The Vernon St. Apartment — PART III

I am writing on a Saturday morning. This almost never happens. Apparently I am feeling a bit writerly today. I was just reading some Tony Pierce and it put me in the mood. There is something about his seemingly well-planned streams of consciousness that makes it seem so easy. That is until you sit down and try to do it for yourself.

Regardless, I think it’s time we continue our apartment saga.

If you will recall, it is sometime in the first half of the 90s. A sprocket named “Toad” somehow got wet. And Mr. Jones was off someplace wishing he was just a little more funky.

THE VERNON ST. APARTMENT – PART III

Have you ever been in a beer bottle fight? I hadn’t. And I’m not entirely sure how I got into this one.

It was a typically lazy winter Saturday afternoon. We had been out late the night before. We had friends in town for the weekend. We were all repulsed and fascinated by the frozen, yet unclaimed, chunk of puke on our front steps.

Thus far in our tale, you have learned that LS brought a stereo system with huge-ass speakers and an Easy Rider poster with him the university. LS also started a beer bottle collection. Every week he’d buy single bottles of strange beer from all over the world. I am relatively sure that he didn’t enjoy a single one of them, but I doubt that he’d admit it. Some bore more than a passing resemblance to crude oil. And then you got to the REALLY disgusting looking/smelling ones.

So, by this point in the year, we had a living room bedizened with a large collection of various beer bottles. We also had some kind of wicker basket full of beer bottle caps. There were hundreds. Collecting them seemed like a good idea at the time. For real.

Long story short, says the guy writing Part III, someone flicked a bottle cap at someone else. They used the “balance on the thumb, flick the cap with your middle finger” maneuver, that very few people can master, and that will give you a nasty cramp in your thumb if you try it unsuccessfully too many times. As mentioned, not everyone can do this, so other people just started throwing beer caps around. Soon everyone was winging little metal projectiles at each other for no particular reason.

Then someone made a fateful decision.

Now, I know who it was. And after I got blamed for what came next, I enthusiastically threw the culprit under the bus. But, for some reason the blame never stuck to him. As usual. Bastard.

Out of nowhere, a beer bottle goes sailing through the air and smashes against a wall. I should mention that this is a wall that once housed a dart board that was missed much more frequently than it was hit. (I also vaguely recall the beginnings of what almost led to a dart fight, but thankfully that didn’t play out.)

Something happens when a line is obviously crossed. Things can go down in two ways. Firstly, people can be shocked by the crazy escalation and immediately calm down. Conversely, people can get caught up in doing the taboo. And, let’s face it, would I be telling you this story if we all had made the wise decision that day?

Beer bottles started flying. Broken glass was everywhere. LS was displeased. And it was a fuckload of fun.

But, I learned something that day, gentle readers. I learned that even lunatics trying to one up each other instinctively know that the first rule of Beer Bottle Fight Club is that you aim to JUST miss the person you have targeted.

At least I hope that’s why no one got tagged — too seriously.

I wish I could say that was the stupidest thing that ever happened in the apartment. I wish I could. Sadly that is not the case.

In that very room, I saw some of our nations best and brightest doing some silly things. I believed then, as I do now, that the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.

But, not once did Whitney ever mention the future gathered around in the living room, drawing the floor plan of a bar they just left with chalk on the hardwood floor. Seriously. We liked to have a post-bar debriefing on some nights. Like modern day Vince Lombardis we drew up fancy plays with all kinds of Xs and Os. We’d demonstrate how someone should have set a pick on a SSBBCBF* so that one of the guys would have a clear path to charm a young lovely.

(*SSBBCBF= Sober Slightly Big-Boned Cranky Best Friend. And why does every woman seem to have one of these waiting in the wings?)

One night two strippers danced together in this living room. Only one was stripping however. The other was there for… Moral support? Of course it was the one that looked like Courtney Love that was stripping and not the one that looked like a young Jaclyn Smith. Oh, you are wondering how we ended up with strippers in our living room?

Hmmm… I’m drawing a blank.

On another night, the friend who started the beer bottle fight would wake up in a reclining chair to find another of our friends sleep-peeing right over his legs into the corner of the room. Over a decade later, a man named Earl would explain to bottle-boy that this was indeed karma.

I sat in this living room and watched one of the other roomies — let’s call him CF — meet the pizza boy at the door while completely naked. I’m not sure where he was carrying the money.

Nudity seemed to be a bit of a theme in this apartment. One of our friends from home spent a weekend in the apartment sans clothes for the majority of the time. He’d get out of the shower, find wherever the most of us were gathering, and then take a seat in the middle of us. All the while examining himself as if searching for ticks. The only clothing he put on was a pair of women’s tights. The only reason he put these on was to try to traumatize a girl that his brother had taken back to the apartment. I’m guessing it worked.

We didn’t only traumatize our peers. We sometimes traumatized parents as well.

(Now THAT’S a segue.)

One summer, I was the only roomie staying in town. The boys were working back home. Though I wasn’t completely alone. Another of our friends — let’s call him Squatter Joe — decided that he liked our apartment better than his own. So he essentially moved in. Granted, he didn’t want to complicate our friendship by doing anything silly like chipping in on rent. He was a giver, I tell ya.

Some acquaintance gave Squatter Joe a tiny weed plant. Recently planted. Let’s call him Leif. So Squatter Joe decided it should be kept in our apartment. And since one of the roomies — henceforth known as BB — had an empty room with a desk and a fluorescent light, his room was chosen to be the home of Leif.

I adopted Leif. I watered him daily. I fed him Miracle Grow. I talked to him. I got upset whenever Squatter Joe talked about harvest day.

Now, our friend BB’s Mom is kind of like the old broad on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” She’s the kind of mother that would stop in to check up on the apartment even though her son was hundreds of miles away. So, I gave BB the one job of warning us anytime his mother was going to be in the city.

Apparently this was too big a job.

One day, after playing some basketball at an outdoor court near the apartment, Squatter Joe and I were walking back home. Suddenly I stopped his progress on the sidewalk. I indicated a car parked in front of the apartment. He didn’t recognize it, but I certainly did. It was Mama BB. I knew she’d go straight to Leif.

We turned around immediately and headed back where we had come from. Squatter Joe asked when we could go home.

I replied, “We live at the basketball court now.”

To be continued…

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