My college roommates had a penchant for trash posed as art, pranks shrouded in peculiarity and destruction masquerading as patriotism. Pizza boxes and discarded homework assignments were glued to the ceiling. We sang "You're a Grand Ol' Flag" while dancing around in our underwear. Our neighbors lawn furniture found it's way onto their roof on more than one occasion. For the men of The Music House, this was what college was meant to be.
So when one day Dan decided that the best way to clean out the fridge was to pitch the spoiled food out the kitchen window, loudly proclaiming "For America!" with every hurl, I can't say I was all too surprised. This culling of the condiments became a commonplace occurrence at the house, not only for sanitation, but also as a social event. Every few weeks, we'd gather in the kitchen and take turns throttling our garage with ketchup and old cheese.
One evening in particular was quickly filling with particularly virulent explosions against our parking pad. A jar of pickles, a box of freezer burnt ice cream, a moldy orange - all against the garage with varying splatters and smashes. A slice of Kraft American Singles makes a sickening slap against broken concrete. And as every food product took flight, a union battle cry accompanied, a wellspring of bizarre masculine exuberance that proclaimed "For America!"
In the midst of hurtling expiration dates at brick, a voice bellowed out from the dark void,
"Hey! Who threw that!?" Security had caught us in the act.
My friends scattered like roaches to a quickly flipped light switch. Before I knew what had happened, they scrambled up the stairs of our house, jumped into their beds, and shut off the lights to our bed. As if they were hiding from a scornful mother, their answer to conflict with authority was hiding under the covers. Unsure of what to do, I stood in the kitchen, dumbfounded as the door shuddered against the weight of the security officers fist. I meekly answered his demand for entry.
"May I help you, sir?"
"What were you boys doing?" I contemplated a slough of sardonic responses, but decided that my humor would not help the situation. Instead I opted for the blindingly obvious,
"We were throwing old food out the window."
I think my frank response took the man aback. He must have been expecting some cockamamie excuse, a cover for our obviously nefarious deeds.
"Oh, well, you can't be doing that sort of thing, littering on campus. Be sure to clean up the mess in the morning."
"Yessir." I closed the door with an anxious sigh of relief. Then I went upstairs, so as to beat the snot out of my fearless companions.
I don't know where the patriotic exhortations of our kitchen cleaning ritual came from, but I do appreciate the joy its memory brings. Mischief and whimsy, though lacking any definite practicality, are an integral part of my formative years. Without such nonsense, I don't think I'd be the creative person I am today, and for that I value the silliness of my youth.
It doesn't hurt that it was so much fun.