Well that's the damn problem, ain't it? You live in co-op housing, and you don't get too much of a say on who gets in and who doesn't. Of course, when you live in a place designed to fit eight with nineteen or so others, it can be a little chaotic. Imagine a cross between Animal House, the Paper Street house, a college dorm (we're across the street from campus), and an Army barracks. On the morning in question, JD was performing his monthly rent shake-down, and so it was that I awoke to our six-foot-eight house manager shaking the hell out of me. I threw forty bucks at him (I sleep on a cot in the hall outside of the third floor bathroom, to make room for one of our stable couples. Sucks, but hey, cheap rent), and went downstairs to see what was what.
Ricky was working on a Pynchonesque banana breakfast, and Nate had apparently left half of a motorcycle engine on the coffee table. Putting my feet up on his shovel head, I flipped on the TV to check the news. Behind the single frame of porno burned into the screen, the talking heads were well, talking, about some rocket or other that had not gone off as planned. "Defense department screw-up", opined Older Jim. Slowly the hung-over masses filtered in from upstairs, filling the room with the scent of stale cigarette smoke and tequila. Nate kicked my feet off his motor and crashed into the sofa next to me. Mitch sat down on the on my other side and Kev dove onto the laps of the couch-occupants. "Morning, cupcake" says Kevin, as he steals the remote. I shove him off of me and onto the floor, and go for some breakfast.
The only clear horizontal surface in this entire madhouse is the kitchen table. This is partly by agreement, and partly by threat of violence from JD. All other surfaces are fair game, he says, but can we please leave the table alone? So we get to eat Sunday breakfast like real people do, on a table with plates and everything. Ricky passes out plates of banana-ey goodness, and I snag some pancakes. The topic turns to Freshmen induction. We can fit ten more people into this place before it hits fire-hazard territory. JD insists he needs new tenants, but we hate having freshmen living here. "The only welcome fish" proclaims Younger Jim, "are the ones in the tank" regarding the giant saltwater tank tended obsessively by Marc. This gathers some applause, but JD isn't having any of it. He says we'd better be ready for ten new house-mates, or move out and clear some space.
Time passes. One day I return home from work, only to find a Mormon on the couch, talking to one of the new tenants. I flag down Ross and ask him what hell is going on. "This is the third time this week we've had a door-knocker in here!" I say, and he replies, "The fish invite them in". This becomes a refrain, as some of our more naive co-habitants refuse to learn from their mistakes. We had a perfectly good system in place before, but now it's screwed. Go figure.