Chapter 16 – Rendezvous
Later on that night, Kathleen O’Shaughnessy had been flying in to meet us after a day-and-a-half layover in Tokyo. Like Tim and I, Kathleen had attended Marquette University in Mil-wasted, Wisconsin. At MU, freshmen and sophomore students are required to live in the dorms where no booze is allowed. Of course there had been ways around this, but it was much more convenient to scream, shout and have a rowdy time getting trashed somewhere where authority figures weren’t constantly trying to catch us in the act. This is why it’d worked out so well that Kathleen had been two years older and had a house where, to us, the door always remained open. Essentially, she’d been the one who paved the way for her younger brother Tim and the rest of our degenerate asshole buddies to reach our full potential as drunken douchebags during our four years at the institution.
I met Tim and Kathleen at the beginning of my freshman year. Tim and I lived on the same floor of a dorm called McCormick Hall. We’d hung out once or twice, havin’ some beers in our rooms before he’d one day invited me to a party over at his sister’s place. I accepted and, as per usual, ended up enjoying far more than my fair share of intoxicants at the gathering and doing something uncouth.
“Yo, yo,” I pointed to the silver Mazda parked in the back of Kathleen’s house, “you dare me to piss on that car right now?”
“Yeah dude,” Tim replied, “I dare you.”
Of course, at the time, I didn’t realize that the car I’d just suggested pissing on was the O’Shaughnessy’s and that perhaps my buddy had been being facetious in his reply. As such, my drunken intuition led me to climb and stand on the hood then piss on the windshield of the host’s sedan in front of a crowd of people that I’d just met. That night I learned the hard way that if you wish to keep your rectum a foot-free zone, you don’t fuck around with shit belonging to the O’Shaughnessy’s. It took a little time for me to work my way back onto their good side but, obviously, since we’d went on to travel Southeast Asia together, they’d gotten over it.
Following the reconciliation, I became a regular at the blue house on 16th Street where I’d routinely held brain-cell genocides for the first two years of my college career. During the warmer months, hours upon hours were spent soaking up the sun while drinking case after case of dirt-cheap, piss-flavored beer in Kathleen’s backyard. During the winter months, the parties were relegated to the confines of the crib. Although it sucked major ass trudging through a foot of snow to get over there from the dorms, it was always worth the effort because the party was always on.
I remember one time walking in the front door on a frigid Saturday around noon and had been shocked to discover a full-fledged shit-show already in progress. As the bass of “Mr. Jones” by the Counting Crows had been rattling the paint-chipped double-hung windows of the old wood-frame house, the spotlight was on Kathleen as she danced on the dining room table, not thinking twice before booting cans and bottles across the room which crashed, shattered and spilled all over the walls and floor. After that, I no longer wondered why walking across the hardwood planks of their dining room had been like trying to traverse a field of flypaper.
Following gatherings to which we were invited, the weekend mess was usually ours to clean up in return to the girls for giving us a place to party. That was the deal we’d agreed to. Although picking up after people who kick shit off tables sounds like it would suck major balls, many hands always make light work. Besides, we never had to do a very good job because the house had been a natural pigsty.
The walls and the counter around the stovetop as well as the inside of the microwave were so caked with spaghetti stains that it looked like somebody had dropped an M-80 in a bucket of marinara sauce and blew the shit out of it right in the middle of the kitchen. The bathroom wasn’t much better. Judging by the thickness of the girl-hair carpet stuck to an adhesive layer of piss left behind by dudes in desperate need of target practice (probably us), the first floor bathroom seemed like it hadn’t been cleaned during the entirety of their two year tenure at the household.
Although it was gross, we didn’t mind the mess. In fact, we thrived in it. Access to Kathleen’s on-campus residence had been all a group of unsupervised eighteen-year-old dickheads could’ve ever asked for. It was like a dream come true. A wasted wonderland. A haven for bums who’d aspired to little more than experimental substance abuse and blackout intoxication.
Whereas I’d smoked a decent amount of weed in high school through apples, homemade gravity bongs and homeless crack addict style aluminum foil bowls, I’d never smoked me none o’ that good out a blunt before going away to college. Kathleen’s house is where I’d first indulged and, oh boy, did I get blazed.
On a Tuesday or Wednesday night, a group of about six or seven bros and I headed over to K-Money’s to catch up on all the HBO and Showtime shows we’d missed the previous Sunday – Entourage and Da Ali G Show had been popular at the time – and it’d been the general consensus that we couldn’t watch these shows without getting fucked up on one thing or the other. Someone else had brought the weed and, even though no one else seemed to have any interest in drinking, I stopped in Open Pantry and grabbed a twelve-pack of Busch Light.
As we sat watching Vinny Chase decide whether or not he’s gonna do whatever movie over which he vacillated in that particular season, I pounded a good three or four beers. I put down the next three or four during a time that is now loosely tied with blurred images of Borat and Bruno interviews flickering on the television screen. I have no idea what we watched after that, but I’m certain that’s when I’d hit the kill switch on the rest of the twelver.
At some point, someone passed me a blunt. I took a few big hits and coughed up a storm. Once I’d regained my breath, gravity had seemingly been removed from the equation. Like a lone schizophrenic floating around in a space capsule, I was sequestered to a claustrophobic world teeming with paranoid thoughts. It was terrifying. I was freakin’ out and had no idea what to do with myself.
Without explanation, I stood up, stumbled in front of the television and drifted over to the filthy, filthy bathroom. With the door locked behind me, I remember getting the urge to drown myself in the toilet after I’d just pissed in it. Since that’s beyond retarded, I’d instead decided that snapping the plunger in half would somehow make me feel better. Accordingly, I gripped the suction-powered shit-pumper with a hand at each end of the wooden stick, held it over my head then bashed its center over my thigh. Nothing happened. I tried again. It hurt my leg but seemed not to damage the plunger in the slightest. For my third attempt, I ended up leaning the poo-pusher against the wall at a forty-five degree angle then stomped the middle of the stick. Just as I’d hoped, it broke in half. I then hid the two pieces behind the toilet and returned to the living room.
After I’d reclaimed my seat, I lost track of time. It was as if I were three dreams deep, probing the planes of Inception. I’d been oblivious to everything around me. Sometime later, I felt a steady tapping on my shoulder and was snapped out of the catatonic state. Through the narrow slits parting my eyelids, I traced the sensation back to its origin.
“Yo Lally,” said my buddy Ves, “you alright, bud?”
“Dude, put your coat on. We’re all leaving. It’s time to go.”
Following his brief and much needed assistance down the front stairs, Ves walked ahead and caught up with the rest of the gang. I was on my own. No one wanted to wait behind and babysit me and I don’t blame them. Like Tony Perkis said of fat-ass Cody’s mountain hike tumble in the movie Heavyweights, “Leave him, he’s a straggler. Stragglers must be left to fend for themselves.”
Without a copilot for guidance, the two-block stroll from Kathleen’s back to McCormick Hall proved to be a long and arduous journey. My feet felt as if they were embedded in tubs of cement. My head felt like it weighed too much for my body to support. Each step I took was a struggle to maintain bipedalism. I often tripped on thin air and had taken multiple hand-scraping nosedives straight to the pavement. From the ground, I could see my friends drifting farther and farther away while the world rotated around me the way it used to while twisting and turning on my old childhood Sit ‘N’ Spin. Fighting the dizziness, I clambered back to my feet and once again hopped atop the bucking bronco.
I zigged. I zagged. I tripped. I staggered. To all the backpack-slingin’ sober students on their way back from the library, I must’ve looked like I was getting my ass kicked up and down the street by an invisible gang. My palms were bloody. My clothes stained with grass and mud. It was quite the struggle, but I eventually made it back to McCormick Hall in one piece.
Before heading up to my room, I stopped off for a snack in the cafeteria. Since I didn’t wanna eat there because I’d feared there were too many people watching me, I looked for something I could take to-go. I grabbed a pair of chocolate chip cookies from the dessert table and brought them over to the soft serve ice cream machine. I held one cookie in my scraped-up palm, placed it under the vanilla nozzle and pulled the lever on the machine. I then put the other cookie on top and sandwiched the ice cream down, causing the excess I’d piled on to squeeze out and fill my hand.
Satisfied with my unsanctioned combination, I began making my way up to the fifth floor. By the time I reached the front desk where student ID’s must be handed over to security guards who “swipe” residents into the building, the goods had already begun to melt and drip down my arm. Once I’d gained clearance, I got in the elevator, pushed floor five with my knuckle and transferred the ice cream sandwich to my less sticky left hand. After my right hand had been freed, I slung what I could of the melted shit on the floor and smeared the remainder on the chrome walls of the metallic box.
When the jaws of the lift had released me from their clench, I teetered over to room 519 where my roommate Tommy had been doing homework at his desk. I entered our dorm and stood in the doorway, stuffing my face with the cookie sammy as its cream filling dripped down my chin and onto my shirt.
“Holy shit,” he said. “Look at you.”
I jammed the rest of the treat into my mouth.
“Are you wasted right now, Timmy?”
I chomped and swallowed. Indeed I was wasted. As a matter of fact, I was so wasted that I was amid a bizarre hallucination.
I reached out and pointed towards the window with my ice cream caked arm.
“Who the fuck is that?”
He looked around the room.
“Who the fuck is who?”
“Are you pitching batting practice to this guy?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I don’t want you to be pitching batting practice to chubby fat-ass eight-year-olds in my bedroom, okay?”
Tommy denied the allegations and I went to bed. He must’ve heeded my warning because that was the last time that I’d ever caught him throwing BP in room five-nineteen.
Although I didn’t always get quite as sloppy as I had on that particular occasion at Kathleen’s, it was a guarantee that at least one person from a party at her house was gonna be fallin’ down, talkin’ out their ass and/or seeing something that didn’t actually exist. The host had been no exception.
Following an extensive pregame session at her crib before an early afternoon MU basketball game, I could see Kathleen approaching our group of freshman buddies in the stands at the Bradley Center. Preoccupied with sips from the fresh and frosty cold one in her hand, she’d nearly tripped on every stair.
“Hey,” she said from the aisle right next to where I’d been sitting, “where’s Timmy boy?”
“I dunno. I wasn’t in the cab with him. I haven’t seen him since your house.”
She stood there staring into space. Moments later, as if she’d forgotten that she’d just asked…
“Have you guys seen Timmy boy?”
“None of you guys know where Timmy boy is?”
“Naw, we haven’t seen ‘im.”
She continued to wobble in the aisle, spilling her beer with one hand and rifling through her purse with the other.
“I’m gonna call him. I’m gonna call Timmy boy.”
I’m not even sure exactly how this’d happened, but as Kathleen attempted to call “Timmy boy,” she somehow managed to drop her phone into her seven dollar beer. The cell piece sunk to the bottom of the cup which she proceeded to hold up to her face and examine like a lab rat inspecting a test tube. The glass was pretty tall and, as I mentioned, freshly purchased and almost full. So, when she started sticking her whole hand in there, trying to fish it out, the cup overflowed and her clothes got soaked in beer. She’d almost have it time after time but would, at the last minute, let it slip out of her claw the way prizes do in one of those toy-grabbing crane machines and then start going at it again. In a state of pure elation, I watched this struggle go on for several minutes. I know it was just the carbonation, but towards the conclusion of the debacle I like to believe it’d been the last bubbling breaths exhaled by her dying phone that I’d seen rising to the surface from the floor of that sixteen-ounce ocean.
Before meeting up on this trip, it’d been a year or so since I’d seen or partied with K-Osh. She’d been out in the real world for almost two-and-a-half years working a real job with real responsibilities. Although I could do without the bottle-kicking and the phone-drownings, I was hopin’ she’d held onto the wild blackout tendencies that’d made her such a blast to party with back during our days of yore up in Milwaukee.