I went to Ohio University from 1988 to 1992. Technically it was 1993, but I wouldn’t want it to seem like I flunked a grade or that my parents held me back. The friends I made then are the friends I still have now. We are planning a reunion for the end of June and there are about 24 of us coming back to Ohio University. More than likely, we will end the night at the C.I.
The C.I. was and still is our favorite haunt. I know many of my friend have individual bars they like to go to for other reasons, but for when we are all together, it’s the C.I. Our favorite pastime is to get a basket of peanuts, halve the shell, eat the peanuts, and then secretly place a half shell on someone’s shoulder as they stood at the bar or walked by. Bonus points for getting a shell on both their shoulders. That was a good way to make friends. We also like to run and try to jump on the high shelf that runs the length of the front wall parallel to the bar. Few could do it then. Fewer now.
In 1993, I was at the C.I. with Crazy Jill. We were manning “The Step.” Before renovations, the C.I. had an odd step up to a platform at the end of the bar and then step down about 20 feet later. I assume there were pipes running under the floor or possibly treasure. Either way, The Step was a hazard to many a drunk, both stepping up and stepping down, and someone needed to help! Jill and I would stand on either side of the step and ensure that C.I. patrons were aware of the step. I, being a boy, would focus on telling the girls to watch their step, usually offering a hand to help them up or down. Jill would help the boys, usually frisking them on the way past. Both of us always with a, “watch your step!” The people sitting on the shelf behind us probably wondered what we were doing, but enjoyed the show. I just thought it was a good way to possibly pick up a girl for the night. Jill thought she might find her future husband, but that was silly.
On one particular night, Crazy Jill and I were both very drunk and very helpful in escorting people up and down the stair. At some point, Jill began to help the boys down the step with a solid swat on the butt. This continued for several minutes until a boy, staggering to the exit, happened to the top of the step. He was quite drunk and, surprisingly, carrying a camcorder in the palm of his hand. In 1993, a camcorder you could cup in one hand was expensive and not something you haul around drunk at an Ohio University bar. He approached the stair and began to step down. Jill said, “Watch yer step!” and as he started to descend, she swung and hit his ass. At least she tried to. She missed his butt and instead hit the camcorder in his hand. He was not holding on through the strap and it went flying forward. It missed everyone in front of him and hit the floor with a noise that sounded like five or six pieces of plastic breaking Without missing a stagger, the guy lumbered forward, picked up the largest chunk of camera, some of the plastic bits, and walked out the door without a head turn backwards or an angry word out of his mouth.
We stopped manning the step after that night. I don’t think it was because of the camcorder incident, but the quarter was over for me and we never found time to do it again. You never know when your last night at a bar is going to be. Later the C.I. went through some renovations and The Step was removed and now there is no The Step.
There is one last bit to this story. On that last eventful night, one of the people sitting on the shelf and watching Crazy Jill and I help people up and down the step thought to herself, “What the hell are these people doing.” And then later, “They just broke that guy’s video camera!” It wasn’t until my wife and I were married for a few years that the story of The Step came up and that I was that guy standing in front of her helping ladies up and down The Step and she was the girl sitting behind me, knowing that was the wrong way to try to pick up girls.