At the end of the month, Sean Keane is moving out of his apartment of four years, a South Berkeley four-bedroom apartment known affectionately as "Ward Street D." This week, Zembla will present pieces involving or inspired by Ward Street D over the years, as a tribute to the grand old place, before we scurry like rats from the grip of its wonderful, terrible embrace.
Originally published in The Heuristic Squelch, October 2001
Home Court Advantage
In basketball, the mark of a truly great team is the ability to dominate in one's home arena - maintaining the "home court" advantage. The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, perhaps the greatest team of all time, lost just one game at the United Center during the entire season. The Harlem Globetrotters displayed such dominance as well, remaining unbeaten against the Washington Generals at home for a full 17 years between 1969 and 1986.
Why not attempt that same thing at home during a party? That is, display the correct mix of self-confidence, arrogance, and intimidation so that one’s "guests" or "friends" are constantly thrown off-balance, intimidated, or simply confused at social events. At my particular apartment, Ward Street, we strive to always keep the proverbial ball in our court, and literal home court advantage in our metaphorical pockets.
It begins when you arrive at the apartment. Outside the door are two doorbells, one a foot and a half above the other. Which to push, wonders the guest. Regardless of what choice they make, they're wrong. Both doorbells are totally inoperable. By the time the guest finally succumbs to knocking, they’ve already failed at one, if not two doorbells. They’re flustered even before they encounter the door chain, and then get patted down for glass bottles or weapons by our blue-vested security team. Advantage: Ward Street D.
It doesn’t stop there. Once the door opens, guests are asked to remove their shoes - "house rules," we say with a shrug. It's not until the shoes are unbuckled, unlaced, and sitting in a pile that guests realize that we residents of Ward Street D are all still wearing shoes ourselves. Not just shoes, mind you, but boots. With six-inch platform heels. And the hardwood floor of our living room is covered with a combination of crushed chips, spilled drinks, and sand. "We just like to keep things neat," we say, as the heel of their sock is soaked with a combination of rum, coke and crushed La Fortunita tortilla chips. Ward Street D wags a finger in your face.
Want an adult beverage? Ward Street D is all for recreational alcoholism. Just say the word, and we'll be doing shots. All guests will be directed to take shots from our very special plastic bottle of Winners' Cup Gin. We inhabitants of Ward Street D will match you shot for shot from our own bottle of "gin" (actually a Golschlager bottle with a crude, hand-lettered label marking it as "jinn").
"Time for a shot," we'll announce. "Let's drink. You from your bottle of gin, and I from mine."
"Wait, are those gold flakes in your glass?" a visitor might ask. "Is that even gin?" Our response is always succinct, and to the point:
"Are you gonna take a shot or not, pussy?"
Guests unfamiliar with the tough environment that is Ward Street D will likely be confused by certain elements. Such as the pay phone in the kitchen for outgoing calls. Or that getting into the pantry requires a key, and that opening the refrigerator can only done with a retina scan. "We've had incidents with the refrigerator before," we say, by way of explanation. "You want another beer already? If you're that thirsty, why don't we do another shot of gin?"
To paraphrase the immortal Wu-Tang Clan, Ward Street D ain't nuttin' to fuck with. Bring your A game when you party here, and bring your VISA card. Because partying at Ward Street D takes a strong liver and constant concentration. And the toilet paper dispenser doesn't take American Express.