What is in a name?

Off the Beat

The second we said it aloud, we knew we were onto something epic. The scene: a living room in a post-apocalyptic state the morning after a party. The players: my housemates and me. The crime: naming our typically rundown student apartment and embarking on possibly the most ridiculous adventure we’ve ever conceived.Now that final part was a pretty tall order. After all, my housemates and I are, without a doubt, a little insane. We know how to transform mundane into awesome, and we have an entire year’s worth of crazy antics to prove it. But naming our house definitely tops them all.

“Casa Loco.”

It’s not even grammatically correct, but by the time we realized that the name had already stuck. Besides, we might have still been a little hungover when we actually stumbled across this brilliant idea (a statement that remains to be proven). We etched the name in Sharpie on the coffee table in the living room — the same table that supported three of us during a jubilant round of the Cal drinking song the previous night. And everyone knows that it doesn’t get more permanent than a half-used Sharpie marker.

We’re not Christopher Columbus setting out for uncharted territory here; we’re not the first people to decide our house was so distinguished that it deserved its own moniker. Being the clever English major that I am, I could pull from numerous British novels and dispense a handful of such estates: Jane Austen immortalized Pemberley and Netherfield Park in Pride and Prejudice. Shakespeare’s Macbeth hunkered down at Inverness until he kicked the bucket. Those names sound so prestigious, so grand, so alluring.

And then our house sticks out like some gringo, valley-girl eyesore.

As the name suggests, there’s a certain unique craziness to the entire place. There has to be, what with five of us — four girls and one guy — living in such close quarters. Over the summer, we always had more alcohol than actual food in the refrigerator. We rarely use our front door, choosing instead the lazier option of hopping through the front window. Once, we melted a spatula into a pan of hot oil trying to fry frozen taquitos (okay, that one was all me). PG&E suddenly cut the power on us one day, and we quickly learned that in order to have electricity, you had to, well, pay for it (in our defense, we got two free months of power out of that misstep).

Once summer faded to fall and we crammed our schedules with classes and football games and not studying, the craziness also slowed to a mellower feeling. Where there once was the sound of a thumping bass and a blender bought specifically for margaritas, there’s now the quiet background noise of YouTube videos and friends coming over specifically to cook with (actually, for) us. We finally got a couch — a lumpy monolith that continually falls apart but is so comfortable that it hosts numerous late-nights watching Friends reruns and downing Ben and Jerry’s by the pint.

But the ridiculousness is still there. There’s still the sense that anyone who climbs through the windowsill can let loose, that the more random an idea or remark the better. There’s still a fun, carefree sense of spontaneity.

Besides, there are still the Facebook and Tumblr pages.

Though both began on a whim, they’ve become grand traditions of Casa Loco. The Facebook page was primarily created so that we could tag our house in status updates; the 30-plus fans who liked it were all just signing bonuses. We started the Tumblr account for similarly self-important reasons: We wanted a place to chronicle every juicy/witty/suggestive thing uttered within the confines of Casa Loco. I’ve had numerous friends expound on the ridiculousness of seeing Casa Loco clog their newsfeeds, but I think we revel in it. Besides, we already know for a fact we’re all ridiculous.

We’re being gouged on rent for a kitchen that isn’t even up to code. We’re paying a king’s sum for the location (one block from campus), rather than the place itself (a historic Victorian that slumped into permanent disrepair). We also don’t have heat (or if we do, we have no idea how to turn it on), so we’ll probably all freeze into something resembling Han Solo encased in carbonite.

There’s been tension, of course. We’re all so alike that we’re bound to butt heads. Yet I’m completely head over heels for this place. It’s irresistible and addicting. Even better, I’m in it with my best friends. I love these fools — they’ve become so much my family that I couldn’t wait to return early from winter break (even if it meant going a few days without food in our ever-barren fridge).

I don’t know if this experiment has what it takes to carry over into next year. One of us wants to study abroad thousands of miles away and another hopes to move into her sorority house up on Prospect. We could all very well go our separate ways. The Facebook page will become yet another link in the digital recesses of Zuckerberg’s archive; the Tumblr will be one of those things we peruse when we’re feeling nostalgic.

But damn, this has been one ridiculous ride. And it’s not even half over. You ain’t seen nothing yet.