View from the Crack den

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How I love Milner! How I will miss this elegant, ghetto dormitory, with its shiny, new exterior paint job and its dingy rooms with their broken heaters and unopenable windows. Motel Milner has been my home for these eight months, and I will ever hold it dear to my heart.

Hardly.

This dorm is dirty, loud, and unpleasant in nearly every respect. No, it doesn’t have those insane asylum vibes that Binford emanates, nor does it exude feminazism like Mary Hobbs. And, from the outside at least, it looks nice, unlike the high security prison atmosphere of Bryan. But it is, perhaps, the most disturbing place of residence I could imagine.

The dorm manages to segregate its dwellers more efficiently than any Jim Crow laws ever could. The first floor — all male—is populated almost entirely by athletes. (Apparently they’re too weak after all that body-building crap to climb stairs with all us smokers.) The second floor. . . I know, perhaps, a grand total of five people there; I tend to steer clear of it, with its sickly “desert tones” color scheme and weird smell. And then there’s the third floor — my humble abode.

It is neatly divided in half, girls on one end, guys on the other. The north end reeks of testosterone; the Fighting Quakers football team seems to have succeeded in some sort of violent takeover of that side of the dorm. Pitifully however, they left some infiltrating little hippie boys, scattered throughout their ranks like dirty gym socks discarded on a locker room floor.

But it’s not as if the athletes are responsible for the weirdness of the dorm. Far from it. I have this sinking feeling the Milner Funk just sort of oozes out of the walls.

There’s something oddly endearing about the Funk, though. Life might get boring or just outright peaceful were it not for the distraction the weirdness provides. Last Saturday night, for example. . .

It was 3:00 a.m., on one of those surprisingly cool nights we pretend is “refreshing” after a steaming hot day. A friend and I were sitting on the patio, smoking the night’s last cigarette and thinking happily about going to bed. No such luck, of course. As should be expected, some unendurably random and obnoxious thing happened.

The fire alarm went off. And the Milner fire alarm is really quite amazing. I’ve never before had the misfortune to hear anything remotely comparable. Imagine the world’s loudest alarm clock, and multiply that monstrosity by about fifty. The noise assaults your eardrums in a throbbing way that some might find pleasant — “some” referring to those sadomasochistic freaks of nature who sleep on nails and eat live goldfish.

So the damn thing’s loud. Within seconds, it had shattered whatever shreds of peace we’d had. The more than a hundred residents of good ol’ Motel Milner poured out of their rooms, down the ugly-carpeted hallways, past the broken windows beside the stairs, and out onto the cigarette-butt ridden patio.

Some poor kids had obviously been asleep — they arrived bearing blankets and stuffed animals, clad in boxers and bathrobes. Others had been doing homework, to judge from the blank, murderous expressions on their faces and books in their hands. Of course, the loud and obnoxious drunks sat among us too; they vied the cacophony of the fire alarm itself with their idiotic shouts back and forth to each other across the vast fifteen or so feet the patio spans.

Finally, at a quarter to four, the ordeal ended, and we were allowed to go back to our chemical-covered little beds. As we staggered back inside, whining all the way, I felt strangely close to these people, as if, in our shared misery, we had bonded. We had complained, shivered, chain-smoked, and hated life together; we’d become something near to friends.

So I’d like to thank that benevolent jerk who sprayed the fire extinguisher all over the third floor. Without him, I might never have gotten the chance to bond with the array of morons who share my dorm. Without him, I would never have been forcibly detained on my own front porch for nearly an hour. Without him, that little twerp so near to my heart, I would never have been unpleasantly awoken by the fire alarm again at 10:00 the following morning.

And this is what I’ll miss next year. In only a few weeks, we Milnerites will dismantle our dingy rooms, never to return to them. We’ll never again have the opportunity — welcome or not — to sit with that exact group of harassed people on the patio at 3:30 a.m. Never again (one hopes) will we have the same Funk invading our rooms, never hear quite the same combination of bad music blaring from various rooms down the hall. Things will change, and we can do nothing to stop it. It’s always sad when an era ends; I’m sure even the termination of the Holocaust was mourned by someone. Call me nostalgic, sentimental, or braindead, but I’m gonna miss this ol’ hellhole.