bespoke many a vigorous reading. I am also quite certain that it also inspired some degree of terror, especially to a lad in his late teens. Many of the requested actions outlined in the note were certainly outside the experience of anyone our age, or anyone at all for that matter considering I made much of it up as I went along. A “slippery Mongolian double fisted butterscotch steamer” sounds descriptively intuitive, but I couldn’t give you the smallest clue on how to do one. Neither could he and I counted on that to keep the joke going for sometime longer.            

       The collective male population of the floor urged him on to action; to march down the hall, note in hand, and announce his intention to exceed every one of her expectations on the list. Caught in a vice between fulfilling the fantasy of every horny college boy to the level of demanding inclusion in Penthouse Variations, and the absolute certainty that she would be bitterly disappointed and no doubt broadcast his failure and shame throughout the building, he froze in indecision. In his defense, I doubt any of us would have done otherwise, but it was fun to see him squirm. Possessing still some degree of compassion, I decided not to let him suffer too long and moved to end the joke vis-à-vis ‘Three’s Company’ style.            

       To avoid the possibility of my authorship becoming known to the student body at large, especially with the two jabber jaws across the bathroom, I decided to consult only Knaus on how best to crush a young mans dreams. Knaus, a published expert in the field, was the one suggested the Jack Tripper special. In the wee hours of the morning, I put pen to paper again, accenting the loops and swirls, added some hearts, and told a tale carefully crafted as to indicate a mistaken identity. Given the disparate hairstyles of the lad and his roommate, I was able to word the note as such to indicate that it was the disinterested one of the pair Denise had her heart set on. As a little jab to the balls, I also included a bit of disparagement toward the lad himself. I slipped it under their door and snuck back to the room.           

       My ploy was successful and the lad was outraged at the very notion that he and his roommate would have been so mistaken; he being a known fixture in the hall and his roommate an oft absent fellow with no common interests in the jib of our conversations. His inclination was to march right down to her room and demand explanation. Free of the heavy burden of falsified sexual expectations, this suddenly seemed a lot more doable, and had there truly been no mistake, his raised dander would compensate for lack of a clue. I had not counted on this and was fortunate enough to catch him before he could do any such thing. No, I did not admit my part, but spoke the voice of calm reason. Once less worked up, her level of attractiveness was sufficient barrier to preclude direct confrontation.           

       What I had also not counted on was the brand new ability to communicate directly with someone without the need of pen and paper, or even a voice. A new thing called ‘email’ was sweeping the campus and the lad took to it as an acceptable outlet for his frustrations. In those days it was easy enough to find someone’s address if you had inkling on where to look (even I was able to figure this out in my campaign to become famous by emailing everyone and telling them I was). Still worked up about the note, he tracked down a Denise he felt must be the right one, and sent a detailed reply admonishing her for both leaving him the note and even more so for mistaking him for the roommate. When he described this to us, he admitted to ending the diatribe with “but I’ll still spank you if you want me to.”            

       Obviously, the recipient had no idea what he was talking about and sent a very strongly worded reply along the lines of “who the fuck are you and why would you say these things to me!” I think there may have been some threat implied. I’m not at all surprised, given first that no female hand wrote the note and that the person suspected, the winsome blond down the hall, turned out not to even be named Denise. Given the outrage in the response, I felt it best to keep secret my part in the prank and did so for many years thereafter.            

       The second incident in which I decided not to use names is probably also recalled by the principle as somewhat embarrassing, but elicited a barrel of chuckles from the rest of us when he first shared it. What makes it worth remembering is the near cinematic picture the story paints; you just don’t hear about such things very often outside a Farelly Brothers movie.            

       Everyone outside of Buffalo is under an unshakable impression that winter in Buffalo is a cruel and sadistic bitch whose time of the year eclipses in scope the rest of the seasons all together. While natives know this is not quite the case, the side effects have a way of sticking out a foot and causing a stumble or two. The poor fool in this tale was one such victim; caught unawares, and unceremoniously floored. Some say he was drunk, the condition accounting for the whole of the incident, and we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it was so. Alert and caffeinated, or three sheets to the wind, he suffered quite a tumble one day coming back from some best forgotten adventure. The result of the fall revealed itself once weight was reapplied to the affected limb, and down he went again. A poor circumstance in even the worst of days I’m sure.           

       Leg obviously fractured, although not to the level of having bone protrude, he made his way up the driveway of his dear mum and was able to raise himself to a level high enough to ring the bell and pound furiously though his miasma of pain. “Ma, open the door!” Her reply was not as he expected; a litany of questions rather than the affirmative of acquiescence. “Ma, just open the goddam door!” His insistence, and the demanding tone behind it, no doubt irritated the poor woman to some degree. It was enough already that she was put in the position to continue washing his skivvies, pouring milk on his Fruit Loops, and making him frosty delicious milkshakes with her brand new blender; was she now to be his butler as well, answering the door at command? I imagine it was with a sigh that she rose from her knitting and made her way over to facilitate entry.            

       Reaching the hall behind the door, with every intention of assisting, she enquired why just one more time. “Just open the goddam door you fucking cunt!” That about did it. It is my understanding (having never summoned the courage to use the term myself), that all women, of any age, really truly hate that word with a ferocious passion. The man’s mother was no exception, and to show her displeasure, double locked the door and strode off to parts of the house soundproofed against his outraged entreaties. On hand you can hardly blame her; even one’s own offspring waives the right of maternal sympathy for employment of such degradation. On the other you have a young man with a broken leg now locked outside in the winter and precious little likelihood of being let in anytime soon.           

       Lacking any other option, he made a long painful crawl up the side street on which he resided, to the main thoroughfare. There, a sad frozen heap on the ground, he used the last of his pain soaked strength to flag down a passing police car. Though the details never became fully clear, I can only assume he left some details out of the story, as the cop was inclined to take him to the hospital. Then again, he may have, which would have explained why the cop did not bring him home, which would have been the less inconvenient option. I’m happy to say that the incident was mutually forgiven and mother and son were reunited. It is assumed she gave him a ride home from the hospital, although not certain.           

       The final incident I am inclined to relate took place in the house at Comstock one otherwise uneventful evening. To this day I do not know the full story behind it, but it was the closest anyone came to experiencing enraged violence beneath that roof. Who am I kidding? We all suffered the effects of dire threats to our well being, but no one wrote about this one yet, so I thought I would give it a go, flowery writing and all.            

       I was sitting peacefully in my high armed chair one night enjoying a pleasant viewing of Flying Blind, featuring Tea Leoni’s perky tits on our 8 inch screen. A contingent of people came in the side door, and I could tell that there was some manner of disagreement in the making. I was irritated by the interruption and tried to pay as little attention as possible. It was made impossible, as a female voice exploded into anger. Apparently, the friend of her boyfriend revealed some information of the nature to cause a bone of contention to arise between the otherwise happy couple. To me it seemed frivolous and borderline inane, but probably because I had no idea what they were talking about, and frankly couldn’t give a rats ass.           

       The problem suddenly became more pronounced as the argument moved into the living room – the woman, her boyfriend, and the boyfriends friend all shouting and blocking the damn TV, and thereby Tea’s assets. Without warning, violence erupted and the woman lunged at the boyfriends BFF, as he tried to restrain her without incurring the bulk of her wrath. The BFF, obviously shocked at the attempt, fled into the kitchen without looking back. Undaunted by the attempted restraint, she worked mightily toward making her way in there with the intention to catheterize him with a 3 liter of Mountain Dew. By this time it had occurred to me to ask what was going on, but was ignored. The intensity of the participants was upon the drama, and probably fortunately, not on me.           

       During the fracas, I seem to remember Jason emerging from his room and making some comment on the proceedings. He too was interrupted as he watched his cable TV alone in the dung pit, not sharing it with the rest of us. Believing that he held some power of reason that even an enraged Irishwoman would listen to, he attempted to negotiate. Poor fool never had a chance. Without hesitation, she lit into him like a Doberman and he was wearing meat pants. The BFF realized at this time his good fortune and used the distraction to make his way behind her by scurrying into the dining room, through the living room (in my way once again), and bolting out the side door, and in to whatever conveyance he got there in.           

       I never found the source of the dramatic interlude, but to this day I still wonder what I missed in that episode of Flying Blind as the show was cancelled shortly thereafter and they never showed reruns. I look forward to seeing if anyone will comment.