Previously I had written an introduction to my year at Barrington, but, as it turns out, there's lots more to say. I recommend reading the previous Barrington post first. If, however, you refuse, then here's the management summary:
I lived in the Barrington Hall Cooperative in Berkeley, California during my sophomore year of college. It was an exaggerated stereotype of life in "hippie" Berkeley, replete with copious drugs, psychedelic murals, and entrenched filth. I was a squeaky clean boy from the suburbs. Fish out of water hilarity ensued.
Without further ado, I present Barrington Hall, den of iniquity extraordinaire, chapter two.
When we last left out hero (that's me), I had been living in the all-black room for about two weeks but eventually I was given the chance to move into a much less frightening room with a friend of mine. Barrington was laid out as a set of suites, about 40 of them, with each suite consisting of 3 bedrooms and a shared bathroom. My friend and I would share one double bedroom, but we had no idea who would be in the other suite rooms. We didn't really know anyone, but we did know that there weren't very many clean-cut geeks like us in Barrington. I was a naive electrical engineering student and my roommate was a nice Jewish boy (soon to be a doctor!).
So, we apprehensively knocked on the suite door, semi-frightened of what we'd find on the other side. Would it be a member of one of the various bands who lived in Barrington, infamous for their non-scholastic lifestyle? Perhaps it would be some guy frying on acid with ferrets wriggling out of his pants (this was a more common sight in Barrington than you'd think).
Instead, a fairly scraggly looking guy opened the door. Aside from general unkemptness he wasn't overtly frightening. What I noticed first was his nose ring, which apparently required constant attention from his fingers. We introduced ourselves and he eyed us up and down. After a brief moment of contemplation (spent fingering his nose ring) he declared, "I hope you two aren't allergic to nudity." and off he went into his bedroom.
We had already viewed our bedroom and the bathroom in the suite. Our bedroom was pretty pleasant, considering that this was Barrington. The walls had a cool grey cave-ish sponge pattern on them, and it was big enough. The bathroom was pretty nasty though. The best part of it was the toilet. On the toilet tank someone had written in permanent ink "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water..." Then, you'd lift the lid and see that they had painted Jaws-like teeth on the toilet seat. So, every time I had to take a dump for the next year, I warily lowered my ass onto those teeth. They never bit, but it wasn't the nicest toilet I've ever used.
Piet, the nose ring guy, turned out to be a fine suitemate. He and his wife lived in this dinky little single room in our suite, and, as promised, were naked a non-trivial amount of time. Luckily, my roommate and I were not allergic. My favorite memory of Piet was during Halloween that year. That afternoon we heard him calling to us from the bathroom. We found him immersed in the tub, which was filled with dark blue water. "I'm dying myself blue!" he proudly blurted out. Unfortunately the dye didn't really take. He ended up just being kind of a dingy grey for Halloween, dingier than usual.
Piet was a nice guy although he fiddled with that damn nose ring every time I talked to him. It was hard not to stare at it. We had several conversations where afterwards I couldn't recall what he had said because I had just been repeating "Don't stare! Don't stare! Don't stare!" in my head the whole time.
Our other suitemate was a great gal named Kim, who was the first out-of-the-closet lesbian I had ever met, and she was hot! My roommate and I spent countless hours fantasizing about hot lesbian Kim. We imagined the many things this woman would teach us. Surprise surprise, none of that ever came to fruition. Kim was a topnotch suitemate though, a small island of sanity in that place.
Sadly, Kim moved out after one semester. She was replaced by a gal named Aquarius (which is not her real name, but you'll just have to trust me that her hippie parents gave her an even better name). Aquarius was a spitfire, a smart, violent, feminist stripper. Well, she wasn't a stripper yet. That came later.
She was an extremely well-spoken person, who managed to create drama and danger wherever she went. On more than one occasion our suite got woken up in the middle of the night by some angry woman, banging at the suite door, demanding her boyfriend back and swearing at Aquarius. My roommate and I cut her a wide berth. We had a healthy fear of her, despite her diminutive size. I had never met someone who yelled and got into physical confrontations as often as her.
About two years later we heard through the Co-op grapevine that Aquarius was earning extra money as a stripper at Market Street Cinemas here in San Francisco. A lot of people would probably not understand how a staunch feminist could justify a job as a stripper, but I have no doubt that Aquarius would have been able to explain it. My theory is that she valued power in all forms, and being a stripper allowed her to have power over weak lustful men.
Anywho, the allure of seeing our ex-suitemate as a stripper was undeniable, so we curious and lustful men travelled down to the "theater" one evening to see her act. We were terrified that she'd see us there and beat us up, so we tried to keep a low profile. Aquarius was introduced by the announcer as "the young busty one", and that she was. The act itself was fine, neither the best nor the worst stripper I've seen. If you dug short busty gals, then you'd probably dig her. Her big move was biting her own nipple, which wasn't terribly erotic to me, but I mostly just felt uncomfortable in this strip joint, fearing that Aquarius would spot us at any moment. The act was coming to a close and it looked like we'd get out of there unscathed, when one of our more idiotic buddies screamed out "Aquarius!!!". I'll never know what kind of deathwish motivated that bastard to draw her attention to us, but she looked right at us.
As the song ended, we sat in stunned silence for a few moments, and then gathered our things to go. We made it halfway out, when we heard Aquarius screech our names. She came flying towards us, with her arms outstretched, to...give...us....hugs. She was, apparently, pleased to see her old suitemates. We chit-chatted awkwardly for a few moments and then made a hasty exit. That was Aquarius. She was nothing if not unpredictable.
She also had a crapload of cats. Well, it didn't start that way. She originally moved into the suite with one cat, named Bad Attitude, but she didn't have it spayed, and soon we had a litter of seven kittens. She named them after the Seven Deadly Sins, although one of them eventually got renamed as Stupid. That one was my favorite. I miss Stupid.
One cat was bad enough. Bad Attitude had the worst gas that you could possibly imagine. He'd slink into our room, hide under the beds until we forgot about him, and then unleash the most horrific farts I had ever smelled. I don't know what she fed that cat, but it was something unearthly. So, eight cats was a few too many.
I had already had a run-in with fleas in the room. Apparently the crappy mattress that I was given had come filled with fleas. It took me a while to figure it out (having never seen fleas before), but eventually I figured out that these tiny insects leaping about my bed were little beasty fleas. I resolved to get rid of them by using a bug bomb, but my roommate didn't think that was wise. He was worried about the health effects of having those toxins in the air. The irony of being concerned about toxins in that environment somehow eluded him. Anyway, I managed to change his mind when I started catching the fleas and placing them in his bed. Bombs away.
There you have it, nudity, unrequited lust for lesbians, crazy strippers, a crapload of cats, fleas, and a toilet painted like Jaws. This was just the stuff in my suite. More about the rest of the building another day.