Chapter 6 – The Way We Was
The year 2006 had been a turbulent time at Marquette University. That whole year, I feel as if my school email account had been perpetually filled with warnings and notices of on-campus crime. “Two students abducted by local gang members – forced to empty their bank accounts at gunpoint.” “Lone female student punched in face by gang members as part of initiation ritual.” “Shootings a block north of campus, no students involved.”
Needless to say, campus security had had their hands full in dealing with these external problems posed by the university’s proximity to one of Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s rougher neighborhoods. Perhaps that’s why a different, insidious brand of danger was able to thrive and tear the place apart from the inside. Largely unreported and unpunished, the actions committed by an incorrigible pack of drunk-ass freshmen on the fifth-floor of McCormick Hall had been, for most residents, enough to make dormitory life a living hell.
Once unleashed from the controlling hands of our parents, it didn’t take long for the drink to bring together a unique and unruly mob of like-minded individuals who took great pleasure in getting beyond fucked-up and turning everything we touched into shit. The level of immaturity and intemperance of our clique had been grossly incongruous to that of most incoming freshman and, when all together, we were a huge problem right from the start.
The highlights of youthful indiscretion from our first year as “adults” include two separate incidents of chairs – as well as the broken glass which they were thrown through – falling five stories and raining down onto cigarette smokers in front of McCormick Hall. On another drunken night in the middle of a snowstorm, a Ford Explorer manned by one of my buddies had been crashed into a parked car on Wisconsin Avenue. Via cell phone, the vehicle was reported stolen to Milwaukee police only minutes after the driver had fled the scene. Water fountains – or “bubblers” as they’re known in Wisconsin – were torn clear off the wall. EXIT signs were repeatedly smashed with baseball bats and an uncountable number of fluorescent lights had been unscrewed and thrown around like javelins in order to achieve that satisfying “POP” and the resulting cloud of smoke that rises from the shards like the souls of freshly dead Native Americans from gaping chest wounds on a frozen-ass 1800s battlefield.
Towards the end of an out-of-my-mind wasted night on the town about two months into the first semester, I remember returning to the dorms uncontrollably upset that I had yet to get any female attention up at school. For some reason, I figured that going into the fifth-floor bathroom and taking out my frustration there would give me peace of mind. After tearing the electronic hand dryer off the wall and smashing it on the ground, I moved into one of the stalls to continue the drunken rampage. There, I used my bare foot to kick the vertical pipe above the tankless toilet until it ruptured. Of course, the combination of these actions resulted in live wires dangling inches above the then-soaking-wet bathroom floor. Glad that nobody had gotten electrocuted, when I sobered up I admitted to the destruction and paid for the damages. Just because I accepted responsibility for what I’d done, however, didn’t by any means signify the end of my involvement in the shenanigans.
The majority of the havoc that year had been fueled by a shitty hole-in-the-wall bar named O’Brady’s that pumped underagers full of booze by virtue of a constant five dollar all-you-can-drink deal. As if that offering wasn’t deadly enough for a group of unsupervised eighteen-year-olds with no self-limitation, the fine people at OB’s put the icing on the cake by serving dyed-green mystery shots known as Leprechauns that’d been comprised of all the bottom-of-the-bottle leftover liquor bullshit at the bar and conveniently priced at a dollar each.
Aside from the usual bunch of suburban-ass college students that pumped loads of cash into the place every weekend, O’Brady’s also drew a local low-life clientele. Among these shady characters had always been a pack of three or four Mexican dudes with long greasy mullets that loved hitting on the freshman chicks. The girls never responded well to being perved on by these dudes who’d been twice their age, but they seemed like nice enough guys. After all, they were always quick to offer up some of their coke to whoever happened to be pissing in the cramped, disgusting, leaky bathrooms when it was time for a little nasally inserted pick-me-up.
One night, a past-her-prime off-duty stripper that’d just finished her shift at a nearby scummy strip club called Arts Performing Center had popped in with her boyfriend for a few drinks. It was a terribly slow night at the bar. Only about four or five of us had been getting fucked up there at the time, but one of those four or five happened to be a visitor named Zeedis. Zeedis was my roommate Tommy’s buddy from home who has Down Syndrome and, as it turns out, the stripper thought that he was just the cutest thing she’d ever seen. So, after getting permission from both her boyfriend and from Zeedis, this 40-year-old in skin-tight leather pants proceeded to give our guest of honor a lap dance in the middle of the bar – not to mention “the biggest boner in the world” – and a weekend visit he’d never forget.
After a night at that place, the fifth-floor of McCormick Hall was guaranteed to be an absolute war zone. Everyone had always been beating on each other, smashing shit that didn’t belong to them and, worst of all, piss was everywhere. It was like living in a place with ten times more rug pissers than in The Big Lebowski. I can’t count how many pairs of my socks got ruined that year from accidentally stepping in sticky circular puddles which had been scattered as frequently on the hallway carpet as dots on a Dalmatian. Back in 2006, it was as if this total disregard for sanitary norms was the norm in McCormick Hall.
I blame this on the University for requiring key entry to a community bathroom in a building that strictly enforces the requirement of photo identification to gain entrance at the front door. I mean, they did a great job at keeping out whoever they were they trying to stop from entering those bathrooms because it seemed to me like no one ever made it in there.
The last thing a drunken eighteen-year-old dickhead is gonna do once he’s stumbled to the restroom at 4am and realizes he forgot his key is walk all the way back to his room and get it. It’s just not gonna happen. He’s most likely gonna whip it out right there and piss on the outside of the bathroom door, in the water fountain, on a buddy’s doorknob or even in his own dorm room as my buddy Ian who lived six doors to the left often did.
In a poetic scenario that captures the essence of how we all lived that year, I once saw a blacked-out Ian – or “Chip” as we liked to call him – take his pants off and throw them on his dorm room floor before standing up on a chair and urinating down onto the crumpled-up pair of Dungarees with a look of sheer determination on his face. Where the idea had come from, I haven’t a clue. Did Chip remember any of this the next day? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, it remains one of the most brilliant strokes of genius I was fortunate enough to witness during my time at uni.
The RA on our floor often set a “pop tops for the poor” milk gallon jug in the hallway just outside of his room. Obviously, he’d been seeking donations other than piss, but each time I got wasted, I couldn’t resist lending a liquid contribution. From the habit of drunkenly aligning my dickhole with the opening of that charitable jug and filling the thing with sterile waste sprouted the idea for a contest. In its final form, the contest came to be a race to determine who could fill up their own empty milk gallon with drunken piss the fastest.
One night, my roommate Tommy and I bought a 30-pack of Busch Light and snuck it into McCormick Hall. Up in the dorm room, awaiting us had been the two empty one-gallon milk jugs we’d saved over the course of the week for the special occasion. We were so excited about the event that we even went so far as to write our names on and decorate the jugs with Sharpies. During this rowdy two-man session where we proceeded to chug the shit out of fifteen beers apiece in no more than two-and-a-half hours, Tommy and I had most likely been listening to Stevie Wonder while exploring the most inner recesses of each other’s souls by virtue of the game “Would You Rather.”
“Would you rather jam your dick in a pencil sharpener, grind it off completely and personally spoon-feed it to your grandma,” I began asking as Tommy pissed into his one-gallon jug, “or have your parents stand against a brick wall then drive a car into them, pinch off their legs from the knee down and finish the sequence by trying to stick their severed calves up their assholes?”
“Hmm, that’s a tough one,” he replied while zipping up and setting the piss jug on his desk. “I need my dick but, at the same time, I don’t wanna do that stuff to my family.”
“Yeah, well, my job isn’t to make these questions easy for you, ya know.”
“Alright, then take a couple minutes to think about it,” I said while picking up a jug of my own and starting to urinate in it.
I forget who won the contest, but I’ll never forget the way we casually chucked our two gallons on a random dorm room door that we arbitrarily decided had deserved to be drenched in our personally filtered samples of Busch Light beer.
This nothing-is-holy attitude seemed to be the general demeanor among our group of friends. Nobody’s anything was safe in McCormick Hall, especially not some kid’s expensive-ass hockey pads and mouth guard that he unwisely chose to store near the showers of the fifth-floor bathroom. These, unfortunately, had gotten hit by four dudes at the same time who’d been unadvisedly crossing the streams of their proton packs like the Ghostbusters while trying to put the merk on Gozer towards the end of the flick.
At the height of the madness, truces and alliances were formed. Certain doors were targeted and hit mob-style by multiple pissers at a time. Eventually, once the warfare got biological and feces began to play a role in the vendetta, the duty RAs wised up to the operation and began cracking down on the waste-fueled power struggle. The turf war ended one fateful night when our door had been attacked at approximately 2:30 in the morning by our aforementioned neighbor, Ian.
On this particular evening – or early morning, I should say – after hearing a trickling and some snickering from the hallway, I opened up the door and my feet were subsequently hit by a hot stream of Chip’s home-brewed. With his dick still exposed, Ian girlishly giggled as he ran back to his room like a coward. Tommy and I followed right behind but weren’t quite fast enough. Once safe behind a locked door, Ian and his roommate looked out through their peephole and taunted the latest casualties of the urinary conflict.
“Faaaaaaaags!” they shouted from the inside as the laughter continued.
Removing ourselves from the salt being cast in our wounds, Tommy and I went back to our room to regroup and formulate a plan. This is where I took notice of and decided to utilize the 3’x1’ air vent leading from dorm to hallway just above the door in every McCormick room. Suitably, Tommy and I double-team filled a plastic grocery bag with our own brand. I can’t remember which order we peed into it, but in that situation, if you’re the second pee’r, I’m pretty sure that makes you gay for putting your dick where another dude’s just was. Regardless of whoever got the homosexually sloppy-seconds, however, we took our leaky bag of piss out in the hallway and over to the intended target. Tommy knocked on Ian’s door as I took our WMD and hid off to the side, just out of the peephole’s sight.
“Who is it?” I could hear Volkert ask from the other side of the door. Volkert had been Chip’s six-foot-six-inch tall beast of a freshman roommate that always kinda reminded me of a retarded-looking Brett Favre.
“It’s Molitor,” Ian replied then directed his comments outward. “Whatta you want, faaaaaaaaaag?”
Old Chippy had figured the battle was over. He considered himself untouchable. Just as we’d hoped for, however, the vent above his door had been wide open. Not having the slightest clue of how vulnerable he really was right then and there, Ian continued to talk shit from within. Without issuing a response to the derision, Tommy stepped back to a safe distance and looked over to yours truly.
“They’re right on the other side of the door. Go for it.”
Upon getting the go-ahead, I chucked our huge piss balloon up into the vent. As it collided with the metallic shutters of the inch-thick air-passage, the tender wall of the plastic grocery bag had been shredded open and did not penetrate. The inertia of the contents, however, carried well into Chip’s room and soaked everything within five feet of the entrance. As we stood there awaiting a response, the door eventually creaked open. A very angry and very shirtless Ian and Volkert stood there dumbfounded as a fresh Tim & Tom concoction dripped down the contours of their half-bare bodies.
A few moments later, looking for the last laugh, Ian came charging back after us, firing a solo cup filled with all the retaliatory piss he could muster. Just then, while no more than four ounces of airborne urine dotted my shirt and splashed against the walls around me, two duty RA, Eliot Ness wannabes rounded the corner and busted the whole lot of us who appeared and smelled like we’d just gotten finished filming a backstage sex tape at an R. Kelly concert.
In the official report that had been read aloud at our conduct hearing, it was cited by the RAs that “the bodies were covered in urine.” This statement caused me to laugh in their faces and, in turn, caused them to throw the book at me. For the incident, I was put on probation and sentenced to two months of alcohol counseling. During this time, I penned a revolutionary allegiance to sobriety entitled the “Manifesto of Lucidity” and handed it to my counselor. The effort, at the very least, had been enough to keep the authorities off my back while the fifth floor boys and I continued to booze ourselves senseless. In my spare time, however, I covered the bathroom walls, the mirror and the ceiling with twenty dollars’ worth of gay porn that I’d printed at the library then clogged a toilet with a full-sized unscaled dead fish I’d purchased from the supermarket and shat atop it to show my appreciation for the punishment I’d been dealt.
Our college experience together as, in my opinion, one of the biggest groups of immature assholes every assembled at that institution did not get any less ridiculous through the years leading up to graduation. During that time, we collectively racked up several arrests, a few expulsions, one impregnation and damaged our house so terribly that an $11,000 security deposit – in addition to our $66,000-a-year rent – just wasn’t gonna be enough to cover the body-sized holes in the drywall, the damaged thermostat panel through which I’d thrown a butcher knife, the blackened carpet with the permanent marker crime-scene-style body outlines drawn all over it and the potpourri of rancid smells that resulted from two-year’s worth of an awesome fucking time. Although I wish I could say that the above costs covered the damage we did to the neighbor’s house the time we randomly decided to fuck it up at 4am, I can’t. That bill had been a beast of its own.
I don’t know what came over us that morning. It seems that one person had started the trend by tossing an egg or two and next thing you know, groupthink grabbed our posse by the reigns. We ended up throwing every last item we had in our three fridges at the south façade of the yellow house next door. And once we’d expired our ammunition – as if we hadn’t done enough damage already – we booze-fueled savages proceeded to march over to the house we’d been trashing and kick the deadbolted backdoor off the hinges. After gaining entry, we then raided their fridges and cupboard for more beer and anything else we could use to further fuck up the exterior of their house. Once their arsenal of foodstuffs had been depleted, our Lord of the Flies mentality really started getting the best of us. This is when we resorted to chucking empty bottles and breaking the neighbor’s windows. When it all was over, the house next door had looked like the finished product of some tortured artist’s splatter mural they’d been pouring their pain into over the past several months.
The next day as I sat solo on the porch rehydrating with deep gulps of Lake Michigan from my trusty red Nalgene, I had the pleasure of being the first one to encounter our landlord post-disaster. “Gay Ray,” as I liked to call him, managed both the house we lived in and the one we trashed –well, we trashed both of ‘em, but you know what I mean.
Having to see for himself the magnitude of the crime we’d committed before actually believing it, Gay Ray the slumlord pulled up in the BMW he’d purchased by virtue of our overpriced rent and stepped out of the flashy ride lookin’ like Don Johnson in a white sport coat. With butt-chin intact and a pair of high-end drug dealer sunglasses to complete the look, Ray began heading right for me.
I remember the day I’d met Ray, the day the original eleven signed the lease to “The House of Gold.”
“You know,” Ray had joked, “the guys who lived here before you were kinda crazy. After they signed the lease, they each chugged a beer at the AMU and had a race after. They sprinted from there all the way to the house to decide the order they’d choose their bedrooms.” He chuckled and smiled, reminiscing of the tenants who’d probably gotten their whole security deposit back. “Man, those guys were somethin’ else!”
It was time for Ray to reevaluate his understanding of “somethin’ else”…
“What is this?” he panted upon laying eyes on our work. “What did you do to this house?”
“I dunno,” I replied with disinterest in yesterday’s news, “threw some shit at it?”
“Well, yeah!” he spat. “I can see that, but why? Why did you throw shit at it?”
“I really don’t know. It was a spur o’ the moment thing I guess.”
“What makes you think that this is okay? Would you act this way in front of your parents?”
“Well,” I took a second to think about it, “you want my honest answer?”
“Yeah, please,” he said as he dramatically removed his shades, “enlighten me!”
“I absolutely would. I’ve done it plenty of times before and, to be completely straightforward, I’ll more likely than not act that way in front of them again.”
Whether Gay Ray believed it or not, I‘d been speaking the truth. I used to – and still do every time I’m home – throw eggs or green peppers filled with mustard at the ratty shit-shack of a house to the north of my Chicago home. What’s a joke now had been a trend that started when I was a just a kid that needed to get out of the house during my parents’ drunken screaming matches to blow off some steam. When I wasn’t trying to be the peacemaker and break the fights up or – like the time when I was fifteen – trying to end them for good by electrical-taping a steak knife to the end of a hockey stick that my dad had bought me for Christmas then using it to stab him in the stomach, I would go outside and throw whatever I could get my hands on at the south façade of my neighbor’s home. It was great for calming me down, more or less distracting to my parents’ battles and, the best part was, my neighbor Bernie didn’t say shit because he lived like a fuckin’ hillbilly who didn’t take care of his house to begin with.
But, as I’m sure you already know, Ray didn’t like my answer.
“Oho,” he laughed to himself in a much different manner than he had the day we signed the lease. “Really? You really pull this type of shit in front of your parents?” he laughed again. “Somehow I don’t believe a single word coming out of your mouth right now.”
“Well, that’s too bad,” I shrugged, went back to drinking my water and restarted 2Pac’s “All About U” on my iPod to make up for what I’d missed during the unwarranted interruption.
In what sounds like an exemplary prelude to an episode of “Locked Up Abroad,” only four years removed from McCormick’s fifth-floor Reign of Terror and not even a whole twelve months since living like wild motherfucking animals in the house at 931 N. 14th Street, this pimp right here was on the verge of reuniting with one of my hell-raising college buddies on the other side of the globe in a country that the majority of our cohorts from that era had never even heard of.
Some photos from our reckless college days…