Thirty-One (02 of 31)

Stephanie and I were finally able to see Rent on Friday evening, and despite the best efforts of a gaggle of chatty teenagers to ruin our movie-going experience we quite enjoyed it. I went in expecting to be dissatisfied, having seen various clips on the Internet and having been totally underwhelmed by those clips. But, for me, the film did work as a whole. It will never be what the stage production was, or what the original cast recording still is to many people, myself included, but if you approach it as if it were a really good cover song then I think you can truly enjoy what’s up there on screen. I think Chris Columbus was a good fit as director, as his generally “positive” aesthetic really brought out the core themes of the story, and I can’t imagine them having made it without the original cast, despite the fact that most of the original cast is, in real life, a tad bit too old to be playing these parts.

All of this brings me to my throwback of the day, a reminisce entry I wrote sometime over the past couple of years while reflecting on the parties we held at my Cluster house at Bradford College during my junior year [1997-98].

I’m re-posting this particular entry today because of my fond memories of Prok and others singing from Rent in the kitchen/dining room area of the cluster during the numerous parties we threw. Having lost my band in the summers immediately preceding this year, I was still starving for the opportunity to sing. And had I known the words at the time, and had a wee bit more confidence, I might have joined in.

The Parties

Our Cluster House was famous for its parties, though I wouldn’t really know it until a couple years later when I spoke with acquaintances who lived across the way. Our parties weren’t the drunken debacles that had took place both before and after we occupied it (We lived in Cluster D that year for those of you Bradfordites out there) but they were loud, filled with dancing gay men and dancing dancers, and loads of people having a good time.

At one of the first parties of the semester Nikki and Heather T. were supposed to coming over. I was thinking of ducking out before they got there because I was terrified of seeing them again for the first time since the Spring, when I’d been way too weird with my crush on Heather. They came before I could disappear though and everyone was civil. I don’t think we really spoke but I think there was an understanding that what was done was done.

I never really participated too much in the parties. The people I was best friends with were Russel and Jimmy. With Russel, there was a growing strain in our relationship ever since Rachael had decided to not come back to Bradford. She had been the thing we had in common. Jimmy I hung out with at the parties, but he was much more social than me. Mostly, I think I just kept to myself.

Prok was over for a lot of these get-togethers. There was lots of dancing, always to the same techno-clubby songs, upstairs in the corridor between Jimmy and Dan’s room and Stephanie’s room. Sometimes there were people singing along to the soundtrack from Rent. Other times people went out on the balcony and were crazy. One time I think there were jello shots.

Another time I think someone jumped off the balcony to the ground below, though that could have been a different year.

Regardless, they were fun get-togethers where everyone’s friends would come over and blow off steam after hard weeks of school. Me, not having as many close friends as everyone else, I just watched. That’s what writers do.