Monday, November 23, 2009

The Day a Giant Fat Man Exploded Our Toilet

You might remember Doyal from last week’s story. Somehow, in between his rants about George W. and how Israelis were war criminals, Doyal found time to hate hippies. It was cool and all if you agreed with his politics, but most hippies (in Olympia, at least) were lazy and arrogant, as if growing dreadlocks and wearing wool ponchos was really all you needed to earn a permanent right to smugness. They’d pipe up in political conversations, and often as not, even though they were agreeing with Doyal, the actual point they were making would be inane and ill informed and Doyal’s forehead vein would start to pulse as he tried to tell people who agreed with him that they were complete idiots.

Plus, one day almost all of Doyal’s clothes were stolen out of a drier in the laundromat on campus. All his favorite shirts, a couple good pairs of pants, socks, underwear, all gone. We knew it was hippies, because there really wasn’t any other significant group of people on campus. And Doyal’s already given to getting aggravated all the time, and his roommates are always bagging on him for being short, and he wasn’t getting laid and it was just all bad. Doyal was totally, completely pissed.

A couple days later, it got worse. We lived with a guy named Andy Miller The Lady Killer, and Andy had this giant fat bastard of a friend who came over once or twice. One afternoon, when Andy was away visiting his girlfriend in Seattle, the big giant friend came into our house uninvited and took a half-hour shit in our bathroom. I don’t mean a guy with a beer gut or anything, I mean one of those huge fuckers where you pause and wonder how they got that way, like if there’s something medically wrong with them. You wonder if their bones are okay; like, if women with large breasts develop back trouble, and those boobs only weigh a few pounds, what kind of permanently screwed up spinal disaster is THIS guy carrying around with his 100-pound gut hanging off the front of him? It was the kind of fat where, instead of just looking like the larger version of a normal-sized person, you look like a factory screw-up with extra body parts badly stuffed in there.

I don’t mean to be cruel, but I do want you to understand, darling reader, that this was the guy who hijacked our toilet and sat in there shitting for half an hour. It pissed me off. I’d have probably left him alone otherwise.

So the dude finally comes out of the bathroom and we’re all irritated but not quite mad enough to say something to him, and he comes into the living room and he makes a pained face.

“Oh, man, I think I pulled my back in there,” he says, and walks out through the big living room window we used as a door.

Everybody’s nervous as hell. What did this fucking guy do to our toilet? Is it safe to pee in the house, or are we treeing it until further notice?

We waited for the stink to air out and then three of us went in there to scope out the situation. We agreed that the best thing to do would be a test flush, so if it backs up it would just be water and not somebody’s pee getting on the floor. It’s a risk, but we can’t do a test plunge, because the water in the bowl isn’t high enough for that to work.

So we held our breath.

I reached out and put my hand on the lever. I looked at my roommates. They nodded, yes, do it.

I flushed and we all jumped back.

And the water went right down the toilet. No problem. Whew. We all breathed a giant sigh of relief and went back into the living room to have some beer.

Half an hour after that, our roommate Rob goes into the bathroom to take a leak and flushes the toilet and all hell breaks loose.

He flushes, and GALLONS of disgusting shit water come gushing up out of the pipes. To this day I have no idea how the physics of this worked but Rob starts screaming in the bathroom and runs out into the hallway and we all spring up to see what’s happening and the entire bathroom floor is being flooded with brown water. And it wasn’t watered down, either: that foulness was thick.

It flowed throughout the entire little side room where the toilet was, across the middle room with the two sinks, into the bath-and-shower room on the other side, and finally crept up against the little edge at the bottom of the doorway into the hall.

The bathroom had linoleum floors.

The hallway was carpet.

We had no idea how much more water was going to keep bubbling up out of this hellhole that foul tubby asshole had made out of our toilet, so we had to think fast – how were we going to sop up all this shitty water before it overflowed onto the carpet? The entire bathroom floor was wall-to-wall covered and the water was still flowing. This was an emergency.

Inspiration struck: we’d have to raid the free box.

Right outside the student center where the pizza place and the laundromat were, there was a free “box” (aka “wooden dumpster”) where people dropped off old sweatshirts and pants and t-shirts and crappy books and scratched CDs, so the hippies could just raid that when they needed new clothes or a plastic disc that used to play music. We sprinted to the free box, grabbed as many absorbent-looking cotton clothes as we could hold and sprinted back. We threw the sweaters and socks and pants all over the bathroom floor and thank God, there was no overflow – the shitty water was contained entirely to the linoleum bathroom floor. We were geniuses!

We decided to drink a bunch more beer and some whisky and give the clothes time to sop up as much liquid as possible before setting to the gruesome task of lifting those clothes into garbage bags and getting them the hell out of the apartment. The smell was unbelievable.

I don’t think you know just how bad you can hate somebody until his actions force you to lift dripping crap-soaked clothes into a bag. The bag won’t stay open by itself; you’ve got to get somebody to crouch down holding it open while the other guy uses a stick or something to pick up the clothes. You have to be careful not to drip on the outside of the bag. The guy holding the bag has his face right there where you’re stuffing the clothes. It’s awful. Doyal and I took the first round, crouching by the door to the bathroom and switching off who held the bag. When we had a couple bags done, we walked them through the apartment and out the window towards the dumpsters.

So as we’re walking to the dumpsters, I look over at Doyal and I can tell he’s at the complete end of his rope, anger-wise. The guy is ready to kill somebody. First the hippies steal all his clothes and now this. And then I see a little glint flash up in his eye and a tiny smile crack the sides of his face. I know exactly what he’s thinking and he looks at me and I say, “You wanna put these right back in the free box?”

Doyal says, “Fuck yes.”

So that’s just what we did.

Words: Sean Murray
Art: Manuel Martinez

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A note on character names

So, these are all stories about real people from real life.

Me, I'm pretty firmly convinced that everyone's got some insane stories in their lives. Everyone's done stuff we all know you're not supposed to do. Everybody's been selfish, stupid, cruel, horny, reckless, venal. We're frail on all levels: physically, mentally, emotionally. We make our missteps in varying degrees of magnitude, of course, but I've come over the years to acknowledge and believe that we all fuck up, and while those fuck-ups carry consequences they don't always speak with finality to our quality as people. This is a fancy way of saying I used to be up on my high horse about everyone, and then I acted like an asshole and had to come down off it, and I actually like it better down here. Hell, I often like a person better when their damage is up-front and on the surface and accessible. I like the honesty of it.

That said, some of my friends and loved ones live lives more public than others and fall under more scrutiny as a result. And there are still plenty of people running around on their high horses to make life tough for those of us who would otherwise be happy to have our screw-ups aired out and funny instead of closeted and sad. And most of the poor bastards in these stories are my friends, so I have to treat their well-being with at least a pinch of deference.

Starting now, then, I won't necessarily be using folks' real names on the blog. I'm not going to say when a name is real and when it isn't, and I hope everyone reading this will play along. It'll be weird for a minute but then it won't be weird anymore. Like when you realize you're gay.

Oh, there's a story about that. That'll be a fun one.



A note from the artist:

I want to apologize in much the same way Sean has done. At no point did we intend to violate anyone’s privacy. I fell off my high horse so long ago that all this is nothing but fun and love for those times in our lives when we failed in the most amazing way. And those moments more often than not gives us the best stories when we look back at our lives. Again my sincerest apologies.


OH! And thank you at the same time. Having the opportunity to draw these moments has been my most humble privilege.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Doyal gets something scarier than VD

The shortest guy who lived in the apartment was a pissed-off Texan named Doyal.

Doyal had two blue, ropey veins in his forehead that would pop out like angry V-shaped eyebrows in a cartoon when you pissed him off. It was pretty easy to piss him off, too, so the other five of us living in the Evergreen campus apartment always tried to keep him angry as possible so we could see the veins. Plus, instead of saying he was pissed, he would say, “I’m so aggravated right now,” which we also thought was funny as hell.


He was from Austin, which meant he had all kinds of crazy swaggering Texas pride and cool stories about inner tubing down the river and Lone Star beer and needless near-death experiences with short-fuse rednecks. But he was also the most loudmouth liberal guy in the house and he’d never shut up about whatever Bush was doing that week to end the world, or how Israel was committing war crimes. And 9/11 had happened literally the day before we all arrived on campus so it was kind of a charged time anyway.

One of the mainstay features of our apartment was that at all times somebody was designated Most Hated Roommate. You could get this title for being an asshole, like the time Darren used a blanket from the living room couch to clean up his room after some messy sex, and then refused to wash the blanket. You could get it for drinking all the beer when the rest of us were asleep, which was Tyler’s forte.

But Doyal was the all-time Champion Most Hated Roommate. He held the title the most often and for the longest stretches at a time. He was the perfect storm: we were all arrogant, but he was arrogant and from the south. We were all poor cheapskates, but he was the cheapest of us all and brought home the nastiest cheap food. Plus, if nobody was leading the pack in terms of dickishness, we could give the title to Doyal and he’d be angry that it was unfair and he’d get aggravated and, again, the veins would come out.

So one day, we’re all getting drunk and we start bagging on Doyal again and he gets sick of it. He takes off and goes to some party by himself. And he’s trying to forget his pain-in-the-ass roommates when he meets this totally hot girl at the party. Boring story short, she’s drinking up a storm, he’s drinking up a storm, and they end up back at our apartment, drunkenly pawing at each other in Doyal's bed before they both pass out.

Doyal wakes up the next day and the bed is wet. Right in the middle. And she’s still there.

Thinking quickly, he hops out of bed, trots down the hall to take a shower, cleans himself off and makes some coffee.

The girl wakes up and, since it’s just her in the bed soaked with pee, she assumes it was her. Of course, she’s horrified, and she walks out sheepishly to confess to Doyal. She feels awful. She wants to make it up to him. Doyal is so sweet and forgiving, she balls him on the overstuffed chair Doyal stole from the student center and kept in his bedroom.

Now, it may sound at this point like this is a story about Doyal getting over on some poor girl like some kind of calculating sleazebag. But for one, Doyal was desperate. And for two, in the end, she got one over on him.

See, after the sex and the cleanup shower and, “Oh, that was nice,” she’s almost on her way out the door when she grabs Doyal'sarms and leans in with an ashen look on her face:

“Listen, nobody can find out about this.”

Doyal shrugs and goes to console her, of course not, the thing with the bed is just between us, don’t worry about it, it’s no big deal.

“No, that’s not what I mean,” she tells him. “My boyfriend is a drug dealer. Like, he owns guns. A bunch of them.”


Doyal: “Seriously?”


“Yeah, and he’s really, really jealous, and he’s gonna want to know where I was last night. I'll have to make something up. So just, like, be careful, okay?”

She gives him a quick kiss and whisks out of the apartment, leaving Doyal standing there with the pee on his sheets seeping into his mattress and a pretty puzzling question to chew over: Will the girl who got fooled into thinking she'd wet the bed be clever enough to fool her methed out, gun-toting drug dealer boyfriend?

Doyal told us the story, of course, but he told it in his bedroom, with the door closed, whispering. At every party we went to, for months, he looked over his shoulder constantly, a few times getting so worked up and nervous he made us leave for no reason except he thought "maybe that's the guy" and he was about to get shot.


None of us ever saw that girl again, but I always wanted to throw her the high five. She got him way worse than any of the rest of us.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Super Bowl Boxing, part two: One-Armed Nate

One-Armed Nate was a cool dude, but not the kind everybody would like. He was a total punk rock asshole and he’d come to our house with cheap bottles of whiskey and we’d all get blackout drunk and raise some hell. Mostly that meant destroying our apartment, then going to some party and getting kicked out for being assholes.

He didn’t exactly have one arm; his left arm had grown funny and it was super-short, maybe the length of a baby arm. The hand had three or four stubby fingers and the whole appendage was really only good for hanging his backpack or lifting a bottle of whiskey to his mouth. In fact, it was the perfect size for that, and that was its primary use almost any time I ever saw the guy.

He was pretty pissed about the whole thing. I remember him getting drunk and getting mad and telling me, “I didn’t do anything wrong. What kind of fucked up asshole God just decided I deserved this? I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG.” He didn’t look at his arm as he spoke -- he just nodded his head back at it, like it was a person he hated standing at the other side of the room. To this day I get kind of a chill when I remember that.

I also can’t separate One-Armed Nate from Evan Williams whiskey. It was his trademark. He was pretty much always packing a bottle. A lot of guys ended up with reliable bourbon brands, stuff you knew they’d have on them if they had scrounged up any money at all, and that was his. He loved the stuff; it had a label like Jim Beam or Jack Daniels, but it was barely better than stuff like Old Crow.

All right, back to the fight: One-Armed Nate is in the ring with some asshole -- I mean, really, who gets in a ring to fight a guy with one arm? -- and he’s beating the crap out of Nate, who doesn’t appear to be trying very hard. He’s just sucking up punishment.

The guy gets Nate pushed up against the crowd, and Nate reaches down with his one, gloved hand and pulls up his shirt, and he shouts at the guy, “Bring it!”

Then, as the guy goes to town beating the hell out of Nate’s chest and stomach, Nate reaches back with the stump arm and tells somebody to give him that bottle of Evan Williams bourbon, which appears miraculously from the crowd. He grabs it, pivots it up to the ceiling and chugs whiskey. Bubbles are coming up from the neck. He finishes drinking and hands the bottle back to the crowd.

It’s like Popeye just sucked a can of spinach through his pipe.

One-Armed Nate drops his shirt, hauls back and knocks that other guy flat on his ass.

Seriously. He beat the shit out of the guy and it took him all of about five seconds. He just pulled back that one fist, powered it into the guy’s face and the dude was out cold on the floor.
The whole room exploded into belligerent joy. We were all shouting at the top of our lungs, overflowing with an insane raucous drive to kick the walls down and huck rocks at everything and chug beers and whiskey bottles and play loud music and punch each other.

It was right around then I decided that One-Armed Nate was the coolest guy I ever met.

A brief epilogue, if the reader will allow: Nate came around the next day when we were making hangover breakfasts and drinking screwdrivers. He was in a t-shirt and he lifted it up to show us the single largest bruise I believe I’ll ever see in my life. It was six or seven inches wide, started at his belly and went up to his armpit. It wasn’t black-and-blue: it was solid ink black, the whole way around.

So, of course, we poured Nate a good stiff drink and raised a glass to the awesome success of Super Bowl Sunday Fight Night.

Words: Sean Murray
Art: Manuel Martinez

Monday, November 2, 2009

Super Bowl Boxing, part one

I was scrawny when I was a kid and got beat up a lot and it scared the shit out of me, so when I discovered in college that if you drink a bunch of whiskey getting hit doesn’t really hurt, I took to fighting all the time.

It got a little rough. In my mind, I was basically a one-man Fight Club. I’d get liquored up and then go around poking at everybody in the house and asking them if they wanted to fight. I thought I was being reasonably friendly. I usually found somebody who’d wrestle with me for a bit, kick my ass and then sit down with me for more whiskey. That part was rad.

But it turned out I was a little too excitable. One morning I came out of my room and I saw Darren, who was the sweetest, gentlest roommate I ever had, and he said, “You gotta stop punching people in the face, dude. It’s, ah, not very cool.”

I was pretty stunned, as most folks wouldn’t sign up for punching and so the Fight Club thing was usually more like wrestling. I developed a pretty savage choke hold headlock move that a lot of people told me was fighting dirty, but I figured was just a technique that worked for a guy like me who had no actual fighting skills. All I really wanted was the tap-out. Or to be shown that, no, in fact tonight it would be me who tapped out. Either way was fine, really.

So, the fact that I’d been not only punching people, but punching them in the face, and without their permission, was pretty surprising news, but this was a time in my life where “strange things that happen when you’re blacked out” was a pretty broad category of events and I just shrugged and told Darren I’d try to knock it off.

Super Bowl Sunday comes around, and I don’t give a crap about football but I am all kinds of excited about grilling meat. So we set up a barbecue outside the apartment and I stood out there with about 15 pounds of hamburger meat and some chicken and some hot dogs and a 12-pack of Miller Genuine Draft.

All my roommates and my girlfriend Molly and a bunch of other people gather up in the living room to watch the game, and I just grill burger after burger and pass them in through the window, cracking beer can after beer can, and for maybe an hour-and-a-half that’s my whole world. I loved it. Beer. Fire. Sizzling meat. Man. I am MAN.

So I drink all 12 beers and then somebody I know comes walking by and I offer him a hamburger, because at this point I’ve cooked up two big packages of hot dogs and I’ve crammed two hamburgers into everybody’s hand that’s inside the apartment and this fire isn’t going anywhere and this meat isn’t getting any more fresh. I’m not backing down from this barbecue. And my friend says, no, thanks, I’m going to go over to the boxing ring they set up in that apartment over there.

That was when I completely lost my shit.

“There’s a BOXING RING? Can anybody fight?” I shout, and my buddy says he thinks so. I put the lid on the barbecue and forget about the remaining meat and run over to the apartment where, yes, some people have set up a boxing ring of sorts. Really, they just got a bunch of rowdy people in a room, cleared out the middle of it and found two pairs of boxing gloves. The ring is bordered by people instead of ropes.

I am completely in heaven. This is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to fight. And guess what? There’s my buddy Tim!

Loyal readers will remember Tim as the big Alaskan dude who got his face scraped across a gravel driveway trying to stop a fleeing car with nothing but his mitts and his attitude. Tim and I have done a lot of bonding over our shared problems with anger and I figure this is perfect! I run up to him.

“Tim! Tim, you gotta fight me!” I shout in his face, a giant smile plastered across mine. “This is awesome!”

Tim’s not too drunk, and as much of a tornado as he is drunk, he’s a pretty reasonable guy and a great friend when he’s not completely off his ass. So Tim holds his palms up in faux-surrender and says, “I’m not gonna fight you, Sean, don’t worry about it, buddy.”

I see what he’s doing – he’s not going to fight me just because he’s way bigger than me and he’d completely destroy me in anything that resembled a fight. But remember, I’m on the outside of a dozen beers and I’m all testosteroney from barbecuing. I feel stoked and invincible and I won’t take no for an answer.

So I start calling Tim a pussy and pushing him a little and teasing him and prodding him, and he sticks to his guns and won’t fight me so I decide I have to turn up the punk rock attitude in this place even more.

“I’ll fight anybody here,” I shout at the top of my lungs, waving my fists in the air like I’m already the champion. “Who’s man enough to fight me, huh?”

Well, it turns out there’s a guy there who has actually competed in Golden Gloves amateur boxing competitions and actually knows what he’s doing and recognizes me for the foul-mouthed obnoxious asswipe I’m being and decides to teach me a lesson.

I don’t remember too much about the actual fight except that I got my ass handed to me, but I never fell all the way down. I was incredibly proud of that. We’d come at each other from across the ring, me windmilling like a lunatic and him ducking my first punch and then pummeling me for a bit. He punched me into the crowd finally and turned around to brag it up a little, holding his arms out for applause, and I ran back into the ring and punched him hard as I could in the back of the head.

He turned around and pummeled me again.

Then he turned around to gloat, and I punched him in the back of the head again.

This went on for a while. Tim told me later it was the longest fight of the night. I don’t know if I can describe, actually, how proud that made me at the time.

Eventually I can’t even really hold my hands up and Tim convinces me it’s time to admit the other guy won. My head is ringing so badly I can hardly see. I run outside and throw up in some bushes, and then run back inside to see the next fight, because, dude, there’s fighting in there!

I run inside to find two guys in the ring. One of them, I don't know. The other one? He's a guy we called One-Armed Nate.


Words: Sean Murray
Art: Manuel Martinez