I haven't written about Barrington Hall in a while so here's Part 3 of my year at Barrington Hall. You may wish to read the first and second posts, written earlier this year. If you prefer, 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. Although I had a good friend as a roommate, we shared a suite with two nudists, a violent and brilliant stripper, 7 adorable kittens, and an extraodinarily flatulent mother cat. Today this would be a short-lived series on Fox.
Now we're all caught up. Let's talk about Barrington grub.
Barrington, like all the Co-op houses, was student run. Students did the cooking and cleaning. They ordered the food and served the meals. In short, we did everything required to run the building. Consequently, the place was kind of... well, what's the opposite of a well-oiled machine? A dump. Yeah, it was a dump.
I always enjoyed how my fellow Barringtonians reacted to the various unsanitary conditions. Let's say there were no clean glasses and someone wanted some milk from our industrial-sized milk dispenser. Would they wash a glass? Would they forgo hygiene entirely and use a dirty glass? No! Often the answer was to use some other vessel. I often saw beverages consumed out of ladles, giant serving bowls, and my personal favorite, plates. I LOVED watching people try to drink off of a plate. Some residents were experts at it, while eithers just forlornly watched the beverage dribble down their clothes onto the floor, where it happily mingled with the other floor filth.
Dinner was the most exciting meal at Barrington. It was a group meal and vaguely resembled one of the challenges on Survivor. Not only was it physically difficult to get at your meal, but once you had it cornered on your plate, you really weren't always sure if it was something you should ingest.
Typically, the hungry unwashed masses would gather in the dining room at dinner time, and would anxiously await that evening's feast. If dinner was a bit late, the crowd would often spontaneously break out into a drumming cacophony. Silverware, plates, ladles, bongs, hacky sacks, whatever, were used to create some pre-dinner music. To this day I cannot hear the opening to The Who's "Magic Bus" without feeling both nostalgic and vaguely nauseated.
When dinner was finally ready, it would get served by that evening's cooking crew. Although this sounds like a simple task, it was a suprisingly dangerous assignment. There was rarely enough food to eat at dinner and this was a well-known fact. Consequently, the servers would bring out large bowls of whatever to each table and would then attempt to extricate themselves from the feeding frenzy that immediately pounced upon the food.
The mad rush to get food from the serving bowl onto your own plate/pan/teacup/tongue was a nightly occurrance. There were many nights when I wasn't quick enough or strong enough to get any dinner. Those hippies were suprisingly wiry. Other times, I just couldn't bear to eat the food after it had been pawed at. I recall one evening they served some chicken in a savory and dingy grey sauce. Right before I could plop some onto my plate, the woman next to me ran her fingers through the serving bowl and scooped up a handful of chicken and sauce, which was promptly delivered to her mouth. I hadn't gotten there fast enough to see if this was her first or second iteration through the bowl. I passed on dinner that evening.
Another night they were serving some sort of baked chicken breast thing. Inexplicably, the servers decided to bring out the chicken breasts using the trays that they had been baked on. These trays were HOT and the servers ran through the dining room, rushing to get their limb-scorching trays to the tables. One server, in his haste to avoid 3rd degree burns, tripped, and the chicken flew off the trays and slid across the grime-encrusted floor. Nobody missed a beat. While I hesitated, the other Barringtonians pounced and devoured the now filth-spiced chicken. Mmmmmmm, floor chicken.
And that's the story of how I ate at Blondies Pizza about 3 times a week for one year of my life. You could get a big slice of pizza and a Coke for about $1.50. Although it was also prepared by hippies, you didn't have to be particularly fast or strong to acquire the food. You just had to have $1.50.
More Barrington Hall stories another day.