My son is preparing to move into a new apartment. Immediately this made me think of the apartments into which I moved over the course of my college career. I thought about the negotiations my roommate and I had when considering our lease. "They want a two hundred dollar damage deposit?" After a pause, "Yeah, we could do two hundred dollars in damage." This was an amusing, but very realistic exchange. This was primarily because, with the exception of the freshman dorm where I camped out in that first year, the apartments in which we lived were launching pads for frequent drunken brawls we called "parties."
And in those moments when the smoke cleared and the puddles had dried, I went to class. This was the reason I was living in those close-to-campus bunkers that were built to withstand eruptions of youthful indiscretion. The landlords knew what they were doing. Their monthly rates would pay for the holes in the drywall and the regular cycles of painting and repainting. It was our job to try and make them wonder if maybe they figured something wrong.
I'm a homeowner now. I'm a father. I teach elementary school. What was going through my head way back when in a celebration of some occasion or other we started up a pop bottle rocket fight ranging from the living room to the one bedroom we shared. Other fireworks displays took place on the patio of our deck, where the sparks scarred the roof that was a foot or two lower than the shower of fire we set off on purpose. In many ways, we were the stress test that these domiciles required. It was our gesture of public service.
And every so often, when things got "out of hand," we had a neighbor drop by. Most of the time, we were able to work things out by inviting them in. Sometimes that didn't work. They threatened to call the cops. I told them that they wouldn't have to call loud, since we often had a few off-duty sheriff's deputies hanging on the couch. I would love to tell you that at some point our collective conscience put a dent in the hooliganism. I can't tell you that.
I can tell you that I would advise my son to put down tarps. Just in case.