The Vernon St. Apartment — PART I

Or “Damn, Taylor Dayne wishes I was her lover…”

When I sat down here, I was going to write a post about Katherine on ‘American Idol.’ But, I figured that my (now ex-) girlfriend would toss me. Seriously. I think she’s on the edge.


I’ll tell you another story.

Yesterday, as I tried unsuccessfully to get some writing done, I was watching some retro music videos. The songs were transporting me back to those halcyon days of university. A time when a fresh-faced Peter was looking at the world with bright eyes. Pizza for every meal. Trying to wrangle VIP passes to bars so that we wouldn’t have to wait in line like the commoners. Skipping class to shoot hoops. Pizza for every meal.

And THE apartment.

Now, if you had seen THE apartment, you’d likely be doing everything in your power to purge the image from your brain. Sadly they have not yet created the mental SOS pad for the mind’s eye. (Trust me I would have scoured DR. T & The WOMEN out of there long ago.)

Towards the end of my second year at university, my best friends (since we were 5) and I decided to get an apartment together. We were practically Ernie & Bert… & Ernie & Bert (there were four of us), so it seemed like a natural progression.

We visited a buttload of different apartments. Some were too expensive. Some were too small. Some were too far from school. Some would have involved sharing bedrooms, and we were way too studly for that. *cough*

Before I go on, I should say that this story is going to be lacking anything about females, for the most part. All four of us are in long-term relationships now, and I see no need to bring up any unpleasantness. You know, unless I figure I can get a laugh with it. Then all bets are off.

So, one afternoon we went to see a place that was for rent. It was located like 7 houses away from the front door of the School of Business — where all of my classes were. Peter liked. It was four bedrooms — well once a little work was done on a dining room. We weren’t really the dining room types. I’m not sure we owned utensils.

As soon as we walked in, I think we all felt a connection. This was clearly a party house. Beer bottles everywhere. Dirty dishes stacked up. The faint aroma of pizza and regret. It was absolutely intoxicating. THIS was university. I was still dealing with the fact that my first two years of school didn’t resemble ANIMAL HOUSE in any way. Not a single toga party. It still irks me to this day. But, THE apartment could change all of that.

Even though we had called first, the guys living there all seemed a little confused by our arrival. I vaguely remember a girl making a walk of shame from one room to another — at 3 in the afternoon. Other than that, I can’t recall much of what we discussed with the one dude who gave us the tour. I was clearly distracted by the possibilities. (We all must have been if we agreed to move into that place after seeing it.)

We were very impressed that the guys living there were from Newfoundland. As Cape Bretoners we could understand the partying frame of mind that they had. Newfies are basically Cape Bretoners who couldn’t figure out how to find the ferry. And I think they liked that we were from Cape Breton. Passing the torch and all. If, you know, they had any idea why we were there in the first place.

We finished off the semester and got through an uneventful summer — we subletted (a word?) the place, but lived back home. My only real recollection is that I fished lobsters that summer. This involved me getting up at 3 am and lead to some decisions about doing manual labour for a living.

Finally we got to move in. And it was glorious. Well, maybe “glorious” is overstating it a tad, but there was just a special vibe in that place. We knew it the day we saw it, and we were even more sure of it when we moved in.

The first thing we brought into the place was my buddy’s stereo and huge-ass speakers. I actually was asked a few times “How big are those speakers?” and “How many watts are those speakers?” To which I’d invariably answer “Huge-ass.” Then I’d tell them it was a metric measurement. Yes, I was ever so witty even back then.

It was 9-ish at night — a Tuesday, I think. The stereo was in and set up. My roomie — let’s call him “LS” — basically owned two albums. The Black Crowes — the one with “Remedy” and “Hard to Handle” — as well as The Cult — with “Fire Woman” and “She Sells Sanctuary.” He later took a liking my Jimmy Hendrix CD and played it for a week straight, around the clock, but that is a story for another time.

So, LS set his stereo to play The Black Crowes’ “Remedy” on repeat and absolutely cranked the volume. We took seats on milk crates — the only furniture in the living room at this point — and sang along.

Not long after, I heard something that sounded like a loud knocking on the door. We turned the volume down just enough to confirm. I looked through the frosted glass window in the front door and saw that it was a man in his 40s. After much hurried debate, I was selected to act as spokesman for our apartment and was dispatched to the door. To this day, I have no idea how or why I was selected.

I opened the door and saw a professor-looking dude staring back at me. He looked completely unimpressed. Perhaps he would have preferred the Cult album. We’ll never know. So, I put on my best “I have no idea why you are here, sir” expression and said “Hi.”

He launched in with a “This won’t do…”, “I’m your neighbour…” At this point I picked up on his German accent. Now, I’m 20 years old. Not overly mature. And the urge to do a Hogan’s Heroes’ “I know nothing!” at that moment was almost completely overwhelming. Somehow I refrained.

Finally, after he finished his spiel, he added, “I hope you aren’t going to be like the last guys who lived here. They told me that I should move to the suburbs.”

I quickly pat him on the shoulder and say, “You know, that sounds like some good advice.” Then I shut the door.

To be continued…

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