The Hello Bar is a simple web toolbar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

Advertise on Detroit Moxie

Search Detroit Moxie
Connect with me

Get your Detroit Moxie gear!


Most Recent

« Win tickets to BRU Fest! | Main | Schwanky Detroit building transforms into pop-up performance space »

The one about the one-armed prostitute

Brunch with Becks is an ongoing weekend series where I wax poetic on tales from my life starting with the 9 Truths. Yes, I too can’t comprehend that all these odd occurrences have happened to me.

Going off to college was one of the most exciting and happiest times of my life. With the car fully packed with the mini-fridge and toaster oven, my family drove me to the wilds of Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I was to start my freshman year at Marquette University.

You should know that Marquette wasn’t my first choice school. My first choice, which I had dreamed of since my uncle went there in the late 70’s with his waterbed and bead door, was the University of Michigan.

U of M said, “thank you for your application fee but no dice.” I’m sure they said “no dice.” They broke my teenage heart into a million tiny little pieces.

I had applied to five schools: U of M, MSU, Boston University, Loyola of Chicago and Marquette University. The University of Michigan was the only one that said no.

So, my next choice was BU. I had the dorm picked out and was looking forward to some good chowder and hanging out at Faneuil Hall. Everything was all set to go. Then the financial aid came back. Apparently, BU was, and I’m sure still is, very expensive. The financial aid package was not what we were expecting and this time it was my dad who said, “no dice.”

This is going to upset a lot of people but I never even considered MSU. Too many people from high school were going there. I wanted a new adventure!

So now what?

Remember the Preppy Handbook? I’m sure many of you are too young. Whatever. Anyway, the author, Lisa Birnbach also wrote a guide to colleges. I don’t remember the exact words she used but of Marquette University she said something like, “Being in the center of the beer capital of the world, Marquette is the place to go to college if you’re underage and want to party.”

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

It should be noted at this time that I was 17 years old when I went off to college and wouldn’t turn 21 until my senior year. Luckily, Marquette also happened to be a damn fine educational institution.

I know what you’re thinking. What the hell does this have to do with a one-armed prostitute? Fine. Rush me, why don’t you?

Having decided late where I was going to be educated, I didn’t receive my first, second or third choice of dorms. No.

I was put in the YMCA.

Sing it with me... "Because it’s fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A. They have everything that you need to enjoy, you can hang out with all the boys…"

Let me explain.

MU had procured the 10th through 18th floors of the main branch of the Milwaukee YMCA for its students. Floors 3 through 8 were for regular YMCA people. And another area technical college took over the 9th floor. To get to the MU floors you had to have a special elevator key so it was secure-ish.

I was devastated. Are you kidding me? I had been looking forward to this for my entire life and I end up in a YMCA! I’m going to be living with a cop, a cowboy, a soldier and a construction worker?

Wait. This isn’t sounding so bad.

It actually turned out to be amazing. I had a room to myself with a private bathroom and shower! The frosh in the other dorms weren’t so lucky. Even the girls across the hall from me had a communal shower. Thank god I ended up on the good side of the hall!

Two other friends from my high school were also in the Y, one on the same floor as me. I made great friends. It was also co-ed. That part was nice too. And if we went down one floor to where the other school lived we didn’t have to abide by University rules.

Not so shabby.

The biggest benefit, in retrospect, was that we were living in the same building as real people. Some down on their luck, some a bit seedy and some were probably traveling. We were safe but we weren’t sheltered. We got to see real life.

And yes, there was a woman who lived there who had a prosthetic arm and she was widely known to be a prostitute. I rode the elevator with her and her gentlemen callers but I really don’t have anything else to say about her. Sorry about that.

There was also a sweet old man who really cared about all the students and we, in turn, watched over him.

I absolutely loved Marquette University and it wasn’t just because you could scribble a stick figure and a fake date of birth on a bev nap and a bouncer named Apache would take it without blinking an eye.

MU taught me compassion, critical and thoughtful thinking, and what it means to really be a part of a community.

Cheap beer was just a bonus.

Post script: Marquette University ended up buying the YMCA building, revamped it, made it a "real" dorm and named it Straz Tower. From what I've read you can rent a room there during the summer months. My 20th college reunion is in July and, although I doubt we'll be able to make it, I can't help to think what it would be like staying in the same room or building 20 years later.

Photo Credit:JD Hancock on Flickr

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (3)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (4)

I'll drink to this latest well-told tale, which reveals more stuff we have in common:

* I also got into BU -- but no dice on using NY state scholarship there, so I'm a Syracuse Orangeman.

* I remember The Official Preppy Handbook from 1980.

* My memories of a waterbed and beaded door belong to me, not my uncle, and are from the early '70s, not the decade's tail end. (OK, so not something we share directly. Fine. Get picky, why don't you?)

Another thing I learned is that the 9 Truths are mis-numbered. Clearly, No. 10 is that you were befriended by a tolerant bouncer named Apache. Surely there's a tale there to wax poetic about.

June 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Stamm

I just love this series, Becks. It's awesome to get an inside peek into your have such interesting tales! Makes me love you even more for having all these amazing experiences outside Michigan and still deciding to come home to Detroit :)

June 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaurenWeber84

Wow - that's kind of crazy that they put you guys up in a Y. That would be fun if you guys could make it. I've always wanted to go back and stay in my old dorm room. When I have students going to WMU and they tell me they are going to be in what was my building - I always ask for them to email me their room number when they checkin and then they shot me a really weird look. But, one of my students did actually live directly across the hall from my old dorm room, which I thought was kind of cool.

June 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElena

At one point I also wanted to go to SUNY Binghampton because I liked the name. Pathetic, I know. Apache was a bouncer at a bar called the Green Tree which had $3 nights of all the bad beer you could drink. I don't have anything more to say about him either, though. It was a LONG time ago!

Thanks! Milwaukee is a great city and I can't wait to get back there for a visit. Detroit and Michigan are home, though.

We did have a R.A. on each floor, our own cafeteria front desk. The only real odd part was the elevator rides. Otherwise, it seemed like a normal dorm. I'm not sure I remember my room number, 10 something.

June 5, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>