The Vernon St. Apartment — PART II

Since screenwriting doesn’t seem to be happening today, I think I’ll continue to regale you with tales of the infamous Vernon St apartment. If you haven’t already, you should read Part I of this gripping saga. I’d link directly to it, but I am having some blogger issues. So, I guess you are just going to have to scroll. Crazy, right?

Allow me to set the scene for you…

It was a kinder, gentler time. All Ace of Base wanted was another baby. It was before Barry Bonds was suing everyone — and when he was still built like a human and not a comic book superhero. Super Giant-Headed Douche, or some such. Culture Beat knew what they wanted, and they wanted it now. They wanted me — Mr. Vain. And this was just after Magic Johnson admitted to being HIV-positive, thus freaking out a LOT of college-aged kids and meaning that there was a lot less free love on the free love freeway.

Let’s continue…


As we begin Part II, it dawns on me that the stories of THE apartment do not lend themselves to one nice cohesive narrative. Like university in general, things were exciting for a while, then interrupted by mind-numbingly dull periods. I really did love everything about university except for the classes.

I guess all I can do is to try to tell the stories in such a way that they are at least a little bit tied together. I promise nothing.

As Part I ended, I was setting relations with Germany back 50 years, and just killing a Black Crowes song.

German neighbour dude never came back to bother us again. And we gave him more than enough reason to. Trust me. We did see a lot of his daughter though. Consensus in the apartment was that she was 14. Maybe 15, but definitely not much older. [No, this story is not about to take a Jerry Lee Lewis-ian turn on you.] You see, little neighbour girl seemed intrigued by older college guys. Once a week — give or take — she’d wait on the sidewalk outside our living room windows, and once she caught the attention of one of us, she began dancing. And I’m not talking ballet. There was a lot of butt-shaking. Not until a decade later, when I subscribed to the National Geographic TV cannel, would I see such gyrations again. She’d dance for a set period of time — I was guessing that she was playing a song in her head — then she’d stop, give an innocent smile to us and walk into her house. I sometimes wonder what happened to her. She was cute in a 14 year old, hair-dyed blue kind of way. I’m sure she went on to great things, but I would not be entirely surprised if she did spend some time working side by side with a shiny brass pole.

We were only in our apartment a short time when one of our female friends from home moved to the city. Her parents moved her up to start her freshman year. One afternoon she and her folks showed up at the door. We proudly invited them in to see our first big boy apartment.

Now, I’ve never claimed to be overly adept at reading body language, but this girl’s mom had the same look on her face that you get when you find month-old Chinese food in your fridge and somehow think it’s a good idea to give it the sniff test. As she continued to walk around the apartment, the face got worse and worse. And I’m not sure if it was because she knew us all from home, or if it was the mother instinct, or because she knew her daughter would be visiting us, but she immediately grabbed her husband, gave him some orders and dispatched him from the apartment. (I am relatively sure it was the latter reason.)

About a half hour later, the husband returned and went straight to our bathroom. As it turns out, the worst thing about our apartment was apparently the horribly rusted pipe inside our shower. I’m guessing that it didn’t win by much.

The husband pulled a roll of silver duct tape out of a bag and immediately began wrapping up that pipe like a boxing trainer getting his fighter’s fists ready for a bout. Within seconds it was done. The Mom exhaled. She knew that there was no way that she could fix the place, but she seemed content enough in the knowledge that she did her little part to make it a little less squaloriffic.

She never set foot in our apartment ever again.

That frosh week we broke the apart in well and never looked back.

At this point I’ll warn you that the memory-ravaging bastard called “time” and the need to omit things to protect the innocent-ish, means that I may be moving things around in the greater timeline. But, the events actually did happen at some point. And I’m willing to bet that those who were there have even less memory of the chronological order than I do.

One of my most vivid memories from our parties was when a frosh chick of Asian extraction was dancing on the back of one of our couches. She paused for a second to take it all in. Finally she asked — to no one in particular — if this was a frat house. And I felt proud. I knew we had reached the proper level of debauchery, if we were mistaken for a frat.

I vaguely remember someone answering her with “This place can be anything you want, baby.” Though it wasn’t me who said it.


Another fun night was when the geekiest dude ever showed up at our party. He was like the bastard child of Bill Gates and Urkel. We later tried to figure out how he came to attend the soiree. As near as we could tell, he was the friend of a friend of a classmate of a friend of A… Well, suffice it to say that we had fewer degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon than from this dude.

The guy spent the entire night sitting just a few feet away from his “friends.” He didn’t drink. He didn’t sing. He didn’t talk to anyone. Finally as the wee hours arrived and people starting stumbling home, he bumped into one of our friends in the doorway. Our friend said, “Hey, hope you had a good time.” Urkel Gates stopped, stared him in the face and, in the most nasally voice ever, uttered, “You don’t mean that.”

Now, I KNOW that isn’t going to read as funny as it was when it happened. We repeated that line and howled about it for months. Seriously. I loved that guy. He probably shot up a post office in the late 90s.

As frosh week ended, everyone was pretty much needing a rest. It was 9 pm on Sunday night before classes began. Two of the roomies were in bed already. And LS was stretched out on one couch, while I was stretched out on the other — watching TV. Suddenly our front door opened — we never really got around to locking it during the 2 years we lived there. In walked a large dude. He was probably 6’5″ or so. I can’t really think of a way to properly describe his appearance. He looked…. sketchy? He wore dirty jeans and a dirty jean jacket. He had a bandana around his neck that I’d bet large amounts of money that he wrestled away from a dog. And not a clean one.

And now he was standing silently in the middle of our living room.

He stared directly at an Easy Rider poster that LS had put on the main wall above our TV. It was the one with Dennis Hopper flipping the bird.

Sketchy stared at it for what seemed like 5 minutes.

Finally, without taking his eyes off of it, he said, “Great fucking poster.”

Then he turned and left.

LS and I looked at each other, shrugged and went back to watching TV.

To be continued…

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