Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Bus

It’s cold and dark in the morning now.  The leaves are almost all off the trees.  The look and smell of the Fall always reminds me of college.  I went back to my old alma mater last weekend.  Sure enough, it looked like college.  Its odd going back to the place where you spent so much time in your early 20s and find it remarkably unchanged that much later.  Sure, the old Mom and Pop bars have been replaced by BW-Panini and Tipsy McStagger’s corporate macrobrew chicken wing bars, but otherwise it’s almost the same.  It’s hard to justify why I felt pissed off that the current group of students were relaxing comfortably at “my” old bar.  Who do they think they are?  Don’t they realize that this space is and always will be mine?  Isn’t it always 1988 and I’m swaggering around with a false sense of bravado?  Where the hell are my roommates?  Oh, they are at Bed, Bath, and Beyond getting a new shower curtain?  Oh… 

I drove past the house I lived in during my senior year and with the exception of a shabby siding job, it’s the same.  That’s probably bad news for the current students that live there now since it was a wreck twenty something years ago and probably should have been condemned.  College students will put up with most anything though.  Hell, I remember when we cut the back lawn for $30 off rent.  The lawn had become so overgrown that I was concerned that when we started the job the cheetah that must have been lurking in the tall grass would leap out and rip out my throat.  Instead of the shitty lawnmower the landlord provided us, he should have given us an old style scythe like we were harvesting wheat in 1920’s Russia. 

The upside to that particular lawn mowing job was when I found a bottle of pharmaceutical grade stimulants that had been discarded in the high grass.  Based on the wear on the plastic container, they must have been out there for a couple years, left there by one of the shady characters that used to come to a backyard bonfire from a former tenant.  It was a Friday afternoon when I found them, and quickly convinced two of my roommates that trying one of the pills out would be a good idea.  Only when you are 21 would you think it was a good idea to take a pill that you found in an old discarded bottle in your rental house backyard.  This is not the behavior of someone with a great deal of accumulated wisdom. 

The pill was remarkably effective, and we all got pretty jacked up.  It was agreed that it would be a great idea to buy a case of beer and listen to The Replacements latest record at great volume.  And away we go…. 

I recall with great clarity the decision to take the second pill.  This was when we were well into the beer, and were listening to the Dead Kennedy’s “Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables” at a volume that would make your eyes bleed.  The sun was down and we were committed.  By the time we made our way to Ray’s Place, our regular haunt, it had become impossible to stand still for more than four seconds.  We all had a lot to say, yet had no content whatsoever.   

“HeymanI’mgoonagowalkoverthereandseewhatisgoingon.Youwannagowithme?It’sgonnabegreat!”  The next thing you knew you walked around the bar with crazy electricity flying off your skull looking to engage with anyone stupid enough to make eye contact.  In retrospect we should have all been “put down” like filthy animals.  There was no hope, and it was probably Midnight.  Beer was having no discernable effect.  The tequila was like pouring water into sand, disappearing without a trace.   

By closing time we had a line on an after hours party at some guy’s house that had an unusual affinity for Kenny Loggins and Peter Tosh.  These are two very odd musical bedfellows, and it made no sense to me why the music kept switching between terrible Loggins & Mussina tracks and equally terrible 1980s Peter Tosh songs with heavily condensed drums.  Two guys in flannel shirts argued in the kitchen about some nonsense.  Conversations stuttered and spun around without any point or understandable story line.  One lanky guy in a white undershirt was passed out in a chair with his mouth open, and his slack hand held a can of Black Label spilling slowly onto the floor.  There was one girl there and her name was Scrody Jody.  I don’t know if “Jody” was her actual last name.  We weren’t that close.  She was VERY close with some friends of mine though.   

It was quite the social event.  Attendees to this bleak little affair began to drop off like flies as we poured beer after beer into ourselves to little apparent effect.  This was a big surprise as it felt like it was really early.  Hell, it was only 4:30!  Where are you guys going?  The three of us stood alone in the living room, Kenny Loggins blasting out of a stereo.  It was maybe the worst After Hours Party ever.  That’s when I made another bad decision.     

The third pill had kicked in by the time we walked home.  We were hosting a “Homecoming Party” that day, and had six kegs buried in ice in our basement.  We knew a lot of people, and those people told a lot of other people that those fucked up guys in the ugly house on Vine Street were having a shitload of kegs tomorrow.  Our lack of preparation for this party cannot be overstated.  We had beer.  We had ice.  I think we had some cups.  We planned on starting early and keep it going as long as the beer held.  Knowing that people would start showing up around 11am or so, we decided we’d be OK if we could just get five hours of sleep.  We adjourned to our rooms.

You may be surprised to find that sleep does not come easily when you have ingested three horse sized pills that could have probably powered a small car.  I have no idea what these pills were, but this was a totally new experience.  I was completely awake, physically drained, and with no chance of sleep.  By the time I conceded my position, the sun had risen.  I walked downstairs from my attic lair and found the two other guys that had gone out with me already down there.  “Trouble sleeping Boys?” 

We decided there was only one thing to do.  We muscled one of the kegs from the basement up to the front porch and tapped it.  I recall we had five kegs of Blatz, the cheapest beer possible that was still a liquid that could still be considered “beer”, and one keg of Andecker.  Andecker was sort of like Saranac, and was the best beer this particular distributor had.  We tapped the Andecker on the gravel driveway, the dew glistening on the grass as the sun struggled to warm the morning.  It was 7:30.   

I don’t know how many people came to our house that early afternoon.  Seemingly the entire student body was there with a plastic cup.  I remember sitting on the roof looking down at the locusts that had descended on our world.  I can’t imagine how many cups of beer I had consumed by two in the afternoon.  Lack of sleep had created a soft hazy world view.  Everything was sluggish and smushy.  Nothing made sense.  I nodded my head a lot as people leaned in to talk to me, understanding nothing.  The kegs were kicked in an hour and 45 minutes.  By the time the double-decker bus pulled up in front of the house, it didn’t seem odd at all.  Why wouldn’t a stranger ask me to climb into a bus with no stated destination?  Of course.  Double-decker buses routinely drove down residential streets.  Let’s go for a ride…

I found myself with a group of strangers at the Kent State football game.  That’s when a moment of clarity kicked in.  Good Lord man!  Who are these people?  How are you getting home?  Is your home still standing?  It started to get dark.  What time was it?  As I walked down a completely unknown street, a solitary figure in a ridiculous outfit, the bus pulled up next to me.  "You need a ride?"  The driver smiled and handed me a cold bottle of beer as I climbed the stairs.  The bus was otherwise empty.  I asked him questions about who he was, and what he was doing there and received only oblique answers.  It was really unsettling.  He dropped me off, laughed, and drove away the gears audibly changing as he slowly gained speed down the street.

 The house was demolished.  Three strangers sat on the porch working on a twelve pack.  The outrageously loud stereo banged out Butthole Surfers.  All my friends were passed out like gunshot victims around the house.  Sleep was impossible.  I slunk on the porch and the strangers talked about the fortune to be made selling used auto parts in Costa Rica.  One of them “knew a guy”.  None of it made any sense.  It was 1:30 am Sunday when I went to bed.  I slept 15 hours.

 The next day I asked everyone about the double-decker bus.  Whose was it?  Who knew the driver?  No one knew what I was talking about.  Not only didn’t they know the guy, they never even saw a bus.  “What do you mean you never saw a bus?  It pulled up in front of the party!  Dude, you were on the bus with me…”  No one saw a bus.  That leaves the question of how I got out to the football stadium.  An even bigger question is who gave me that now empty bottle of Beck’s I left on the porch…  It really freaked me out.  I pitched the bottle of the remaining pills into the tall grass behind the house.

 I wasn’t sleepy when I was driving around Kent last week.  I’ll tell you this though.  If I was, I’d go look for that bottle of pills.  Those things fucking work. 


At October 28, 2012 at 9:25:00 AM EDT , Blogger Walter Zoomie said...

Fantastic story, and well told.

At March 15, 2013 at 8:42:00 PM EDT , Blogger Anne said...

The Double decker bus was a Homecoming Miracle. It appeared, like a beautiful crazy mirage...just as the last keg of course we all jumped on. By we, I mean, me and my roommates and friends who graduated just 5 months earlier and felt the need to return to our true home. I may have told my boss that I was homecoming queen and I needed to be on campus for said queen duties; therefore, work on friday would be impossible. Yes, Greg, you were on that bus. We may have been the strangers you were @ the game with. I don't k ow how you got home, but I did enjoy reading your pre-quel


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