Surf's Up. On Second Floor?
Second Floor O’Shaughnessy’s reputation was campus wide. At our then small southern school of 8400 students, the dozen or more of us made enough noise and raised enough commotion to be the talk of the entire school. We were a mixed rabble of future engineers, and architects, and accountants and psychologists. One thing we excelled at was creative ideas regarding releasing the stress of our studies. Most of them skirted a wide variety of laws, but with the statute of limitations being what it is, I have no problem sharing with you the joys of our college life.
The State DOT was building a bypass to facilitate access to the growing sports complex, so here was a four-lane limited access highway with no one on it. It was under construction. And here were all these great yellow blinking lights, and highway signs; black arrows on yellow background, speed limit, stop signs, all yours for a few quick turns of a wrench. Since the road was not yet opened, who were we hurting? Our rooms were soon filled with signs and blinking lights alongside the posters of Steve McQueen, Marvin Brando, and Jane Fonda. Since I had the most honest face (and no signs in my room) I was asked to report to the campus police to help them find the culprits. Would I pass the word to the rest of the culprits, to return the signs, no questions asked? “Certainly officer, you can count on me,” I told them. They could also count on me having three signs in the trunk of my car ready to go up on my wall. After all the work stealing them. Damn!
Our next endeavor was a function of finding an old tractor wheel. It was about two feet in diameter with knobs on it, solid iron weighing in around 100 pounds. Hard to lift, but put a broom handle in the center hole and that baby would roll. We secreted it in one of our rooms until late at night. Then we’d wheel old Betsy out of her hiding place and roll her up the hall, and roll her back down the hall. You can imagine the sound waves that generated down below on the first floor. By the time they’d all rush up to find out what the heck was going on, Betsy would be tucked into her hiding place, and we’d all have our ears to our doors to listen to all the first floor crew cussing up a storm.
The gig was almost up when the RA found the wheel and locked it in the storage room on the floor. Besty languished there until someone needed the key to the storage room to retrieve a suitcase or foot locker they’d stored there. Along with the foot locker old Betsy would sneak back into someone’s room. Give a week or so for plausible deniability, then Betsy would make another run or two. This time left outside the RA’s door, so he could put her back safely back to bed.
The best party though was our surf’s up party. Someone had spilled some water on the floor and almost slipped on it. Light bulbs, the creative ones in our sick minds all went off. With a very long hallway, we managed to keep the first 100 feet dry, and the second hundred feet wetted down with shaving cream for an added accelerant. We would get a running start on the dry in our tighty-whiteys and t-shirts, then slide as far as we could on the wet. The entire floor turned out to cheer the participants on. Sadly our RA was away for the weekend, so he missed out on all the fun.
I would say things got out of hand, but showoffs who would spin, or turn 360’s only prompted onlookers to grab cups of water to douse them as then flew by. Cups soon turned to plastic waste baskets, and you could say there was enough water on the floor to float a small boat. Water, being what it is, has a tendency to seek its own level, eventually made its way down the stairwells like little waterfalls and unfortunately through the light fixtures in several rooms downstairs. That got the attention of the first floor crew who came upstairs, mad as wet hens. But try as they may they couldn’t catch a one of us. You could hear the sounds of slamming doors and hysterical laughter.
Looking back, and considering the damage we caused, and the sheer lack of good sense we displayed, might give me a moment’s pause. But when I consider the memories and the bonds of friendship we forged back then, well, I have to admit it was worth every single minute of it.