A tale of the Balz

Strange things happen when you live in a dorm named Balz.

Streaking.  Pizza boxes in trees, then (after a stern warning) pizza boxes being hoarded in an immense pile in a corner for a year-end pizza box blitzkrieg. The infamous out-on-the-balcony screaming of our dorm name, allegedly at times audible in the Old Dorms a half-mile away.

(Edited to add:  I found a photo here.  I lived on the third floor on that side of the building.  Several of our good friends lived on the first floor door visible there.  The pizza-flinging guys lived above us on the 4th.  And the doors were painted teal when I was there.  )

Ah, the good old days.

I don’t often write about my college days because, well, other than the occasional amusing drunk story or laughable feminine encounter, I was a pretty boring college student.  I did most of my drinking in my dorm room, which after first year had no RA’s in each building and were all upperclassmen space anyway and so not “dry” and therefore there was no reason to worry about it.  So I don’t have many “crazy fraternity party” stories or anything like that.

But Pammy-Girl’s roommate post did put me in mind of my old roommates.  For the record, my roommate stories absolutely pale in comparison to hers.  Which, as I said, makes me think they’re telling their stories about me – which means they’re probably with their friends playing “I know the biggest dork.”  At least Dys has the story about driving her roommate to do the “Girls of the [Conference]” Playboy shoot.  Me, not so much.

But I do have one pretty amusing roommate anecdote. Hell, I should probably save this one for my next radio show, but here it goes.  (Settle in, this one’s pretty long.)

Incoming freshmen at UVA are required to live on campus.  (Which I think is the only way to build a real sense of identity and community, but that’s another topic.)  In the “New Dorms,” there were four floors with four suites per floor.  Each suite had five bedrooms, two freshmen to a room, surrounding one common living room and a bathroom.  There was one RA to every two suites – so one upperclassmen to 18 freshmen.  The suite with the RA was called the “On” suite, and the one without the RA was the “Off” suite.

I lived in the “On” suite.  But our RA was a live-and-let-live kinda guy.  We had an understanding.  By which I mean when we beat Virginia Tech that fall and we had a party going on in my room with enough booze and amplifiers to hold a Motley Crue concert (a friend in the next dorm over not only asked me on Monday who was having the party in our dorm, but could identify the songs we were playing) – rather than knock on the door and have to see what was going on, the RA flipped the breaker to kill the power and then called us from the phone in his room.


But RA’s are people too, and this RA had a life, so one weekend he went out of town.

You can guess where this is going.

At this point in the year, in keeping with my smittenitude with my girlfriend the Church Girl, who was still in high school, I wasn’t drinking.  I was, instead, discovering how much fun it could occasionally be (and occasionally not be) to be the only one in the room sober enough to laugh at everyone else.  So I was stone-cold sober, but I was the only one.

AMP’s roommate, the super-dorky genius kid, was home for the weekend.  Two of the boys who had gone to high school together up in NoVa were out patronizing a local pizza establishment that was surreptitiously infamous for using the Honor System.  (“Are you 21?”  “Yes.”  “Okay, here are your pitchers!”)  A few guys were visiting from the other suites in the dorm – one holed up in my room with my roommate, smoking, drinking Jim Beam, and playing guitar; one holed up with AMP in his room, drinking the Beast and arguing about Metallica.  The last two, a good ol’ boy and a guy that we’d all sort of decided was something of an Insufferable Ass, were out drinking elsewhere.  Especially interesting since the Insufferable Ass (I’ll call him IA) rarely drank.

So the scene is set.

I’m sitting out in the living room, alternately watching college football and playing video games.  Good ol’ boy roommate comes in, drunker than hell on malt liquor and carrying a couple of six packs of King Cobra.  He hangs around with me for a few, polishing off a can or two, before staggering off to his room to pass out.

Another guy from downstairs comes up to hang out for a while.  It’s a bit loud.  People are going in and out of rooms, but for the most part the distribution is as mentioned above…

…at least that’s the way it was when the Head RA for the dorm walked in the door.

“Hey, Head RA!”  I said, surely with eyes the size of dinner saucers.  “Come on in, man, check this out, I’ve never made it this far in this game before!”

He comes in, saying something about how we’re loud, and I’m apologetic, but he does sit down for a few minutes and watch me play the game.  During which the other guy who was hanging with me gets up, ostensibly to take a leak, and on his way back stops into my room for a bit to warn my roommate and the other guy in there with him, as it’s my roommate’s amp that is the source of most of the noise in question.  They promptly hide all the alcohol in sight.

Head RA notices the other guy hasn’t come back, and makes his way to my room.  He pokes his head in and talks with them for a few minutes to tell them to turn the amps down – which gives me the chance to go into AMP’s room and tell him the other guy to hide their booze.  My roommate, being the cool head under pressure (even drunk) that he was, brilliantly stalled the head RA.

Head RA makes it into AMP’s room.  I confer with my roommate about how utterly fucked we could be, but that thus far, we think the Head RA is buying it.  Or at least doesn’t have Probable Cause.

Head RA comes out, and by all appearances is preparing to leave.   When…what happens?

You know what happens.

Insufferable Ass comes wobbling his ass through the door, drunk-giddy and permagrinned, completely oblivious to the danger of his situation.

Oh shit.

While he merrily and slurringly explains how awesomely drunk his 18-year-old ass is to the Head RA and my roommate and I slap ourselves in the forehead and sink dejectedly to the couches, the Head RA gradually starts to get miffed.  I don’t know if he finally put two and two together, or if he finally was faced with a situation that he couldn’t sweep under the mat.  Probably a combination of the two, honestly.  But in any event, suddenly he points to a table about three feet from where I’d been sitting initially.

At a half-empty can of King Cobra.

And, looking at me, asks, “Who’s been drinking in the suite?!”

IA, of course, says, “Hang on!”  Chuckling, he fumbles for his keys.  “Come and see my drunk roommate!!”

“Oh no,” say my roommate and I.

IA actually unlocks the door and invites in the Head RA, where Good Ol’ Boy has been passed out peacefully and not bothering a soul…except the still-full six-pack of Cobra that he’s hugging.

At which point, NoVa boys, never subtle about anything, come barrelling in, reeking of beer (and somewhat less so of pizza) screaming something or other about balls or ass or faggots or whatever else they used to use as standard greeting.  You know, before they saw the Head RA.

Despite all the smooth-talking in the world from my roommate, we were all cordially invited to come talk to the Head RA, one at a time, on Sunday afternoon.  After our RA had come home and he’d had a chance to talk to him one-on-one for a while first.


Head RA departs.  The rest of us, including Good Ol’ Boy, who has been painfully and rudely (and not entirely successfully) roused from his drunken slumber, gather around and begin to grumble, more and more loudly, about what sort of horrific punishment we could, should, and by god would apply to IA, who is still so completely blasted that he’s having the time of his life.  If he’d known what was good for him, he sh ould have left with the Head RA.

But all good times…especially times THAT good…eventually come to an end.  And pretty soon, IA isn’t feeling so good.  He changes into a T-shirt and some shorts to sleep…but before he goes to sleep…he has to make a little stop.

The sound of retching from the bathroom brings some grim satisfaction to the rest of the beaten troops in the living room.  But not enough.

See, this is a story about stupid behavior that seems painful as hell at the time and is only funny much later, in retrospect.  But some of those stories take a turn toward transcendence, to become moments that all involved will remember for the rest of their lives.

For us, that moment came when my roommate, whose heart was always 24-karat gold, went in to check on IA to see if he was okay.  He made it three slow steps into the door, then cleared the door on the way out in one huge leap with the rousing cry,


Being guys, we couldn’t take his word for it.  We had to confirm.  And, indeed, the veracity of his word was confirmed.  His explanation, when we demanded how the hell he did such a thing, was the immortal words:  “I dunno.  I wash pukingsh, and then I feltsh like I really hadsh to shit, and then all of a shudden, I didn’t.  Hic.”

Unbeknownst to IA, this humiliating act probably saved him a semester or so of horrid beatings.  Because at that point, the whole situation just became so ludicrously over-the-top that our collective rage burst like a pricked balloon, and we all dissolved into hysterics.

Hell, we have pictures.  AMP, being the eternal 7-year-old that he is, took pictures with my camera.  (After sticking a pencil into it.)

Sadly, as I just learned when I was looking for pictures for this story, as of this summer Balz Dorm will be no more.  (Then I can share something else with Dys, whose freshmen dorm was imploded a few years back.  Damn.)

But I still carry a ton of memories around with me.  This story is one of those memories.  And that is why we had pictures on our wall for months – our faces, next to our Disciplinary Action Forms.  And why, though we went our separate ways after freshmen year, we all stayed fairly close until graduation, including the couple of downstairs guys who were visiting at the time.

And why one Insufferable Ass sweated throughout the graduation ceremony wondering if we would, in fact, live up to our three-years-old threat to all stand up, pointing and identifying him as Poopy Pants!


13 Responses

  1. This story is hilarious. Thank you so much for sharing it. I have pretty much no good college stories, because the drinking thing got old fast, and it’s great to live vicariously through one as good as this.

    You have to admit; going to a gir, err, women’s college must reduce at least 80% of the potential for pure drunken idiocy. Hell, I’ve witnessed firsthand the difference between a co-ed school and an all-male school, and it’s ridiculous.

  2. When I met him, many years after this incident, he had this picture in a photo album, immediately beside pictures of said IA praying to the porcelain god — well, I think the guy may have been passed out with his face on the rim at that point — and of IA the next morning, whose expression screamed, “I am going to pay for this until the grave.”

    Glad you told this one, hon; even I hadn’t heard about the poopy pants threat!

    You say that as though I don’t still have that photo album.

  3. Poopy Pants? Classic!!! I guess here’s my question: you’re a DJ?

    Not exactly, but I have in past done a radio talk show thing on Blog Talk Radio (and plan to do so again – really, they’ve threatened me). Here’s the link to the last after-show post, with a link to listen if you are so inclined.

  4. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? While there’s a good number of women who took full advantage of being on a “dry” campus (my editorial comment to that is HA HA HA), a vast number of them just went over to UMass or Amherst and got drunker than skunks on a regular basis.

    More than once I went to brush my teeth on a Sunday and found that someone had blown chunks in a sink. Fuckin’ ew.

    I will say that I never ran into that particular problem.

    And yeah, UVA’s rush was “dry,” too, starting with my first year. BWAHAHAHAH.

    The line about Hampden-Sydney was that it was all-male from Monday at about 10am until Thursday at about noon. There’s a lot of truth to that.

  5. That’s because ya don’t, there goober. When the child showed a deep obsession with photo albums at an early age, WE (not the royal we, you were there) dismantled it in the hope for lower therapy bills when he got older.

    We do, of course, still have the photos.

    Oh yeah! Never mind. 😀

  6. Boys are icky. 😉

    Point being?

  7. Oh. My. God. That was some funny shit. Literally.


  8. I sadly have no horrifying roommate tales to tell, since the only roommates I have had would be Shawn and my sister.

    Hmm. So at least a few horrifying stories, but not in a good way? Ugh.

  9. The breaker trick was very smart and very non-confrontational.

    Poop stories are always the best…this is a classic!

    I’ll probably remember this one until I go senile or die, whichever comes first. I can still see the look on my roommate’s face as he bounded out of the bathroom. 😀

  10. I don’t really understand the politics of the post because things are very different here, but it was still a funny story!

    Do you know if you shit yourself because of alcohol comsumption, you’re so poisoned with alcohol that you are close to death? So, it’s a funny story and Poopy Pants is a great name, but it could have ended very badly for Mr. PP… 😀

    I don’t think he was that far gone – probably just too busy puking to notice that the, uh, bodily strain of puking had overcome his natural restraint. If he’d ended up in the hospital with AP, that would have made us feel bad. (If he’d ended up in the hospital with broken ribs, not so much.)

  11. Ew! Ew! Ew! Ew!





    I don’t like poop stories!

    Sorry, I suppose I should have put up a warning? But that might have been a spoiler.


  13. Awesome story. Glad you kept it together to share it. I wasn’t much for helping or checking on bathroom people. I had my own tasks!

    I did, about a decade ago, have to sit in the bathroom while the cousin of one of the actors I was directing got sick. She wouldn’t go in without me (I was, after all, the director!) so I did.

    It doesn’t bother me so I sat there reading a magazine while she whine and tossed. At one point she asked if she was going to die. I flip a page and said,

    “Yes, one day. But probably not tonight.”

    She started crying. What? I thought that was comforting! Her cousin and I carried her upstairs and put her to bed where, of course, she died.

    No! Joking. She may have felt as if she would have preferred in the morning but she was fine.

    Heheheh. Oh yeah, IA had that kind of morning, too. So we all were pleasantly loud.

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