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Inspirational Reads

Big Willy Style

September 9, 2008

Today, we auspiciously celebrate the arrival on this plane of existence of one William Park Shannon, IV. Thirty-one years ago, he burst forth from his uterine home which had housed him for nine months into a world filled with Polish emigrees, strange accents, hot dogs, garage bands and a disdain for Gary, IN. Some people call it the South Side of Chicago.

Slightly less than 18 years later, 300 pounds of Erin Go Fuckin' Bragh presented itself at Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer, IN, smacked his brother with a rolled up carpet, made a few veiled Tolkien references, and captured my friendship by saying "You wanna beer?". Actually, it was nothing like that...I believe he offered me whiskey first. Nearly a fifth of Jim Beam and a handful of cigars later, a friendship was forged. Well, two, but we're not celebrating Steve "The Little Purple Guy" Giles today. This is all about the Man, the Myth, the Legend...Will Shannon. In case you were wondering, Steve was the third leg in our unholy trinity. He also got laid a lot more, which is why we're not honoring him. Bastard.

My earliest memories of Will are clouded in a booze-inspired haze on a Thursday night as we prepared to march across the wilds of Pennsylvania in order to do battle against the hordes of other forensics-inspired youth in the annual Bloomsburg University Speech and Debate Meet. You see, this golden tongue of mine isn't just for making the ladies smile; no, you see, I've oft had the gift of stringing words together in just such a way that it inspires others to award me with such things as ribbons and glass vases. I had already packed, but my muppet-lookalike room mate was hosting a Tickle-Me-Elmo tournament in our Zone of Cohabitation; surprisingly, I opted for the booze and entertainment that was watching Will pack his suitcase for the trip. At one point, the overstuffed bag refused to close; ever the practical one, Will leaped upon it, undaunted, and snapped it shut before it could comically burst open once more. Elated, he bounced upon the case like a drunken Tigger and declared loudly, "I'm three hundred pounds of Erin Go Fuckin' Bragh!"

I nearly wet my pants laughing.

Such was the weekend, whose penultimate moment was Will declaring, loudly and rather pointedly, "Ah, Pennsylvania...where five bucks and a case of beer gets you a pilot's license." The weekend culminated in a rather fitful night of sleep on the floor in a motel in Youngstown, OH, where I wrapped a semen-and-shit-stained comforter around my head like a Motel 6 version of the Virgin Mary and Will pulled a sheet over himself, grasping a Swiss Army knife in his hand. Oh, the memories. Oh, the wasted time in Pennsylvania. Oh, the things we vowed we'd never speak of again.
Many more memories passed in the remaining three years we spent within the "hallowed" passages of Gallagher Hall (though I did spend a hellish year in Merlini...hellish not so much because of the people, but because we had a leaking pipe in our room that induced mold to grow behind our radiator, thus rendering me highly asthmatic throughout most of my junior year), each more enjoyable than the last. There was hallway cricket, mattress wrestling, re-creating what a sexual experience with a certain girl would be like--even down to the grease spot left by the hot dog as it smashed into the end of the hall, thus making the phrase "like throwing a hot dog down the Chunnel" a reality (of sorts). There were threats to kill Roger, to kill some dude who referred to himself as Chicago (who was really from Hammond, IN), to kill Schmitty, to kill Mookie, to kill Possum Dixon (not the band...some guy named Dave who looked uncannily like a possum (and who lives in Durham, NC, apparently)), threats to kill a bottle of Jim Beam, and a threat to set Steve on fire with a cigar, with the added information of "You've got enough alcohol in you, you oughta go right up, bitch." There were bags of meat and there were Meat Bags, there were buckets of spaghetti, Mypopsacop, snow football, improv shows, and long discussions about nipples and what to do with them. There was singing. There was bawdy jokes. There was the singing of bawdy jokes. There were questions about Schwag, jokes about the Smokin' Androgenous Freak, references to Meat Hook Sodomy and a former room mate whose girlfriend referred to him as "Pooter", and the Beer Keg. Jesus, did we get Slam Dunked. Who throws away a fucking phone, anyway?

Okay, you get it. This fat motherfucker and I were friends and we spent an inordinate amount of time drinking and doing stupid shit--you know, guys and college stuff. Anyway, here's to thirty-one years of fabulosity, Big Willy Style, which includes instant-ninja masks, running around a civil war era cannon, humping the dino, grilling spam and Sparklebelly. Mother. Fucking. Sparklebelly.
Many happy returns on your birthday, my friend. We drink to your coffin. May it be built from the wood of a hundred year old oak tree that I shall plant tomorrow.


Mel O said...

Awww... what a nice birthday dedication!! It never ceases to amaze me the wildly stupid things guys will do when unsupervised ;)

Gwen said...

What an awesome tribute to your friend! It makes me want to drink with him.

Happy fucking birthday, Big Willy! You da man!

Dr Zibbs said...


Alaina said...

That's lovely. Remind me not to tell you my birthday.

Will Shannon said...

Wow, what can I say?

The Beer Tsar pretty much summed up the non-academic nature of our college years.

Thanks for that trip down Alcohol-Induced Amnesia Lane.

My sincerest thanks for the memories and the feelings are most decidedly mutual.

Frank said...

Do I get one of these on my birthday?

BeckEye said...

..."he burst forth from his uterine home which had housed him for nine months..."

Not enough people write like this. Bravo. And I'm still laughing because I'm reading it in John Facenda's voice.

Lisa-tastrophies said...

DAMN!!! Big Willy sounds like the sh*t!! Hell, I'm no longer in my drunkin-college-slut phase and I would consider a drunkin-birthday-f*ck after reading that homage. Well, here's to you Big Willy, Happy Birthday

dg said...

That trip down drunken memory lane ruled. Thanks for sharing your memories of Erin Go Fucking Braugh. Or however you spell it.

Um . . . you wanted to kill a lot of things.