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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cloyne Court- Excerpts 31 and 32

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Cloyne Court, Episode 31
By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Rated "R" by the Author.

A creative memoir about Cloyne Court in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s

"This house council meeting will come to order,” said Sandy, in his most official voice. As house manager, he was standing in front of a table at one end of the sunroom addressing the thirty or forty people who were sitting on the couches, lying on pillows on the floor or leaning against window ledges.

Behind him, seated at the table, was Betty Sue, the assistant house manager and Carlos Cruz, the secretary, both looking as if the fate of mankind were on the agenda for tonight's meeting.

"First item of business will be approval of the minutes for last week's meeting. Carlos."

Carlos was a sophomore with a savant memory. He could recall movie dialogue scenes and deliver them verbatim. My favorite was when he would reenact the entire movie, including body movements and songs of The Rocky Horror Picture Show showing every Saturday midnight at the UC Theater on University Avenue.

After a late night of studying, I would find him by the front-hall couch entertaining students who had eaten Cloyne’s special brownies. And yes, Carlos was much funnier after we ate the brownies.

Because of his special abilities, Carlos could read any class textbook once and recite every fact and salient point. He was a straight A student. It was obvious why he had been accepted to Berkeley.

After his second year at Cal, Carlos went on a bad acid trip. During his hallucinations, he wrote on the wall of the newspaper room, Experience through drug-induced clarity, and that became his truth. He discovered getting stoned and staying stoned was better than going through withdrawal and dealing with school. Unfortunately, the drugs and alcohol ate his brain cells, so by his senior year, he couldn't remember his name. Tonight he was in rare form.

"My typewriter broke," he said, "so I didn't have a chance to type any written minutes. It's all here in my head. I move we approve the minutes.”

"How can we approve minutes we can't read?" said Wayne Helms, our self-appointed parliamentarian, who was a stickler for Robert's Rules of Order and something as nit-picky as actual written minutes.

Carlos stood. He said in a rapid fire, clipped, nonstop sentence, "The minutes of last week's house meeting are as follows, 'meeting called to order at 7:01 p.m, old business, approval of minutes from the last meeting, all in favor, forty-seven votes aye, no votes no, next item, new business to spend forty dollars on year subscription to Revolutionary Worker, motion to study item further, second, vote, thirty-five ayes, thirty-three no, motion to table passed.'" He paused to take a breath before continuing.

"Motion to approve the minutes," Sandy said quickly.
"Second," said Betty Sue.

"All in favor say aye," Sandy said. "All opposed. Motion approved. Next item of business is the house manager's report. For health and safety concerns and after complaints from several house members, I have decided to enforce a no nudity in the kitchen and food eating or serving areas policy."

Everyone glared at Ben and Sue. They sat there smiling and said nothing.

Sandy said, "I would also strongly suggest clothes be worn during meal times."

"OK, back to the old business of purchasing a forty-dollar yearly subscription to Revolutionary Worker for the newspaper room. We tabled the motion last time."

A longhaired, scraggly dressed resident who I didn’t know, but assumed was a member of the Spartacus Youth League, jumped to his feet yelling. "That rag? We don’t need a newspaper to tell us what injustice is going on in the world. Just talk to me. I'll deliver the facts for free." He was visibly angry at his archenemies, the Revolutionary Student Brigade for intruding on his ideological turf.
"Besides, we can get the same propaganda from the New York Times, which we already subscribe to," said Kyd Byzzarre, who was lying on the floor staring at the ceiling.


Cloyne Court, Episode 32
By Dodie Katague
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Rated "R" by the Author.

A creative memoir about Cloyne Court in Berkeley, California in the late 1970s

The SYL member screamed leftist diatribes at Kyd. Kyd remained on the floor unmoved by the animus. I assumed he knew his statement would provoke a response. Not to be outdone, a member of the RSB began his verbal attack against Kyd, the SYL, the New York Times and house members in general.

This caused several of the nonaligned members to become offended. Soon, everyone was yelling at the RSB member. Upon seeing a fellow radical verbally attacked by the mainstream political viewpoint, the SYL comrade banded with his Leninist pretender, and they began arguing with everyone else, their minor ideological differences forgotten. Some fists were raised by the time Sandy brought the meeting back to order.

Wayne, the parliamentarian, spoke in a knowledgeable voice. "We cannot decide on the issue until there’s a vote to first reconsider the motion to table. If that motion passes, we need to discuss whether to reconsider the tabled motion. If that vote passes, the motion is off the table and now open for discussion. Then there has to be a motion to reopen the discussion on whether to spend the forty dollars. If that votes passes, we open the floor to discussion on the merits of the issue. If that votes passes…"

Fifteen minutes later, nothing substantive had happened. I was getting bored.

"Next, old business," said Sandy. "Cindy has a report from the ad hoc committee to decide what brand of condoms the house should sell in the vending machines. Cindy."

Cindy moved to the table at the front center of the room, pulled six boxes of different brands of condoms from a paper bag, and placed them on the table. "First, I'd like to thank Ren for buying these items from the Euclid Drug store down the street." She pointed to Ren, who was seated on a couch beside his bunkie, Kimberly.

"You don’t know how embarrassing that was!" said Ren. "I had to ask the pharmacist for these items, because he kept them behind the counter. He gave me the strangest look. He says to me, ‘Will there be anything else?’ and I say, 'Yeah, I want a pack of cigarettes.' Then he says, 'I'll need to see some ID.' And I say, 'What do I need an ID for?' And he says, 'I need ID for the condoms, not the cigarettes.' And I say 'You mean to tell me I don’t need your permission to kill myself and others from smoke inhalation, but I need your permission to use birth control and disease prevention?' And he says 'Yup, that's the law.' And I said, 'Man, that's fucked up!'"

"Speaking of fucking," said Sandy, "let's get to the committee's recommendation."

Cindy said, "I gave samples to several volunteers and asked them to use them and rate them and report tonight. Any recommendations?"

Nobody raised his or her hands. I saw some men shift uncomfortably in their seats.

"Do you mean to tell me nobody used the samples I handed out last week?"

None of the male volunteers could look Cindy in the eye, but the women had their excuses.

"Sorry, I'm on the pill," said one.

"I use a diaphragm," said another.

"I use a sponge." Another volunteered.

"It was my period.…"

"Wait, stop! Too much information!" Sandy yelled. "I didn't need to hear that. Save it for the Sunday night women's group." More men shifted uncomfortably in their seats.

“C’mon people! We need to select one.” Wendy was pleading. “These yellow ones are rather cute.”

The house members whispered between themselves as Wendy led a serious discussion on which of the six prophylactics would be featured prominently in the vending machine. After a half-hour, the group had not reached a consensus and the meeting was becoming wearisome.

The glass paneled door to the sunroom opened and in walked Dick Fine. A hush came over the crowd. "Sorry I'm late," he said.

Dick walked to the table and opened each of the six individual samples. He pulled at them and stretched them. He blew them up like a balloon, filling each with air past its natural and intended shape grotesquely over sizing them. He held them to the light like a wine connoisseur and licked them for taste. That sent a titter of laughter through the audience. He took out a ballpoint pen and poked at each inflated condom. One popped. I noted which brand that was and mentally crossed it off my list. Dick stared at the finalists, picked one and proclaimed, "This one. The Trojan Ribbed Lambskin, Natural Color."

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