Thursday, June 20, 2019

Men of the Skull Chapter 52: Crow Bowl

It's strange how events occur, and the people one meets.  This was a really strange night.

By this point, I was treated better by the Crow people than by my own brothers.  They didn't care that I was a transfer, and they didn't care that I was different.  All they cared about (at that point) was that I showed them respect, and treated their little sister, my girlfriend, well.  In that order.  And UI did both.

Their attitude would change a year later.  They decided they preferred Virginia to date one of their brothers instead of a Skull, so encouraged her to cheat on me.  (According to her.)  Which she did.  With one of their pledges.  Things got... ugly.

In any case, that night I met someone who would eventually return to my life years later.


Chapter 52: Crow Bowl

Saturday, March 14, 1987 Gotti cleared by jury in Mafia trial

Every house had their fun little “brothers only things.  Skull had BSB and other stuff.  For Alpha Chi Rho, it was Crowbowl.
Crowbowl was a basketball tournament.  Chapters across the East Coast would send teams to whichever school was hosting to compete for a trophy or something like that.  Of course, the idea was to promote brotherhood blah blah blah, but let’s face it: Crowbowl was all about bragging rights.  In 1987, Crowbowl was hosted by Penn State.
To hear Judy and Virginia talk, it was as if Moses came down from the mountain, handed Crow the Ten Commandments, then hung out to play flip a cup for the rest of the night.  It was that monumental.  And of course, it was all hands on deck, especially for Little Sisters.
So while Judy and Virginia spent their day in one of the White Building gyms watching basketball, I was up at Dave’s playing the usual games with the usual crowd.  I arrived at the gym around seven, full of pizza, beer, soda, and burps.
Eventually I found Virginia, who was wearing the garnet Crowbowl shirt over a white turtleneck.  She was watching the game with Mandy and a few others.  Judy sat with Richard some distance away.  The shirt wasn’t bad.  The top of the image had “14th Annual” then the bottom had “Crow Bowl.”  In between were two basketball players: the left one, number 19, trying to block a shot by number 87.  (1987. Get it?)  Behind them was a giant bird that looked like a cross between a crow and a raven.  All of this was done in white.  Cheap and effective.
My timing was perfect.  I showed up during the second half of the championship game: Penn State vs. West Chester University.  I saw Virginia’s “big brother” Rob on the court, shirtless (it was shirts vs skins) leading the team.  I recognized a few others as well.  I got a quick kiss from Virginia, but that was it.  She was hoarse from shouting and cheering so much.  Penn State was leading by four, but West Chester was too good to count out.  They kept coming back. 
I began to cheer too.  Why not?  Essentially I was cheering for Penn State.  Judy looked over and half smiled. 

Eventually, the game ended.  Penn State won by three.  Virginia hugged me, and then ran out onto the court to hug her sweaty big brother.  She then went with all the other Penn State Crows in a victory procession back to their house, while out of town Crows went back to their various hotel rooms to clean up, eat, fuck, or whatever.  After all, there was a party that night.
            Oh, how good was the Penn State Crow team?  A month later they won the fraternity inter-mural basketball championship over some very strong competition.  If nothing else, those guys could play hoop.
            After a few hours of sleep, I was at the door of Crow House.  The party that night was “Crow’s Only,” but I was invited because of Virginia.  I just walked right in- by then the pledges knew me by sight. 
I never saw Crow House this packed- and I never would again.  I thought it’d be a lot emptier, but what I didn’t realize was that each team brought their team, supporters, and little sisters from like thirty different chapters all stuffed into that little house looking for beer and sex.  And of course, all the Penn State Little Sisters had to be there- mandatory attendance.  So this is what I walked in on.  The dance floor was packed.

Ain't no doubt about it we were doubly blessed
'Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed
Meatloaf was at high volume tonight.  Had to try to impress the other chapters with the stereo system I guess.
            I saw a few familiar faces.  A lot of people were wearing Crow jackets, which was odd as it was fucking hot in the house! 
            A few hours later (or so it seemed) I managed to burrow my way down the solid packed stairs to the party room.  There, behind an impenetrable wall of garnet and white, was the bar.  And behind the bar was Virginia wearing the same tight white turtleneck she was wearing earlier (she ditched the shirt God only knows where.)  Next to her was her Big Brother.  No sign of Judy, but in this crowd she’d be impossible to find until I was on top of her.  Which would be fun.
            Somehow, perhaps by using mind control, teleportation, or using my spider powers to crawl along the ceiling, I managed to arrive at the bar.  Virginia saw me when I was about three quarters of the way there, and she had a beer waiting for me.
            “Isn’t this awesome?” she tried to shout over the music and people.  The music was some new rap group that was getting really popular: “Beastie Boys” I think.
You wake up late for school man you don't wanna go
You ask you mom, "Please?" but she still says, "No!"
You missed two classes and no homework
But your teacher preaches class like you're some kind of jerk
You gotta fight!  For your right!  To parrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtay!
“What?”  I yelled back.
            She leaned over the bar and yelled back “ISN’T THIS AWESOME?”  She didn’t realize that the tips of her breasts had touched the beer covered surface.  When she leaned back up, it looked like she had two large wet nipples.  I pointed at her chest.  She looked confused, then looked.  At first she looked shocked, then she shrugged.
            “They’ll dry!” she shouted. 
            Her breasts were now attracting more than the usual attention from a room full of drunken guys.  This could be ugly.
            “Skull!  Drink!” 
            What?  Oh.  I looked down the bar and saw one of the brothers pointing at me with extended elbow.  On the bar before him was the inevitable plastic cup top down on the bar.  I raised my glass to him and drank.  Guess I’m playing.  Wait- of course I’m playing: this is the Crow bar I’m standing next to, and everyone plays.  I looked back and saw that Crow talking to a couple of out of state Crows while gesturing at me, then at Virginia. 
In 1987, the bar went wall to wall.  And there were no tables.  
            I finished my beer, and Virginia gave me another.  “WHAT ARE THE RULES?”  I asked.
            “STANDARD AND…”  Song ended.  “No cursing,” Virginia said.
            Guys were pushing me a bit, trying to jockey for a place at the bar with a view of Virginia’s wet tits.  There was no room- at all.  Part of me thought it was cool- the girl I was dating was wanted by all these guys, but she was with me.  But what if she got really drunk, and one of the guys…  No.  Don’t think about that. 
            Too many beers later, I dragged my ass through the crowd.  I saw Judy, who either didn’t see me or ignored me.  To the stairs.  Up the stairs.  In line.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Bathroom.  Blessed relief.  And I didn’t have to piss in the sink.
            After washing my hands (a bit of a challenge), I headed toward the steps, where I bumped into Kathy.  She was shouting at some girl in the living room.
            “I don’t give a fuck what you think!  We didn’t take it!”
            I looked in the living room and saw a chubby blonde with a tall Madonna circa 1984 haircut (only a little less altitude than Mandy’s!) 
            “Who else would want it?” said the Wannabe.
            Mandy threw up her hands in disgust.  “Oh, suck my left tit!” she shouted and stormed past me into the kitchen.  Wannabe looked completely stunned, and then burst into tears.  I noticed a bunch of other girls frantically tearing the room apart.  I staggered over to the closest one.
            “What’s up?”  I asked.  “What are you looking for?
            The girl turned to look at me.  I’d never seen such eyes.  Perfect blue, like a lake I could dive into forever.  She had a narrow face and a slightly pointed chin, slight nose and wavy chestnut brown hair that didn’t quite touch her shoulders.  She looked young- like high school young, but she wore the same garnet colored Crowbowl t-shirt that so many were wearing, so she had to be college. 
            “One of my sister’s jackets is missing.  Are you a brother here?” she asked, maybe a hair sharply.
            “Well, no.  I’m a Skull.  I date one of the little sisters here.”
            She looked at me for a second.
            “Wanna help us look?” she asked.
            “Sure what does it look like?”
            The girl pointed at one of her sisters, who wore a jacket.  Typical fraternity jacket.  Garnet with white lettering.  Name in script on the front on the right, W.C.U. on the left.  In large block letters on the back it said “AXP” across the top and “Little Sister” in script across the bottom.  Hard to miss.           

Amazing how I have a picture of a jacket like the one described...
            We searched a few minutes.  I was tossing through the coat pile behind the DJ stand with the Blue Eyed girl. 
            Woaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh half way ther-ah!  Wah-Oh! Livin’ on a  Pray-uh!
            Take mah hand, we’ll make it ah swe-uh!  Wuh-Oh! Livin’ on a  Pray-uh!
            I was so sick of that fucking song!
            “Hey!  Since we’re searching together, what’s your name?”  I asked.
            “What?”  The music was so loud! 
            “What’s your name?”  I shouted.
            She considered a moment- I’m guessing it was whether or not to give her real name. 
            “Jen” she said.
            “JEN!” she shouted.
            “What?”  I was playing with her.
            “JENNIFER!”  She shouted really loud just as the song ended.
            Oh great.  Another Jennifer.  Like we didn’t have enough of them up here already.  “I’m Lance.  Pleased to meet you.  Where was it last?”
            She pointed at a door to the porch.  “There.  The name on the jacket is Michelle.”
            So for the next, I don’t know, long enough to lose my buzz, we turned the first floor and basement upside down.  I managed to get a good look at Jen while we searched.  She was very thin: frail.  Wispy.  Not much of a chest but a beautiful heart shaped ass.  She moved like an athlete.  I also met her boyfriend, the Little Sister Pledge master from their chapter. 
            Eventually Virginia found me looking through the pile coats behind the DJ for the zillionth time.  The beer spots on her sweater dried to round brownish stains more nipples like than before.
            “Would you be upset if I stayed here late?” she shouted in my ear.
            “What’s late?”
            “I dunno” she said.  She was drunk.  “It’s a private event so it doesn’t have to shut down at one thirty.”
            I looked around to the packed living room where Jen was talking in a very animated way to some brother, then to the packed dance floor where everyone writhed to the B-52s.
We were at the beach.
Everybody had… matching towels.
Somebody went under a dock and there they saw a rock.
It wasn't a rock- It was a Rock Lobster!
And I knew the downstairs was packed.  Judy was probably down there somewhere with Rich. 
            “Wanna dance?”  I asked.
            “No, I gotta get back to the bar.  I’m bartending!”  Virginia said.  “So you’re not mad?”  She gave me the sad doe eyes. 

            “Why should I be?  I trust you” I said, smiling.
            She kissed me quickly and disappeared.

            Fuck this.

            I walked over to Jen, my battered blue Members Only coat in hand. 
            “Jenny, it’s been a pleasure meeting you, but I’m heading back to my house.”
            We locked eyes briefly.
            “Jen.  I hate Jenny.  Thanks for your help” she said.
            “I forgot to ask.  Where are you guys from?”
            West Chester University, outside of Philly.”
            Duh.  W.C.U. on the jacket. 
            “I grew up not far from there.  In Spring City.”
            “Oh.  Isn’t that nice?”
            Even I caught that cue to leave.
            “Anyway, best of luck finding the jacket.  Enjoy your stay here at Penn State.” 
            And I left.  Back to Skull House where the party was winding down.  But- here not everyone was Crows.  And no one was hitting on my girlfriend.  I grabbed a couple of beers and found a quietish corner to drink them.
            The jacket was never found.  Let’s face it; there were very few people who could wear this jacket, and only one Penn Stater.  And SHE wasn’t there that night as she went back home for whatever reason.  A week later, the Vice President of Penn State Crow House made a trip down to the West Chester chapter.  I don’t know the exact reason, but I’m betting he brought apologies and beer.

            Jen?  I’d meet her again a few years later.  Small fucking world.


So, I met "Jen" again in 1991.  Long story short- we married in 1993.  In this blog, I refer to her as "Wife" (by her request.)  That's her modeling the West Chester Crow jacket.  She still has it.  We're still married 26 years later.  (Separated five.)  Story HERE

Next Chapter

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Props and Proceedings

I haven't really posted in a while.  Like anyone cares.  In any case, I managed to get some things done.

To start with, I am in a play: A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum. In this comedy, I play a courtesan named Tintinabula.  I have no lines, but I have a solo dance.

Those who have seen me dance know why it's a comedy.

In costume

Actually, the play is extremely funny, and cast is amazing.  I'll be sorry when it ends.  Being a part of this gives a sense of belonging. 

I'm back being unemployed.  I was offered a position, but, for reasons of my own, I turned it down.  It seemed like a "high drama" zone- and I don't need any more drama. 

In any case, that has given me plenty of time.  When I was in Dracula in January, I made a few props for the play.  The director of Forum was the makeup artist for Dracula, so she knew I did that.  She asked me to do a prop or two for this play as well.  I ended up doing almost all of the props.  As I can't dance or sing, is this why I was cast?  Or is that just my depression and lack of self worth making me paranoid?  In any case, I did receive a Props credit in the program.

Making these props gave me a purpose- something to focus upon.  I've been spending my days mostly lying in bed, staring at the ceiling- paralyzed by depression and feelings of uselessness.  Some of the props took quite some time to make.  In fact, one of the people in charge started doubting my ability to finish the pieces in time.  I told her I would have them on time, and I did. 

In any case, as the play has begun, here are the pieces.

Formula 409 bottle in Latin

Contract (unfolded version)

Poster for gladiator fights: Maximus vs. Leonadis

Potions for Dummies in Latin

Back.  That's the first lines of the Hobbit in Latin


Mad Dog 20/20 in Latin

Colt 45 in Latin

"Wooden" jeweled goblet

7up in Latin

Domina bust

Domina without nose

Rolled version of contract- it never gets unrolled.

In any case, they allowed me some time to be creative.  During this time, I also painted a miniature for the first time since 2003 (which is when Games Workshop and I parted ways.)  I painted it for a friend, because the one she had (painted by someone else) was just... horrible.  Painted with house paint.  I knew that, even out of practice, I could do better.  Humble-brag- I think I did,

She chose the color scheme

So now all that is done, now what?

I guess I could paint some of the old miniatures I've had for decades.  Sell them for money.  Or just go back to lying in bed.  

In any case, random thoughts from this month:

More times than not, I cry myself to sleep.

I saw Wife and Daughter for Father's Day.  We went to dinner locally, along with Linda.  

I still have no idea how I'm going to pay for school.

When I look in the mirror, I want to break it or throw up.  I still see a guy looking back at me.

I still believe that I will not survive the Trump regime- that I'll be killed.  Nothing has happened to change my opinion.  

I whine too much.  

I'm going to bed.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Men of the Skull Chapter 51: Bill

"Bill" was a character.  I'd met many Marines before and since meeting him, but he remains the most Gung Ho person I've ever met.

Bill also taught me a lesson, even if it didn't sink in right away.

You see, I didn't realize why Bill drank and fought so much.  I just thought "that's just Bill."  Years later, I realized that he was dealing with a deep Pain.  He was a combat Marine- he'd been deployed to Beirut and other places before I met him.  He was in Beirut in 1983, when the car bomb detonated.  Dave told me that- Bill never mentioned it.

I came to this realization when after a particularly rough night of drinking, etc, I looked in the mirror- into my dead eyes.  And I realized what was happening.  I wasn't drinking and fighting for fun or to prove my manhood.  I was drinking hoping to dull the Pain.

Just like Bill.

And of course it didn't work.

In any case, here's Bill.  I have NO idea what happened to him after I graduated PSU.  I would guess he deployed to Panama.  And Desert Storm.

I hope he was able to quell his Pain.


Chapter 51: Bill
Wednesday, March 11, 1987 Test-tube births are condemned

            Bill was a Marine.  He was five foot six, and every inch was Gung Ho, Semper Fi and Squared Away.  Bill was a little fireplug.  He was all muscle and had a very broad, round-ish head with a high, backward sloping forehead.  His hair was dark and always in a high and tight crew cut.  His eyes were small, brown, and wide apart.  He had a small mouth which was locked in a creepy smile.  It became wider when he was angry.  Sometimes he had a wispy attempt a moustache, sometimes not.
Every Marine was proud of carrying that title, and rightfully so- anyone who had the balls to finish that training program should be proud.  However, there was something that Bill different.  It wasn’t just that he lived and breathed the Corps.  No, there was more.
            Bill was crazy.
            You could see it in his eyes. 
Other Marines (who aren’t afraid of anybody) were afraid of Bill.  I was glad he was on our side.
I met Bill at one of Dave’s dorm gatherings.  He taught me how to play Ace Face and drank me under the table with extreme prejudice. 
Ok, another thing that set Bill apart was that he was married.  Married in college?  What the fuck?  That’s like taking sand to a beach!  Well, he was married to a girl named Paula.  She was really fat.  I mean, she seemed to get fatter every time I saw her.  I referred to her a Paula the Hutt when Bill wasn’t around.  And she was as ugly inside as out.  We hated each other.

March 11, 1987 Collegian

So this one night I’m at the apartment working on homework when I heard a knock on the door.  It was Bill and Dave- both bloody, roughed up, and drunk.  As always Bill was smiling.
“What the hell happened?”  I asked.
“Got any beer?”  Bill asked back.
“Some Strohs”
“Bill decided to take on all of Sig Tau,” Dave said.  Sig Tau was right across the street from Beaver Hill.  It was the ROTC fraternity.  It was also the house that most closely resembles Delta House from “Animal House.”
I gave Bill a beer. 
“One of those squids insulted the Corps and one of my brothers,” Bill said.  “”I couldn’t let that go.”
“Bill was thrown down the stairs,” Dave said.
“Asshole frat boys won’t fight one on one like men,” Bill said.  I didn’t reply to the insult.  I figured it’d be best to let him vent. 
“Meanwhile, some guy says ‘hey ain’t you with him?’ and punches me,” Dave said.
“It was fuckin’ awesome!”  Bill said, smiling even wider, kinda like the Joker.
“Are you guys ok?”  I asked.
“My arm hurts but its nuttin,” Bill said, reaching into the fridge for another few beers.
“Are those beers yours?”  Dave asked.
“No, they’re Mark’s.
Bill handed us each a beer and opened his own. 
“What?  Whose are these?”  Bill asked.
“My roommate’s,” I said.
Bill smiled wider, if that was possible.  “Fuck him.  I buy him more.  I just won’t be buying it tonight.”
I was a little worried that I’d be stuck replacing the beer, oh well- what could I do?  Fight a drunken Bill?
“So how did they throw you down the stairs?”  I asked Bill.
“Well the fuckin’ squid was upstairs in the head and he started talking bad about the Corps.  I told him to stop and he wouldn’t!”
“Squid?”  I said.
“Navy,” Dave said.
            “So I had to correct his worldview,” Bill said.  “But those faggoty ass frat boys never fight ya man to man.  Noooo, they always gang up.  So there was like four of them and they threw me down the fuckin’ stairs.”  (This number of Sig Tau’s would increase as time went on.  By the time I graduated, Bill had been tossed by no less than ten guys.)
            I looked at Dave.
            “All I saw was him landing on his ass at the bottom of the stairs,” he said, shrugging.  “I picked him up and we beat a hasty retreat here.”
            “Where there’s beer!  Here where there’s beer!” Bill said reaching into the fridge for Mark’s last beer.  He finished three while Dave and I barely started ours.  He wiped a trickle of blood off his forehead with his right sleeve.
            “Are you sure you’re ok?”  I asked Bill.  “You seem to be favoring your left arm. 
            “Yeah.  Ain’t nothing a fucking beer can’t fix.  Semper Fi!”
            Bill chugged his beer.
            After a hefty burp, Bill asked Dave “You ready to hit some bars?”
            Dave chugged his beer, much more slowly.  He handed me the empty.  “Thanks” he said.  And off they went, leaving me holding a half drunken beer, five empties, and homework to finish.
            True to his word, Bill showed up the next day, sprained arm in a sling, and a six pack of Strohs to replace the one drunk the night before.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Capitol Speaking

On Monday, May 6, 2019, I spoke in the rotunda of the State Capitol building in Harrisburg, PA.


So how did that happen?

Well, last October I reconnected with an old high school friend.  I hadn't seen Charnelle since graduation in 1984.  I think I first met her in 8th grade.  She was reading a book about the Doors, and I asked her about it.  (I guess in a way she turned me on to what would become one of my favorite bands.)

With Charnelle, Oct 2018

She invited me to a breakfast networking event for "minorities," since, as a transgender woman I qualify.  She said there would be movers and shakers there.  I'd been to similar gatherings before this, but they were exclusively LGBT.  I guess I suck at networking because nothing came out of those.  In any case, I went.

Almost everyone at that event were people of color.  I met many people, but seeing Charnelle was the real treat.  I spoke briefly at this gathering about how transgender people are not protected by hiring bias laws in Pennsylvania, and my personal hardship finding work.  My speech was short, direct, and ad-lived.  One of the people in attendance had a friend who works for a Pennsylvania state congressman.  She recommended me to that person, who invited me to speak at a press conference about a new bill being proposed in the PA statehouse.  This bill would extend hate crime protections to LGBT people.

That's right- PA has no such protections on its books.  Why?  Because both houses of the Pa legislature have been dominated by republicans for years.  And republicans, as a rule, hate LGBT.  It's even in their most recent platform (2016.  pp 11, 31, 35.)

Trouble on the steps?

So, that morning I woke early, troweled on my face, and drove 90 minutes to Harrisburg.  After parking, I walked a block to the statehouse.  There was a large crowd, maybe 100, in front- a rally.  The majority of the people wore red hats- it was a pro- second amendment rally.  I stopped for a moment.  Right wingers generally hate LGBT (as shown by their policies, comments, violence, etc) so I wondered if I would be accosted going up the steps to the door.  Shoulders back, I walked proudly up the middle.  While I got some looks and a couple of remarks, they let me through without incident.  On my way up, I passed many people posing for pictures.  Several flashed white power signs.

The front door was guarded outside by several police officers.  After entry, I went through a metal detector checkpoint.  Ahead of me was the rotunda, where I was to speak.  I'd say there were over a hundred gun people in there, some with signs.  There were MAGA hats of red and black.  There was a teen wearing full old style camouflage.  One big guy had Hitler tattooed on his bicep.  There I saw the only two people of color with that rally- a couple wearing matching "gun control is racist" t-shirts.


I met with my contact, and she took me to the office of the sponsoring representative, Kevin Boyle (D) of Philadelphia, which was in a neighboring building.  We waited there briefly, then went back to the capitol building.  As we left, we passed two large roving groups of gun people who were visiting every office they could.

When we returned to the rotunda, most of the gun people were gone- it was like a reset.  Cameras were ready, and a large number of women in red were posed on the steps.  This was AJC, a Jewish advocacy organization.  I was told where to stand, and Rep. Boyle spoke.

Seven other representatives spoke (including State Senator Farnese, the lone republican), then three other people.  Then, it was my turn.

Picture by Rep. Melissa Shusterman.  Didn't realize I was wearing the same dress both times

I'd been asked to "play nice" with my comments, so I did.  Sort of.  I wrote some bullet points on an index card, including some facts, figuring I'd tailor the speech to the remarks made by other speakers.  I pointed out that "a certain party" has Hate enshrined in their platform, and cited the page numbers.  I spoke about feeling safe, and about how the GOP stripped me of healthcare access.  In the end, I called upon the GOP to renounce hate (originally, it was going to be Hate AND Evil.)  And then, I was finished.

It wasn't my best speech.  I felt I rushed it.  Listening to the speech again, I absolutely rushed it.  If you want to see my speech, you'll find it HERE.  I put my phone on the podium, and recorded it.  The angle is far from flattering- I look like Jabba the Hut.

The press conference ended.  We posed for pictures as a group, then all was finished.  I said my goodbyes, and walked out into the brilliant sunlight into... another gathering.  This time it was pro-nuclear energy.  I walked around that crowd and back to my car.  As I was parked near the top of the parking garage, I had some great views, so I took some pictures.  Then, I went home.

Heading out.  One of the ADC women gave me a pin

Will my participation help?  Doubt it. I don't think that bill will make it out of committee, because republicans hate LGBT, and they hold the majority.  Still, I can say I spoke at the State Capitol building.  It gave me something to do. 

Be well.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Men of the Skull Chapter 50: Murder

Happy Valley was a fantasy land, especially after the two years I spent living in Powelton Village during my time at Drexel University.  (Back then, that was a dangerous part of the city.)  Looking at the Police Log, all one would see was petty theft and drunken fights.  Compared to the murders and armed robberies (I'd been mugged four times there myself) that was nothing. 

About twice a semester, a rape was reported.  I'd guess (with no statistics to back me up) that for every one that was reported, there were five others that weren't.  Suicides were reported sometimes.  I knew one of them. 

My point being, as a "guy" at PSU in the 80s, I felt safe.  And, as the "nice guy" (meaning "couldn't get laid with a string of $100 bills around my neck) I often volunteered to walk women back to their dorms/apartments as a safe escort.  "Campus escort" was a thing back then.  I soon gained a small reputation for it- the "safe guy."  Girls would seek me out near the end of a given Skull party for me to walk them home, and I did it.  No matter how drunk I was, I took this very seriously, and would never consider taking advantage of it.  They were trusting me, and I was going to do everything I could to get them home safe, by God!  Fortunately, it always ended up just being a walk in the cold which sobered me up. 

Then this happened.  Drug sting?  Big deal.  But Murder was... unheard of.  Yes, we knew about the murder in the stacks in 1969, when all of us were toddlers. 

The town was on edge for a while.  Stunned.  I don't think we were so trusting after that.  The stakes were raised, so to speak.

I didn't know Dana Bailey.  She sounded like a wonderful person.  I hope that her murderer is caught while her parents still live. 


Chapter 50: Murder
Monday, March 9, 1987 PSU student fatally stabbed
            My morning classes went by as usual except everyone seemed to be buzzing about something.  There were no Collegians around to be had on campus.  So as usual I went to the house for lunch.  Got myself a burger out of the big orange containers.  All of the brothers had their faces buried in newspapers.

March 9, 1987 Collegian
            I grabbed a copy and sat down.
            “PSU student fatally stabbed” was in the center of the front page.
            This was the first murder at Penn State since 1969.
            “Jesus Christ,” File said.
            “Anybody know her?”  Sauce said.
            “Dairy’s girlfriend works with her,” Garbo said.
            “I heard she hangs over at AXS,” VD said, his mouth full of burger.
            Saint walked in.  “Hey, you guys hear what happened?”
            “Yeah, that’s fucked up.”
            “Wonder what really happened?”
            “132 South Allen.  Where is that?”
            “Um, it’s above the McClanahans across from the flower shop innit?”
            “‘Apparent victim of stab wounds to the heart and lung area.’”
            “Fucked up shit.”
            “Where did she work?”
                                                “Corner room.”
            “How do you know?”
                                                “It’s in the fuckin’ paper dickwad!”
            “I heard she was tied to a chair with her throat cut.”
                                    “Where did you hear that?”
            “I dunno.  Around.”
                        “Full of shit.”
            “Fuck you.”
            I sat and read.  There wasn’t much in the article.  The only real fact was that a student was dead.

            The police sealed the apartment.  A few months later, the whole building burned to the ground.  The fire was labeled “Suspicious.”
            All these years later, the murder of Dana Bailey has not been solved.

Next Chapter

Friday, May 10, 2019

Funeral Today

Sometimes I feel like I go to far too many funerals.  I used to, but not so much anymore.  Prior to today, it had been a year and four days since my last funeral.  

I hate funerals.  Always have.  Funerals aren't for the Dead- after all, they aren't there.  They are a coping ritual for those left behind.  I've read many books on funeral customs, and have, many times considered going into the mortuary business.  

In any case, this one was a family funeral.  Zack Fanning was the 20 year old son of my cousin Sharon.  Sharon is a cousin on the paternal side of my family.  Her mother is my dad's sister.  The last time I saw her was at a family wedding in the early 90s.  Heck, it may have even been hers- I don't remember.

Ready to go South 

Zack died in a motorcycle accident at Reedy Point Bridge in Delaware.  In my paramedic days, I saw many of those, and none were pleasant.  Some still haunt my nightmares.  I'd never met Zack- never laid eyes on him before I saw him in the casket.  He looked like his father.

My heart breaks for my cousin and her family- I can't imagine losing my daughter in any way.  

What made this an... event... for me was that this was the first time all of them (except my cousin Brenda, Sharon's older sister) would meet the Real Me: Sophie.  I went to support my cousin- I can't imagine not doing so.  But... how would the rest of the family react to my presence?  I really had no idea.  Of the "male" cousins, I was the youngest, and our generation only had daughters.  Our branch of the family name dies with us, unless one of the daughters keeps her maiden name.  

The drive to the funeral home in Hockessin, Delaware was a little more than an hour on rainy roads.  The past couple of days this event was on my mind- what would They say?  Sharon has been very supportive in her messages to me since transition.  Not all of my family has.  So, it was an hour of second guessing scenarios and plans.  I'd put the last of my money into my gas tank, so if there were a lunch after at a restaurant, I wouldn't be able to attend.  What sort of people are Zack's friends? 

I needn't have worried.  Many of Zack's friends are, well, rednecks and/or bikers.  However, as Zack was a volunteer firefighter and worked for DelDOT, there were many firefighters and state troopers in attendance.  The troopers were in uniform.  Everyone was there for one reason only- to say good bye to their loved one.  No one even noticed me as I slipped in a couple of minutes before the ceremony began.  

Reedy Point Bridge- 135 feet of clearance

I was a little surprised about how few of my family were actually there.  As there were visiting hours the night before, I'm guessing that some paid their respects then.  I know my parents did.  In any case, some of my cousins were there, as were Sharon's parents- my aunt and uncle (of course.)  

The first ones I spoke to were Sharon and her husband.  I kept it brief, as I didn't want to intrude.  Next was Sharon's older brother- who, among my paternal cousins, was the one I was closest to.  He was there with his amazing wife, and their two kids, only one of which I'd ever met, and that was back when he was an infant.  He's in his 3rd year of college now.  My cousin Brenda saw me speaking to him, and joined us as well.  We spoke for a bit- it was good to catch up.  No problems with names of pronouns.

I then saw another cousin, this one who I hadn't seen in 30 years.  We spoke briefly.  The last cousin I saw was one whom I've had issues with online, as she is a rabid 45 supporter.

All of these interactions went well.  No problems with names or pronouns.  Was I surprised?  A little.  More relieved.

After seeing that last cousin, I quietly slipped away.  As I walked out of the funeral home, all of Zack's friends were firing up their pickups and muscle cars and leaving in loud and fast procession.  

On my way into the funeral, I noticed a truck near where I parked.  It had a lot of stickers and window vinyls all over it; most motorcycle related, and typical of an immortal 20 something.  One on the side window caught my eye: 

"But Did You Die?"

I didn't get a picture of it, and that truck was one of the line of vehicles tearing out of the parking lot as I walked to my car.  I couldn't help but think of the irony.

I lost my sense of being immortal while in my teens.  I saw so many deaths as a volunteer paramedic, and many of them were my age or younger.  I wondered about all of these people who today said goodbye to their youthful friend- was this their first taste of mortality?  Death is one thing when it's a grandparent, etc, but a whole different thing when it's a peer.  A friend.  A different sort of sting.

My cousins and I are old enough that some are grandparents.  Gray hair replaced the children I knew.  And them?  Their boy cousin was there in a black dress and makeup- a Woman.  

Milestones, hoops, and gateways.  I passed one today, as did all those kids in their trucks, and those family who saw me today.  Three different ones, but still...

Rest in Peace, Zack.  May the four winds blow you safely home.