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Wednesday, 01 September
House, Divided

When it came time to leave the college dorms--O bliss--I and two friends inherited a two-story house called, unimaginatively, The Pit. Its virtues included proximity to campus (two blocks), hilariously low rent, and countless structural defects. The latter doesn't sound like a real perk, but it really was, since these horrifying code violations also resulted in a landlord who was supremely unconcerned with the various depredations visited upon the unfortunate house, as long as it meant he wasn't bothered in any material way. The most agitated I ever saw the man--and I saw him rarely--was when our toilet fell through the rotting bathroom floor, and even then he stared at the debris with a kind of weary unsurprise. My roommates and I spent an exciting couple of weeks navigating the bathroom by hopping from 2x12 to 2x12, which is challenging even when one is sober.

One roomie was J., an agreeable, curly-haired Euroweenie pop enthusiast; he would excitedly show you his collection of 12" dance remixes. Improbably, he also actually had a couple girlfriends, both disturbing in their own ways. One was A., the tragically late but yet nascent free-lover; she was noted for her curt summations of current lovers. Of J. she confided in me once, "His dick is so fucking huge. Sometimes I can't even face it." This made me think of her as Indiana Jones, lying on her stomach, fearfully confronting a giant rising snakelike penis, an image that haunts me still.

(I think our favorite girlfriend of J.'s was another J., who was dubbed "The Pod," for her tendency to lie around all day on the couch, buried under blankets. The Pod was interesting not only for her profound inactivity, but also for her mysterious powers. You see, when we would go to class, The Pod would already be lying there on the couch, watching TV. "Bye," she'd say listlessly. Then we would come home, and The Pod, again, was immobile on the couch. But the house was magically, somehow, cleaner. N., the other roommate, and I talked about this. N. would say, "The Pod kind of freaks me out." And I would say, "I know. But it cleans. All J. has to do is pat her head in the morning and then leave. Then it somehow cleans." N. thought about this. "We must not fuck with The Pod," he declared.)

N. didn't really hang out a lot (though we remained good friends for years); he was largely preoccupied by his rather astonishingly annoying girlfriend E., who was (really) given to machine-gun-like statements such as, "N. do you think she's cute? Do you think she's cuter than me?" Then we would watch N.'s neck get red as she harangued him about the nothing he had said. The most salient anecdote I can remember of their entire relationship was (as related to me by N.) when they were sitting on her sofa watching TV. E. had just emerged from the shower and was reclining in her robe; N. noticed something on her thigh. "Oh, you've got a little string here, honey," said N., and proceeded to unintentionally pull out her tampon. Yay!

So the three of us moved into the house, taking it over from the previous occupants, three female students. I was quickly disabused of my notions that girls are cleaner than men. When I started putting clothes into my closet, I noted a shelf devoted to a large collection of canned soups that had been left behind inexplicably by D., the room's previous owner. I wondered if D. were some sort of forlorn militia of one, silently stockpiling nourishment in case martial law suddenly befell Felony Flats (as our neighborhood was affectionately known). The shower was an unmitigated horror, and featured only two clean, white spots in the entire plaque-armored interior, which were feet-shaped spots on the floor. We fellows regarded these basically as instructions to "Stand Here," and kept up the proud tradition of not cleaning anything. Also in the bathroom we found a companion lurking in the corner: it was a semi-translucent little blob that proved singularly impervious to all known forms of physical, chemical or mystical attack. We were informed later by a biology student that the thing was called a "plasmodium." It was there when we came, and it was there when we left. I hacked at it one boring afternoon with a paint scraper, and I swear I could hear it jeering at me. I'm guessing it's still there.

What really sealed the whole "chicks are pigs too" deal for us, though, was when it came to the fridge. N. and I opened it on our inauguration day and stared at some condiments and not much else. Typical student stuff. The thing was, it smelled pretty damn bad, and we uncharacteristically decided to clean it before loading in our groceries (read: beer). So the first thing I did was to reach down at the very bottom to grab the drip tray, where all the crap that falls down collects, and where all the excess moisture ends up. I knew it was going to be horrible--these things always are--but I was utterly unprepared for what revealed itself.

The tray was heavy, and I realized that the girls had never once even touched it, if they knew it was there. "The thing's filled with fucking nasty water," I thought, which was true. What I couldn't foresee was the thick blanket of dead houseflies that covered every centimeter of the brimming tray. My mind reeled as I brought this horror out from the fridge, refusing to acknowledge this insectile charnel-house, and I stared at it unbelievingly. How the fuck did all these flies get in here? It was like a tiny Jonestown. Finally, unable to deal at all, I gently set the awful thing down on the kitchen floor and ran outside to vomit convulsively. N. ended up being the hero and gingerly brought the tray outside to dump. He tried valiantly to lure the neighbor's yappy dog over to soak the beast with the noisome liquid, but had to settle for merely befouling her rosebed with the fly-brine.

With The Pit's closeness to campus, it quite unsurprisingly became a magnet for sudden parties or unnanounced dropins. My good friend D. once came by during finals, clutching a twelve-pack of beer. I was sitting on the scabrous couch we inherited from the girls, and was working my way glumly through a six-inch stack of various papers I had to do. "D.," I protested, "no. I've got to get this shit done." I waved at the daunting stack. "No problem," replied D. twinklingly. He put the beer down on my stuff. "We work from the top down."

Another time, during another impromptu party, my girlfriend at the time became exceedingly drunk, and therefore vulnerable to attacks intended to maim, which she seemed to invite: someone shoved her down the stairs. She bonelessly and agreeably jounced down the stairs with great velocity, finally impacting on the crispy wall below, producing a rather giant hole in the plaster. N. and I acted fast, and quickly put a poster up over the maw, reasoning that what we couldn't see surely couldn't hurt us.

The next weekend, someone inexplicably smeared pumpkin all over the poster, and when we couldn't bear the smell any more, we had to remove it, forcing us to the realization that something more substantial had to be done--even our willfully blind landlord surely couldn't ignore a gaping span of emptiness in one of his walls. Lacking money, but not ingenuity, N. and I came up with a solution: we stapled several used Domino's pizza boxes together and shoved them into the wall until it was flush, then liberally spackled the whole fucking thing over. A paint job later, and we had a new wall.

Lord, I could go on for pages. One more. Another night, another party, heigh-ho, whatever. The next morning I awoke with an unsurprisingly indignant bladder; I headed downstairs to use the bathroom (by now refloored, hallelujah). On my way through the living room, I noticed something in the corner over by the phone stand. I couldn't tell what the hell it was, so I crept up to it cautiously, inching closer and closer to identify it. (I am myopic in the extreme.) I screwed up my eyes to examine the damn thing. What the fuck?

Finally, my brain took it in. There was, on my carpet, a single well-formed turd, of goodish length and heft, about eight inches long. The world was still for a moment.

Then I screamed bloody murder. J! I howled. N.! GET THE FUCK DOWN HERE! It was no use screaming for N.; he was off at his girlfriend's, presumably being browbeaten in some unfortunate way. J., however, was upstairs, and evidently wrangled his gargantuan dick into some shorts and loped downstairs. "DID YOU SHIT ON THE FUCKING RUG?" I screamed. He stared at the hideous, recumbent mass for a moment. "Is that a turd?" he blearily wondered. I went to the kitchen in a storm to gather an entire roll of paper towels, wishing for a biohazard suit. I eventually collected the awful thing and vengefully hurled it into the neighbor's rosebed; her yappy dog remonstrated at me while I stalked back into the house.

The thing was, I was the last person to bed that night. I personally booted the stragglers out before flopping into bed, and I knew that I didn't commit that horrible deed. I spent the next couple days blasting through doorways and confronting people terribly: "TELL ME YOU DIDN'T SHIT ON MY RUG!" Then I would examine their reactions, all detective-like. Pathetic. Most people reacted predictably. "What? You're insane. Get away from me."

I never did find out who laid the Immaculate Turd. I guess I never will. But I'll bet it's still there, in the neighbor's rosebed. Like the plasmodium. And the pizza boxes, entombed in our wall. And, maybe, some soup cans.

I'll bet it's all still there.


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Comments

Thanks for sharing, Skot. I enjoyed this more than I can say.

Comment number: 005035   Posted by: Chris on September 1, 2004 10:32 AM from IP: 208.29.169.21

I'm so glad Sean and I decided to play house when I was 18, so I never lived in a house such as that.

Although, you'll always have the story.
And someone will have the turd.

Comment number: 005036   Posted by: dayment on September 1, 2004 02:28 PM from IP: 64.105.86.146

Lewis and Clark had these houses too. They were called the "box houses," and were known by color; red, blue, and brown. (I lived in the red box house, for a couple of months, rather unofficially.)

Comment number: 005037   Posted by: norm on September 2, 2004 09:36 AM from IP: 64.65.174.18

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