Top Five 396 Johnson St. Moments

I spent two years of my university career living at 396 Johnson Street, a small, decrepit five-bedroom house smack dab in the middle of the student ghetto. We stumbled across the house by accident, the same night the five of us who originally lived there–me, Paul, Darren, Bob and Rahul–had essentially resigned ourselves to never finding a five-person house and decided to think about splitting ourselves up. It was at that instant–a moment of fate, if you would, that could only really have been dictated by a Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich–that we walked past 396 Johnson Street with a “For Rent” sign in the front door. Within an hour we had signed the lease, and during the course of the next twenty-four months we forged enough memories to last us two lifetimes. That said, some of these memories necessarily stand out above the others–and so in memory of our two years together in Johnson Street, and in recognition of the “Good House” reunion that may or may not take place in a couple weeks’ time, Paul and I decided a “memories of Johnson” top five list was in order. Like I said, countless memories were spawned within the four creaking walls that made up our house–and so to help narrow our focus, Paul and I decided that our list had to comprise the sorts of weird, zany moments for which the slogan “you had to be there” is necessarily affixed. Oh, and each had to involve Paul to at least a certain extent, since he helped me compile this list and, indeed, contributed his immutable pith to its creation. As such, memories including “Canada Wins Gold at Salt Lake City” have been necessarily excised.

  1. The Nerf Gun Battle. I feel as though describing the Nerf Gun Battle between me and Paul and Darren and Rahul would cheapen the memory…so I won’t even try. Just try and picture it: two teams, two forts, four Nerf guns and no purpose whatsoever. The result: an all-out, two-hour war. Any more description would ruin it for me…let’s move on.
  2. The Golf Cart. Homecoming ’01, and Graham Snowden and his laugh (which, it must be said, deserves anthropomorphizing) left a keg pump on the front seat of the Old Man’s golf cart. “Wait…the Old Man’s golf cart?” I hear you asking. Sure. I mean, doesn’t everybody spend the better part of their university lives living next door to a crazy old man who doesn’t talk and who spends his days in a golf cart which, for unknown reasons, sits in his back lawn? Can’t we all relate? Anyway, Snowden’s faux pas might have gone unpunished had he not just finished giving the golf cart a spin ’round the Old Man’s backyard. Imagine our chagrin, then, when the Old Man walked into the middle of our kitchen with the pump clutched in his hand like a victory scalp, and the person we left to deal with him was Darren–drunk, wearing a massive ‘fro. Still can’t remember how this one ended. (Postscript #1: a few weeks later the Queen’s men’s hockey team rookies actually stole the Old Man’s golf cart and gave it a spin around the ghetto before getting arrested and charged. Postscript #2: R.I.P. Old Man.)
  3. Old Fort Whatley. The Darren was out on a date when me, Paul and Rahul decided to convert his bedroom into a fort. The project took some two hours and was filmed for posterity. We then crowned our creation with a flag: a pair of Rohit’s white briefs (this night led, indirectly, to me buying Rohit a package of boxer briefs for Secret Santa). When Darren came home, we played in it. The fort, that is. Not in Rohit’s underpants.
  4. Exploring the Attic. How this didn’t happen sooner I don’t pretend to know, but in November 2001 Darren, Paul and Rahul explored our attic. Getting up and in was an adventure in and of itself, and the pictures that document the ascent are priceless. Once up there, the three of them discovered (among other things) several cans of lead paint and enough asbestos to kill a small army; naturally, they brought this stuff back down with them and subsequently made each and every one of us sick. A year later we were still finding pieces of insulation floating around the upstairs portions of the house.
  5. The Axe Hole. Homecoming ’02, and for some reason a bunch of p.r. people were handing out bottles of Axe on the way home from the football game. Good times. Then, a couple weeks later, I came across the motherlode: nine cases of Axe left over from (I believe) the MTV Campus Invasion Tour. Better times. Brought home thirty-nine canisters, then discovered a hole between my room and Paul’s. Thus was the “Axe Hole” born. The two of us devoted considerable time to poisoning one another with a non-stop assault of Phoenix, still the original and most vile of the Axe scents. But Paul got it worse: by his own admission, the Axe caused him to vomit–“no chunks, but discharge”. Still can’t pass through the deoderant aisle at Shopper’s without laughing. (Paul’s nomination for the five-spot is “The Night of Steve”, during which my idiot housemates dressed up as me, acted like me and photographed themselves for everybody’s viewing pleasure. How this warrants a top five ranking I don’t pretend to know…I guess it’s true what they say about simple things and simple minds.)

And what good would a top five list be without honourable mentions? The answer: not much!

  • Super Bowl XXXVII: hot tub, Journal photographer, beligerent Conor
  • The pantsing of Angela
  • Little Jay-sus
  • John the German’s sweater: “All my senses are offended at once!”
  • Darren and Karthik stealing the dishwasher
  • The summer of the doorless bathroom
  • The Rahul chicken wings night…”You know where you can put it.”
  • The Rahul and Andrea night…or the Rahul and Mindy night
  • Our Troll–a.k.a. our buddy Tyler, who spent six months living rent-free in our basement. In fact, the Tyler and Yasmin fiasco likely warrants a place in the top five.
  • “There’s three Christians cleaning our kitchen.” This one should probably be top five.
  • The Pudding Fan
  • Heppler and Tyler fighting on my bed, and then Heppler going through my window.
  • The dart through the inhaler
  • The Rohit Joint
  • The beginning of the Steve Shoeless Night replete with tiki torches…and many, many Jagermeister shots
  • “Motherfucking Titties and Beer!”
  • The numerous mornings in which we’d find Macbeth passed out on a couch with a bookbag as a pillow
  • Liz and Laura’s birthday party
  • Darren’s curtains–and stains in the manner of curtains
  • The creation of Retrospecticus
  • Anal Pick-Ups (don’t ask), and Bob’s immortal comment: “That’s not semen.”

There are others, I’m sure–not to mention the less-weird, but far less exciting memories that were made on an almost daily basis. Attempting to define the Queen’s experience is a fruitless task; defining it in terms of the hijinx that took place at our house on Johnson Street, however, is a pretty good way of looking back on our university years, smiling and nodding and saying, “Yeah, those were some good times.”

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