Originally published in InsideOut: Ohio's College Magazine, Volume Two, Issue One, Spring 1993.
If You Can't Find An After Hours, Get High.
Spring Quarter '92 had ended.
The next day Ohio University would be a memory as I drove toward home, work, bars and old friends. A breeze whispered through the lint clining to my O.U. baseball cap as I tottered home from the quarter's last keg party. The party had ended early. It was only two, but Court Street stretched out deserted before me. Except for the occasional OUPD cruiser, I was alone and bored in rockin' Uptown Athens. Another quick beer-blurred glance down Court Street revealed nothing even resembling a fun time. Full of pent-up drunken energy, I needed some craziness; I yearned for one last adventure, for one last Kick before returning to The Real World. So I shuffled to Tony's to hunt up an After Hours.
There, I found my rush, my outlet; there I found that end-of-the-quarter High I needed before returning to Lamesvile. And that High came via my friend Zach.
I stumbled on Zach leaning heavily against the bar, cradling a twelve of fine quality Olympia beer with a slightly soured look on his face. He, too, was bored and under the grasp of The Urge. We greeted each other with the all-important question: "Find any After Hours?"
Not having found a party, we agreed that it was way too early to end the quarter's final night. We racked our brains for a plan. Nothing.
Then, Zach genius-ed.
"Let's go Roofing, " he said, a maniacal look creeping into his eyes.
And we were off.
We hurriedly ditched the Olympia in his apartment stairway, and briskly bumbled back behind Tony's. Giddily, I followed him up a rattling fire escape and hastened across Pawpurr's pebbled roof, tripping over a Bud Light can on the way. One hop up a brick wall and we alighted atop The Pub. Shushing loudly, we threw our bodies toward the edge of the roof and leaned out madly over Court Street.
I had done it: I had conquered my first Athens roof. I giggled like a true He-man.
Lying there, I knew how those freaks felt as they stood on the peak of Mount Everest; so cool, they nearly wet themselves in excitement. I urinated, then re-joined Zach at the edge. Below, a cop drove by. I waved, thought better of it, and gave him the finger. I am such a rebel. I was warmed up, initiated into the realm of Roofing.
This was merely the beginning.
Down the fire escape, through an alley, and on we scrambled to the next height. Zach put a finger to his lips, then motioned me up rickety stairs to an apartment door. Through the door's window a gurgling, mucus-filled snore erupted. We stood on the railing and ourselves up onto the roof. Covered with pipes and ventilators, this roof consisted of much tripping, cursing and toe-stubbing. We quickly labeled it boring and started to head back down.
That's when I found The Chain Ladder.
Hanging off our building, it didn't seem to lead anywhere, until we noticed the open window across the way. Immediate exploration was necessary.
Zach descended and went into the window.
"Come on in," he whispered. "It leads to a hallway."
Though not as exciting to exit by way of legal descent, I went in. We walked down the hall and opened the stairwell door. Instead, the door opened into a darkened kitchen. Panic set in when we saw the plate of food on the yellow table. I nearly soiled myself.
"Run away, run away!"
Out the kitchen window, we fled the lit hallway and the possible occupants. Roofing suddenly became Plunging as our flight dropped us about 10 feet onto an abandoned lazy-boy chair. With feet back on the ground, we limped on to the next Roof victim, undaunted. Though suddenly overcome with the urge to hoot, holler, and yee-haw, I settled for another giggling fit.
Zach and I rushed down Washington Street. We put up a front of sobriety as we watched the Cop Shop (The Enemy) for activity. No one was in sight as we ducked into a thin alley and over a fence. We sped up another fire escape to a black roof (Woolworths, maybe). Zach mentioned something about alarm sensors being set-up on this roof or maybe the next one. Great, that would suck getting caught on this roof: we wouldn't even get to ride in a cop car, since we were so close to the station.
As we headed back toward the fire escape, we spied The Shoes and The Window. Simultaneously, as idea sprung to our minds. Smiling like madmen, we each picked up a shoe. I threw mine across the alley. It thudded dully against the brick wall. Then Zach threw his. He wound up like a weaving Nolan Ryan and let the nasty shoe fly. Perfect form. It sailed through the air in slow motion. The open window sucked it in like a Hoover. I could contain myself no longer. I yee-hawed like a motherfucker. Then we ran on Nikes of Adrenalin.
Alberts was our next victim to conquer. We hopped the hood of a Chevy truck and hoisted ourselves onto yet another fire escape. We clodded our way up until our progress was halted by a locked gate. Wait. A locked gate meant we weren't allowed up further. Cool. We shall conquer.
In order to by-pass the gate, we had to reach across to the neighboring building, then reach back across and lift ourselves to the next fire escape level. Zach zipped over and up, no problem. I think I started to sober up a little as my turn came about. As I hung there, dangling two or three stories above the pavement, if suddenly wasn't fun anymore: it was fucking petrifying. My palms began to sweat as I realized death was a finger slip away. My life did the cliche flashing before my eyes, and I realized it was not yet complete. I hadn't slept with Wynona Ryder or drank vodka and tonics with Brett Easton Ellis yet. I wasn't ready to die. Then, the horrible realization came that I wasn't wearing clean underwear (Aiee, my mom'd kill me). Then, Zach said hurry up, so I did.
From the top of Alberts, we wistfully watched the sun rise. Ah, glorious sun. We decided we should head home and get to bed before people went to work. Shaking hands, I wished him fun in California, and he wished me a good break in Lamesville. The last High of the quarter had been a rousing good one.
Since that night/morning, Athens has never looked the same. Having been initiated to Roofing, I now constantly look for a new roof to conquer. The night, in memory, seems like a dame Nike commercial on Acid. Bored? Just do it.
Last year, we took Court Street's west side, this year the east side shall be mine.