The Top Ten Things I Overheard While At Syracuse - #5

Back by popular demand (all six of you)...

I have a lot of funny, weird and disturbing memories from my time at Syracuse University ('96 - '00) that span many different places, events and situations. But all of them have one thing in common...someone uttered words before, during or after each of them. And so, I'd like to take this opportunity to remember my favorite utterances and what made them so memorable. At best, you'll find these explanations and stories as noteworthy as I do. At worst, you'll recognize a campus building that I reference in passing and think to yourself, "Hey, I too remember that building and I now feel as though I have some common ground with this fellow."

Previous entries include:

#10 - "Can we just come inside and look around?"
#9 - "Say your name, where you’re from and say your wrestling name."
#8 - "Okay, all we need is your passport and you're all set."
#7 - "You know why."/"What high school did you go to?"
#6 - "Succatash!"

#5 - "So horrifying, so macabre..."

The first road trip my friends and I took at Syracuse was to Niagara Falls, Canada. I'd love to tell you the basis of the trip was to take in the majestic beauty of the falls or to get some culture and experience what life is like on the other side of the border. Truth is, we were all 18 and that just so happens to be the legal drinking age up, a slight difference to the drinking age in the great state of New York.

And so, we gathered the troops (all six of us) into the one car we had access to (and fit four comfortably) and made our way to the great North. We did stop at a gas station in Niagara Falls, NY just before crossing over the border. Inside, the attendant tried to persuade us to spend our tourism dollars on their side of the falls. Sadly for her, the need to legally drink alcohol far outweighed any allegiance we had to America. We were a group of freshman guys whose only drinking option at this point was to smuggle cans of Natty Light and bottles of Boone's into our dorm room, party there with our thumbs up our asses (figuratively) with the door open and pray to God that girls walked by so that we might verbally accost them. We were going to Canada to get drunk and there wasn't a fucking thing the lady working the night shift at Texaco was gonna do about it.

We crossed the border and it immediately dawned on us that we might have a problem. We were 250 miles from our beds and all about to get blackout drunk. We needed a place to pass out. Oddly enough, the Hilton was out of our price range. Let's face it, so was Red Roof Inn. We finally settled on the shitbaggingest motel I have ever laid eyes on in my life. I tried looking it up to see what it was called but nowhere on the Internet does it seem to exist. It may very well have been torn down by now, and that's probably for the best.

But what did we care. We had Labatt's to drink, hockey to watch and Canuck women to ogle. We were staying the Clifton Hill area, which was choked full of blinking lights, sideshow attractions, a casino and bars, bars, bars. Imagine if Atlantic City, Times Square and Sunset Boulevard had a threesome that resulted in a retarded midget baby. That's Clifton Hill.

So the night began at a sports bar named Yank's, apropos I would say. Perfect spot. Hockey on TV (obviously), pool tables ready to go, tons of beer on tap. We could have stayed here all night and everything would have been fine. But of course, after a couple beers it was time to venture out and explore. And that's the first time we heard it...

Walking down Centre Street we hit the main intersection. Across the street from us was a row of sideshow-type places, like Ripley's Believe or Not Museum and other dumb attractions. Naturally, there was a horror-themed place. The House of Frankenstein, although I can't be sure that's what it was called back then. But even from where we were, catty corner, you could hear the booming message that was being played over the loudspeaker.

I don't remember the specifics but it was basically a Vincent Price-esque voice beckoning unsuspecting passers-by to experience the sheer terror that waited behind the black and skull-laced doors. The key to this morose message was in its repetition. It was at best twenty seconds long. You would hear a scream, some thunder and then the Vincent Price dialogue. Scream, thunder, speech. Lather, rinse, repeat. If you were walking by and not returning to the area, you'd never notice it. But if you were staying in the immediate area, well, let's just say you got familiar with it. And within this message was a specific phrase that I will never forget, for reasons we will get to...
So horrifying...so macabre...
At this point the night became a series of pit stops, but behind each one a theme was developing.

We stopped in the corner store where a friend of mine marveled at the store's abundance of du Maurier cigarettes, a Canadian brand that was not very available south of the border. Not a smoker, I thought it was interesting to about a second. But for him, being that he was a smoker...and drunk...and high...and possibly on mushrooms...it was like finding the Holy Grail. He bought two packs on the spot.

We left the corner store.

so horrifying...so macabre...

We found another bar a few doors down and went in for a drink. We sampled La Fin du Monde, a beer with 9% alcohol content and learned all about the magic world of Canadian high alcohol content beer from the bartender. Then we left for better drinking venues...

so horrifying...so macabre...

We made our way to Rumours, the local dance club. We stayed five minutes.

so horrifying...so macabre...

We shot over to the Hilton hotel bar for some of the classier drinking we would do that evening. Played some foosball. Considered making a run to the casino but thought better of it. Headed out to see if we could all get laid...

so horrifying...so macabre...

Failed at that. Ended up at Wendy's at 2am stuffing our faces with square burgers. Finally called it a night and headed back to the motel.

so horrifying...so macabre...

The six of us crammed into a hotel room made for two people and, well, I'm not quite sure what happened or how we all made it back to the room in one piece. It was quite possible that if you combined all of our BACs, it would have equaled 4.7. We were lucky to not be in need of a stomach-pumping to be honest.

I don't remember much from that trip, natch. Except for that fucking line...so horrifying...so macabre... For the rest of my life when I think of Niagara Falls, I will think not of the sheer beauty of the Falls but of a crappy attraction where people in masks try to scare you into thinking the $19 you paid to come inside was worth it.

A couple years later we took a second trip to Niagara Falls. We felt compelled to go into the haunted factory/castle/maze/whatever to truly understand and know the horror and the macabre within. At one point we opened a door and walked into a dark room waiting for something to happen until one of the attendants came and told us we were all standing in the supply closet.

So macabre, indeed.

(Bonus, I'm pretty sure you can hear it in the background of this clip around the :37 mark. I hear it every night in my nightmares, so I would know.)




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