Nineteen years ago this month I arguably had the strangest house party experience of my life and it had nothing to do with sex, drugs, beer, fire or some form of property damage.
There was this guy my friend Amy occasionally hung out with and my circle of friends knew him because he would occasionally pop in when my group would go out drinking. I’ll call him “Slim” for this story. Slim was a fat schmo who was arrogant, condescending, sloppy, cheap and a consistent jerk for no good reason. I still remember Slim going out for chicken wings with us and always ordering french fries with a water. I’m a “go big or go home” type of person when going out for food and drinks, so I thought he was an asshole just based on his food order. I was never the sucker who would buy Slim a beer.
My friend Dave and I worked with Amy and she told us that we were invited to go a party at Slim’s house. Apparently Slim had a new house and my cynical self was telling me that Slim wanted to show off his bachelor pad to EVERYBODY HE COULD because he wanted everyone to know who was boss even though he looked like total garbage. How ironic. Even though Dave and I couldn’t stand Slim, we agreed to make an appearance out of pure curiosity. At least Slim would serve all the french fries and water we could eat and drink.
The party took place on a Friday night in mid-October. I drove with Dave in his car and we got to Slim’s about an hour after the party started. When we got inside we saw Amy, Slim, a few other friends of ours and about fifteen other people that I didn’t know. The home was built in the 1950’s, a typical small suburban ranch house like many that were carved out in Pittsburgh’s south hills post World War II. It was a good size for Slim but it was very small to house a family in. The strange part about Slim’s house was the decor. I didn’t ask, but most of the furniture was old. Not retro chic old but 1970’s tacky old. I assumed the furniture came with the sale of the house, so I grabbed a beer and hung out with Dave, Amy, Jill (from the “Rocker Girl” tale) and Jill’s boyfriend Jerry (whaa whaaaah).
About thirty minutes in, Dave and I overheard a conversation from a few guys that were coming up from the basement. Apparently the basement was finished with a large television down there, and Slim had a Sony Playstation hooked up to it. Some of the guys were taking turns playing Madden 98, which was and still is the best American football video game franchise produced. Becoming bored with the conversations upstairs, we ducked out and descended the stairs to see if we could play a game against each other.
The room was simple but nice, with plenty of seating and good lighting. There were four college age guys sitting around, two playing the game and two watching the game play. Since the 1998 version was fairly new, Dave and I wanted to view the game even if we killed the vibe in the room. Usually when guys get together to play video games everybody is loud and throwing snacks at each other. These guys were quiet and calm while we sat around with them.
After the game was complete, we were asked by the four guys if we wanted to play since they were all heading back upstairs. We agreed to take over the game and decided to play the longest amount of minutes per quarter since we were anticipating a few more people wanting a turn. We wanted to get our thirty to forty minutes in and be done with it for the night.
About forty minutes later Dave and I completed our game, but there was nobody waiting to use the game console. Having lost faith in the atmosphere upstairs at Slim’s, Dave and I fired up another game. An hour (and a few beers) later, we apparently started to make a noticeable amount of noise. In our eyes, Dave and I were just being typical twenty-one year old’s playing video games. Slim came downstairs to see what the commotion was about.
“GUYS! I don’t care if you play down here, but you have to be quiet.”
Dave and I looked at each other, confused. I spoke up.
“Slim, what’s the big deal? We’re just down here by ourselves playing Madden. Why does anyone upstairs care about how much noise we are making down here?”
“Because my grandmother is sleeping in the other room.” Slim points at a door on the other side of the basement.
Dave and I looked at each other again. Dave had this look of both confusion and amazement while I could not wipe the smirk off of my face. I tactfully replied for the both of us.
“Oh, okay Slim. Sorry, we didn’t know she was there.”
Slim went back upstairs, and we immediately started laughing uncontrollably. Of course, we were laughing uncontrollably QUIET. We finished our second game and went back upstairs. We wanted to share the hilarious news that Slim’s grandma was sleeping in the basement, that it wasn’t Slim’s house and the party was lame, but we didn’t say anything to our friends until the next day. Me, Dave and some twenty-five other people went to a house party…at Slim’s grandmother’s house.
So the revelation of Slim’s grandmother holed up in the basement confirmed why all of the old furniture looked like something my grandparents would have owned, why those four guys were acting so reserved in the basement and that Slim was indeed a poser. He made it sound like the house was his, and we discovered the truth when we played drunken video games in his grandma’s basement. I mean WHO THROWS A HOUSE PARTY IN THEIR GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE!?!?! Slim does.
Dave and I left the party pretty quick after our conversation with Slim. We went to a local bar where a lot of jolly older guys hung out and told tall tales and laughed at each other for hours. On this night we had our tall tale to share with them, and we didn’t disappoint them. They never heard of anybody doing what Slim pulled that night.