Approaching 40: Mercy street

In between all of the classes and the work in the dorm cafeteria that freshman year at UCR, there was some occasional recreating. The first fraternity party to which I ventured was a KA party somewhere just off campus. My roommate drove there and there were three or four of us in his car. Out in the back of the frat house was a keg of god-awful Coors Light that was watered down to nothing. Still, it managed to be enough for my roommate. I can’t remember how long we were there but when we were getting ready to leave, we decided that my roommate was too far gone to drive. His car was a manual drive shift on the column car, and the drive back to the dorms was hilarious for two reasons. First, watching the other fellow try to drive the old-fashioned stick-shift was funny. Second, my roommate began to get queasy and to prevent throwing up in his car, he shoved his keys in his mouth.

There was a kind of horseshoe drive that pulled up to the main entrance of the dorms and when the car came to a stop, my roommate dashed out the door and stuffed his head into the nearest trashcan. By that point I was on the ground laughing.

There were quieter times, however. I had an IBM 286 and occasionally, we’d play some games. One of the games that me and my friend Rich would play was Stunts. It was a racing game in which you could design your own tracks. We could play that for hours. What I remember best is sitting in my dorm room playing Stunts with Rich while Peter Gabriel’s So album played in the background. Sometimes we’d design these tracks with long straightaways that lead to be jumps. There was a desert background to them. To this day, whenever I hear “Mercy Street” I am back in my dorm room, dimly lit, sitting in front of the computer racing along one of our newly designed tracks, the car speeding down a long straightaway.

Those were some good times. Far better than the KA parties with the terrible beer.

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