One weekend in 1987, when I was still attending the University of Iowa, I decided to go visit Stacy and Lisa at Iowa State University for VEISHA.
VEISHA is an annual weeklong celebration held each spring on Iowa State’s campus. There’s a parade and open house demonstrations of university facilities and departments. The acronym VEISHA stands for the colleges of the university that existed when the celebration was founded in 1922. Now they just call it Veishea since some of the names of the colleges have been changed.
We could have cared less about what VEISHA stood for (and probably couldn’t identify all the colleges anyway). All that mattered to us was that VEISHA meant two things: Boys and beer.
I met up with Stacy and Lisa at their dorm and Kristin joined us a short time later since she was driving up from Des Moines.
We started the evening at a party that Stacy and Lisa knew about. We stood around holding red plastic solo cups of cheap keg beer trying to meet as many guys as possible. After a while, we decided to head to a bar since no one seemed to be having any luck at the party.
I was driving, and we tooled around Campustown in my 1981 Honda Prelude, sunroof open, Scritti Politti or the Outfield blaring from the stereo. We had all taken our keg beers for the road and I was less worried about being pulled over for a DUI than I was about driving a car with a manual transmission while simultaneously chain smoking Benson and Hedges deluxe ultra light 100’s and trying to keep my beer from sloshing all over the front of my miniskirt when I went around a tight corner.
We decided to see what was happening at the Cave-In, a favorite Campustown bar known for its dime draws. I parked around back and we all got out of the car.
I don’t know exactly how it happened but Kristin tripped by the back of the car, hit her chin on my bumper (the force of which spun her around), then hit the back of her head on the bumper and landed on the pavement hard, sending one high heeled white pump flying across the parking lot.
I lost it. We all did (well, not Kristin). Lisa was pretty near peeing her pants and we were all on the ground by this time trying to get a hold of ourselves.
But wait. It gets even better.
What we didn’t notice right away was that the cigarette Kristin had been smoking was someone extinguished by the beer in her plastic cup that splashed up when she fell (or landed). And that extinguished cigarette had enough beer on it to make it sticky enough to stick to Kristin’s forehead.
And she didn’t realize it.
And we didn’t tell her.
Because we were too busy having hysterics in the parking lot. And Lisa was now telling us that she was going to pee her pants any second. I was pretty much in the fetal position on the ground of the parking lot because I could not get myself under control to save my life.
Kristin still doesn’t know there’s a cigarette stuck to her forehead. And what are the odds that the only one of us who doesn’t have bangs is Kristin? She did have big, huge, shiny waves of late eighties hair shellacked a couple inches high with no less than a quarter can of Aqua Net. But she wore her hair off her face, which left a veritable sea of forehead available for errant Marlboro Light 100’s to land.
I guess she couldn’t feel the cigarette. Not that we helped by pointing it out or anything.
(Straight-to-Hell, party of three? I believe your table is ready!)
So then we walked around to the front of the bar and got in a very long line with a whole bunch of other drunken college students. We managed to turn it into our own personal mosh pit because we were so out of control and hyper and Kristin kept falling down. Random people kept asking her if she needed a light and she kept saying, “I don’t have any cigarettes” which frankly did nothing but set me and Lisa and Stacy off again.
It sounds horrible that we didn’t help our friend. Kristin was, and still is, a very pretty woman and I think we were a little bit j-e-a-l-o-u-s. She never could hold her alcohol though and this mishap was just not going to get by any of us unnoticed.
Finally, after a couple more falls, the cigarette fell off and we waited in line until we got into the bar.
The next morning, when we told Kristin what had happened, she was kind of pissed. But not only was Kristin pretty, she was sweet and good natured and didn’t hold it against any of us, even though she would have been justified in doing so.
I told that story for years, complete with re-enacting the fall. Maybe that’s when I started being so entertained by people wiping out.
Kristin set the bar pretty high. There hasn’t been a fall I’ve witnessed since that has come close to making me laugh as hard as I did that night. Then again, maybe nothing can compete with a college memory of girlfriends, cheap keg beer, and a wayward cigarette.