A couple days ago Fancy was talking about her collection of Christmas ornaments and lamenting having to pass them down to her son. She said, "When he's 21, he's probably going to be living with a bunch of guys who's idea of decorating a tree is throwing empty beer cans at it. Believe me, I've seen that. And you probably have, too."
I genuinely laughed out loud, because I have. In fact, I helped make one and her comment flooded me with the memory of the dorm room on the corner of Jane Hall First stuffed with drunk undergrads reveling under Beer Can Tree. I wish I had pictures of it, I know some were taken. I was able to find pictures of the brain trust that brought us Beer Can Tree, George and Jason.
Wasn't my dorm room cool? No? Then look at all the beer!
These two were numbskulls. Unreliable, maddening, funny, sexy numbskulls. Being bad boys, I dated them both. I dated George when I first arrived at Mac. Well, to say we dated may be revisionist but go with me, I have a reputation to manufacture. George wasn't a student, but he had been, and for some reason he was back in town, mostly hanging out with us on campus.
And then one day he was gone. Though there were rumors he was living in New York, I was never sure.
And then one day he was back and this time he had a friend with him, Jason. I fell in love with Jason on sight. These two were fucking Frick and Frack, I tell ya. We got in so much more trouble with these two around. Again, not enrolled in classes but essentially base-camped in our rooms. They came and went with no warning or explanation and one blustery frigid night in December, a night much like tonight, they showed up outside the dorm dragging a live Christmas tree across the lawn and regaling us, between howls of laughter, with a tale of near-death at the hands and shotgun barrel of the angry farmer who formerly owned the tree.
See what I mean? Lovable dirtleg numbskulls.
The tree was huge and barely fit in Vance's room. I don't know how we got it in there, and there was very little room for us once we did, but there was much rejoicing and Christmas cheer. Someone put in a Christmas tape and we had ourselves a first-rate Christmas party, finals be damned.
We were practically required to decorate the tree with empty beer cans as there was only enough money for beer. Back then you could get a case of Keystone Light for $6 so it was our obvious drink of choice. Mmm-mm, bottled beer taste in a can. Anyway, in less time than it takes Santa to press his index finger to the side of his nose and whoosh up the chimney, we had our first Beer Can Tree.
As redneck as the whole affair sounds and probably was, it makes me misty and nostalgic. Those years were tough - I was on my own and paying for school and working 2-3 jobs - but they were the years and the people that made me who I am today. We were rotten and loud and did some crazy shit, much of it illegal, but I learned spontaneity and how to not take myself so damn seriously and how to love and so much more, like how to get rid of crabs. I'm kidding. I swear I never had crabs.
This story ends as you would expect it to, we were all written up the next day for open alcohol violations even though the only alcohol left in the room was backwash. C'est la vie.
We're watching you.
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