Friday, July 13, 2018

Men of the Skull Chapter 149: Arts Fest 1988

As this weekend is the 2018 Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, know simply as Arts Fest.  Arts Fest is a HUGE event, almost like a football weekend- but in the middle of summer.  Many alumni flock to the town, as do current students who miss being with their friends at PSU.  God knows I did.

As a student, I attended two of these: 1987 and 1988.  I wrote about 1987 HERE- it was one of the best weekends of my life, and easily the best weekend of my college years. 

By 1988, lots had changed.  I stayed at PSU for the summer to complete two summer courses that I couldn't get in the other semesters (Philosophy of Education; Victorian Literature.)  Virginia and I had broken up.  I was living in Armenara Plaza for the summer in a room whose windows opened on the McDonalds.  (I literally had dreams of Big Macs.)  In fact, I was barely eating.  My summer bartending job wasn't paying much, so I had to go back to work at Burger King.  In any case- no money meant no food.  At 6'1", I weighed 136 pounds. 

The only pic of me that summer.  Arts fest.  I'm on the far right.

Across the hall lived an absolutely stunning redhead, who in the book I call Deb.  She and I were good friends, as she was dating a linebacker on the football team, and was FAR out of my league anyway. 

Skull house was supposedly closed, but a few guys lived there anyway.  Nudge wink.  I'm sure that the chapter advisor knew, but didn't care. 


Chapter 149: Arts Fest 1988
Friday, July 8, 1988 Pa declares a drought watch
Arts Fest sorta sneaked up on everyone.  Suddenly Allen Street was closed and full of booths.  Those of us up there all week had plenty of time to enjoy all the artists’ work, even if we couldn’t afford it.
Arts Fest '88
The previous year’s Arts Fest was the best weekend of my life to the point.  Fun, music, sex, love, and just being back at Penn State made it so fucking magical.  It was like choruses of topless female angels were singing in my memory as I thought of it.
This year it was just hot.  Really fucking hot.  We were in the middle of a heat wave at PSU.  Grass was brown and water restrictions were in place.
Skulls watching people walk on Beaver Ave as the sun set from the front porch.
So come Friday, the Lion blinked back to life.  Tons of brothers returned.  Hot women everywhere.  Skull was open for business.
Jack Straw from Wichita
Cut his buddy down
Dug for him a shallow grave
And layed his body down
So- did we party?  Nope.  Brothers went to everyone else’s parties.
See without pledges, the guys didn’t want to bother running a party by themselves.
Never mind all the new hot women who would come, never having been to Skull.  Never mind all the new freshman guys, potential rushees all, that could come.  Nah.  We’ll go to Phi Who and Alpha Sig.
I had dinner with Sandi from class- y’know, my toga date?  Yeah, then we went to see Stolyn Hours out at Alpha Sig.  She’d never seen them before. 
Fun time.  She left after giving me just a hug.

Stolyn Hours at Alpha Sig.  Arts Fest '88
Sunday, the brothers jumped back into their cars, leaving the house totally trashed with beer bottles and plastic cups everywhere.  (We had a keg at the house for guys who wanted to hang out and for alumni.)  I spent a lot of time the rest of the summer cleaning.
Deb was with her football player and the rest of the team.
Sunday night we hung out on her balcony as the sun set and the Lion settled back into summer hibernation.  We drank rum and cokes and didn’t talk much.  The moment was enough.            
Armenara Plaza, August 1988

Friday, July 6, 2018

Taking the Low Road: Glasgow

After the long, memorable day exploring Shakespeare-land, I woke early again- 6:30.  I showered, but didn't have time for makeup, as my train left at 7:43 to Birmingham, Moor St.  The train started a little full, but by the time we reached Birmingham, the train was packed.  Well, it was rush hour!

At Birmingham, I not only had to change trains but also stations.  I followed the crowd for the short walk (maybe a quarter mile?) to the Birmingham New St station.  It was massive!  I looked to me like a large sports stadium crossed with a building from Logan's Run.  I grabbed a granola bar and a Coke Zero (with real sugar, not corn syrup) and went to platform 6 to wait for the train to Glasgow.  It was on time-ish, and I sat in a window seat (B4, if you must know.)

Birmingham New St. Station

I was pleasantly surprised by the multiple Pride flags hanging about the station.

For a time, I was alone, watching England roll by the mud spattered window (at 125 mph.)  My mind drifted back to my other trips to the UK.  They were when I worked for Games Workshop, and during that time, it was eat/sleep/breathe toy soldiers.  Management made sure that we saw UK through that lens. Yet, I remember while on bus rides, from Nottingham to London for example, looking at the small villages and thinking how dull life must be so far away from, well, anything, and wondering if anyone there dreamed of getting out.  I never thought "I wonder if anyone there plays GW games.'  Maybe that's why I don't work there now.

In any case, decades more life experience changed my outlook a bit.  I realized that some of these rural areas may be isolated, yes, but due to the UK's amazing and relatively inexpensive public transportation system, people could pretty much go anywhere if they wished.  The English didn't allow the commercial sprawl that we see here in the US, so, outside of the towns, seeing industrialization or commercialization was rare.  It was mostly farmland or grazing fields.  And, it was beautiful.

They are serious.  And stop calling... never mind.

I wasn't alone for most of the journey.  Seated next to me for a good part of it was a wonderful blonde woman named Fiona.  We chatted the entire time she was on the train.  She was headed north to Carlisle to proctor an exam of some sort.  She brought a book with her for the boring parts.  Anyway, she was a wonderful conversationalist.  She told me about her husband and two daughters (10 and 14) and I told her about my 10 year old.  We compared notes.  In many ways, raising daughters is different in the UK, but mostly still the same.  She asked me about my journey, why Glasgow and all that, and we talked about that.  I gave her a card, and she said she'd look at the blog.  And she did!  So, Hi Fiona!!!  I hope you're well.

The further north we travelled, the hillier the land became.  Not long after Fiona debarked at Carlisle, we crossed into lowland Scotland, where it started to rain (amazing how that worked.)   We passed through Lockerbie, Scotland, where Pan Am 103 crashed.  I said a silent prayer for the dead, among who were 35 students from Syracuse University.  As I was their age when it happened, it hit me hard.  "There but for the grace of God..."

Eventually, the train arrived in Glasgow; a few minutes late.  I rolled my heavy suitcase into the station, where I was greeted by, to me, a heartwarming sight.

The twin daughters of my cousin Anne were waiting for me- and they'd made a sign!  Lynsey and Stephanie were my hostesses and tour guides for this part of the trip.  I was totally shocked, and it took everything I had not to cry.

From the station, we walked about a bit. then took the subway to the station nearest to my cousin's flat.  From the station, it was a little more than three blocks.

Headed to the subway

Their flat had 2 bedrooms, and is bigger than the apartment Linda and I share, yet very much a student apartment in decor.  They put me in Lindsey's bedroom.  I then gave them their bags of Cheetos (they love them and can't get them there, apparently) and a bottle of Firebird.  They gave me a can of Irn Bru, which is the most popular soft drink in Scotland.  The twins wanted to know what I thought of it.  So we did a Facebook live where they drank the whiskey and I drank the soda.

The Twins had a full agenda for me.

The Irn Bru tasted like carbonated orange Gatorade.  I liked it.  What did the twins think?

Well, they both gasped and coughed... and drank more.

We then walked across the river and through Glasgow's shopping district, up a steep hill to the university where the twins attend school.  After dropping off whatever needed dropping off, we headed back down the hill.  We stopped at a pub called the Counting House, which was a converted bank.  We all had a Strongbow Dark Fruit, which I've never seen in the US.

Looking down the long hill

Interesting clock at the University

High End Mall

At the Counting House

We then went to the subway, then to a train to Gourock, where my Uncle John lives.  On the train, Stephanie asked to do my makeup, which was fun.  She did a good job, I think.

Made up by Stephanie

We arrived, and walked a couple of blocks to my Uncle's flat.  I hadn't seen him in decades, and this is the first time he met his niece.  I was nervous.  He met us outside, where he had been gardening.  We went inside briefly, then a taxi came to take us to dinner.  The Spinnaker Hotel is on the water, adjacent to the confluence of the Firth of Clyde, Loch Long, Holy Loch, and Gare Loch.

My Uncle was a fount of stories, about many things.  He told me a lot about my mum in her youth, my parents' courtship, and other stories.  After a pleasant dinner, we went back to Uncle John's flat.  The sun was setting over the water, and it took my breath away.  One of my cousins asked why I stopped to look, and I told them "you only get so many sunsets in your life."

We looked through some photo albums (from which the above left photo was reproduced.)  My Uncle also had a bag of gifts left behind by my cousin Anne (the mother of the twins.)  She was unable to get off work.  Thanks Anne!

We then took the train back to Glasgow, the twins' apartment.  I was very tired and was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Wednesday, May 16, I woke up a little late. Stephanie had a report to finish, so she stayed in to do that.  Lynsey and I took a train to the West end.  We were headed toward the University of Glasgow, boutique shopping, and a huge art museum.  We walked a bit, and saw what looked like a cathedral in the distance.

Kelingrove Art Gallery

University of Glasgow Chapel, as seen over the River Kelvin

It was built to look like a cathedral, but it was the Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which was built in 1901.  It has free admission, so we toured it.

Out in the sun

Why the long face?

Heads Up

I guess I otter stop these puns

There were amazing paintings and displays.  Amazing!  I could write a series of entries just on this.

Lynsey had to go to class, so she took her leave.  I walked up the steep hill to the University of Glasgow.  The campus was absolutely beautiful, and overlooked the city.  I walked into a huge "chapel," and a man asked me if I was there for the Organ recital.  I decided "why not?" and went in.  In the chapel, for whatever reason, was a small display of Glaswegian heroes of the Wars in the Air.  I looked at that for a few minutes, and took a seat.  An elderly couple near me pointed out a basket of Russian chocolates, and I had one.

I sat through a song, which was wonderful, then walked further onto campus.  There I found a class sitting outside discussing transgender rights, and sat in.  It became a discussion of US transgender rights vs UK transgender rights, and was a wonderful time.

View from the University

On Campus

From there, I walked to the shopping district.  Then from there, I took a subway to the other side of town.  A taxi ride after that, I was at Glasgow Cathedral.  It was incredible.  I bumped into a fellow American (from San Francisco) and she was kind enough to take a picture for me (as I did for her.)

We were both there for the same reason: we wanted to see the Glasgow Necropolis.

The necropolis is on a huge hill, and it was a Hot day.  Eventually, I made it to the top, which overlooks the cathedral and the city.  As I have a passion for cemeteries, I took a ton of pictures, but I won't bore you with those.  Just a couple of representative ones.  Oh, and I bumped into the San Franciscan while I was on my way back down.

The summit has a monument to John Pope, who isn't buried there.

Side path upwards

Charles Tennant is judging you

By then, I was sweaty and very hungry.  I took a taxi back to the town center, where I went to a place called "The Royal Scot."  (I worked at a place called the Royal Scot in the 1990s.)  I had a cider and lunch.  I then went back to my cousins' flat to take a nap.

Woke up, washed up, did my makeup.  Here I am in Scotland, and my cousins took me to... an Italian restaurant.  The food was good, but the service was really bad.  There were two incredibly hot twins... and me.  The waiter gave me a dirty look at the beginning, and disappeared.

After dinner, we met some of my cousins' friends at Katie's Bar, an LGBT friendly place.  These friends: Giovanna, Gianluca, and Joel (one of these names is not like the other) were absolutely wonderful!  I wish we lived closer to each other.  We drank and laughed together like we'd known each other forever.

There was also karaoke that night, hosted by Frans Gender.  I did one of my usuals: Friend of the Devil.  I was introduced by "This is an unusual song for karaoke, but let's try it."  By the end of my performance, I had people standing, clapping, and stomping.  Lynsey even jumped on stage for a quick dance.  (Stephanie had to leave early to go to work.)

Frans Gender at work

The blonde in the middle questioned the authenticity of my breasts

At Katies

Soon after that, I went to the bar, and a drunk blonde started dancing with me, then asked me if I was transgender.  I replied "Are you?"  After dancing, I reached the bar, and had my hands full of drinks when said drunk woman said "your boobs aren't real are they?"  I said that they were "all natural."  "No they're not!  There's no way they're natural!'  At gave her a look and said "They are real.  I'm very lucky."  Her friend then pulled her away, saying she was drunk and apologizing profusely.

And I made it to the table, carrying five drinks, without spilling a drop.  You can take the girl out of TGI Fridays, but you can't take TGI Fridays out of the girl!

After a few more drinks, we went to another bar, this one with a drag show.  We arrived as the show was ending.  I spoke briefly with the MC, then our group went to a place called Polo.  Polo had multiple floors.  Upstairs was a shabby classy, and downstairs was a typical dance club.  That floor was absolutely packed, sweaty, hot, and everyone was having a great time.

MC and dancing audience member


Giovanna, Joel, and Gianluca, Attorneys at Law

At that point, we had to catch the last train back to the flat.  So off we went, back into the sultry night.  I was very tired, and my feet were blistered by the time we returned to the flat.  I went to sleep almost instantly.

The next morning, I would be taking the train across Scotland to Edinburgh.

Next stop:  Edinburgh

Monday, July 2, 2018

A Medical Dream

Last night, I had a very vivid dream.

You see, on Thursday (July 5) I have a colonoscopy scheduled.  That means prep on July 4.  That's fine, since I'm never invited to BBQs anyway.  This will not be my first time around with this procedure.  I had one before, maybe 14 years ago.  They excised some polyps that turned out to be benign. 

I've put off getting another one done due to insurance issues.  After all, I'm still paying off my mammogram from October 2016 (insurance didn't cover it because Trans.)  I think I've got the insurance sorted out now.  If not, I'll just declare bankruptcy.  I don't have $4,570 lying around. 

Anyway, so that's Thursday. 

Last night was Sunday night.  I went to bed a little early.  I did nothing yesterday, so my back and shoulder would heal from a fall Saturday night after the protest.  (Maybe I'll write about the protest I organized.  Maybe not.)  In any case, I was tired.

In my dream, I was in a doctor's office.  I'd never been in this office, but they all kind of look the same.  I'd never seen this doctor, either.  She was a petite Latina, maybe in her late 50s, with short black hair streaked with grey, a broad face, and tired looking eyes.   We were the only two in the room.

I was sitting on the edge of a paper covered examination table.  She was standing.  She had the results of my colonoscopy.  I had Stage IVB colon cancer.  I'd never heard that term before then, in dreams or waking world, so this morning I looked it up.  She told me that with "aggressive treatment" I might be able to beat it.  "The chances are not good, but if you are strong, it's possible."

I sat for a moment, thinking about the Pain and expense that this would cause.  I thought about one of my oldest, dearest friends who has been fighting this disease, and how he's suffered.  I thought of the fact that I am unemployed. 

And I thought of the fact that I would never, ever physically complete my transition.

I told the doctor that I didn't want to be treated.  Let the disease run its course.

Then I woke up, sweating. 

The dream was so real.  Like it happened earlier that day and was a memory.

I thought about it as I lay there in bed.

I stand by my decision.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Men of the Skull Chapter 52: Crowbowl

Today's chapter once again takes the story to a fraternity other than my own- Alpha Chi Rho.

By this point, I was dating one of their Little Sisters and not going to my House as often.  I actually think that helped as I didn't seem so desperate.  I still went for lunch and dinner, as I was on the meal plan, and for pledge meetings, chapter meetings, and parties... but really that's it.

There's a slight twist at the end of this chapter as only life can bring.  Truth is stranger than fiction as they say.


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.

Detail of the Crowbowl T-shirt

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. 
            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 Mandy.  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.           

Identical to the Jacket except for the Name
            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.


Reader, I married her.
"Jen" and I met again in 1991, and started dating.  We married in 1993.  She is "Wife" in so many of my entries.  That's her modelling her jacket, and her t-shirt that I have pictured.  

Next Chapter

Monday, June 18, 2018

Men of the Skull Chapter 51: Bill

This chapter was a bit of a character sketch, but it also introduced someone who would be important later.

This is one of the most "politically incorrect" chapters in the book.  If it ever gets published, this chapter may be highly edited and folded into another.

The Sigma Tau Gamma house in this chapter was torn down in 1997.  AW& Sons owned the property, and gave Sig Tau a month to come up with $500,000 to buy it off them or get out.  Of course, they couldn't raise that sum, so they were out.  The house was quickly demolished, and an apartment building called The Diplomat was built on the site.  That building is still there.

At the time, I lived in Beaver Hill apartments, which was directly across the street from Sig Tau.

Picture:  Google maps.  I added the yellow captions

Bill remained in State College for a while, and Dave stayed in touch with him.  I never saw him again after I graduated.  I know he planned to go career in the Corps.  After a few years, even Dave lost touch with him.  I seem to recall Dave telling me he and Paula divorced, but I forget when.

He would've finished his twenty years long ago, assuming he survived.  I hope he did.


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.
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 resembled Delta House from “Animal House.”
Sigma Tau Gamma- 1997.  That was the year it was demolished

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.
I did this.  I wonder if they're still around?

            “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 Marc’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.

Photo:  Google Maps