I walked across the street from Wellington Hall to the Memorial Union. I had just finished my first math midterm of winter quarter, and I felt good about it. The topic of the test was partial derivatives, and while I had never learned about partial derivatives before, or even heard the term until a few weeks ago, everything we had done so far had seemed fairly straightforward.
I liked this math class so far. None of my IHP classmates were in my class, but there were a few familiar faces from last quarter, including Andrea Briggs from Building B and Jack Chalmers from building F. The instructor was a tall blonde woman named Shelley Bryce. Like Jimmy Best from my last class, Shelley was a graduate student in the mathematics department. She was a bit more reserved than Jimmy Best, and she seemed less comfortable in front of the class, but I still understood everything so far.
I had a two hour break before chemistry class, so I rode back to my room. I turned on the computer and checked my email. There was only one message. It was from Brendan Lowe, who lived upstairs in room 322 and had a really sick sense of humor. The subject of the email said “FW: Fwd: Re: FW: FW: Dirty limericks.” In other words, this was going to be something wildly inappropriate that he received from someone else and passed on to the rest of the IHP, just as he did at least once a day on average. Hopefully, he took Karen Francis off of his forwarding list; I learned the hard way a couple weeks ago that Karen did not like getting chain emails like this one.
The dirty limericks that I read were so funny, and caused me to laugh so loud, that Aaron heard me through the wall and asked me later that day what the commotion was.
My chemistry class that day was about easy stuff, so I was really only half paying attention. The other half of my brain was attempting to think up my own dirty limericks to go with the ones that Brendan had shared. I started thinking of words that could rhyme. I thought of names of places, so I could use them in the first line. “There once was a man from Jeromeville,” I wrote; I crossed it out a minute later when I realized that nothing rhymes with Jeromeville. I tried thinking of other towns nearby that might be easier to make rhymes with, and after about five minutes, I scribbled this:
A pretty young girl from Blue Oaks
Made a dildo from bicycle spokes.
Now she’s doing all right
‘Cause she gets some each night
But she always complains how it pokes.
Next, I started thinking of body parts. Penis. Dick. Cock. Wiener. This could work. By the end of class, I had another one written in my notebook:
There once was a man named McGee
With a small dick that no one could see.
I’d bet, I’m no liar
That unlike Oscar Mayer,
This wiener you’d not want to be.
Earlier in the week, I had been sitting at the dining commons with Gina Stalteri and some others from my building. I walked up to the table as Gina was making a joke about a tool that was designed to measure a guy’s penis size. Later, she started talking about her roommate Skeeter frequently staying up late on an IRC chat talking to some guy in another state. Skeeter’s real name was Jennifer, but everyone called her Skeeter because one of her friends from childhood had thought she looked like Skeeter from the Muppet Babies cartoon. I could definitely see the resemblance. Also, having a distinct nickname made life easier when you had a common first name like Jennifer.
I had one more class that afternoon, but my mind was still on writing dirty limericks. I kept going back to the things Gina was saying at dinner the other night. And, not long afterward, I had this:
There once was a roommate named Skeeter;
This IRC guy liked to greet her.
If the two ever met,
She may finally get
To use Gina’s new Peter Meter.
I heard the professor saying something that reminded me that I was still in class and had better pay attention. So I started taking notes more carefully and put the dirty limericks aside for a while.
At dinner that night, I looked around for a place to sit. I saw Sarah, Krista, Ramon, Liz, Pete, Tabitha from Building B, and a girl with curly brown hair whom I did not recognize, at a table with one open seat between Liz and Pete. I walked over and asked if I could join them.
“What’s up?” Ramon asked, seeing me approach.
“Hi, Greg!” Liz said. “Come join us!”
“This is Jeanette,” Sarah said, gesturing toward the curly-haired girl. “And this is Tabitha,” she continued, gesturing toward Tabitha.
“I’ve met Tabitha,” I said, as Tabitha simultaneously said, “I know Greg.”
“How are you?” Sarah asked me.
“I’m good. I had a math midterm this morning. I thought it was pretty easy.”
“Have you gotten your payment turned in yet?” Tabitha asked Krista.
“Yes,” Krista said. “I’m going for sure.”
“What are you going to?” I asked.
“We have a retreat for JCF coming up next weekend. It’s at a Christian conference center in the hills outside of Bidwell.”
“That sounds fun! Are a lot of people going?”
“I heard that probably about 50 people from Jeromeville are going. I don’t know how many people are coming from the other schools.”
“Jeromeville Christian Fellowship is part of an organization called InterVarsity,” Liz explained. “They have chapters at colleges all over the USA and a few other countries. And the chapters from Cap State and Bidwell State and a few other schools will be at this retreat too.”
“That’s cool,” I said. “Sounds like a fun time.”
The conversation then turned back to classes. Given the fact that the entire rest of the table had just been talking about their church retreat, I figured that now would not be a good time to mention my dirty limericks.
After checking the mail (I had none), I walked back to the building. Gina, Mike Adams, and David were sitting in the common room having a rather loud conversation.
“Charlie told me that last night, he was coming back from a late class, and he walked in on Pat and Karen. They were so loud, they didn’t even notice he came in.”
“Whoa!” Mike shouted. “They didn’t even notice?”
“That’s what Charlie said– Oh, hey, Greg. What are you up to?”
“Actually,” I said, “remember the other day when Brendan sent those dirty limericks?”
“Those were hilarious!” Mike said.
“I know. I’ve been writing some dirty limericks of my own.”
“No way!” Gina exclaimed. “Let’s hear one!” I told her from memory the one about Skeeter, and she opened her mouth as if to say that she couldn’t believe I said that. “That’s great!” she said, laughing hard. “You even got the Peter Meter in there!”
Next, I shared the one about the bicycle spokes; the two guys were listening as well by then. “Ouch!” Mike exclaimed. “Who would do that? I mean, it isn’t like it’s hard to find a dildo! Why make one from bicycle spokes? That’s brilliant!”
“Did you write any other ones about people from here?” Gina asked. “You should write one about Karen and Pat.”
“That would be funny!” I said. I started thinking aloud. “There once was a girl named Karen… what rhymes with Karen?” I sat and thought. “There once was a girl named Karen, at whose tiny breasts Pat was starin’.” The three of them laughed, but I said, “I don’t really like it. I think I can do better than forcing words that don’t really rhyme.”
The others started talking about something else, but I continued to work on my poem about Karen. What else rhymes with Karen? Maybe I could do something better if Karen wasn’t the word that I was trying to rhyme. Hmmm…
“There once was this girl, Karen Francis,” I said, “who always let Pat in her pantses.”
“Pantses!” Gina said, laughing. “This is great! I didn’t know you could write like this!”
“I really didn’t either. I tried making a few Weird Al-type song parodies as a kid, but they were terrible.”
“So what’s the rest of it?”
“I haven’t thought of it yet. Maybe it’ll come to me if I take a walk.”
“Go for it.”
I left Building C. It was dark by now, and cold outside. I should have brought a sweatshirt. I could always go back and get one if I end up being out here a long time. I walked from one end of the South Residential Area to the other, in between the twelve identical lettered buildings, the trees planted around them, and the grassy area in front of the dining commons. I heard the faint sounds of music playing from some of the buildings. It was a clear night, but I could only see a few very bright stars, because of the light posts along these walkways. The moon was not out. I contemplated what the rest of the poem could be about, and I kept coming back to what Gina had said about Charlie walking in on Karen and Pat. I thought of other words that rhymed with Francis and pantses. And over the course of about five minutes, as I wandered between the buildings of the South Residential Area, it came to me.
I returned to the common room of Building C; Gina and Mike and David were still there. As soon as I made eye contact with Gina, I began reciting my poem:
“There once was this girl, Karen Francis,
Who always let Pat in her pantses.
Charles came in and said,
‘Stop using my bed
For doing your horizontal dances!’”
“Horizontal dances! Where do you come up with this stuff?” Gina asked.
“It just kind of came to me.”
“You’re hilarious! You should keep doing this.”
“I didn’t know you wrote. You’re a math guy. Have you ever thought about doing anything with your writing?”
“Not really. This is new to me too.”
“Well, I think you’re hilarious. I need to go study, but this was fun. Thanks for the laugh.”
Gina, Mike, and David all climbed the stairs. I followed them, getting off with Mike on the second floor as Gina and David continued up to the third floor. Writing for fun really was pretty new to me. I did have a creative side going back to my childhood. As a kid, I often got great ideas for video games, but my limited programming skills and the limited hardware capabilities of the Commodore 64 left almost all of my video game ideas unfinished. In my teens, I would draw comic books and copy them on the copier at my mom’s work; my brother and some of his friends got involved in my little publishing business too. But my artwork was terrible, and the story lines were shallow and childish. Mom probably saved a lot of those in a box somewhere in the attic, but I haven’t looked at them in decades.
These limericks, along with the depressing poems I wrote a few weeks earlier while I was listening to Pink Floyd, were really the start of my hobby of creative writing for fun. I never wanted to make a career out of it, and it isn’t something I do on any sort of a regular basis. I just have a lot of thoughts in my head that I want to share. Sometimes I just write to make people laugh, like with these dirty poems. But sometimes writing also helps me to sort out thoughts on my mind, and sometimes other people’s reactions to my writing help me see a different perspective on the situations that inspired me to write. Obviously, I still write today, because you’re reading this right now. So feel free to leave comments and help me see the memories of my past from a different perspective.
(Author’s note: Again, these are all real poems that I actually wrote in 1995. Most of the other dirty limericks I found from that time involved inside jokes that were too much to explain now. I don’t even remember some of those inside jokes.)