A spoonful of the slimy yellowish crap whirred past my head, landing on a blue tarp, draped over the fence next to the stoop we were crowded on. Mayo splattered scenery.
Another glob flew by and I stared, half in awe and half in loving confusion, at my good friend E who had apparently lost his mind.
I didn’t really know what to expect that day when I got to their house. It was finals during college and I guess E had taken his last exam earlier that day. Walking up to that yellow and white house usually brought up a mix of emotions for me, since crossing through the doorway usually brought you into an alternate universe (depending on what mood the guys were in that day) and once inside, you had little control over what was going to happen. You could feel the wear and tear these boys had on that place as soon as you walked in. The smell, first off, was of the pungent variety, you know, the perfume of stinky guys with poor hygiene combined with cigarette smoke and spilled alcohol from the night before. The kitchen was falling apart, literally; the ceiling had caved in over their kitchen table. Ashes everywhere, empty bottles, dankness. On this day, however, after letting myself in, I was greeted by the scent of burning paper, and a cloud of smoke in the living room.
There on the couch sat my good friend E with a binder sitting in his lap, the looseleaf paper and handouts inside completely aflame.
“CAITLIN. KAT-LEEEEEEEN. IT’S OVER! FINISHED!”
“Dude, are you insane? You’re going to light yourself on fire, you moron, how much have you had to drink?!”
“Oh, you know…I was just catching up with Old Granddad earlier…so…a nice lil bottle o’…him, I guess…”
“Jesus. Can you put the fire out already?”
“HAAAAAA! I probably should do that shouldn’t I.”
It was about then when JL, another insane inhabitant of this place, roused from his cave and came to the living room to see what the fuck was going on.
“JJJJLLLLLLLL!!!!! GOD DAMNIT, GO GET GRANDFATHER!”
“E I’m trying to cut back, man…”
The flaming lap-fire had since been put out and E had gotten up and started his pacing, with a little more swagger than usual due to his extreme level of fucked-upness. I’d never seen him like this before and was enjoying the show that was being put on, yet was starting to feel more and more uncomfortable as the minutes passed and as things got weirder. It was always a struggle for me to know what to embrace and what to beware on days like these. But once JL started jumping around the room like an actual fucking ninja, I decided I should embrace. Those were good times. (How many dudes do you know who can go from a squatting position on the floor to being perched on the arm of a couch in one leap? Not many, would be my guess.)
“Goddamnit, E. God. Fucking. Damnit. I just can’t stay away from him, I guess, goddamned Granddad, ol’ pops…”
JL was swigging from the bottle of whiskey while crouched on the armrest, quickly getting hammered (it never took much for him), while E was in the kitchen rummaging around and shouting indecipherable babble.
“KAT LEEEEEEN! GET IN HERE!”
I rolled my eyes and hesitantly got up, excited to see what the fuck was about to happen in the kitchen. Lo and behold E, slouching, slack-jawed, with a cigarette hardly stuck in his mouth and an opened jar of mayonnaise in one hand, a spoon in the other.
“JL! T! MAYONNAISEEEE.”
The third roommate, T, was in the kitchen with us now, and we all moved out onto the back stoop. There was a blue tarp hanging over the fence next to the stairs, and I sat my ass down in a chair, watching as the three of them schlopped spoonful after spoonful of mayonnaise onto that tarp in some sort of manic display of…christ, I don’t even know. Maybe a manic display of mania is a good way to describe it; these guys got off on being the craziest ones in the room. I was forced to take a photo holding the spoon and the mayonnaise next to my face, making me feel like I was a part of this bizarre “inside joke,” if that’s what you want to call it, but I still felt like an outsider. Those boys have their own language, in which mayonnaise means something that only they truly understand, and which I only somewhat do.
This was supposed to be a writing exercise focused on dialogue, and for some reason I immediately thought of this afternoon as something I wanted to write about. But it wasn’t too long after I started writing that I realized how little was actually said that day, and how much is conveyed between those guys in short quips and code that is basically impossible to explain in words. I could try to explain my understanding of “mayonnaise,” but it just wouldn’t be right. I sound like an insane person, and these guys would laugh so hard at me if they ever read this.
Either way, I didn’t spend many more days hanging out over at that house and I don’t think they did either. The lease was up pretty soon after that bizarre day and they moved onto different places, places that weren’t crumbling to the ground around them, thank god, although I do think they’re still working to pick up some of the pieces, pieces they’ve lost and left scattered along the way.