Of Folly And Of Vice


Swirling Drain
March 11, 2009, 7:23 pm
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Unbelievably, I was in a service sorority in college. I’m in the Facebook group now and I am the oldest person in the group by a few years. A few of the younger girls have “friended” me, probably hoping that I still live down there and can buy them alcohol. This is ok with me, I wish I could help them out.

Status updates from these girls are always interesting, and remind me of the AIM away messages we used to leave.

Classin’ it.

At Dobby-Do’s.

Playing at Stank.

And, of course, away messages describing the sort of longing or despair that only college students can muster. College students, living off their parent’s dole, who more often then not are willfully unemployed and have not yet paid a winter gas bill.  

I came across one of these status messages the other day from one of the girls:

WE ARE IN COLLEGE NOW, NOT HIGH SCHOOL. GROW UP AND ACT LIKE IT.

Sometimes I’m so happy we didn’t have Facebook when I was in college I could cry. A single tear forms in the corner of my eye and I wipe it away. We missed the bullet by about 6 months or so. I didn’t get onto Facebook or MySpace until the very last semester of college. Oh sure, we had AIM and we had Friendster at the very tail end of our school careers, but we never had to deal with the mind suck that is Facebook. Or the bitchy status messages, which I’m fairly certain would have directly led to the end of our friendships. And it would probably be a detriment to our grades as well, which didn’t need any help sinking.

WE ARE IN COLLEGE NOW, NOT HIGH SCHOOL. GROW UP AND ACT LIKE IT.

Oh, how many times did we echo this sentiment? Perhaps not quite so out loud, but I remember several incidents that this would have certainly been someone’s status message. As hard to admit as it is, it would probably have been mine.

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Something in the way
March 6, 2009, 12:08 am
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I’m sitting across the table from a kind British man in a crowded fake Irish pub style bar and I hear myself say, “A lot of it, well, it’s just not terribly attractive to talk about. Lots of vomiting, doing stupid things.”

He already knows about the Steak ‘n Shake mat, and that is pretty much the best story I have about stealing things. I tell him about the short period of time I was stealing discarded bricks from places and how they got heavy moving from place to place all the time. Great for doorstops, though, really great.

“I think I just felt that alcohol was a way to cope, a way for me to get out of my shell. After that, I used the internet,” I tell him.

“But you don’t need any of that anymore.”

“No, not anymore.” I look down at my beer. No. I didn’t need it anymore.



The First Cut Is The Deepest
February 23, 2009, 3:24 pm
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I remember the dilapidated house on the street with the name of a spice. I remember the blue glow of the porch light and the hum of people in the backyard. There was an older guy with a backwards baseball cap selling the cups on the porch, under the single blue bulb.

All of us had walked nearly a mile from our dorm in search of a party to that house, there was probably 15 or so in our group. Milling around on the porch, handing the guy our $4 for a blue Solo cup.

My fingers fit into the grooves of the cup comfortably. I just wanted to try it. I was an adult now, legally, and although I wasn’t “drinking age” yet, I felt that this was an important thing. This is college, this is what we do.

The keg was sloshing around in a plastic garbage can, titled on the slight decline of the ground where it had been placed. The beer was lukewarm and it tasted unlike anything I had ever tasted. The bubbles broke over my tongue. I made a face.

“This is not very good,” I said to my dorm mates.

“No, it’s not,” they said, genuinely agreeing. “Nobody likes keg beer.”

It was my first alcoholic beverage, and I barely finished one cup. I looked around. No one appeared to be having a ton of fun, everyone was just drinking and talking, and occasionally, someone would shout out. It was late September, but not quite cold yet. I saw a girl I went to high school with, talking in another circle of 18 year olds. I thought about high school for a moment – how it seemed like a million miles from where I stood, crunching in the foliage of someone’s rented backyard with about 100 other people. How it seemed like nothing was going to be the same after this. How everything was changing and I was just grasping to hold on to it.

I fidgeted with the empty cup for a while before handing it off to a friend who looked at me suspiciously.

“You sure you’re not going to want anymore?” He asked.

“No, please take it,” I said.

I walked home shortly after with some of the boys from the dorm. I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to drink beer again. Someone said, “Oh, it’s never that good, but there’s other stuff that tastes better.”

I would eventually find out that it never tasted better. But I would drink it anyway.



An Unfinished thought from 2002
January 17, 2009, 1:34 pm
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Well, don’t we all, really?



Welcome Friends
December 30, 2008, 11:55 pm
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The Boys’ House sat in the middle of a one-way street directly across from a research field. The street, I suppose, would be considered “cobblestone” but it was more of a staggered brick that your car would bump and rumble and bounce over as you drove. We started calling it The Boys’ House because that’s where the boys lived, really nothing more complicated than that.

The house itself was very large and white, with a wide front porch that had no railing. I’m certain that when it was built, it was built for a family. It had a proper entryway, with a seemingly ancient dark wood staircase which opened through an arched doorway to a living room. The living room flowed into what was purposed to be a dining room, but which the boys’ called The Parlor – the location of a spectacular hand-crafted wooden bar with a tap and shelves built right into it, approximately 8 feet in length. Philip built it himself and the boys helped. Some nights, The Bar seemed to stretch out for miles as several of us would be working behind it, pouring beers and selling incredibly overpriced mixed drinks to identifiably underage patrons. This was the best part of The Bar – we were as young, if not younger, than many of the people visiting. It was three times the illegal – underage servers, serving alcohol without a liquor licence to underage drinkers.

When it was quiet, and there weren’t several hundred people making their way through on a Friday or Saturday night, it was quite beautiful. Light filtered delicately through broken blinds and warping windows, splattering on the wood floors in the mornings. All of the stairs creaked with an uncertainty of constitution – as if they would simply evaporate as you climbed. There were quirky features like a small trap door in the wall of the kitchen and original light switches that turned on nothing.

There were three small bedrooms on the second floor, and a larger one with a thin strip of a sun room that faced the street and the hulking tree in the front yard. Two of the bedrooms were located in the basement, which was not particularly scenic and always smelled like you’d expect a basement to smell like, except with an undertone of the vanilla plug-in air fresheners that Lou obsessively monitored and replenished.

The landlord was a ridiculous man who was forever reminding the boys they were not allowed to have pets or waterbeds nor were they allowed to flush toothbrushes or sanitary napkins down the toilets. After having spent so much time there, I’m not confident that these areas would have been my primary concern. My concerns would have centered around exactly how many people could fit into the house before the floor in the living room collapsed into Wayne’s bedroom below or the particularly puzzling gang tag left in the bathroom after a party or the manner in which to successfully remove the stain of vomit from the kitchen wall.

As I mentioned, I believe the house was originally built for a family – and I think we functioned as such. We could have assuredly qualified for being dysfunctional. The Boys’ House, more than any other place where I paid rent to live, was our family’s real home. The multitude of friends’ friends’ friends that joined us on any given weekend night were usually nice people – but they wouldn’t be there in the morning to wake up and realize that no matter what the weather, it was 47 degrees in the basement. Or that on Tuesday nights we would sit around on the uncoordinated thrift store couches in the living room and play Grand Theft Auto on PlayStation, taking turns.

The other people that came to the parties at the Boys’ House were usually perfectly nice and fun to be around, but they were missing something. They were missing an important part – missing that part that would have allowed them to recognize that when they came to these parties, they were sharing in our reverie, our toasts to youth and friendship, our laughs. That was the most important part.



My middle name is Kurt, not Fart
December 23, 2008, 4:37 am
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My mantle is full of Christmas cards and I’m watching one of my favorite episodes of The Office.

My mantle. My father would never allow such a display. Not because of a lack of Christmas spirit – but because it would be clutter. At my parents’ house, there is a designated basket to securely contain all incoming Holiday Greetings.

“We are so loved!” My roommate says as we gazed upon the growing collection the other evening.

“We are,” I agree.

– – –

I am unsteady on my feet, teetering between standing upright and pushing my arms out in front of me to catch my balance. The garage is cold and the conversation is waning. My eyes wander from his. I repeat to myself, I am an adult; I have a mantle and Christmas cards.

Tomorrow I will drive home alone and shiver in the car from the cold.



Living Ghosts
October 13, 2008, 10:09 pm
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And I told the girl, “It’s just really nice that you guys are going to do the article.”

“Thanks,” she said.

“No, I mean, the paper was a huge part of our lives – did Wayne mention that at all? Pea was the business manager, his roommate Rob did ad sales, his roommate Lou was the arts and entertainment editor – he was a hoochemaster! We all were a part of the paper and it just means a lot. I was a writer for a little while. I did lay out too, but I don’t remember why I stopped. I think it had something to do with sucking at it.”

The girl laughs out loud. “Oh my gosh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh at you.”

I’m laughing now as well, “That’s alright, it’s true.”

I eventually hung up after I helped her, calmly, map out a timeline for one of my dearest friend’s life and death. A timeline, a series of events. A series of events that led directly to me talking to a girl from my college newspaper, on a random Thursday, while pacing on my back patio, smoking, and occasionally, crying. Pushing my way through all the facts and denying all the emotion greatly improved my state of mind. At least temporarily.

How old was this girl? She might as well been 12. I felt 40. Say she was a junior – which means she’d be graduating in May of 2010 if all things went according to plan. This means she is six years younger than myself and my friends from college. This means by the time she even got to campus – we’d been gone for over two years or more. Ghosts.

The dorm we lived in freshman was demolished in the fall of my last semester. Half of us were gone already and the other half were just getting ready to go. When I mentioned it during our conversation I just said “a dorm that was already blown to smithereens by the time you got there”. She didn’t ask any questions.

And, when I mentioned that the boys lived in the “Welcome Friends” house, you know that one by the research field on East Campus, it’s got the sign with “Welcome Friends” on it,  – nothing.

I found myself resigned to saying things like, “Well, it was a big deal when I was there.” At 26 years old. This whole situation was getting more and more difficult.

Not only was it like me and my ghost friends never exsisted, the places and people we had touched on our little journeys were also evaporating. And now, we were dying off.