Student Adventures from Living Off-Campus
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First Person

There’s No Place Like Home

Off-campus housing offers endless opportunity for adventures and misadventures.

Careful What You Ask For

By Mark K. Gardner (BS ’86, MS ’94), Blacksburg, Va.

As one of our apartment traditions, my roommates and I baked homemade pizza on Friday evenings and invited anyone who wanted to come. Our pizzas were unorthodox but must have been edible, since the crowd kept growing. The guys next door thought they would get in on the fun by calling us up and ordering a peanut butter and tuna pizza on a cookie dough crust. They had a good laugh about it, but you should have seen their reaction when we delivered their order. To save face, they had to take a bite! (Although I would not recommend it, the combination isn’t as hideous as you might imagine.)

And Then It Dawned

By Kenneth W. Hart (BS ’67), Rexburg, Idaho

As a sophomore I lived in an off-campus basement with two fellow students. To avoid doing homework on the Sabbath, I would sometimes go to bed early Sunday, wake up at 4 a.m. Monday, finish my homework, and then head to school by 6 a.m. One such Sunday my roommates set all the clocks six hours ahead. When my alarm went off, what I thought was 4 a.m. Monday was really 10 p.m. Sunday. After completing my homework, I started heading to campus. It was cold and dark, and there was no traffic. About a third of the way there, I knew something was wrong—though I wasn’t sure what—so I turned around and went back. My roommates pretended to be sound asleep. I shook them to tell them that something was wrong in the world. I didn’t suspect them at all, so they finally spelled it out for me. At the true 6 a.m., when I awoke for the second time, they were still laughing and hadn’t slept all night. I didn’t feel sorry for them.

What’s in a Name?

By David L. Hixon (BA ’90, MBA ’92), Frisco, Texas

My off-campus BYU ward was mostly composed of small houses. The ward list contained not only members’ addresses, but also nicknames for their homes, such as “The Cabin” or “Little Aspen.” Some names—like IITY WYKM—begged for inquiry. At a ward function, I met a girl from IITY WYKM and asked her the meaning of her house’s nickname. She answered, “If I tell you, will you kiss me?” My first thought was, “No thanks, I am not that curious.” Fortunately, before I rudely declined the invitation, I realized that her question was an answer to mine!

Dregs and Drains

By Sheila Benson (BA ’94, MA ’99), Cedar Falls, Iowa

Five friends and I found the perfect place to rent: the upstairs of a little brick house. We had a bathroom and kitchen that shared a wall, and it never occurred to us that such a configuration might be problematic.

One Sunday morning about an hour before church started, I decided to clean up the kitchen. When I finished the dishes and pulled the sink plug, nothing happened. No worries: I’d just use the plunger. Nothing budged. I asked a roommate to give it a try. She plunged vigorously, and the water started to move a bit. Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall, two of our roommates were putting on makeup and curling their hair. We started hearing giggles: “Look, a piece of carrot! There’s some hamburger!” Every time my roommate plunged the kitchen sink, a little fountain of food-particle-laden water shot up one of the two bathroom sinks. We laughed—until we realized that neither bathroom sink was draining. Now we had three clogged sinks, six girls preparing for church, and nowhere to brush our teeth. We all crowded over the bathtub to finish getting ready (good thing that drain was clear).

Eventually our home teachers figured out how to unclog all the drains. Decades later we still laugh about our disastrous “dream house” and wonder how we managed to live there.

Life in the Nest

By Monte Squires (BS ’70), Colorado Springs, Colo.

After two years in the dorms, I was ready to venture off campus with four of my roommates (who also happened to be my football teammates): Marc F. Lyons (BS ’70), Michael J. Loper (BES ’71), Craig A. Bozich (BS ’70), and Horrace W. Smith (BS ’70). I’ll never forget driving into the dirt driveway of the 100-plus-year-old house we’d be renting. The roommates who tracked it down had described aptly, if generously: “It’s slightly rustic, needs a little work, but sort of has a ski-lodge atmosphere!” It had waist-deep weeds and faded red brick walls. We convinced each other that the total rent of $90 a month was a great deal.

Our assistant football coach, Chris Apostol, named our hole-in-the-wall the Red Nest. And over the next three years, our experiences at the Nest, combined with football, cemented our relationships. We pulled off frantic deep-cleaning sessions—without a vacuum—just before every home game, when our parents rolled into town. We cut down a Christmas tree in the hills above Provo. When we set fire to it in our backyard, the whooshing sound woke the neighbors. We played late-night card games, and the loser had to make a food run to Taco Bell. We rescued one of our teammates when he fell through the roof, and we got creative with cardboard and athletic tape when our dog knocked a bedroom window out of its frame. And we’ll never forget Coach R. LaVell Edwards (EdD ’78) rolling his eyes and shaking his head during a “health and welfare” visit.

Since leaving BYU the five of us have attended each other’s weddings and our children’s weddings. We gather at least once a year for a vacation together, and we’ve celebrated each of our retirements. Our BYU experience and our time in the Nest enriched our lives.

dance for toilet paper
Illustration by Travis Foster

Will Dance For…

By Spring Ogilvie Paul (BS ’03), Twin Falls, Idaho

My roommates and I had a rotation for buying toilet paper. One day we were out, and the roommate whose turn it was to buy it didn’t feel like walking to the store. So she put a sign in our living room window—“Will Dance for Toilet Paper”—cranked up the radio, and started dancing on the coffee table. I hurriedly left to avoid any possible embarrassment, but by the time I got back that night, she had a whole pile of toilet paper—enough to count as her contribution and move the rotation to the next person.

Shedding New Light

By Kellen M. Giraud (BS ’08), Burlington, Kan.

On our first visit to home teach two guys in our apartment complex, my roommate and I noticed that their living-room ceiling didn’t have a light. So a few days later, we bought them a lamp at DI, then left it on their doorstep anonymously with a Lord of the Rings–style note: “May it be a light to you in dark places.” On our next visit, the lamp was illuminating the living room, and, to my surprise, the note was also taped to the wall. When we asked about it, they told us that some admiring ladies had surely left the lamp and note for them. We could hardly hold our laughter in but managed to finish the visit without them knowing the true providers of the lamp.