Sunday, April 09, 2006

Robot Town

I'm not a fan of nostalgia. I think it is one of the most debilitating of all human weaknesses, and too much of it can prevent a person from living a satisfying life. The ideal life, to me, is one lived almost exclusively in the present. However, it's hard to live by any ethical code, especially one's own, so let's call this post an appreciation of history and not a maudlin wallow in nostalgia. Besides, I'm still friends with the former citizens of Robot Town and in regular contact with them, and there's nothing nostalgic about that. In fact, one of them is married to the sister of my wife. Guess which one and win a peanut jar filled with Ernest Borgnine's urine. On to the post:

For the entirety of my junior year and portions of the first of my two senior years of college, I lived in a filthy, dilapidated house in the Russian Bottoms a few blocks away from the Midwestern university I attended. My roommates were Teenage Fashion Show, Professor Romance, and a revolving door of people who don't have blogs. (You know we are former roommates because we all use the same template.) While much of that time was spent feeling lonely, depressed, unsatisfied, angry, broke, hungry, drunk, stupid, smug, or unappreciated, living in the place was by no means routine. It was the last time in my life where I really had no idea what was going to happen on any given day. Oh, the adventures we had. Permit me to indulge in some masturbatory college memories. Please ignore the sentimentality, and if you don't like it, read something else. I suggest any volume of the "Sweet Valley High" series, or perhaps a column by George Will.
1) When we moved out of the house, I found a frog skeleton underneath my drum set.
2) I lived in the basement. It was infested with crickets. Eventually, I became adept at decapitating the insects with a pair of scissors. It was much cleaner than squashing them. A cricket would saunter by. I would grab the scissors and, with one smooth motion, lop off its head. I would grab a napkin, pick up the head and body, and drop it in the wastebasket. I got four in a row in four seconds once.
3) In the summer, a small crack in Professor Romance's window led to an infestation of snakes. One night, drunk at 3 a.m., I threw on a CD and got ready for bed. The CD stopped after one song. I got up and hit the play button several times. Nothing happened. I hit the open button. The five-disc changer popped out, and a baby snake was slithering around all over it. It slithered onto my floor. I wacked it with a drumstick for a few seconds, but this proved highly ineffective. I picked up the snake with an old t-shirt and threw it outside. (This anecdote is soon to be a Paramount motion picture starring Samuel L. Jackson entitled "Snakes in a Stereo." The line, "Get these motherfucking snakes out of this motherfucking stereo" is expected to take on cult status.)
4) One Christmas, I received a pair of thick blue socks that were so ridiculous, I could only wear them at home. One of them mysteriously disappeared at the laundromat. At the time, I was on a strictly fast-food diet. One Hardee's Monsterburger too many, and I was dropping an incredibly greasy shit. I unfortunately had failed to check the toilet paper situation before sitting down on the toilet (bathroom pictured above). We were completely out. I couldn't even find any newspaper. I decided to use the blue sock. It was so thick. It took care of business. I'll leave it at that. Business completed, how to dispose of this blue sock? In my haste to find a suitable toilet paper substitute, my common sense had been momentarily displaced. For whatever reason, I did not throw the shit-smeared sock into the Dumpster. What did I do? I put it in a plastic bag and threw it in the neighbor's backyard.
5) Shane was a guy I knew from the dormitories, and he also knew each of my roommates, unbeknownst to us all. Coincidentally, he dated one of the girls who lived in the next house I moved into. Yes, I ended that last sentence with a preposition. Shane was a musclebound, athletic, tall, blonde guy who would have embodied Hitler's Aryan superman ideal to a T if it hadn't been for a handful of exceptions: he liked every person he met, had a bottomless appetite for drugs, had an unhealthy obsession with snakes, had a prosthetic leg (which was either due to cancer or a boating accident, he told different people different stories), and was completely, totally, and entirely one hundred percent motherfucking crazy as shit. It had been nearly a year since any of my roommates and I had seen him, but one Friday night, he showed up at our door with a Russian woman in extraordinarily tight and short shorts, a Turkish man, and an Iranian man and asked if we wanted to play some music. We went down to the basement, where all our instruments were set up, and he proceeded to play noodly, Tangerine Dream-esque New Age keyboard solos for about two hours straight. Then he pulls out a huge bag of pot and says he wants to make pot brownies. I go to the Save-Mart with him and his international entourage to buy some brownies at 2 in the morning. There is only one woman working the counter. He puts the brownie mix on the counter and yells out, "Whoo! Brownies! All right! I love them!", then proceeds to take off his prosthetic leg and pump it in the air above his head. The cashier flinches and looks like she is about to burst into tears. He hops around with his prosthetic leg hoisted in the air for about three or four minutes. We get back to the house ten minutes later, and he says, "I'm too tired to make brownies." Then he proceeds to have sex with the Russian woman on our couch, while we play some more music downstairs. Shane leaves the next morning, and I haven't seen him since. We avoid the couch for the remainder of our months at the house.


Air Wolf said...

It would take a man with a heart of steel not be violently jerked into manic tears of wistful joy.
Punk his ass Rick, Punk his ass"

Bartleby said...

Perhaps the most bizarre--and more so because sober--activity consisted of Robot Town members harassing the twenty-something gearhead next door by standing near the open kitchen window and saying either "I work on race cars" or "My son Ennis is dead" or "Woo!" Eventually provoking the response "Stop that goddam wooing!"

Yes, I think the eulogy will read something like that. Or "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, Robot X, X-Communicated."