October 27, 2020:

I've been given a master key.

While that may seem on the surface to be an invitation to utter chaos, I'm actually pretty responsible.

Gene Oullette gave it to me, the chancellor of Johnston College. It's to make it easier for me to type the contents of the Forum, our school's small photocopied literary periodical, founded by a brilliant older student named Beth who I admire enormously. I've become a principal staff volunteer, as I did at UCSD with the New Indicator and would later do for a million years in antiwar and social justice movements up and down the land. I write the opening editorial, type the submissions, work with a small crew to glue the bits into a master layout which I or Beth then photocopy for distribution. To conclude the process I slip one under every dormroom and office door on our part of the campus. Because it's so much easier to do the typing on the college secretary's spiffy IBM Selectric II erasable than my little Sears portable — and the type looks a lot more professional — Gene has given me the key. I use the typewriter after hours, often very late into the night.

Why the master? I don't actually need a master. It could have been a key merely to the administration building. But no. I can actually get into any building on the entire University campus. I know because I've tested. Crazy, huh?

Maybe Gene half expected me to sabotage the University's records or grant full scholarships to every Johnston applicant. I like the thought. If so I'm sorry if he's disappointed in me. I'm really fairly responsible. I do use it to steal ice cream from the commons, but then, we did after-all pay for that ice cream with our meal plan bucks. Realistically we're just consuming it on a different schedule than the meal planner might have chosen. Two or three times I liberate a five-gallon drum of chocolate chip to share with East Hall. A couple of other times I've had a bowl with a friend, or a date. Nothing super dramatic.

The one large scale abuse I did organize around that key was a prank on the University library. A whole crew of us spent a chunk of the night turning all the books on certain shelves upside-down. We left them in order, just upside-down. Which shelves? I don't remember. Or if there was a message implied by our action, or it was pure Dada tomfoolery. It was fun, and, after a lag of several days, the commotion when the University discovered it was certainly enjoyable. I wrote a mock editorial suggesting it proved aliens were visiting from space.

When did I give it back? I must have. There'd be no reason to keep it. But I don't remember. Maybe I still have it! That'd be funny. I should bring my box of old keys next time I happen to be driving through Redlands at night. Maybe I'll be jonesing for ice cream.