One day in the fall of 1991 my friend Michael and I were in a lounge at the student union at University of Iowa. It was my junior year, and I spent an astonishing amount of it smoking cigarettes in the Wheelroom with Michael. It was a cold, shitty gray Friday; somehow we decided this was enough reason to ditch our afternoon classes. So we set out up the hill through campus and downtown; we stopped to rent a couple of movies, then continued up Washington Street another half mile or so to my place. There were flurries in the air. It was November 1st, which was way too early for snow.
I had never seen Female Trouble so Michael insisted we rent it. I can’t remember what else we rented. We sat around my living room on my yellow couch and watched Divine scream about cha-cha heels. Out the big drafty window we could see the flurries getting heavier. We were glad to be inside. We might have even ordered pizza or made popcorn. Near the end of the movie Divine jumped up and down on a trampoline, and then she took out a gun and started firing away at people. I’d seen Multiple Maniacs and this was even better.
At some point between movies I went into my room and turned on the radio for a moment. It was on KRUI, the campus station. The student deejay was saying something like just stay inside until we find out more. He spoke in that usual flat student deejay tone, so I didn’t think to wonder what it was besides the weather. I could see it was snowing steadily outside. Maybe it was worse than it looked. “Something weird’s going on with the weather,” I told Michael. But we weren’t planning on going anywhere for a while. I started playing a tape on my boom box, or else we watched the second movie, whatever it was, I don’t remember.
It must have been a couple of hours later when my roommate’s mom called. Yes, I told her, Kelly’s at work. No, I hadn’t heard what happened.