Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I'll Get By With a Little Help From My Friends (Post-Uni)

Someday we'll wave hello
And wish we'd never waved goodbye...

The Smashing Pumpkins, "This Time"

I have the best friends in the world. It's a shame we don't live close together anymore and don't see each other as often as we'd all like. But we stay in touch as much as we can. We've all spread out across various provinces and states, but think nothing of driving all night to spend a weekend together. We'll see how having a baby interferes with that, but it hasn't so far.

With a few additions and subtractions, our core group of friends has been together since the 7th grade. Of that group, there are a few of us who can trace our friendship back to the 1st grade. And since I can't really remember further back than that, I can honestly say that I've known my friends my whole life.

We're closer than family, closer than brothers. So, when I had a hard time landing on my feet after university, they were the ones I turned to. And, as usual, they came through, just like they've always done, and I like to think I've always done for them.


Spring 1999

I'm working the two jobs (unofficial grocery store trainer and bilingual admin clerk) and scuffling along. I'm stressed out because my girlfriend is still in school and, at the time, even though I knew I wanted to pursue the relationship after she graduated, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. Nothing was forcing her to move to the same city as me, and I'm not the type of person who wants to keep someone from doing something they want to do, even if that doesn't involve me.

The three guys I moved in with are a year younger than me, and thus, were still completing their degrees and were in their last year of school. In addition, one of the guys had his fiance living with us as well. So, that's 4 guys and 1 girl in a three-bedroom apartment. I didn't care that I slept on the couch, because it was only fair, and because I have a grand total of zero shame ("hey, if you happen to see me naked, that's YOUR problem, not mine.").

Then, the summer rolls around, and my girlfriend calls. She's having trouble finding a job, so she'd rather stay with me for the summer, while still trying to find work. I felt sort of bad, because the apartment was already overcrowded, so I asked the guys:

"Hey, do you mind if my girlfriend stays on the couch with me?"

"Is she cute?"


"Is she a bitch?"


"Will she take a share of the rent?"

"Yeah." (going up to 6 people paying rent in the apartment brought our shares down to $227 each a month, we quickly figured...then started cracking up)

"No problem. We'll figure something out."

That "something" was probably the most resourceful, eccentric, yet all around retarded decision we've ever made. And, it probably set the tone for a bunch of other stupid things we did over the total of two years we lived there.

Our living room was L-shaped. The back third was basically just used to stack empty beer cases and pilfered street signs, and play cards, drink and smoke. We hypothesized that we could condense everything down to 2/3 of the living room, then build "some sort of structure" that would serve as the 4th bedroom.

I don't know if it was the lingering aroma of hash and weed in the air (don't do drugs, kids), or the consecutive weeks of drinking until 3 in the morning on work nights, or watching Animal House too many times, but the "some sort of structure" became a temporary wall frame assembled by 4x4s that sealed off the back third of the living room and was held up by huge L-brackets. So, so illegal. We now had a wall frame, and decided to push this project to the limits of absurdity.

In order to give us some semblance of privacy, we went to a fabric surplus store and got reams of the cheapest stuff we could get. Since one colour would be too bland and flowery patterns would be too gay, we decided to go with various samples of bold colours - red, blue, green, yellow, purple, gray, pink. In honour of the colour scheme, my bedroom was dubbed "the circus tent". The really funny part was, that after a few people moved out and we got a bedroom of our own, the tent sheets were used as drapes for the living room of our 18th floor apartment. At night, when it was dark out and the lights were on, a multi-coloured glow shone out into the street.

But that didn't help that our room was still very visible from the balcony - the sheets only cut us off from the living room. So we drew a line on the balcony, that the guys knew not to cross for risk of seeing my furry white ass fornicating.

We stayed up all night assembling that tent the day before my girlfriend was due to arrive. I wonder whether our neighbours had the slightest clue what we were doing. I mean, high-rise dwellers would have to get curious when they hear power tools 18 floors up at 1:00 in the morning.

I still can't believe that I lived in that tent for 6 months. At least I got to the point where I had bought an air mattress to go on top of the pullout, but still, what the hell was I thinking?

The relationships started getting a bit strained because of the close quarters and conflicting schedules, but if it was anyone aside from my best friends, we'd have killed each other. But looking back on it, the nights playing euchre and bitching about work, the treks throughout the city to find the best wings, and the best strippers, and sometimes, the best wing/stripper combo, the stupid dares, the road trips, getting high and going to the mall, and just generally being guys away from home, were some of the best times I ever had. I don't miss the jobs I had, but I certainly miss our time in that apartment, and looking back on it, I shouldn't have left when I did, but sometimes all the petty shit that gets in the way looks more important than having fun with your friends.

I'll get into that petty shit next time... :)


Post a Comment

<< Home