Hot Rats StoryTime Theater
John Wood’s Merriest Christmas!
By Your Pal Drew (Hot Rattus Emeritus)
The boys over at the 10th Street Collaborative announced that they were having a Christmas Party.
Now, the 10th Street Collaborative was comprised of Mark Gardner, Tony Caparoso, Rick Odom and Tim Hagan and at some point in the fourth year they started calling their house (and themselves) by that precociously stylish, completely marketable title. Nevermind that they weren’t actually practicing architecture yet, not in any big sense of the word anyway. But the name was good and their house was on the north side of 10th street and there you go.
I don’t remember when the party started and I don’t remember when it ended and I don’t really remember a lot of the in-between stuff. In fact, there are only two salient facts about that particular party that I do recall…the Christmas Lights and the mysterious appearance of John Wood.
This was in the fourth year of undergrad and a large chunk of our class had left for France to study at L’ecole De Beaux Arts in Paris. With our ranks diminshed, the 10th Street Collaborative stepped forward to fill the party void recently vacated by the folks in the French Program.
Mostly though, I think it was an excuse to drink beer.
Lots of beer.
So now it was Christmas and the boys were throwing a party. Maybe some of you French Program folks were back in town by that point….as I already mentioned, I don’t really remember.
When I got there the guys were in the middle of stringing Christmas lights all around the inside of the house. Not strung properly mind you, just draped from doorway to doorway, room to room, all over the place. Later that night the only lights inside the house were Christmas lights and buddy, they were a-blinkin’…..and they definitely weren’t in sync.
It was like a bloody damned third-world disco in there. You couldn’t walk across the room without getting a swimmy head. If any of us had had an undiagnosed case of photosensitive epilepsy we’d have certainly discovered it that night.
I don’t remember when John Wood showed up on the front porch. In my mental replays he melting out of the tall grass on the hillside and clambered over a wall. John never simply walked through a door, down a lane, up an elevator; John always -appeared- somewhere like a half-crazed Jedi Knight.
He wandered up as me and someone else (maybe Chris Harris?) were attempting to hang lawn chairs and soccer balls as ornaments on the great big fir tree in the front yard. I remember the soccer ball wouldn’t stay put and kept tumbling through branches down to the ground. We’d also been trying to toss an orange traffic cone up to the top of the tree, but it was a good 20 or 25 feet to the top and we were just being idiots.
“Here’s the way you do it,” said John Wood.
And away he went up that tree like a squirrel, the traffic cone tucked under one arm….maybe on his head….
I’m pretty sure everybody else’s mouths hung open as we watched him barrel straight up the bristling tree. I couldn’t believe how fast he moved. Once he got to the top, he reached out and snapped the crown of the tree: CRACK!
He slipped the traffic cone from beneath his arm and slipped it neatly over the top of the tree’s broken crown. With the ease of a lumberjack he eased himself back down to the ground and melted off into the crazy blinky shadows inside the house. And that’s the last we ever saw of John Wood…. that night.
That party was in December of 1990, and up until 2001 I could still see that traffic cone proudly waving in the bright sunshine along 10th street. It’s gone now, but the story lives on.
Merry Christmas John Wood, wherever you are!
The events depicted here may in fact be the deranged ramblings of an adult who simply wishes to make their college experience sound more exciting. The memories found herein are the property of the collective conciousness of the HOT RATS and may in no way be used as evidence in a court of law, since the statute of limitations for “reckless architecture” has long since run out. This article and the contents therein may not be reprinted without the express written consent of the author(s).