Photo from i09.com
Cloyne Court, Episode Ten
By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.
Based on a true story that took place in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s.
I was parked on the driveway, the only spot I could find. “I think that’s me. Sorry, I’ll move my car as soon as I move my stuff into my room.”
“Oh, you’re the new person Central Office sent over?” He reached for the folder with my paperwork that was lying on the desk next to a huge bong. “Did you get your keys or see the place yet? If not, I’ll give them to you as we head down to the shower room.”
“As for roommates,” Lisa continued, “We’re all adults here. Your roomie can be anyone you want, male or female. We don’t care. We are not your parents.”
“And Sandy is your roomie,” I said, stating what I believed to be the obvious.
“No, Sandy is not my roomie. He’s my bunkie. There’s a difference.”
I was puzzled.
“A roomie is someone who shares a room with you. That person can be male or female. It can be a platonic relationship if you want. But a Bunkie is someone who shares your bunk or your bed and that means more than roomie status.”
I looked around the room. The two co-op-issued single-sized wooden bed frames had been pushed together under the north window to create one large double bed. A queen-sized mattress had been thrown over both beds to eliminate any crevice between the two. That furniture arrangement I understood.
Sandy grabbed his bath towel and walked down the stairs in the direction of the office. I followed, mouth agape, still wondering if this place was an Alan Funt hoax. As we walked, he pointed out the common rooms of the house.
“This is the sun room.” He pointed to a large bright peninsular shaped room with French style casement windows on three sides, letting the sunshine in on the four worn couches. The view from the windows overlooked a courtyard with a basketball court, green grass lawn and flowering poplars.
“House meetings are every Monday night,” he said. “You just missed the new resident orientation. Since the student residents run the place, we vote on everything that goes on here. You should come to the meetings. Next one is tonight. Should be exciting. We’re voting on whether to convert Jeff’s mound hole in the backyard into an outdoor underground sauna. He needs the V poles for his next sculpture.”
Through the large windows, I could see the pink V poles female sculpture on the grass in the backyard.
We passed the Rogue’s picture gallery I had seen when I first entered the building. “Make sure the photo manager gets your picture to put in the Rogue’s Gallery. That way everyone learns your face and who you are. With a hundred and fifty people living here, it’s hard to get to know everyone in the house. Oh, by the way, didn’t I read in your house application you were into photography? Do you have darkroom skills? We’re hiring a new photo manager. Our last one graduated.”
“Yeah, I’m into that,” I said. “I know how to develop black-and-white film and print pictures with an enlarger.” I felt proud and was astonished he had actually remembered something I had written in my application.
“Wonderful! There’s a darkroom in the basement. You should run for election for the photo manager position. It’s an easy two-hour work shift. I’ll nominate you at the house meeting.”
“Work shift?” I asked.
“Geez, didn’t you read the house application you signed. That's why living here is thirty percent cheaper than living in the dorms. The students run the place. That means we all have jobs. If you don’t want a cushy assignment, you can sign up for a shift cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming the carpet, yard work, gardening, recycling or work in the kitchen.”
I didn’t like cleaning my room at my parent’s house. Assuming the other eighteen-year-olds in the house had my same work avoidance issues, I didn’t see how the house actually got cleaned. And that underlying work ethic certainly explained why the house was in a state of shabbiness and low level of cleanliness.
We walked by the newspaper room. In the center of the room was a massive craftsman-style conference table, an original to the house with two long benches on either side. The table was so large that six people, three on each side, could lay out the newspapers flat on the table and still have room to turn the pages without getting in one another’s way. The table had dozens of outdated newspapers strewn about, so you couldn’t actually see the tabletop. On the wall by the windows were two vintage vending machines in pristine condition. Next to them, were recycling bins overflowing with newspaper, glass bottles and aluminum cans. The room smelled like the bins hadn’t been emptied for some time.
“What brand of beer do you like?” Sandy asked.
Because I was underage and couldn’t legally drink, I could not give a definitive or experienced answer.
“Doesn’t matter anyway. We’re voting tonight on whether to keep selling the Lucky Lager beer in the vending machines at the same low price or raise the price a quarter and substitute a better brand.”
I looked at a vending machine. It was dispensing beer at fifty cents a bottle, various brands of candy, condoms and an empty slot whose dispensing handle appeared well used. Sandy saw me staring.
“That’s for the doobies. A dollar each. They go quick. We run out on weekends and Laurent restocks them when he rolls a new batch. He actually gets two hours work credit for it.”
We continued along the hallway past the TV room, dining room and kitchen and headed down the stairs to the basement shower room. On the door of the shower room was a posted sign:
M-F 9-10 AM, 4-5 PM Women only
M-F 10-11 AM, 5-6 PM Men only
All other times, Co-ed
I followed him into the shower room and was dumbstruck. It was a large open room with eight showerheads spraying from a central stainless-steel structure with niches for a soap dish and water handles much like my high school shower room. Along the tiled walls were several wooden benches and near the door were wall hooks to hang your towel.
Photo from waxmanmedia.com
“The showers are coed. Anyone, male or female can shower at any time except for the four hours when it’s either women or men only."
My jaw dropped. “Doesn’t that cause problems?”
“We haven’t had complaints. Is that going to be a problem for you?”
Sandy draped his towel on a hook and took off his gym shorts. He turned on the shower and signaled that the tour had ended.
“No,” I said, stammering, “I think I can get used to it.”
Watch for Excerpt 11 tomorrow
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