Monday, May 29, 2006
Power: A Story, Part 1
As I was wandering through the local Farmer’s Market this morning looking for tomato and pepper plants, my mind wandered back to a different holiday when I was in college lo those many years ago (no old age jokes, please). It was my first senior year (I chose to attend school on the five-year plan, much to the dismay of my father who was footing the bill), and it was Easter weekend. Where I went to school, the dorms remained open over Easter, although most residents chose to spend the weekend either at home reconnecting with old friends, or at the beach reconnecting with their favorite malted beverage.
It was late on a Saturday night. The Resident Assistant, or R.A. as they were affectionately referred to, who’s name was Karl, was a good friend, and he was “on duty” that weekend. Being “on duty” for an R.A. means that you have to stay sober for the weekend and wander the halls, making sure that everyone else who was not sober were otherwise behaving themselves. Since there was almost no one around on Easter, being “on duty” was especially boring.
We lived in a men’s dorm, but our building was connected to another dorm that was populated entirely by young ladies. Usually, each dorm had one R.A. on duty. However, Karl had kindly volunteered to handle both dorms for the night so that the R.A. on duty from the ladies residence could spend some time with her boyfriend (we were both extremely envious of her boyfriend). I didn’t feel like working on class work and I didn’t have anyone to drink or sleep with, so I offered to accompany Karl on his rounds, and he was happy for the company.
We wandered floor after eerily quiet floor, encountering nothing more naughty than a couple of ladies washing their undies. We were thinking of wandering back to my room to have a beer (being of age, I always kept a small quantity of high-quality ales in my room) when the floor that we were standing began to vibrate with the ungodly thump with a recording of one of the popular dance bands of the day being played, apparently on the floor below the one which we were currently patrolling, entirely too loud over speakers that seemed to be designed to only play bass tones. Since it was late and loud music was restricted after certain hours, and since the music was generally awful anyway, Karl was required to investigate.
We strolled down to the lower floor and found the offending room. Karl knocked on the door to alert the occupants that he was on the job. A young lady’s voice on the other side of the door shouted something unintelligible at us. Karl pounded again, and loudly identified himself. The young lady responded that she couldn’t hear us, and considering that the music was at a volume such that we could feel the sound waves pushing us across the hall, that was not much of a surprise. After a pause, the music volume decreased from deadly to just dangerous, and moment later we heard the door being opened.
Karl prepared to give his standard “please turn down the volume after midnight” speech when the door opened enough for us to view the individual who had opened it. Karl opened his mouth to speak, but rather than performing the movements required for speech, his jaw just dropped until it was almost resting on his chest. I glanced at the doorway and saw the object of his attention.
She was a petite, dark-haired, fabulously cute young woman. She was wearing what can only be described as teddy-bear jammies and bunny slippers. She was an unexpected vision of loveliness for two bored young gentlemen. She was also holding a bottle of peach schnapps.
Now, Karl and I knew the older residents of that particular building, and this darling wasn’t one of them. She was certainly either a freshman or a sophomore, and was clearly under the legal drinking age. Since this was now the early eighties, under-age drinking was a big no-no with potential dire consequences. The first offense brought about a “verbal warning” from the enforcing R.A. (The term “verbal warning” was a curious one because the offender had to sign a form to verify that he or she had received a verbal warning). The second offense resulted in a “letter,” an official-sounding page allegedly from the university housing director stating all of the bad things that would happen to you should you be caught again. A third offense meant you would spend the remainder of the semester sleeping in the parking lot.
In his official capacity as R.A. On Duty, Karl, upon seeing the forbidden bottle of spirits, asked to be admitted to the room so that he could issue the requisite warnings. The young lady complied. As we entered, we saw yet another curious cutie wearing a nightshirt with a big picture of Mickey Mouse on it that went down to her ankles. She was also holding a bottle of a syrupy, alcoholic beverage. Judging by the incessant giggle emanating from this girl, she had obviously consumed a good deal of the bottle’s contents.
Karl first confiscated the offending bottles. He then ascertained that the names of the two ladies was Amber (the teddy bear one) and Kelly (the Mickey Mouse one). He asked if they knew what a verbal warning was.
“Oh, yeah,” replied Amber. “We got one of those at the beginning of the semester.” That was strike one.
So Karl told them that they would be receiving a letter of reprimand from the Housing Director. At that point, I noticed an official-looking letter proudly displayed on a cork board. Kelly saw me looking at the letter and said, “Oh, we already got one of those, too. See, it’s right there on the board.” That was strike two.
Which made the situation of our nabbing these two with forbidden refreshments strike three.
Suddenly, the little light of realization went on in Amber’s pretty little head. “Ohmigod!” she exclaimed. “WE’RE GOING TO GET KICKED OUT OF THE DORM!”
Amber started to cry. Kelly started to beg. They both asked for us to overlook this one little incident. They pleaded. They promised, PROMISED that it would never happen again. Karl was sympathetic, so he offered a compromise.. He would tell the R.A. of their floor what had happened, and let her make the decision as to whether or not the incident should be reported to higher authorities.
“BUT SHE HATES US!” the two girls wailed in unison. It seemed their fate had been sealed. With only five weeks left until finals, these two would have to find a new place to lay their respective heads.
As they continued to beseech us with their requests for forgiveness, my evil little mind had an idea.