Monday, February 7, 2011

The one where a random musing reminds me of an old Dorm Days Flashback...

Coming up later this week will be the debut of a weekly feature here on the ‘Monster. I’m calling it the “True Confessions of a Film Freak.” If you listen to the awesome weekly podcast on ACE Broadcasting called The Film Vault (and if you aren’t, you should, it’s a must-listen for any fan of the cinema), they have a segment on each of their shows where they confess to the movies they’ve watched in the previous week. Their tastes tend to run fairly high-brow. Mine, unfortunately, do not. It’s been established that I have very little in the way of shame, so weekly here on the blog, I’m going to confess the films I’ve seen that previous week and accept your mockery. 

Today I was spending some time filling out a little paperwork. But it wasn’t just any paperwork; it was a Resident Advisor Candidate Recommendation Form for one of my Griffins Women golfers. She wants to be an RA next year. Now, for anyone who has read my writing, especially the stories about my college life, The Dorm Days, know I was never a big fan of rules back in the day, and would expend a foolishly ridiculous amount of effort to circumvent them. I was a moron. So the irony wasn’t lost on me as I answered some questions as to why I think she would be an awesome college dorm authority figure. She’s going to be a great RA. And not by the “college-me’s” fucked up standards, but because she’s exactly who they are looking for. 

That leads to tonight’s entry. It was one of the last on the old site before it died, so a lot of you probably missed it.  It’s a tale of heartbreak, frustration, debauchery and redemption. This is the final classic piece of my writing from my old blog, and the last of the original “Dorm Days: The Penthouse Chronicles” stories. Don’t worry, there will be some new ones coming down the pike: 

“The Good, Bad Week” 
(August 2001) 
Originally posted to the old blog in January, 2008 

There was a light at the end of the tunnel and it was called my senior year of college. The old digs had been abandoned. The Penthouse of Room #302 in Residence Hall #3 had finally passed on to some new denizens as Big Nick, VodkaRob and I had just moved into the newest building on campus, Residence Hall #5. The standard 6-bedroom setup was no more, now we had a choice between 2, 3, 4, and 5 bedroom apartments. In the springtime of the previous year, the administration had an open sign-up date to request roommates. Big Nick and I thought we’d give the 2-bedroom apartment a shot, but there were only three available in the new building so we figured we’d have to be the first in line to sign up, like waiting in line for concert tickets or something. So I slipped a buddy of mine on the maintenance crew twenty bucks and he let us into the Dean’s office waiting room at 5:30 in the morning. Not even the cafeteria cooks would be coming in until 6:00! We had it for sure! The cafeteria opened at 6:30 and people started crowding in around the waiting room’s locked door. They were pissed when the Dean finally showed up to unlock the door, only to find Big Nick and me already in there! Especially considering we were already her favorite targets of scorn, (see: pretty much every story up to this point!), it made it especially satisfying at the time to get our requested room. 

VodkaRob and Crazy Pete were the next ones in. In retrospect though, it turned out to be a mistake. Crazy Pete ended up getting a spot in the Navy House, and left VodkaRob on his own. Big Nick and I should’ve gotten the 3-bedroom setup with VodkaRob. As it stood, the only thing that could split up the chemistry of #302 was our own stupid decisions. We shouldn’t have left him hanging like that, and that’s one of my big regrets from that period in time. We could’ve had some fucking fun. Luckily VodkaRob ended up only two doors down in room #304, so it wasn’t like he was clear across campus or anything. Not only that, but it turned out his bedroom seemed like it was as big as Big Nick and my whole apartment! But still, it was kind of a bummer. As luck would have it Big Nick and my top-floor 2-bedroom unit had a familiar number. Yup, we were in Apartment #302 Part II! 

Anyhow, that may be the very first example of somebody starting a story off with an aside. Kids, that’s guaranteed to get you a “D” on any paper you write in the future! But fuck it, it’s been awhile, so I figured I’d better bring you folks up to speed. This story is going to chronicle the third week of school, my senior year. It was easily one of the most eventful weeks in my college life, and certainly the biggest roller coaster. I went through damn near every emotion there was that week, and still somehow came out of it with a smile on my face. We’re just gonna take this one in chronological order. 

Tuesday, August 28th, 2001 
I was getting ready to head to work when Coach DP called me down to his office for a chat. I should’ve known something was wrong when he was sitting in there with the athletic department’s liaison to the registrar’s office. She was the one that certified us and made sure we were all academically eligible to play our chosen sports. “We’ve got a problem Nickas,” coach said with a concerned look on his face. 

“What’s up?” I replied, wondering what the hell was going on. 

“According to the NAIA rules of progress, we just discovered that you are 1 credit hour short over the course of the past 4 years of your eligibility. We just caught it, and we’ve filed an appeal on your behalf, because it was our mistake. But during the appeals process we’ve got to hold you out of the first two tournaments this season,” said the liaison. 

Evidently I’d been borderline eligible throughout my stay at Westminster, but I had taken a just-above-full-time schedule the previous semester that pulled me a single hour short of the limit. The one summer-session class that I’d signed up for getting cancelled due to my being the only registrant didn’t help either. They explained the steps I needed to take, and had me sign the appeals paperwork, and I just walked out of the coach’s office, pissed off. I went to work and lost myself in the driving range. 

What a shitty start to the school year! Golf Girl was gone, she’d transferred elsewhere two weeks before school started, never to be seen again. My buddy VodkaRob got ditched by his roommate, and now this! Things can only go up from here, right? Nope. 

Wednesday, August 29th, 2001 
After a mostly sleepless night, I awoke to a brand new day. After meeting up with VodkaRob and Crazy Pete for breakfast down in the cafeteria, I cruised to my first class, sociology of the elderly, and realized I’d forgotten my notebook and a pen. Not good, but luckily, the swingin’ gal sitting next to me, Jan, hooked me up. “You all right?” she asked. 

“Must be losing my mind or something,” I mumbled. Smooth man, real smooth. 

Sitting in class was like pulling teeth, but it just seemed like I was biding my time for the afternoon. I was scheduled to play in an 8-man team golf match with my co-workers at Rose Park Golf Course against those rotten bastards from Park City Municipal Golf Course. 12:30 hit and I jetted across campus like I had a rocket up my ass, grabbed my sticks and loaded up in my Blazer, affectionately known to my high school friends as the “Sweet Ride.” 

I popped a copy of Pantera’s “Cowboys from Hell” into the CD player and turned the key in the ignition. Dead silence. Hit the key again and the indicator lights lit up my dashboard like a Christmas tree. Nothing. “No no no no no no no!” I yelled. “Fucking electrical shit!” That was one of the few things I didn’t know how to repair on my own. Things had been acting strangely with the truck and I was hoping to get my pops to look at it that Sunday when I went down to the old hometown to play in the “Beer League.” 

It looked like I was going to need a jump to get it started, so I figured I’d save it and take my chances on the trip home Sunday. I dialed one of my bosses at Rose Park, D, who thankfully was still in town to get a ride up to Park City for the match. “No problem bud, I’ll be right over,” he said. 

We arrived at the Park City Municipal Golf Course at 1:30. Just enough time to warm up for a half hour before my partner, a plastic surgeon named Doc Baldwin, and I led off the pairings against Park City’s #3 and #4 players Richtenburg and Veloso. I went through my pre competition routine of washing down 3 big and blue Advil with a can of Mountain Dew; sticking my wallet, keys, and cell phone in my bag; putting my divot tool and ball marker in my left pocket and two green tees in the right; and taking about five swings with each club up through the bag. It wasn’t my greatest warm-up session, but I felt like I was ready to go. 

The rain started to fall early on and just got worse as the round wore on. The four-ball match was a dead heat as Doc Baldwin, while overmatched was just playing out of his mind. I struggled to put Richtenburg away and as we hit the 18th tee, he had pulled to even. He absolutely smoked his drive right up the pipe on short par-5 hole. “Gotta pull out the big dog,” I said as I reached for my Titleist 975 D (yes, all you golf aficionados, I was still rocking this model in 2001. Best center weighted driver ever!). I cranked one down the right side of the fairway, leaving myself about 190 to the center of the island green. Unfortunately the ball managed to settle into an old divot. Richtenburg pulled out his 5 iron and gave it a run at reaching the green in two. His shot landed about 4 feet over the water and struck a sprinkler head, catapulting his shot straight into the air and finally landed about eight feet from the hole! 

Needing to reach the green in two myself, from a ridiculously shitty lie, I pulled out my six iron. Needless to say, that the way this week was going, disaster had to be looming. I smothered the ball out of that divot, pulling it about ten yards left of the green right into the middle of the pond. Game over. Our team as a whole got blitzed by the Park City guys on their home track that day, so my match didn’t mean much, but it still sucks to lose, you know. 

So D and I pulled up to the dorm, I took my gear out of the trunk of his car and reached into the pocket to grab my keys and wallet. Oh shit. Something was missing, and it wasn’t my keys. My wallet was gone. Jesus Christ! Can things get any worse?! After sticking my head out the window and unleashing a growl that probably could’ve been heard in Magna, I jogged through some scenarios and did what I could to recover it, including borrowing VodkaRob’s Explorer to drive to Park City to retrace my steps. 

It was long gone. After making some phone calls to cancel my ATM and charge cards, I took a double shot of NyQuil and passed out. Tomorrow, it was time to crawl out of the hole. 

Thursday, August 30th, 2001 
At 8:00 AM I awoke in a daze, my phone was ringing; it was the front desk of Residence Hall #5. My Godmother had arrived to bring me her spare junker car, a banana yellow and rust 1987 Pontiac Grand Prix. “I’ll be down in a second.” I said, groggily. God bless her, my νονά had taken on a motherly role to me in absence of my own (at the time). She wasn’t going to let me miss a day of work just because my truck was dead. I gave her a lift back home, kissed her on the forehead, and scrambled back to campus to get to class. 

After four hours of Abnormal Psychology and The Sociology of Marriage, I cruised on out to Rose Park to clean up the driving range. One of the two jobs I carried through college, (the on-campus job gets a chronicle of its own eventually), I was in the words of Bud Light’s Real American Heroes - Mr. Driving Range Picker Upper Guy: 

Yup, that about sums it up. It was a fun job, I got to blast some tuneage in my not so protective tractor and play human target for four hours. But what it did get me, besides some extra spending cash and an occasional welt when a ball would fly through the net, was free golf anywhere in town. Unfortunately, as fun as that job was, on Thursdays I needed to leave an hour and a half before closing time in order to make it to my night class at 7:30. So back across town to the campus I drove, stopping by Room #302 to pick up my books. Big Nick poked his head out of his bedroom door. “Where are you goin’?” He asked with a goofy grin on his face. 

“I’ve got to go to class man, Greek and Roman History,” I replied. 

“No, you’re not.” 

“Uhh, yes I am.” 

“No, you’re not.” He said laughing. “You’ve had one of the shittiest weeks known to man. You’re going out tonight. Rock, Pablo and the other guys are waiting for us. We’ve got the cure, a Death-Star.” 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” 

“Just get cleaned up, you’ll see.” 

“I guess I’m not going to class,” I said as I looked at the clock, now reading 7:35. I grabbed a can of Fosters out of the fridge and hit the shower, cranking Def Leppard’s Pyromania album. I threw on a pair of jeans and a Superman t-shirt. On our way out the door, Big Nick, shot a look my way. 

“You got any ID man?” 

“Fuck, I didn’t even think of that.” I said. “Waitaminute, I’ve got an idea.” I ran and grabbed a couple of items from my desk. 

We jumped into Big Nick’s Jeep and pulled into a little strip mall up in Highland in front of a Mexican restaurant called El Chihuahua. I’d be lying if I wasn’t thinking that Mexican food sounded pretty fucking good right about then. We walk into the cantina where Roc, Pablo, Trig, the Masshole and a few of our other buddies were sitting around a huge table munching on chips and salsa. 

“Something to drink?” the waitress said as she approached our table. One by one everybody had the same answer, “DEATH-STAR.” 

“I guess I’ll be having a Death-Star.” I said, wondering what the hell I was getting myself into. 

“I’m going to need to see some ID” she said, as everybody pulled out their drivers licenses. Seeing as how I was sans-wallet, I laid a copy of my birth certificate and my Salt Lake City employee card out on the table. The poor girl called out her manager, who also happened to be tending bar, who noticed that my Social Security Number was on both documents and hooked me up. 

After about ten minutes of cracking jokes and busting balls, the drinks arrived. The Death-Star came in a giant fish-bowl sized glass that looked like a purple version of that drink Garth ordered in the first Wayne’s World flick. The bartender/manager guy came over and explained to us that in order to get around some of Utah’s more archaic liquor laws, certain alcoholic parts of the drink had to be labeled “flavorings.” The Death-Star was comprised of ten shots of different “flavorings” and five shots of various juices. I took a drink, “Wow! This tastes just like antifreeze!” I thought. I took another drink, “sweet, sweet antifreeze.” And another, “hey this isn’t half bad.” And another, “this is actually pretty good.” And finally, “I think my face is numb, and I can’t even taste it anymore.” The Death-Star folks, it’s a keeper! 

After we all had a Death-Star (one was all it took) and a shitload of various Mexican delicacies, we cruised back to the dorms. That Death-Star plus a couple of beers pretty much made me forget the next hour or so, but the next thing I remember was rolling down the road in Big Nick’s Jeep, while Pablo and Trig shot fire extinguishers out the back. Not sure where those came from. Typical college, drunken behavior but it was still funny for some reason. Oddly enough, "Death-Star" night is a tradition among college kids in Salt Lake that continues to this day.  What can I say, we were trendsetters!

Friday, August 31st, 2001 
I awoke with such a headache, that it felt like somebody was stabbing me in the right eye with an ice-pick. “Christ, I can’t handle the hooch like I used to.” I thought. Thankfully, there were very few Friday classes at Westminster, which allowed for maximum “Margarita Thursday” recovery. I went down to the Dean’s office to fill out the paperwork to get a new school ID. Surprisingly the picture actually looked better than my previous ID. Maybe things were looking up. 

I got back to #302 just in time to meet Big Nick. He gave me a lift out to the hellhole known as the DMV. We blasted Anthrax’s The Sound of White Noise on our way out there. Nick had never heard them before, I think he was hooked, but that might’ve been because it was cranking out of his ridiculously awesome system. I forgot to mention, he had the top off of his Jeep and we had to take the freeway to the DMV, so I ended up with one of the most bizarre hairdos in the world for the next 5 years on my new driver’s license. I looked like a husky version of Wayne Static! 
Only fatter
We got back to campus around 1:00. On our way back up to our building, I ran into my friend Jess, (the girl I took to the AC/DC show, as well as several others, plus, her dad had owned a record store). “I’ve got some CD’s for you if you want ‘em,” she said. 

“What do I owe ya?” I asked. 

“Not a damn thing,” she said, “I’ve already got most of them. It’s all extra stuff my dad had lying around.” 

“Sounds good, just drop by a little later this afternoon, I’ll be around after golf practice.” 

“Good luck.” She smiled. 

Well, after that, how could I not shoot a 1-under par 71 in practice that afternoon? It was easily the best round I had shot on Wingpointe since I was in Junior College. And it just made me even more frustrated about my eligibility situation. But still, it felt good to be striking the ball purely and putting out of my mind. If only Golf Girl had been around to see that. 

I got back to #302 around 5 o’clock to find a stack of about ten CD’s on our counter. Pretty good shit there, some Danzig, Slayer, Tears for Fears and several other pretty decent bands of stuff that I didn’t have already. Goddamn that Jess is a sweetheart. It was time to get ready for the evening’s festivities. Nick and I were “bouncing” at a house party, and it promised to be one for the ages. 

Friday Night, August 31st, 2001 The Party Big Nick, Rock, and I piled into his Jeep and drove up to Pablo’s condo up on Wasatch. The first thing we noticed was two giant tubs full of red liquid that would’ve made the Reverend Jim Jones proud. “Jungle Juice man!” Pablo jumped into the room. Good god! There had to be $200 worth of liquor in those tubs. I wonder how many people they expected to show up for this shindig. 

Big Nick and I took our positions at the door. In order to keep the “ratio” good, and to pay for the provisions, Pablo had erected a sign. “Chicks - $1.00 Dicks - $5.00 Cups - $1.00 We reserve the right to deny entry” I guess we were taking money at the door too. People started to arrive, in droves. The music was thumping, the booze was flowing and everybody was having a good time. Nick and I busted up a couple of fights, and had just finished tossing a couple of punks out on their asses when I noticed I yellow object sticking out of Nick’s back pocket. “What is that?” I asked. 

“My taser,” he replied, matter of factly. 

“What in the blue hell do have that for?” 

“Just in case, man.” 

“What, a rampaging gorilla decides he really needs a drink, or wants to fight?” 

“You’re paranoid,” he said, grinning. 

The party raged on, and I must’ve had $400 in my pocket. Hate to admit it, but damn, I was having fun. It was like every shitty thing that had happened that week didn’t matter anymore. Everybody seemed to be having fun, and this was easily the biggest party I’d ever been to. There had to be at least 100 people crammed into this condo with another 30 or so in the back yard and hot tub. 

Suddenly, an obviously wasted party-goer crashed into me. “Duuuude, I think the cops are here man.” 

“I haven’t seen any, none have come in the door, and we haven’t let any in.” 

“Man, I got to get out of here maaaan…” as he ran out the door. I walked outside to get some fresh air and looked down the road to see a massive caravan of police lights rolling up the street. I heard some thumping and looked up to see a helicopter with one of those giant spotlights trained down on the house. Oh shit! It’s the cops! 

I ran back into the house, just in time to see the “one guy that nobody knows at the party” pull a Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office badge on a chain out of his shirt. As more of his buddies popped in the door, and people started scrambling around I couldn’t help but kind of snicker at the scene. The house looked like a giant circle pit. The biggest deputy bellowed, “All right! Everybody over twenty-one, whip out your ID’s, show them to the deputy at the door and leave! Everybody under twenty-one, go to the backyard. You’re in for a long night!” 

Big Nick and I were two of the first few back through the door. God knows, I was happy to have an ID again. As we made our way out, I overheard some of the cops talking about possible charges they could ring our friends on. Things you wouldn’t even think of, beyond shit like contributing and things like that. They were talking about things like the size of the party and the amount of people constituting an “event” which would require an “event permit” and an actual liquor license. On our way out, they asked if we owned the house or knew who did. We denied everything. Hell, they’re the government, if they want to know bad enough, they have the resources, they can find out. 

We got half a block away, when Big Nick decided to turn back, explaining that he had left the faceplate of to his Jeep’s stereo in the house. I didn’t think that was a very good idea, I mean, we just got away from a virtual hornets’ nest with a shitload of cash in our pockets, but there was no stopping that dude. He handed me his roll of the door money and took off on a dead sprint back to the house. Bad idea. 

About a block away, I ran into one of the guys who owned the house who was just coming home to join the party and had missed the chaos. I handed him the stack of cash. “You might need this to bail out your roommates, bro.” He asked what all had occurred, so I laid the details out to him and suggested that he make himself scarce. He agreed and made a hasty retreat back to his car. I made it back to the Jeep and waited for what seemed like an eternity, before starting back down the sidewalk toward the house. I paused at the corner which overlooked the back yard and quietly observed the carnage. There were at least four lines, twenty people deep waiting in line to blow into a tube. Cops were literally EVERYWHERE! I wondered just how much the local taxpayers paid to have their sheriff’s department bust up this gathering. It must have been a slow night on the crime front. There were perfect little Mormon college princesses with tears streaming down their faces, knowing that their reputations were now tarnished. It was a surreal atmosphere. 

Suddenly, Pat, another one of our buddies ran up. “Nickas! They’ve got Big Nick down on the floor, spread eagle! I think they’re gonna cuff him!” 

“Oh shit!” I thought, “Maybe I should have hung on to that money to bail Nick out!” I started to mosey back towards the house, trying to think of what to do, when I saw Big Nick shuffling my direction. “Christ almighty man! What happened?” 

“They found the taser dude.” 

“And they just let you go?” I asked with a quizzical look on my face. 

“Yeah, but they confiscated it.” He replied, dejectedly. 

“Well shit man, let’s cut our losses, get the hell out of here and regroup back at the apartment.” I said, “Looks like we’re lucky to get out of here on our own terms!” 

We met up with Pablo and those guys at a local diner the next day. The statistics were staggering. Over 90 consumption tickets were handed out. I can’t remember for sure, but I think those guys incurred a small fine, which in this state is getting off light. Rock had to call his dad to tell him about his consumption ticket, but carried around his breathalyzer tube for a week, kind of like a merit badge. Big Nick, after his close call in nearly avoiding a weapons charge, mellowed out quite a bit after that episode. And that party went down in history. 

As for myself, well, I never did recover my wallet, but my dad figured out the electrical problem in my Blazer and managed to fix the problem in about ten minutes. I won my eligibility appeal and was reinstated for the last half of the last season of my collegiate career. That week put a lot of things in perspective for me. I felt like if I could weather that particular shitstorm and still come out smelling like a rose, then I’ve got to be pretty much bulletproof. It certainly helped later in life when I have come across a rough patch here and there. Things settled down and I had a pretty good senior year. I figured out that no matter how low I got, at least it has never gotten bad enough for the police to have to call my folks! And for some reason, I took a lot of comfort in that.

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