(Photo stolen from these guys)
When my husband Chas was a senior at Chico State (spring of 1983) he lived in an old house, a popular form of off-campus student housing, at the corner of 3rd and Pine streets. "3rd and Pine" has become the name of the house and of the era, spoken about in reverent tones by any of the old Chico State volleyball team who once lived there. (The house is similar to the one in the photo above, which was across the street and down the block, although the house in the photo is not trashed.) Chas lived on the top floor with three other guys. Two more guys -- one of which was Nick Asshat -- lived in the basement. The following is my interview with Chas, which was conducted with benefit of wine, but which is also faithful to his memory of his pet at 3rd and Pine.
ME: Tell me about your mascot at 3rd and Pine.
CHAS: It was a quart-sized jar of canned peaches, a gift from Dave's grandmother. She distributed them prolifically, and I don't think anyone ever actually ate them.
ME: Uneaten free food in a house full of college guys? That's hard to believe.
CHAS: It sat on top of the refrigerator for months -- maybe an entire semester. Maybe as much as six months. Somebody finally opened it up, but nobody ate any of it. It remained on top of the refrigerator, occasionally in direct sunlight.
CHAS: Oh yeah. Occasionally someone would open it up and slip a cigar butt into it, then close it back up.
ME: Was this done surreptitiously?
CHAS: No, it wasn't a secret.
ME: Just something to do, huh? What else did you put into the jar?
CHAS: I remember cigar butts and orange peels. Not a lot else.
ME: Was it forgotten about?
CHAS: No, it was like a low-maintenance pet, like a parakeet. It was there, we said hi to it once in a while, but . . . it was never really out of mind.
(Photo stolen from this site)
ME: So what did you name this peach pet?
CHAS: Jimmy. Jimmy the Mold. Dave probably named it; I think it's a derivation of "Jimmy the Mountain," which is a Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comic strip for adult potheads. Only a pothead from Humboldt would know much about it.
One day it was just sitting there, on the fridge, in the sun, and we were all in the kitchen, and Jimmy started boiling, loudly. There was some chemical reaction occurring. And then the contents of the jar completely flipped over inside. It was pretty frightening.
ME: What became of Jimmy the Mold?
CHAS: Well . . . it was the first nice spring day. Somebody said "let's take Jimmy outside." There were half a dozen steps up to our front porch, and Jimmy was placed halfway down the steps. We stood in a circle and bumped the volleyball around while Jimmy sat in the sun.
ME: And then what happened?
CHAS: Somebody shanked one over to the steps and shattered Jimmy.
ME: Saw that one coming.
CHAS: People held their breaths as we could see that the target was inevitable. When it shattered we all ran, not knowing if we'd be killed by a wave of toxic fumes.
(Photo stolen from these guys)
ME: What did it smell like?
CHAS: It didn't have an overpowering odor . . . it was kind of earthy as I remember, like a compost heap.
ME: So, not unlike Nick Asshat, who you lived with anyway.
CHAS: But he was downstairs, remember.
ME: Who cleaned the Jimmy mess up?
CHAS: Somebody got the hose out and washed it, glass and all, into the bushes.
ME: Nice. Did you have a funeral for your pet? I find it hard to believe that a pet you had kept, and named, and fed for so long, you could just wash into the bushes with no ceremony.
CHAS: There was no formal ceremony. We did speak of him fondly for several months afterwards.
ME: Is there a moral to your pet story? Any wisdom you'd like to impart about canned peaches, or pets in general?
CHAS, AFTER A LONG PAUSE: Don't play volleyball around your food. Don't be afraid to tell your grandmother, "No, thank you."
ME: How about, "Don't live with Nick Asshat."
CHAS: We had other pets at that house -- like Bob the Turtle, who we think buried himself. He took his own life.
ME: 'Kay, I'm good --
CHAS: And then we had a little manx cat named Amyl -- after amyl nitrate -- which is what Mike and another guy were snorting at that time.
ME: That's enough, really. You should rest.