Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Terror of Chipman Hall, or Why My Husband Makes Me Fear Our Children

Disclaimer: I'm sure that somewhere out there in the gigantic blogosphere, someone is married to, or knows, or is, one of the BYU freshmen that my husband tortured so mercilessly his first year at that august university. To you, I sincerely apologize. Please don't hate me because I married him. I can assure you that he eventually matured into quite a civilized adult who has been threatened with his life if he shares any of the stories of his wayward youth with our children. Hopefully, this will ensure that the cycle will not continue should our kids all end up at some university together in the future. And I only share this stuff now because I figure the statute of limitations has long run out.

Do you remember the kids in your freshman ward at BYU who were always up to something? They were fun to be around, but you were never sure you wanted to stay too long because someone was bound to come up with a "great idea" that led to yet another encounter with Officer Wayne of Campus Police. Before the internet, what else would a group of rambunctious non-drinking or drug using college freshmen do with their time?

My husband knew Officer Wayne so well that if it looked like Campus Police was going to show up, he and his buddies would hightail it away from the scene of the crime faster than you could say, "One day they'll all be RMs."

It all started with his dorm assignment. See, CPod is a smart guy, but the whole honors thing? Not really his . . . milieu. Somehow, though, he was assigned to Chipman Hall, first floor: the honors dorm. Luckily (unluckily?), he found a few other guys who shared his love of a good time as well as his healthy disrespect for all things Dungeons & Dragons and/or a capella singing related. CPod, Dale, Nathan and Matt made it their mission to make their mark on the honors dorm by alienating as many groups of people as possible. RAs were not off limits; girls were, but only because these boys admired them so much. But the biggest pranks were reserved for the guys across the hall: The Freaksters. The disrespect was mutual, and pranks were volleyed in both directions. CPod claims they differed philosophically on a fundamental level -- they were destined to never see eye to eye, and I fear that if we still lived across the street, the pranks would still be ongoing.

The Freaksters were a group of like-minded individuals who spent most of their free time playing Dungeons & Dragons and singing together in the shower. (I so wish I was kidding.) During Thursday night visiting hours, they would host a big Dungeon-fest in their room; people would crawl out of their respective caves, decked out head-to-toe in dragon-master, elf and wizard regalia, and congregate in the room across the hall from CPod's. They sat three-deep on the skinny beds and rolled their million-sided dice as they obsessed about their cards and hit points and whatnot.

One night, early in fall semester, CPod and his buddies knocked on the Freaksters' door armed with an industrial carpet dryer. As the door opened, they turned on the dryer and watched the players scramble in their cumbersome costumes as all of their important papers, cards, and dice were plastered to the window by the impressive wind tunnel generated by a commercial-grade fan.

This was only topped by the time they filled a huge trash can with water, propped it against the Freaksters' door, and knocked again. This time when the door opened, an enormous wall of water flowed through the room and back again, soaking Freakster costumes and gamepieces aplenty. Those industrial carpet dryers came in pretty handy then.

Not exactly an auspicious beginning.

The Freaksters, though, were by no means innocent. They reciprocated swiftly as the prank war escalated: a giant snowball was left to melt in CPod's bed. CPod's room was ransacked, drawers dumped, closet emptied, bed overturned, and pictures torn off of walls. They tried to outsmart the non-honors occupants of the honors dorm by leaving threatening notes quoting Star Trek, or written in Old English quatrains.

But CPod and his boys would not be put down.

One night, one of the Freaksters left his door open as he visited another dorm mate down the hall. CPod and his homies snuck in and stole all his underwear. I could stop there, right? But no, it gets worse. They scrounged together enough change to completely buy out one of the refrigerated vending machines: put in your money, open the little door, and enjoy your yogurt, or egg salad sandwich, or whatever. But behind each door, they replaced the yogurt or sandwich with one pair of underwear. Every time the kid needed a clean pair of underoos, he had to find $1.25 to buy it out of the machine. It took about two days for that vending machine to be removed from their hall for good.

CPod is a South Carolina boy. What does that have to do with anything? I'll tell you: it's the state of legal fireworks. And in the pre-September 11 libertine era of air travel, he could not resist the temptation to smuggle some contraband from the motherland when he came back after Christmas break.

The Freaksters had a strange bathing ritual that took place several evenings a week: four of them gathered in the communal shower and sang harmoniously together as they simultaneously took care of their personal hygeine. Let me be clear: they met on purpose so they could sing together, naked, in the shower. CPod and his friends thought this was a little beyond strange. And since the war was ongoing, they came up with an ingenius use for CPod's M-80s. They put the fireworks on a board (to protect the tile, of course -- they weren't about destroying property, just egos and self-respect), lit the carefully-timed fuses (to give them more time for escape, lest they should look guilty), and slid the wooden block underneath the bench where people could sit to wait their turn for the shower. The four singing Freaksters harmonized away, until the fireworks exploded and, in their panic and self-preserving, adrenaline-induced haste, all rushed for the same exit from the shower, resulting in the unmistakable smack of naked people crashing haphazardly into each other.

This one was investigated as a bombing. CPod and the gang escaped to his sister's off-campus apartment and stayed there overnight until things died down back on campus.

There are more of these stories. If I had had my wits about me, I would have made CPod sign a prenuptial agreement regarding the possibilities of future mis-education of our children. He claims he has since seen the error of his ways, but I've heard him eagerly tell these stories too many times to believe that one. The truth is, I'm a little worried it's in the genes, and our kids won't need to hear the stories to repeat history. Let's hope you don't have a reason to know my boys too well should they go to BYU in about 14 years.


  1. Ok, great laugh to start my morning. And I feel for you, really. Those are some serious genes to be worrying about!

    I will be LOL for days about the shower boys. I do understand their motivation. No where in the world does singing sound as good as in the shower. But to make an appointment to do it naked? Just a little awkward!

  2. I have 2 things to say:

    1. Matt was the captain of the varsity football and basketball teams in high school in a small town. And he was a jerk. Many freshman boys have been torturously hazed at his hands. He's lucky he doesn't have a criminal record. Whenever one of my boys does something that is nearly impossible to believe, I look at Matt and say, "This is your fault, you know. And you deserve it." He's strangely proud.

    2. Officer Wayne and I did our Masters program together. He's great. I ran into him this summer and he seemed well. So apparently CPod didn't send him to an early grave after all. :)

  3. ACK! I can't believe all that stuff!

    Right now I'm really happy my hubby is a bit square. I don't think he'd ever be able to come up with stuff like that!

  4. This is downright beautiful in a frightening kind of way.

    (The underwear story is classic. And it cracks me up to no end that the Freaksters would fight with English poetry. I mean, come ON! Be men!)

    Also, just had to tell you thanks for your MMB post today. It. Was. Awesome. And something very needed. Thanks.

  5. If only everyone could hear CPOD tell these stories like I have. He is oh, so very entertaining. The only thing that was new to me was the carpet dryer... I can only imagine the mayhem induced by all that wind...

  6. Oh the good old pranks of BYU. Good times.
    I'm just glad I have girls your boys age, so they are hopefully safe if they should happen to end up in the same ward one day.

  7. Thank you for making me smile (and actually laugh out loud) this morning! This is precisely the kind of thing I became expert 7th and 8th grade. Fortunately I grew out of the pranks by high school. And went to an entirely different university. Or I'm sure I might have been tempted to join in. But my husband...oh the stories!

    And in Jeff's web series the guys next door and D&D-types. They're involved in a great sub-plot that keeps getting entangled in the real one. Including room-trashing. ( Check it out!)

  8. p.s. My favorite is the underwear in the vending machine. SO love that! (I wonder if Jim from The Office went to BYU...)

  9. I sometimes I wish I had lived in the dorms at BYU. Sounds like I missed out on a lot!

  10. Wow!!! As a chicken-hearted, lilly livered girl who never did anything wrong because I didn't want to get in trouble, these stories are the stuff of legend to me!!!

  11. There's a MASH quote that springs to mind:

    "You invite abuse, Frank, It would be rude not to accept."

    ANYONE who harmonizes in the shower and actually DRESSES UP to play a board game after the age of four is inviting abuse.

    And CPod, well...

  12. I gotta hear CPod tell these stories one day. Too funny! Matt has been sworn to secrecy about his past too (from our kids atleast).

  13. Uncles, on the other hand, may be threatened, but have not been sworn to secrecy, and in this case, have little chance for receiving any retrobution. Copied, pasted.. and saved... for about... oh, say... 10, 12 years? BTW, tell CPod that I learned about a certain prank committed in his fathers presence! I think as a habit, he routinely ran over a neighborhood man's bushes, only, one day, he did it with his father in the car, and the neighbor raking leaves behind the house! It was sure interesting to hear the story from Dad.. He was so confused... did his little angel sone ACTUALLY just do that?!

    Just so you know, CPod pulled twice the pranks that UncleC and I did together, but because we look alike, we certainly got in more trouble, because for one, we got more attention, and admittedly, because we weren't as interested in concealment as we were in acheiving the end-results.

    I can't WAIT to see what CPod's 3, so close in age, will come up with. Better keep them busy!

  14. Come to think of it.... this stuff HAS to be genetic. We were all up to this stuff at a very early age. I recall Grandma telling me stories of how CPod would trip his toddler brothers. There's no question he loved to see if he could get them to fight. Only Mom could tell you all of the stuff he was into at an early age. I do know for our account though, that I distinctly remember using the plastic bowling ball and pins in kindergarten to go "bowling for dollars" at kids towers of blocks that they were bragging about. A neighbor boy told us years later some of the pranks/mischeif that we pulled on him at the wee age of 5 or 6. If your kids got the gene... no doubt, it will be expressed very, very soon.

  15. I am laughing hysterically at the visual image of the decked out freaksters panicking to catch the cards.

    My mom made my dad swear he wouldn't tell any of his pranking stories until after we had graduated college.

  16. So great. My Husband has a book - more like a notebook - titled "Dumb things I've Done." It is vast, and expanding. I won't let him show the Kids.

  17. My husband was in the jock hall, so no pranks going on there...

    Surprisingly, they turned it into a female dorm. Guess one building could only take so much male pranking.

  18. Hey, how about cup noodles?
    I found many different flavors here

  19. That is the funniest thing I've read in ages. I'm sorry for your childrens genes, but maybe you'll be able to keep at least one of them sane. . .

  20. I'm not going to relate any pranks I pulled because I would like to remain e-friends with you, but I laughed through this entire post!


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