Essays, Interviews, Observations, Pop Culture, Stories, and other Dodginess

The Boy in The Hornet’s Nest

Posted on November 19, 2015

Yes, the Return of the Asshole Book Club is coming (and the witch story). But during that Asshole Book Club, I told a story about one of my first real loves, and I realized it deserved a post of it’s own. I believe I’ve mentioned her before on this site (and she’ll be in the book I’m about finished with). But on Thanksgiving will be a new post, “Angela at The Store.” In the meantime, here’s a spooky pic of a Hornet’s nest I snagged on a Chicago-area trail on a gloomy autumn day. Cheers.


Coming Soon: The Return of The Asshole Book Club

Posted on November 7, 2015

The Asshole Book Club is back. Also, Halloween is over, but it doesn’t mean you can’t hear about “The Wicked Witch of Bucktown” who wreaked havoc over several days in the late 1990s. In the meantime, enjoy this pic of Revolution Brewing’s Fist City pale ale.

fist-city-revolution brewing

The Busiest Toilet in the Dorm

Posted on October 14, 2015

“Talk Bosnian to me.”

It was the third time I asked Fadila to speak her native tongue into my ears. But she would have none of it as we walked through the quad on an unseasonably warm fall afternoon at our Midwest college.

I was about to ask her a fourth time when I noticed her gaze off to the right and above.

“Why is there always someone in that window?” she said.

I knew why and I couldn’t tell her. The window in question was on the second floor of my dorm. It overlooked the quad, and it was different from other windows in that nobody appeared to ever be in them, and they never appeared to open. And when someone was in the window in question, they were always facing sideways, and many times their arm was dangling on the window sill, even in the winter.

I knew who it was. It was Dirk Spurlock. And he was taking a shit.

“It’s just a place to strike up a conversation,” I told Fadila.

She walked off, giving me the two-fingered “fuck you” as she did.

For reasons I cannot explain, nobody other than a select few from the dorm knew about this bathroom, and that toilet. Years and years ago at this old college the building was some sort of fraternity. Eventually it would be renovated into dorms for freshman and sophomore boys. But this area of the building, inexplicably, went untouched. It had a “Harry Potter” feel to it.

The bathroom itself was hidden in the corner of a small hall at the end of the main hall, its entrance an old wooden door that when opened showed a small room with a sink and three toilet stalls (no urinals). It was roomy, so there was a nice chair in there. Various paintings, the majority stolen, adorned the green walls, between pipes that went I-don’t-know-where. Rumor had it that the Young Martens secret fraternity used this bathroom as a sort of “satellite office/slash place to smoke pot.” Apparently the building once belong to the Young Martens, and they retained control over this bathroom.

“The busiest toilet in the dorm,” said Wyatt, who dormed here briefly before leading the Young Martens.

Everyone sat by the stall at the window, a window literally inches from the toilet seat. Dirk Spurlock would write love poems to his girlfriend in there. He also wrote several plays, and is now a young up-and-coming playwright in New York (under a pseudonym). Rumor has it that Michael Stipe of R.E.M., while visiting the college on a tour, wrote a song while in the stall. Another rumor has punkers Screeching Weasel tearing up the bathroom, with Johnny Jughead jumping or falling out the window.

Philosophy Professor Dr. Shafbuch was found unconscious on the toilet. We’re not even sure how he found out about the toilet. We knew he was losing his mind that semester, however.

We’d be in class and Dr. Shafbuch would pull out a pack of cigarettes and start smoking, just staring at us. We didn’t know if it was a test or what.

“Dogs talk to me,” he said. “I feel like a broken egg.”

“Is this going to be on the quiz,” my friend and classmate Aidan asked.

We heard a rumor that Dr. Shafbuch, who looked like a cross between Woody Allen and Roy Scheider from “Jaws,” was arrested for walking into the local liquor store with no pants on.

Dr. Shafbuch never returned after being found on the toilet, and luckily no one asked or inquired about said toilet.

I didn’t see Fadila since she flipped me off in the quad. 

My Bosnian crush skipped class the following week. But as I was walking through the quad I glanced up to see who might be in the toilet window. It was Fadila.

She looked at me, flipped me off. And in beautiful Bosnian, said,

“Fuck you, Liffey.”


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