With colleges around the land starting up, I look back fondly on my years in college and to my first semester in a college dorm. This wasn’t my first experience coming into college, mind you: I attended a community college and got my associate’s. I then transferred in and lived in college-run apartments. I had a full kitchen and my own bathroom. It was paradise but it was also 2 miles off campus. I settled in to staying there with two roommates I met in class for my 2nd year.
Over the summer I received an email saying my roommates had decided to drop out and my options were to either stay and have two brand new roommates or move on campus into a dorm. The dorm would be connected to the history building and I would have my own room. Being a history major, I couldn’t pass up waking up and jumping on an elevator and being in class in less than 2 minutes. Therefore I give the accounts of life on the 4th floor of South Ruffner.
The building was one of the oldest on campus. The Ruffner building is the monument to Longwood University founded in 1839. It caught fire and burned down in 2001. South Ruffner too caught fire and the bottom three floors were damaged and renovated. The 4th floor remained intact with its old wooden floors and prison-like bathroom with broken tile. The doors were the original ones, with different locks added to it over the years. When I moved in, I met the other 13 guys that I would be living with the next year.
Jason lived directly across from me. He was from Charlottesville and his girlfriend went to UVA. He was going to school for a Bachelor’s in business. He said when he wasn’t in school he was a ski instructor for the mentally disabled. He called his girlfriend every night and referred to her as Goose because their favorite movie was Top Gun. He was a great friend who missed home terribly. I named him Puss n’ Boots, because he wore cowboy boots everywhere he went, even when we worked out together.
CJ was a military brat who was finally out on his own. His family lived in Kansas and he couldn’t be any happier to be away from them. CJ covered his walls with Marvel Comics and Gossip Girl posters. He wore fedoras and danced around the halls at night singing Miley Cyrus songs. The kid spent the better part of his time in school drunk and yelling at everyone that “freedom isn’t free.” We never had any idea what he was talking about but we loved him.
Shawn was a business major who never heard a story he couldn’t one-up. He played video games endlessly. I called him Star Fox. He spent the first semester having sex with his girlfriend with the door open. I enjoyed yelling into the room, “Can’t let you do that Star Fox!!” to ruin the mood. His second semester, she left him and he brought back a different girl every night, one more hideous in the daylight than the next. He constantly gave high fives and used KGB to answer every question on his homework assignments.
Christopher was a frat boy who had a beautiful girlfriend and played a mean guitar. He had the biggest room on the floor and would constantly open his door to watch us and make awkward comments. We loved him.
BC was a traveling soul who constantly told stories about his journeys around America. He was a drunk and had a temper. He was also insane and would constantly throw knifes at the walls in the hallway ranting about ghosts.
Jacob for all intents and purposes was a skater who brought his queen-sized bed and speaker system with him. There was no time of night you wouldn’t hear him blasting music or yelling at BC. He skated down the hall at all hours.
The Hermit, for all I know, didn’t have a real name. He majored in computer science and biology. He looked like David Koresh and mumbled to himself. We were all pretty sure he was going to kill us all at some point so I would take him out for drinks from time to time. He wouldn’t say much but that didn’t matter; I just didn’t want to be one of his victims.
Our RA was actually my RA when I lived off campus. She trusted that I kept everyone in line and every weekend, she would give everyone a box of condoms and ask that we not fuck up the building.
The Ghost of South Ruffner
I first learned that South Ruffner was haunted while stumbling back from the bar late one Friday night and found BC in the hall yelling. He had his trusted Bowie knife and kept tossing it at the walls. I asked what he was doing and he said he was getting ready to fight the ghost. He believed the building was haunted by an old Asian man who died while the building was being constructed. He said he’d seen him late at night wandering the halls and whenever he tried to talk to him the ghost would nod and quickly walk away. He refused to be a victim of the ghost, who no doubt was after his sweet ass. A few weeks later I was drunk in the hallway taking a piss and the ghost appeared. He was in jeans and a hoodie. He simply walked by me while I yelled GHOST! GHOST! GHOST! with my dick in my hand and a confused look on my face; he quickly vanished down the steps. BC’s door slammed open and his knife flew out. He rolled into the hall, jumped up, and started kicking at the air. A few weeks later in a drunken stupor I met the ghost again in the bathroom and continued to yell GHOST! He quickly left and BC ran in with a mop, then we ran into the hall yelling for the evil spirit. We called the RA immediately, who came up asking why we were all yelling and why the hallway smelled like piss. She informed us that the ghost was a father of one of the girls on the 3rd floor and he visits every other weekend. BC refused to believe her and demanded we call a priest, a clown, and Crocodile Dundee.
Beauty and the Beast
It was a Wednesday night and most of us had come back in from the bars. BC, Puss, Starfox, and I were sitting in the hall drinking a bottle of Sailor Jerry and Chris got off the elevator. He said he had just gotten back from a play his little brother had put on. He took a swig of the bottle and started singing “Kill the Beast.”
BC ran to his room, got a robe and some broken sticks (that he for some reason had laying around) and handed them to us. CJ came out of his room in skinny jeans and a bright flowery shirt and squealed. We started stomping down the hall singing. BC grabbed his lighter and set a piece of paper on fire and started waving it in the air. The RA ran up and demanded to know what the hell we were doing at 3am yelling and stomping. We shouted “KILL THE BEAST!” Quickly realizing what was about to happen to us, we ran back into our rooms.
The hobgoblin was the other RA in the building and he lived on the 1st floor. He would do nightly patrols on our hall and yell at us to not clutter the hall. One night he pushed me out of his way and informed me if the hall was still cluttered—meaning, if we were still standing in the hallway—in an hour when he came back, he would take us all to the Student Judiciary Board.
I decided the best response was to unload all the couches in the study room and put them in the hall. I put a rug down and Shawn brought out his dresser with his TV and Xbox. When the RA returned, he lost his lid and began screaming at us. Doing my best to sound sober I replied, “Listen up here you hobgoblin-looking motherfucker: you don’t scare us!” The hobgoblin informed me he was reporting me. I got my phone and called the President of the Judiciary Board, who was a bar buddy of mine, and told him I needed him to inform the guy I was handing the phone to that he had to fuck off. He did so. I then called the Vice President and another member and they both told him to fuck off. The hobgoblin never bothered us again.
The janitor would do his rounds every Monday-Thursday, usually coming in around three in the morning. He was a nice old black man who called everybody “My Nigga”. Friday-Sunday, we were on our own, with no one doing rounds. One Friday night I decided everyone on the hall should order chicken from Papa Johns. We all got together, ordered a couple hundred wings, and had a grand ole time. We then took our chicken scraps down to the 1st floor, tossed them in their trashcans, and pissed in them. I left a note on the hobgoblin’s door saying have a nice weekend. By midday on Saturday, the smell was so horrible you couldn’t help but gag. By Sunday night, the smell had reached the 4th floor and everyone hated me.
The week before finals, we were all starting to settle in and get ready for exam week together. We told a few jokes and had a few drinks and went to bed. Later in the night I heard a lot of screaming and shouting and things breaking. I figured BC was having another one of his bad episodes and went back to sleep. The next morning I woke up and went to the bathroom. I found the place was trashed and one of the toilets had been destroyed: pieces were everywhere and water was all over the floor.
The RA was notified and demanded answers. None of us claimed to know anything, even BC with his bloody knuckles. The next day we cleaned up what we could and BC apologized to everyone and promised he would make right what he wronged. We all said it happens and didn’t hold it against him. That night when I went to the bathroom, I found BC with a saw and a couple shower rods and wood. He was installing a new toilet that he said he found outside of a farmhouse.
The only problem was the toilet was half the size as the original one and was in no way stable. He built a stand around it and duct taped everything and posted a note above it: FOR PISSING ONLY! I informed our RA that the wrong had been righted and when she came to inspect it she couldn’t help but breakdown laughing, and said we were the most ghetto ass pricks she ever met and walked away. Her reaction wasn’t as priceless as the guys who came in to install the new toilet.
I was the only one who returned to the 4th floor the following year. BC moved to Australia to fight kangaroos. The Hermit graduated. CJ flunked out and moved back home. Chris became the president of his frat. Starfox was on academic probation and blamed the hall for it. Puss dropped out and moved to Colorado where he is a ski instructor. Jacob was arrested during finals for selling drugs and never came back to campus. My RA graduated and a 19 year old girl took her place. Not every experience is going to be same, but there will always be memories that will last you a lifetime.