Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
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Like my brownhouse:
   Viking Party
Saturday, April 4 1998

ell, at some point as I worked on one of my inane resumé mailings and cover letters, Michelle arrived by car from god knows where for the second (or was it the third?) time. She was even more manic than I remembered from last night. For my part, I had a hangover and didn't want to be poked, petted, ogle, complimented, cooed at or any other of the myriad things Michelle often does. But since she was driving, I made the best of the situation, and we ran around to all the places I needed to go. I printed out my resumé at Olssen Hall, then I mailed it at the post office. The day was much colder than the preceding day, and it was good to be in a car, I guess. I would have paid money for Michelle to calm down, though. Not only does she act like a maniac, she drives like one too. I kept expecting us to rearend someone. It's a wonder I didn't throw up as we whipped around in parking lots and on JPA. What's more, every time we were walking, Michelle wasn't content to walk like a normal person. No, she'd skip or dance, or just jump around on both feet, usually squealing the whole time. I have to tell you, this experience gave me a whole new appreciation for my mellow, calm, sane, deliberate and gloriously slow housemates. I wanted to crawl back to them on my hands and knees and beg for forgiveness. The best I could make of this whole experience, I found myself thinking, was becoming familiar with Michelle's character so I could perhaps use it some future day in my writing. How soon that day has come.

Michelle dropped me off at my bike on the Downtown Mall and I rode back home through the cold. I moped around the house being contrite while Jessika continued with the silent treatment.


n the evening, Jessika prepared some chili in anticipation of a visit from Monster Boy and Ana, people whom she and Deya had apparently invited to dinner yesterday. Sometime in the midst of this, the silence between us gradually thawed. By the time Monster Boy arrived, there wasn't any strongly obvious tension in the room anymore.

I got a six pack of Schlitzes and bag of corn chips at the Seven Day Junior and sat around with Monster Boy and Jessika watching some soft-core porno from the 50s. It featured Betty Page, of course, but it also showcased a transvestite who revealed his lack of breasts as a jolting twist at the end. I sort of knew he was a guy from the get go though.

Deya came home from work and we watched Brain Damage while the chili grew colder and colder as we waited for Ana. When Ana was an hour late, Jessika grudgingly decided to allow us to eat. Five minutes into our meal (Brain Damage is not a good meal time movie, by the way), Ana arrived. She didn't have her little son Nemo with her; I have no idea where he was, but it must have been some place safe because Ana was free of him for the entire night.


acky Jen called and encouraged us to go to some kind of Viking festival that she'd found out about. It was one of those festival for which people are expected to dress up. We all figured it must be a variety of Renaissance Faire, the sort of festival usually populated by sensitive ponytail guys, the kind one often sees hanging about in clusters of dorkdom on the Downtown Mall, usually outfitted in trench coats no matter the weather. We couldn't really picture how exactly Vikings dressed (aside from the obvious horned helmet, something we've been told they didn't even wear), but I suggested that Jen come over and help us put together costumes.

Before Jen showed up came the arrival of the usual two thirds of the Triplets (Naomi and Esther) along with Sarah Kleiner. They brought with them yet another (and completely unknown) female standin for the third triplet. The Triplets are fun when they're around. They whip in unexpectedly and full of good cheer, and then, just as quickly, they're gone, the room looks empty and the party is over.

While the Triplets et al were still here, Wacky Jen arrived with all kinds of materials with which to make Viking outfits. Rugs became animal hides and, to our eyes, burlap was perfect for everything else. Beyond those things, anything that was baggy and poor-fitting seemed appropriate. The Vikings were known for their ass kicking, not their tailoring. I wore a silky shirt as a pair of pants. It looked sort of like lingerie, but then again, it also didn't look like typical 90s apparel. With my burlapesque shirt, a orange clown wig and my studded belt worn across my shoulders, I decided I looked like I'd made a sufficient attempt at dressing up. Oh, and let us not forget my foam-rubber shield. Jessika dressed all in white (including a white rug and her window curtain skirt and she wore her flame-red wig, done up in Swedish braids, and a long ugly nose. She and Jen had some sort of wacky story to go along with this costume. Jessika was, they said, a "troll bride" in search of an "evil gnome king" to wed (in agreement with some bastardized Norse fairy tale). As one of her props, Jessika carried a chalice with a flattened mummified mouse. It smelled horrible.

Deya had some kind of burlap bloomers and a puffy-sleaved shirt and Jen used some masking tape to simulate shoes that had to be tied on, along with other fairly convincing accessories. Ana wore a long burlapesque dress under which she put a pillow, bingo!: A pregnant Viking wench. Monster Boy, however, said good night and headed home. Unlike us, he usually tries to avoid making a fool of himself.


vidently, this Viking party was some sort of University of Virginia-sponsored event. It wasn't just sponsored by the University as a whole, however. It was sponsored by one of the University's several sub colleges, the Darden Business School. Darden is where the future Mr. Stevenson-style business men of tomorrow are molded into mindless cogs in the machine. It is perhaps the most conservative piece of the entire University.

We couldn't simply drive to the party; it was being held in an undisclosed location, accessible only by charter buses that ran periodically from Darden and other fixed places. So Jen drove us off to Darden Business School and, after asking lots of questions of a friendly student bus driver, tracked down where to wait for the charter bus. The night air was uncomfortably cold, despite our bulky ill-fitting Viking attire, so we waited at least a half hour in Jen's car, wondering if our bus ride was ever really going to come. I had my doubts, but the prospect of unlimited free vodka (which Jen fingered as a star feature of the party) kept me interested.

The bus finally came and we piled on. A non-costume-wearing couple coming from the party told us it was miserably windy and cold, but it was too late to turn back now.

The charter bus stopped at a restaurant and a large group of Darden Business School students piled on. They looked older, mostly like grad students, and they were almost uniform in their attire. And it wasn't Viking fashion either. They, both male and female, all wore typical unisex conservative-middle-America leisure wear: light blue jeans and stylish earth-tone jackets. They were even more homogenous than frat boys, and that takes some doing. The only "outfits" we could see were a couple of generic novelty-shop horned helmets. Suddenly we realized that our outfits, slapped together in a few minutes, were probably worthy of prizes. Clearly this party was not the bastion of Renaissance geeks we'd expected.

The only person on the bus who seemed to be interested in the Viking aspects of the party was a genuine Swedish gentleman named Nicholas who wore green hair and happened to sit next to me. I could tell he was a bona-fide Continental not just because of his lilting accent, but also by the fact that he was evidently content not wearing deodourant. The Swede became a sort of master of ceremonies, leading us all in learning a Viking drinking song:

    Såååå... Svinger
    Vi På Seidelen igjen
    Hei Skall!!

Then he threw around a little book, a compilation of Viking wisdom (translated into English), for various Darden students to read aloud to get us into the Viking mood.

The bus ride went way out to the west, beyond Crozet even, to within the dark looming shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains, upon which clusters of beacon lights flashed on and off out of sync. In the pitch blackness, the bus disgorged its human cargo at the mouth of a driveway. We merry partiers all walked the quarter mile up the driveway, up a hill, to the party. It took place in the open air under an illuminated tent, but the tent had no walls, so we were mostly defenseless from the cold winds blowing down off the mountain.


till, there was lots to make up for the cold. In a little shed a bar had been set up from which various bartenders freely distributed pure Absolut vodka right from the trademark bottles. Absolut, it seems, was one of the party's big sponsors. But there were more sponsors too; there was a big truck full of Budweiser parked off to the side, with lots of taps from which people could freely draw beer. I pointed out to a random Darden student how this was like a urinal in reverse, and she didn't laugh.

There was also food. I don't know how many all-beef hamburgers I ate fresh from the grill. I didn't care about Mad Cow disease, the burgers were free, see.

Anyway, I soon found myself with a plastic cup full of vodka and some sort of cranberry cocktail. To escape the howling cold, I spent much time huddled with anonymous Darden students around a bon fire. The wind, blowing from completely random directions, made the fire almost as miserable as the cold. I was showered with sparks and my eyes watered continually from the smoke.

Meanwhile, Jessika, Ana, Jen (and to a lesser extent) Deya went around trying to make the party as weird as possible. Jessika tried to convince various guys to eat her decaying mummified mouse, and in return she and the other girls kept being questioned, "Who are you with?" "Do you even go to Darden?" "Are you second years [the youngest kind of Darden students?]?" In response, Jessika would ask mysteriously, "Where is the evil gnome king? I'm supposed to marry him!" The Darden students had no idea what she was talking about.

Jen took me aside and pointed out that this was supposed to be, for Darden students anyway, a "wild party," and "a night to remember," even without us wild and crazy people wearing actual costumes there. But for us, of course, it was just another way to spend a Saturday night.

Deya and I stood around discussing how different these people were from the usual people we find at parties. For one thing, neither of us had even once caught a whiff of marijuana smoke. That was weird. Weirder still, however, was the fact that we saw no one smoking anything. Yes, these partiers were all non-smokers! True, we were non-smokers as well, but we're virtually the only non-smokers we know.

We drank more, the girls harassed more Darden students, a Karioke machine played nonstop 80s, disco, and semi-contemporary country music. Wacky Jen was in rare form, as sociopathic as ever. She used sex appeal (a kiss) to con one of the vodka people into getting Jessika, Deya and Ana even more vodka than the plenty they had already. Later Jen and I went under one of the tables to investigate the hamburger bun situation, but we ended up taking advantage of the privacy afforded by the tablecloth to make out. The wind, however, was blowing the tablecloth around so much that we were soon busted by our friends.


  voice came on the loudspeaker telling us the party was over and that we should head down the hill and load up on the buses. This sounded eerie to me at the time, and I couldn't think why, but as I type I'm thinking of the Holocaust.

Down on the edge of the highway, all of us drunk partiers mingled like a herd of doped elephants, occasionally pushing and shoving and falling down, especially when the first bus finally came and there wasn't enough room for all of us. Jessika fell down at one point and seemed to be knocked out cold. We, her friends, along with several chivalrous Darden guys, helped her back to her feet, at which point Ana pleaded with one of them "You can let go now, she's okay!" Another time Jessika fell into a road side ditch thinking it was flat ground that could be walked on. "I need help, I'm serious!" she pleaded from the darkened trench. I could tell she was in blackout.

When the second bus came and there still wasn't enough room for all of us, the driver let us all get on the bus anyway for comfort from the cold, but he refused to drive until a third bus came. Jessika threw up all over the floor in front of her. It was that chili we'd had for dinner. Jen, who was sitting in my lap, got recycled chili all over one of her boots, but she didn't seem to care.

My friends and I all rode with an almost full busload of Darden students on the third bus. Jessika didn't say anything, she just puked one more time.

The whole ride home from Darden in Jen's car, Deya did the driving and Jessika puked out the window. For some reason, I wasn't especially drunk. Maybe it was those burgers that saved me.

Ana had to work at Foods of All Nations (a health food-oriented supermarket on Ivy Road) at 6:30am and, what with the return to Daylight Savings Time and all, it was already 5:30, so she took an hour-long nap on the couch and Deya drove her to work. Ahead of her lay an 8.5 hour shift.

one year ago

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