Friday, November 18, 2005

Later, When Chris Berman Would Remark on the "Rasputins of Football" It Would Conjure Up Very Unpleasant Things For Me. . .

In my Flunky Flashback post I made a passing reference to a certain group of individuals, which raised some questions from some non-Parkerite blog monkeys about who the heck those individuals were. Well, I'm not sure who first coined their name; I'm pretty sure it was meant as a jab at them, but they appropriated it with gusto and glee, making it their own badge of honor, sullied as it might be. Most of them were only around for that first year in Parker, but they definitely made an impression on just about anyone who walked through the doors. Let the easily offended be warned: the realm of the Gutterboys is not for the faint of heart.

I don't know if my descriptive powers are up to the task of doing the Gutterboys justice, especially hampered as I am by my desire to keep CoIM at least moderately family-friendly; it's hard to accurately portray the Gutterboys when your vocabulary is limited to what you might find on prime-time TV; of course, that leaves a lot more open for use than what such a restriction might have excluded 12 years ago, when the Gutterboys first formed.

As with so much from that time, I'm unsure of just how it all began, what strange set of circumstances led to the formation of the proudly obscene group known as The Gutterboys; what I can tell you is this; at some point early on in my Freshman year, a group of 3rd floor residents made the Parker lobby their base of operations; at almost any hour of the day you could find them gathered together, making rude and crude comments about anyone and anything that crossed their path. Though there were several who styled themselves as Gutterboys, and a couple who were granted a grudging honorary title, there were really only four guys who truly earned the name through and through; four guys who seemingly shunned all that was expected of an Honors student to enjoy an endless litany of profanity; these four guys who were undeniably Boys of the Gutter, and the one known as Everclear was their king.

I don't know how much of their behavior was done for the benefit of each other, and how much was done for their shifting audience; the majority of the dorm shunned and ignored them, but enough people provided them with attention to encourage them to keep their show going non-stop. I confess to spending a great deal of time observing the Gutterboys in action; this was the semester of quicksilver relationships, of alliances formed from shifting sand, and I wanted to be in the middle of everything; hanging around the Gutterboys in their center of power seemed like a good place to start. Plus, I think a part of me was endlessly fascinated by just how brazen, how outrageous, how downright perverse they allowed themselves to be. Coronela was another frequenter of the Gutterboys entertainment zone, and was, I believe, conferred with an honorary Gutterboy title before that first semester was over; I'm pretty sure she was even included in their theme song.

Ah, the theme song; to this day I cannot hear "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" without hearing the Gutterboys version in my head. You see, one of them had heard a bit of trivia about the mad Russian monk Rasputin and his, oh, how shall I put this . . . his, um, prodigious manhood. And so, inspired by the story of his uncanny equipment, the Gutterboys composed a song they felt was worthy of the gutter, comprised of verses filled with sexual innuendo, each verse connected by the chorus of "Swing Low, Rasputin," said line always being accompanied by a chopping motion near the singer's knee; do I have to spell out why? I remember going to see Addams Family Values that semester with a group from the dorm; during one scene a depressed Gomez begins to sing "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," which prompted all of my group to scream "Noooooooo!" in horrified unison, much to the surprise of all those who had yet to be scarred by the presences of the Gutterboys.

Many were the ways in which the Gutterboys reveled in their profanity and obscenity, from generic dirty jokes to specific conjectures about dorm residents to the oh-so-clever adoption of nicknames for themselves designed for embarrassing others; Everclear was "thirsty," Big C. was "hungry," another one was “tired” and so forth; if someone with a bit of a potty mouth were to slip up and say "I'm f-bomb hungry," well, much hooting and hollering and banging of the chair would ensue.

What's that, you ask? What does "banging of the chair" mean? Well, now we get to the heart of the tale, the true axis on which it spins: The Evil Chair.

At some point in time, the right arm rest of the chair most often frequented by King Everclear somehow came loose; it was easily put back in place, but it was just as easily dislodged again; the arm of the chair quickly became the way in which the Gutterboys signaled approval of a particularly amusing, biting, and/or obscene comment, dislodging it and banging it loudly against its base. They soon began to attribute mystical attributes to the chair, claiming that it was the source of their perversity, and declaiming that anyone who sat in it would be corrupted. I couldn't even begin to count how many times I heard one of them shout out something along the lines of "Oooo, that one deserves a bang of the Evil Chair!" The Gutterboys were expanding their mythology, and the Evil Chair was their Unholy Grail.

Of course, even with the power of the Evil Chair watching over them, there was one thing the Gutterboys were vulnerable to: low GPAs. By the end of that first semester, three out of the four were kicked out of the dorm because their grades had fallen too low to allow them to stay in the Honors program; apparently, spending all of their time worshipping at the altar of the Evil Chair rather than going to class had a negative impact on their scholastic activities; who knew? And who, you may ask, was the one Gutterboy who was able to maintain a sufficient GPA? You probably already guessed it: King Everclear. Maybe the Evil Chair offered some protection to its most loyal subject after all.

Now, even though they were no longer official residents of the dorm, all that meant was that they no longer slept in Parker; but considering that most of their time had been spent in the lobby anyway, it really didn't make that big of a dent in their activities, and the Gutterboys continued to terrorize and entertain Parker residents throughout the rest of the year; still, I think there was a subtle shift in the general dynamic due to their ouster, and tolerance of their activities began to grow a little thin now that they weren't actual residents of the hall. It was into this environment that newbie Flunky entered and decided to shake things up.

I can't claim to speak for his exact motivations; maybe his status as a fresh pair of eyes and ears made him much more sensitive to their activities than those of us who'd lived with it for several months and had come to accept their presence as an unavoidable pitfall for living in the dorm; maybe their actions offended him on some fundamental level; maybe they just rubbed him the wrong way; or maybe he just wanted to stir things up. Whatever the reason, one night while The Gutterboys were all off doing who-knows-what, Flunky took it open himself to launch an attack at the center of their power: The Evil Chair.

Now, since The Evil Chair was technically university property, Flunky couldn't do anything destructive to it without repercussions; he could, however do something constructive to it. The plan was simple: some glue to reattach the arm, and a quick exchange with one of the similarly styled chairs in the living room, including an exchange of colored cushions to make the illusion complete; but first, a trophy picture of the conquering hero, foot confidentally planted upon the less-evil arm of his prey:

Flunky and the Evil Chair

After that, it was just a matter of waiting for the Gutterboys to return and make a comment worthy of banging the Evil Chair. I don't recall if Flunky stayed around to watch the show, but I wasn't going to leave that lobby for love or money until I saw Everclear's reaction.

Sure enough, it wasn't long before the Gutterboys congregated in the lobby yet again, a crude comment was made, and Everclear went to bang the evil chair, only to find his throne had been replaced by a seat much less inclined towards wrong-doing. There was much consternation on their parts of course; they at first theorized that the Physical Plant had replaced it, but quickly decided that they were the victims of resident-induced reverse-vandalism. Everclear, perhaps using only his logic, perhaps being drawn in by the Evil Chair's siren call, quickly began the hunt for the cursed thing; in a depressingly short time he was able to locate the abused piece of furniture, thanks to the fact that the right arm was so danged worn down and scarred from the constant banging. Within instants of locating it, The Evil Chair was back in its original place, and a couple of good hard yanks undid the good Flunky had managed to do with his wood glue, and the Evil Chair was banging away again. I think they held some grudging admiration for Flunky’s nerve; it was a valiant effort, Flunkrow, and I salute you for it.

By the time my Sophomore year rolled around, the Gutterboys were no more; the three who had been kicked out of Parker apparently didn't learn their lesson, and were no longer even enrolled at OSU; the Evil Chair had been replaced by new furniture; Everclear was still around, but had moved out of Parker. He hung around the dorm a bit in the beginning of that year, but was never able to reclaim that base of power; the Gutterboys were officially defunct, leaving behind little in their wake but unhealthy and disturbing associations in my mind for a gospel song and an historical figure; so I suppose, in some ways, their legacy lives on; after all, the Evil Chair may have been replaced, but was it destroyed? Or is it out there, somewhere, haunting the night, and waiting for the opportunity to revenge itself on the one who was able to humiliate it . . .

Watch your back, Flunky, watch your back. Evil never dies; it just gets reupholstered.

4 comments:

Zinger said...

Sorry to break this to you, but I believe the Evil Chair was still surviving in the lobby when I arrived at OSU (your sophomore year). Well, its broken frame was still there, although its spirit had assuredly moved on. I guess by then it had become "The chair formerly known as Evil". At any rate, it had not been replaced, as you claim.

Zinger said...

Oh, and I think you are doing your loyal readers a disservice by not mentioning that Everclear was relation to everyone's favorite mulleted football player of the '80s, The Boz. I think that goes a long way in explaining the mythos that is the Gutterboy philosophy.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Dang, Zinger, why you gots to be hatin'?

To be honest, I wasn't sure exactly when the Evil Chair disappeared, but I do know when I was going through old Parker pictures from that second year it was nowhere to be seen; so, maybe implying that the chair was gone at the beginning of the semester was misleading, but thematically, it worked, and you know my motto: Never let facts, logic, or good judgement get in the way of a story.

As for Everclear's relation to The Boz, it had completely slipped my mind.

Coronela said...

It would really make this post complete if you could come up with all the lyrics to the song... especially since I can't remember them and I have my doubts about ever being mentioned there.