Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Porcelain God On The Front Lawn

It was the summer of 1986, or maybe 1987. It could have been the summer of 1988. Those summers are as indeterminate a haze now as the weather was back then. All of my friends from the high school days would be back in town from college and weekends were spent hanging with them. There was the pig farmer and engineering student Clyde, McDonalds manager Smooth, DD Blank, minister's son Drew Bob, divinity school bound Scott, hell raising Ralston, beer drinking Bruno, and future air traffic controller Duff. We were a motley bunch in transistion phases and the weekends could feature almost anything.

Classic recreational standbys were bowling, going to the movies, attending rock concerts, crashing MTSU frat parties, Clyde's summer parties, throwing frisbees in empty parking lots, bird dogging the girls at MTSU's cheerleader camps, renting videos, driving around town, annoying any of the gang who happened to have a date for the night, and the usual favorite: sitting around drinking beer. But the most spontaneous event of all was the weekend the gang went commoding.

We were sitting around bored one Friday looking for things to do when somebody in the group remembered seeing a bunch of commodes just sitting outside a certain nearby institution. Apparently they were being replaced. I guess the reason the toilets were brought up was just because the sight of so many commodes removed from their normal places was funny. Ralston wasn't around that night and soon a use for the toilets beyond a mere sight gag was devised. Ralston was renowned for his devious pranks. It was time to prank him (and others).

That's right, we decided to go get a bunch of the commodes and drop them at the houses of people we knew; like Ralston they all had it coming. A bunch of us packed into the cab and bed of Clyde's old truck and off we went to the porcelain zone. We loaded several of the commodes into the bed of the truck and were off without any witnesses to the heist. I think it was DD who first decided that a toilet makes a perfect seat, but soon all of us in the back of the truck were enjoying the view from a throne as we drove through a typical Murfreesboro summer night.

People started noticing the commodes and began yelling encouraging words at us. We were traffic stoppers. We were a spectacle. I'm still amazed to this day that the local Murfreesboro cop, Hiram, who loved busting young adults didn't spot us that night. We pulled up to one busy spotlight and a car yelled at us from a car, "You guys want some brew." Soon he was pitching some cold beer up to us. A simple equation was thus born: ride around on toilets in the bed of an old pickup truck and you will get free beer. Sidenote: there is some debate over when this incident happened - I say it happened on the first night (since I was present) and others say it was on the second night when I wasn't there.

We blasted out of town and dropped the commodes off at each victim's home. We wouldn't get to see the look on their faces, but we did get to hear about their discovery of a toilet in their yard wondering at the mystery of it all. The night of commoding was so successfull and fun that the gang went out and did it again the next evening while I toiled away at Mazzio's Pizza. I was just glad I lived so far out in the sticks they wouldn't want to commode my house.

So I no longer look upon commodes as mere utilitarian items. They can be a source of mirth. They can help build group bonds. They can be uniters. They can be something that baffles left on a lawn. They can be one of the many ghosts from my past that bring a smile to my face and leave me chuckling. Here's to the porcelain god!


Anonymous said...

As far as the beer goes, all I can say is that it was to me that the fellow in the car threw the beer through his sunroof. I gave at least one to Ralston. I don't remember if you were there or not, but I do remember being in the back of the Clyde-mobile with Smooth.


Ryan said...

"...of the many ghosts from my past that bring a smile to my face." Nice turn of a phrase.

For whatever reason, our thing was to steal "For Sale" signs, street signs (particularly Stop signs), and the roadwork flashing sawhorses and leave them on our absent friends' lawns and porches. I did it to others and had it done to me. O, how the simple things do please!


jen said...

We used to steal street signs. I used to have a huge 'One Way Only' sign hanging in my bedroom. Everyone always did a double take when they saw it there. Oh, how I miss those days.