Shorebilly's Swill: Syd Returns to That Infamous First Summer
About a year or so ago, I started writing what proved to be a multi part-piece chronicling events and stories from my first summer in Ocean City, MD. I thought I could have wrapped it up in two or three weeks, but the more I wrote, the more I was reminded of other tales from that dubious summer. I even received calls, texts, and e-mails from some of my old roommates reminding me of stories that I had long forgotten. I took a lengthy hiatus from that treasure trove so as not to lose your interest. This week I’m going to return to it because some things just have to be told.
If my count is accurate, this will be part 7 in the series. I can’t say with certainty though because I really don’t read my own stuff. I carefully worded my way through parts 1 - 6 at the risk of alienating old friends, family, and employers, forcing multiple acquaintances to fake a level of plausible deniability, and shaming loved ones both old and new. I believe it was one of these articles that prompted the editors and publishers to first attach the “disclaimer paragraph” to my column. Most aspiring writers would react to this apologetically, humbled, paranoid, and concerned about future employment. I on the other hand, possessing a much different thought process than most normal people viewed it as my “coming out”. Right or wrong, I was flattered. Most writers would be shamed; I celebrated it with jubilance. I didn’t say I was proud of it, I just thought it was kind of cool. And truth be told, I wasn’t overly concerned with them docking my pay. I’ve since found my column moved to another section where I dwell under a standard, weekly, blanket disclaimer. I can only hope in my arrogance that the Chew On This section was created to accommodate my twisted rants and absolve the publication of repercussions.
Now back to that infamous first summer, where and when it all began. To bring you up to speed, there were 7 of us: 4 males, and 3 females, all recent high school graduates who had rented a condo at the beach for the summer. We all had intentions of leaving in September to start our “adult” lives. Most of us did; I did not. The events of that fateful summer were so epic, and so enjoyable that I stayed behind to keep the party going. This would be the start of a journey down a long, winding, bumpy path of perpetual fun, and self destruction that would subsequently span over two decades. And yet somehow, I retained enough functioning brain cells to recall stories from that first summer and share them with you. I’ve sifted through the plethora of events, stories, and memories and whittled it down to the ones I think we can actually print.
In this installment, I’m going to tell you just about things that happened in our humble kitchen. The room was only about 7 feet by 5 feet, and was used much more as a gathering and boozing room than for the preparation of meals. If we had assigned numeric labels to each room of the house, the kitchen more than likely would have been designated as area 51 simply based on all of the weird stuff that took place in that room. Each of the 7 of us purchased our own groceries, and “in theory” at least, had our own designated cabinet and refrigerator space. One of the most common events though was the pilfering of others’ consumables. More often than not, some of the roommates, upon arriving home after a night out, would be experiencing moments lacking clarity, courtesy, and sound judgment. This is when the grocery purchases of other roommates seemed particularly appetizing without regard for ownership or repercussions. This prompted a seemingly never ending stream of arguments, denials, and preventive measures which included some pretty entertaining notes posted about. One such note was taped to a carton of orange juice and it simply read: “I spit in this” and was signed by the roommate who purchased it. He, ironically enough, was the one most often responsible for the looting in our kitchen.
Another memorable note was taped to a box of Mac-n-cheese, (if I recall correctly). This now classic post-it read: “If you eat this, and I find out about it, I’ll eat all of your food even if I’m not hungry”. Trust me when I say, that those words are VERBATIM. I know this because the note was so funny that I held on to it for several years before misplacing it in a move. I love this guy dearly, but handwriting is not his strong suit. So the choice of verbiage of the note, paired with the fact that it looked like it had been written by a four-year-old, made it hysterical.
One of the roommates came home one day from the store with a fresh package of Oreo cookies. He hatched an ingenious plan to cut down the risk of the burglary of his beloved confections and to eliminate the potential for having to share them. He sat down at the table, opened the package and carefully removed the plastic tray of cookies. He then proceeded to remove each and every one of them and take a single small bite out of them. After which he meticulously returned all of the cookies to the tray, gently slid the tray back into the cellophane Nabisco scabbard, and proudly placed the package in his designated cupboard space. The lengths that stoned guys would go to protecting their specific dietary rations for times of need never ceased to amaze me.
This same roommate often had unusual cravings, at unusual times, and some unusual food preparation techniques. I don’t recall exactly what prompted these binges, but I believe the technical, scientific term for it was: “the munchies”. One particular day he had decided to make himself a meal. He put a pan of oil on the stove, turned the burner on high, and then realized that the rest of us were out front playing basketball in our make-shift hoop which was a milk crate with the bottom cut out nailed to the stairwell. He, not at all unlike a dog who just saw a squirrel, immediately abandoned his project forgetting entirely what he’d been doing and came out to join us. Needless to say, about 20 minutes into a heated game of H-O-R-S-E thick smoke was billowing out of every window in our condo.
Unfortunately for all of us, it seemed his most ravenous cravings struck in the hours nestled between late night, and early morning. At these times, his already sub-standard culinary prowess became even less impressive. It was almost ritualistic in fact. He would stumble in the front door late at night, and immediately don his “I’m home” uniform. This entailed him stripping down to only his boxer shorts regardless of who was present at the time. He would then parade into the social den which was our kitchen and engage in his epicurious wizardry. Many of these evenings, he would not even realize or acknowledge that we were present. He wasn’t being rude; I just honestly don’t think he could see us seated at the table just inches from him. We would all then watch the process with great intrigue. Partially out of morbid curiosity and for the sheer entertainment of it, and partially to ensure that he didn’t burn the place down.
One of the more memorable episodes came one night when most of us were still awake, and most of us were already annoyed by him. I think I recall my one petite female roommate actually having a cartoon bubble above her head in which was her fantasy about bludgeoning him. He opened the freezer that looked as if each of us had been given multiple shares of stock in Steak Umms as a graduation gift. He removed a box from the freezer and took out several sheets of the frozen meat-like product. He placed rectangles of beef impressionists into a large pan on the stove and spent the next several minutes hovering over it swaying like a palm tree in the face of a category five hurricane. We all sat and watched in silent, stunned amazement with none of us ever telling him that he hadn’t turned on the burner. After about 30 minutes of his cow chips not changing their form other than to thaw slightly, his lack of focus kicked in and he grew bored with his present location. At this time, he began strolling around the condo with pan in hand thinking that it was cooking as he wandered about. This in itself was entertaining enough, but the fact that he was smoking a cigarette and flicking the ashes right into the pan that harbored his next meal was priceless. He was entertaining the hell out of the rest of us without even trying.
As he strolled about our place like a minstrel with his ash tray/future sandwich in hand clad only in his boxers, I crept over to the stove and turned on the burner for him. I knew that eventually he would have a brief moment of lucidity and return to the heat source which was much safer controlled by me. He did as expected, and eventually his steak-thing and his tobacco remnants had cooked to the point that he was ready to add cheese. He frantically searched about the kitchen for the cheese, and eventually spied it sitting on the table in front of the girl who wanted to kill him. He got an excited look on his face, jumped into a squat with knees slightly bent, and his hands extended like a basketball player on defense, his eyes widened, and he looked at her and yelled: “CHEESE ME”! At which time, she picked up the entire one pound cube of individually wrapped, sliced, processed American cheese food and hurled it at him with all she had, striking him just south of the border. She hit him so hard, and so squarely right in the seed purse that he immediately buckled and dropped to his knees, his eyes crossed, and snot launched from both nostrils. It’s very possibly the hardest I’ve ever laughed.
That’s it for now, with many more stories from that fateful summer yet to come.
More stories from the first summer:
- The Glory Days--Otherwise known as The First Summer
- The First Summer--Cadillacs and Unholy References
- First Summer, Part Three
- The First Summer - How We Made Our Money
- That Infamous First Summer, Part Five
- The First Summer - The Original Jackasses
Thanks for playing along.
Until next week,
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