The Shoebox Party
In the fall of 1987, I was an incoming freshman at a Big Ten university. Like most freshmen, I moved into the dorms. Most colleges require freshmen to live in dormitories. It helps students with the acclimation process, gives them access to resources that would otherwise be more difficult to come by, and gives school administrators an opportunity to feel good about themselves by showing short films on how bad it is to catch the herp.
Another important aspect of dorm life is that it exposes students to a circle of people approximately 4000% greater than what they’d experience if they lived in an off-campus apartment. Social skills are honed, friendships are formed, and the student community is consequently a better place. There’s also no better way to quickly learn who likes to get high and who is old enough and willing to buy you booze.
These last two things were of some importance to me as a freshman, and luckily I met quite a few people who shared my interests. Frequent commenter B’Homey was one of them, and our chemically enhanced exploits play a large part in explaining why he chooses to hide behind a cloak of anonymity here. Besides B’Homey, there was a toad-looking stoner freak named Gumby, his roommate Jim who would buy shitty beer for us when asked, an incredibly smart guy nicknamed Walking Death who remains hands-down the most balls-to-the-wall partier I’ve ever seen (although he is now clean, sober, and works for a super-brainy physics think tank), the guy I moved down to Arizona with, and his brother Squatch, another commenter on this site.
There was also a guy named Lance. Lance has been referred to on this site before (he was the guy who openly fucked a stranger in a booth in a crowded bar). He was a party-loving guy who had somehow gotten involved with Naval ROTC. This resulted in some hilarious consequences such as the time he proved that you could trip on nutmeg by eating an assload of it one night. He didn’t trip that night, actually. That happened when he woke up early the next morning to go to ROTC and felt, in his words, “like my body was on the bed, but my organs were on the ceiling”. He also got into a blood-feud with his Vietnamese roommate (who was an asshole and fond of saying, “You leave now! YOU LEAVE NOW!”) which escalated to the point that Lance finally put whiskey in the guy’s nasal inhaler.
Lance was quickly paired with a more suitable roommate named Toby, who shared Lance’s enthusiasm for beer and drunken buffoonery. Once this unholy pairing took place, partying on the floor became a much more open secret than it had been before. As freshman year went by, we all became much more comfortable with frowned upon activities such as getting stoned in the student lounge, staggering around in public while high on nitrous oxide, and vomiting down stairwells.
By the end of the year, all pretense of living a sober lifestyle had been abandoned. One day, as we sat in his room swilling Old Milwaukee, Lance said aloud, “I wish we could sneak a keg in here somehow.”
“Hell, that’s easy” I said, and explained that the easiest way to sneak a keg into the room would be to do it right under the noses of the people who were keeping an eye out for that kind of shit. “You buy the keg, put it in a large box, and ask the front desk for a dolly. Then you wheel it in right fucking in front of them. They’re not going to ask to see what’s inside, and if they do, you tell them to fuck off.”
This idea was roundly hailed as brilliant, if I do say so myself, and resulted in many more rounds of beer being consumed that night, although to be honest we were kind of headed in that direction anyway. To my surprise, however, Lance woke me up the next morning and asked for help in executing the plan.
Now, in order to understand how silly it was to throw a keg party in Lance’s dorm room, you have to understand how small these rooms were. I just looked it up online, and the dorm measured roughly 11 feet by 11 feet. If you have a room of roughly the same size, you might think that although it’d be tight quarters, you could fit quite a few people in there. You have to realize that this 11′ by 11′ room had to hold two closets, two full sized beds, two desks, and two bookcases. You know how in Ikea stores there’s always a section with a sign on it that says “Our 413 square foot home may be cozy, but it has room for everything!” and the layout is so compressed that you could shit, cook, and open the front door at the same time without walking anywhere? The dorm room I lived in make that look like Grand Central Station.
This, of course, was of little concern to Lance, as was the fact that as it was the middle of final exams, a raging keg party in his room was bound to attract attention from Official University Personnel. He’d just sold back his textbooks, so he had the money, he still had a functioning liver, so he had the will, and he’d long since given up on stupid and irrelevant things such as going to class, so he definitely had the time. To make it a little less obvious, he picked up the keg before noon and soon we were ensconced in his room, shin deep in the empty beer cans he never picked up, sipping cold beer from a keg stashed in his closet.
By the time 2:00 rolled around, we had a decent buzz going, and about six people crowded around a table we’d swiped from the student lounge to play drinking games. (God, I miss drinking games. “Ha! Ha! You rolled a three! You have to drink until you pass out!”) Two leviathan speakers sat atop the two bookcases, pumping out hard rock at a level that caused the speakers to suddenly hurtle themselves at unsuspecting partygoers about once every hour. One poor girl, whose name escapes me, was hit three times that I witnessed. This was at 2:00 in the afternoon, remember. Fuck flying under the radar, we were throwing up on it.
Finally, we got a visit from someone we didn’t want to see. The RA from the floor upstairs pounded on the door. (RA stands for Resident Advisor; Think of a babysitter with absolutely no authority in charge of a bunch of kids who like to do mushrooms, and you’ve got the general idea.) Since I was closest to the door, I cracked it open and slipped outside.
“Listen, I don’t give a good goddamn what you’re doing in there, but this is finals week, and some of us are trying to study. SHUT THE HELL UP!” he blared at me, then stomped down the hall. I went back inside the room to inform Lance that maybe we might want to turn the music down a bit.
Lance was having none of it. “What? What did that rotten fucker say?” With that, Lance opened up his window and began throwing full cans of Old Milwaukee at the RA’s window. Luckily, it was an almost impossible shot, and Lance only succeeded in littering the front lawn of the dorm with beer. Desperate to keep him from doing some real damage, I tried to divert his attention.
I lived directly above some asshole who liked to sing along to the stereo in his room. Unfortunately for me, he couldn’t hold a tune if you stapled it to his fucking eardrums, something I dreamt of doing nightly. There are few tortures as profoundly life-scarring as listening to some prick sing Poison songs off-key for hours on end. One night, I dreamt up a petty, but satisfying revenge.
Since the weather had turned warm, mosquitos were back in full force. Knowing that my nemesis was absent (it was quiet), I looked out my window and noticed two things: His light was on, and his windows was open with just a screen separating his room from a trillion mosquitos. So I took the phone handset, dangled it by its cord, and swung it out towards the courtyard, letting it slam into the screen and knocking it free from the window. I bet it was a lot harder singing Every Rose Has Its Thorn while skeeters were chowing down on his ball bag.
“Hey, Lance,” I said, trying to distract him. “You know what’s funny? You dangle the phone out the window, swing it out and let it bash in the screen in the room below you. When they come back to their room, it’s full of fucking mosquitos.”
“What?” said Lance. “That’s fucking awesome!” He snatched the handset off of the phone and started lowering it out the window.
I managed to get out “Wait, just make sure before you do it…” before Lance violently swung the phone. CRASH! “…that the window’s not closed. Jesus, Lance, you’ve got to fucking cool it. You’re gonna get us all busted!” This comment elicited nothing but laughter from Lance.
Finally, as the evening approached, shit started getting crazy. Lance and his roommate Toby, woozy from the previous night’s escapades as well as six hours of drinking games, began to steal catnaps on their beds. This set up one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen at a party. Lance fell asleep first, waking up about 45 minutes later. “Hey! Who spilled beer on me?” he barked, realizing that he had a smallish-sized wet patch on his thigh.
“Toby did. It was an accident,” came the reply. Lance calmly walked over to Toby, now catching 40 winks on his bed, and poured a quarter of a cup of beer on his ass. About an hour later, Toby woke up demanding to know why his ass was all wet.
“Lance did it,” several smiling people volunteered. Toby walked over to Lance, asleep again, and poured half a beer on his crotch. About an hour after this, the room (with about twenty people in it) froze as Lance began to stir. Sitting up, he looked at his crotch, then up at Toby, who was sitting at the table, playing drinking games.
You know how in an action movie, right before a violent and bloody scene, everything goes into slow-motion for a few seconds, and then the violence explodes on the screen? This was exactly like that. Lance and Toby caught each other’s eye, and everyone froze as time stretched out in front of us. I recall the look on the faces of the people around me, the general disarray of the room, the multiple pitchers we’d stolen from food service that afternoon, sitting on the table, full of beer…
And then time snapped to as Lance and Toby grabbed the full pitchers of beer and flung them at each other. BEER FIGHT! Everyone grabbed their cup and began slinging beer at anyone in sight. The music pounded, voices raised high in hilarity, laughter rang out across the room, and before the beer even finished hitting the ground there came a shuddering knock at the door.
“THIS IS AN RA. OPEN UP! NOW!“
I like to imagine what happened next from the RA’s point of view. The room got suddenly quiet as the stereo was muted, there was a brief burst of overly loud whispers, and then a riot of empty beer cans clattering as twenty people scrambled to hide in the two closets. Finally, the door opened a crack, and out slid Lance, soaked in beer from head to toe, shutting the door behind him with Toby locking it from the inside. This is the conversation I heard from my position in the closet.
RA: Open up.
RA: This is a direct order. Unlock the door and let me in.
RA: Look, you guys are drinking in there…
Lance: No we’re not.
RA: What? You’re dripping with… I mean… HOW CAN YOU DENY THERE ARE PEOPLE DRINKING IN THERE?
Lance: Maybe the party’s next door. I’m studying for finals.
RA: If you don’t open up, I’ll just go get the key from downstairs and let myself in.
Lance: Fine, you do that.
Lance stood guard until the RA had left the floor, and then we swung into action. You’re probably imagining a massive clean-up project, with everyone pitching in to dispose of the empties, mop up the beer, and relocate the keg. That’s not what happened. We just left. The rule was that an RA searching your room was not allowed to open the closet (so the keg was safe), not allowed to open any drawers (handy for those of us who smoked dope), and couldn’t even open the fridge (so any remaining cans of Old Milwaukee were safe). They also couldn’t bust you for empty cans. Whether or not they could bust you for an inch of beer on the floor, none of us wanted to stick around and find out.
So we just went down the hall to someone else’s room to wait it out. Occasionally we’d send someone down the hall to the bathroom to see what the situation was. Finally, after staring at the horror-show we’d turned the room into for fifteen minutes (which included the time it took to go get witnesses who could sign the official report), the RA locked up Lance’s room and stormed off.
Now we knew from experience that the next time that room generated a noise complaint that night the police would be called in, and they were usually quite unhappy to be made to get involved in dorm parties. Nobody wanted that. So we put guards on the door that gave entry to the floor as we moved the keg to another room and picked up right where we left off, although this time without the 120 decibel sound system cranked up.
The rest of the night was a woozy haze of drinking and laughter as we killed the keg and got someone to bring in a couple of cases. At some point, someone who was friendly with the night staff came in and gave us the scoop on the room search. Thanks to our impromptu beer fight, they were unable to find a single container with alcohol in it, but had multiple people attest in the report to an “overpowering” smell of beer, and a large amount of it present on the floor. They spent the rest of the night trying to find additional things to add to the report.
The next afternoon, Lance knocked on my door. “I’m on my way to answer for last night,” he said. Surprisingly, Lance seemed a little concerned. Considering his general recklessness all year, I didn’t think the consequences would be of any concern to him, but he appeared worried. “They’ll probably figure out it was me that broke that window,” he said. (You think?) “And they’re really fucking pissed. I don’t know what the charges would be, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the cops got involved somehow.” I wished him luck as he walked out the door to meet his fate.
Twenty minutes later he barged into my room, a big smile on his face. “This is fucking hilarious: I got written up for an alcohol violation. They know I broke the window but couldn’t prove it because they don’t know what I broke it with. They know the beers on the front lawn are mine, but they can’t prove it. Finally, they brought out a fucking pizza box they found in the courtyard with my room number on it. I tossed that fucking thing out there days ago. But it was the proof they needed. I can’t return to the dorms next year.”
We both exploded into laughter. This was not exactly a punishment, as Lance had no plans to return to the dorms next year (and after reviewing his grades that semester, the University suggested that he just stay home anyway). “C’mon,” he said. “I’ve still got a few cold ones in my fridge.”
Sometimes I regret not going to college.
Well, as a rule I only write about the fun or entertaining stuff. There’s a lot of all-night studying, busting your ass on problems assigned by professors that think you should spend 40 hours a week just working on their class alone, long periods of boredom, etc.
But yeah, the high points of college are/were pretty fucking cool. And high.
Tell me he moved out of the dorm right away, if for no reason other than to avoid the stink. All I could think about was that inch of beer left festering over night. Man, I’ll bet the room still smells.
Oh, fuck no. His room was trashed, and he rode out the week or so left. Not that he would’ve moved out anyway. One night he crapped out early and around 3:00 AM I staggered into his room with a garbage can full of ice water (we’d been using it as a makeshift cooler). I dumped it all over him, soaking him AND the mattress.
The mattress never got aired out, and after a few days smelled like a moldy garbage pile. FInally, they pulled it out of there and hosed it down with Lysol, but it took weeks before the smell approached anything close to neutral. (I made extra damn sure that my door was locked when I went to bed from then on.)
Oh man — I remember that party … I think at one point Greg himself poured a beer on my head “on a bet.” Like that was going to deter anyone. I was pissed because my new one-hitter got soaked. Which reminds me of another tradition in that dorm: doing a hit off of a new one-hitter, i.e., holding a lighter under your box until it started to smoke a bit, and then inhaling it. This doesn’t really seem synonymous with college or “higher-learning”, does it? Oh wait — maybe it does. Sorry. Bad pun.
Oh shit — I forgot about Lance’s first roommate … too fuckin’ funny.
For the benefit of anyone who gives a rat’s ass, the Vietnamese kid was named Minh, and he was a fucking dick. He’d come back from the library, and if anyone was in his room, he’d bark, “Ok, you leave now!”
“Hey, fuck you, Minh, these are my friends and I say they can stay.”
“NO! YOU LEAVE NOW!”
Anyway, after Lance successfully get Minh excommunicated, Minh moved into a room on the 3rd floor. The last I saw of him, he was being carted away in an ambulance, a bloody mess. Apparently he was a dick to his new roommate as well, so when Minh allowed some stranger to come in and “borrow” his roomie’s CD’s, he flipped out and beat him severely.
No one cried. Well, maybe Minh.