Old School

UMass

As mentioned in prior Blogs, from time to time I’ll rerun a post from my former cyber digs – Biggerboat.net. My cousin Jason is still skipper of that fine vessel and I urge y’all to check him out.

In the meantime, here is a blast from my past that should seem new to the lot of you. The first paragraph dates the piece a bit, but once you chew through that, you’ll find the sweet creamy middle. (End Disclaimer)


This past weekend I attended my friend Justin’s 30th Birthday. As is customary for the occasion, I draped myself in black, set to mimic my mood – like that rainy day’s tempestuous sky – the color of television tuned to a dead channel (a bonus prize awaits the person who can e-mail me the source of that reference.) It was all for show anyway, as I’ve been 30 since June and although on cold mornings one can often spy me in my drive way, clad in slippers and sleepy pants, with alligator clamps running from the Forester to my pulmonary artery to provide the necessary juice to kick start the ol’ kicker – once I get going I’m as healthy as my HMO will let me be.Anyway, standing around the kitchen, surrounded by 253 party guests and gazing longingly at the thoroughly deserted living and dining rooms (for Blog’s sake people – it’s a plateful of cocktail weenies not The Last Supper) – my thoughts turned to my Old School days at Zoo-Mass Amherst.

The year was 1993. A quick scan of my daily collegiate activities provided everything you ever needed to know about me, but were afraid to ask. When I wasn’t surfing the elevators over at Big Sur (the Southwest dormitories/projects for those not in the know) I could often be found gingerly placing a daisy into the barrel of a soldier’s gun. These were serious times and there were serious issues and I was gonna’ be 6 feet under before I let some G.I. Jack-off tell me that there was ‘No Streaking Allowed’ in the quad.

Now as any college student will attest, you needed a part-time job to supplement the book money you squandered on beer and a Sega Genesis with Madden NFL 93 (I’m speaking metaphorically of course). I could have turned to my pal (and on-again/off-again roommate) Rich for a quick loan. Unfortunately he had been suckered into one of those 69.5% interest rate credit cards in the campus center and was presently Off-Again, serving a quick 6 – 9 month stint over at Leavenworth.

So I quickly scanned the horizon for opportunity. Quite literally actually, as I hung my head out the window of my next door neighbor Mark Connerty’s room (for historic accuracy we’ll refer to him as Johnny Cocktail) which just so happened to overlook said Quad. I figured if I couldn’t find a job within Mad Dog 20-20 stumbling distance than a job was not to be had. I could certainly deal with the 2 minute commute and dodging the occasional pisspot for a job that paid $3.25 an hour. Just think – with 5 hours under my belt I could spend a good 30 minutes at the campus center arcade showing that Ah-nuld T2 pinball machine that every payday I would indeed BEEEE BAA-CHHHH!!!!

Pisspot?”, you ask?

Ah, for those without benefit of the collegiate lexicon, it’s usually an empty 2-liter bottle of soda or Juicy Juice kept bedside for those late night squirts. And you thought water balloon fights were all the rage. But I digress.

Lo and behold, at the bottom of the hill, just a tiny hop, skip and a jump (which was one jump to many for my job hunting criteria but alas, I could make like Ghandhi and sacrifice) was the Munchy Store. After a grueling interview (and I thought the folks at Orange Julius had a tough line of inquisition):

Them: Are you claustrophobic?

Me: No

Them: You’re Hired!

I was hired on the spot and immediately set on the middle management path (which basically meant I scooped congealed butter out of the popcorn machine twice a semester.) This was a sweet gig. What you may call a convenience store, I came to know as my personal pantry. I didn’t purchase deodorant for a full two years. …and the Ben-Gay. Ohhh, the Ben-Gay. A man with an everlasting supply of muscle relaxant writes his own ticket on fraternity row, I assure you that.

Alas, my college job wasn’t all free Jolt and pilfered Pom-Poms. From the 2×2 box I came to know as my cashier cell I was offered a marvelous window on the world of collegiate life and gained remarkable insight into the way the world worked. Here are just a few morsels of enlightenment:

Hostess with the Mostess
Sometime in the Spring of ‘93, Hal the Hostess Guy showed up for his centennial Twinkees restocking. Only on this particular visit, Hal concealed a surprise up his sleeve. After fully furnishing us with enough Fruit Pie the Magicians to bring us through Y4K – Hal reached deep into his corrugated cardboard box and pulled out a new tasty morsel, Grizzly Chomps. Upon cursory evaluation they appeared to be nothing more than Hostess Cupcakes – only with vanilla frosting in place of the usual tar frosting. But upon closer inspection one discovered that in the top-right corner of every Grizzly Chomp, a 20% chunk of devil’s food goodness was missing, which as the packaging cleverly points out, is the result of a Grizzly Bear that has infiltrated the Top Secret Hostess Bakeries and has run rampant noshing on all of the cupcakes.

The price of these Grizzly Chomps – $.89. The price of Hostess Cupcakes – $.89. Same price but much less filling. Who are the marketing geniuses who came up with this one?
Now one is prone to be cynical and blame Big Business on caring more for the bottom line than the consumer but I like to engage in the fantasy. Thus I indulge in my Grizzly Chomps, happily content in the notion that somewhere, a phantom Grizzly Bear (i.e. hungry Teamster) sits around clock watching and munching on my snacks all day.

Important Life Lesson #43: Do Not Streak in the Immediate Vicinity of Your Home, Workplace, Church or Cable Access Station.
Following a dorm streaking event, not a day would pass where I wouldn’t be working the Munchy Store shift when some co-ed would stride up to the counter to purchase some Bagel Bites – only to stop dead in her tracks with a ‘You look so familiar’ – which would be fine and dandy if she weren’t staring at my crotch.

Friends in High Places
My college instituted a fee for lost dorm keys. Using some sort of voodoo economics – they somehow inflated the standard $.14 charge to copy a key to a figure just south of the cost of a Pentagon toilet (Yeah, I see you wincing and clutching your 401K.) To get around the twice daily occurrence of losing my key to my room located on the 4th floor, I made friends with the Doobie brothers (if you catch my drift) next door. Now I certainly never indulged (I’m an asthmatic which would have spelled certain death or one mellow coma) but I did take advantage of their altered states to exit their room through the window, scurry along a 2-inch thick expanse of ledge and ‘climb through my window’. How fortunate it was for Missy Etheridge when I took a wrong turn and ended up in her den.

So that’s it for this installment of tales from my college life. My friend Justin is still 30 and apparently doing fine on his respirator. He and I are getting together after work today to toss back a few cold ones and reminisce of the days before Razor Scooters.

All we had were Green Machines, and we liked it.