IRBY HALL - TULANE UNIVERSITY, NEW ORLEANS
There were two new dorms when we arrived at Tulane in New Orleans in 1958 to begin our freshman year.
They looked alike, except they were mirror images of each other. We were assigned to one called Irby Hall.
The layouts were a bit weird. There were four bedrooms to a suite; two boys in each bedroom. In the core of the four rooms was a bathroom with two commodes, four lavatories and a shower with four spray heads.
Hanging on the wall to the side of one set of the two lavatories was the communal telephone. We shared it.
My roommate, Sonny Mares, was one of those guys who couldn’t simply breathe fresh air that was scented by a coed’s Shalimar. It would bring him to spending a good deal of time in the evenings talking on the communal phone to her.
On the other side of the bathroom, across from our bedroom, was a Greek guy from Florida whose daddy’s company manufactured and provided almost every hula skirt used in Hawaii and elsewhere.
Mike was studying to be a doctor.
His roommate was a fellow from New Jersey named Lou Symos. Lou had that same sort of defeated look as well as the hairstyle of Charlie Sheen.
Lou was always worrying that nothing was going to go right for him. He was pretty sure it never had before, and that his luck wasn’t going to change.
Lou had a great sense of humor, though. He was a good ventriloquist, and he frequently would break into dialogs with an invisable person. His ad libed to person conversastions were clever and funny.
Lou was a bit jealous of Sonny’s luck with the girls. Lou would wander into the bathroom and there Sonny would be, sitting on the lavatory nearest the phone, with the receiver at his ear, charming his latest Shalimar petite amie.
Naturally, it annoyed Lou in a Charlie Sheen sort of way.
One time, Lou had enough. He went into the stall with one of the commodes, you know the kind. They have them in movie theaters and such. When they are flushed, they make a huge amount of noise as gallon upon gallon of water rushes around the toilet bowl on the way to the sewer.
In fact most of them have the trade mark, “Royal Flush,” on the valve. Lou said that the only thing missing there is, “It's fit for a king.”
Lou started loudly throwing his voice. “Please don’t. Oh, please don’t. I beg of you. Oh, please.”
Sonny’s petite amie said to Sonny, “What in the world is going on?” Sonny knew Lou was up to something, but he didn’t know what.
Right then Lou flushed the commode, at the same time saying in his best frightened character’s voice, “Save me! Oh please save me from this cruel way to die” and then he followed it with lots of gurgling and spitting and at last his voice sounded like he was going spinning down the commode bowl with the gallons of water.
With that the romantic mood Sonny had worked so hard to create with the Shalimar petite amie was broken. The chat promptly ended. And can you believe it? This was the one time that Lou actually smiled!
The other six of us had gone to see what all of the ruckus was about as Lou’s character was begging for mercy, and of course when we saw and heard what was going on, we doubled up into laughter. Sonny finally did, too.
I had known him for most of my life. He was always a good sport.
The other day, I was a visitor in a very expensive and elaborate home. After awhile, I excused myself and went to the powder room. When I flushed the commode, it was so loud that it reminded me of the Lou and Sonny play at Irby Hall 57 years ago.
And I started laughing. I was really out of control.
Imagine, I thought, someone paying two million bucks for a home where the builder had snuck in a cheap toilet that made so much noise that it would work perfectly well for Lou to use to revive his drowning scene.
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