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May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Legends of the Bubble House
By Michael C. Litt, Revelle '83

If you have any stories about your years at UCSD, we would love to hear them.
Email the editor

The pale orange 3" x 5" note card pinned on the "Roommate Wanted" board in the Student Center read: "Del Mar beach house, seven roommates, each required to cook dinner one night a week, 'NO NERDS, NO BUMS'." Believing I fell somewhere in that range, I set out for 24th Street and Ocean Front. What I could not have known was that a kid from Chicago was about to stumble into the center of UCSD's social and academic network. I would become a small part of a student history that had begun before my arrival and would continue beyond my days at the University, in a place known as the Bubble House.

Today, successful social networking sites are the primary hubs for interpersonal communication. In 1980, information exchange required a physical hub. My upperclassmen roommates, Cam, Ash, Glenn, Mark, Hugh and David, represented such a hub. The constant flow of students showing up at our house for impromptu visits compelled me to shift my studying to our kitchen table.

The Bubble House possessed a critical advantage as a gathering place: parking for a dozen cars. An open invitation existed to "park at our house anytime you want to go to the beach." An obligatory "stop-in" generally led to plans for an impromptu BBQ. Parking was thus converted into a self-propelled social engine. Another critical element of the network was the Bubble House test materials. These represented a rope bridge across the chasm between success and failure for life sciences and economics majors. Molecular biology examinations were reputed to be the most difficult at the University and were not far behind certain economics courses. The Bubble House possessed a meticulously collected log of test questions from prior year's examinations. This resulted in numerous late-night study groups pouring through the possible angles of attack on upcoming exams. Many a cappuccino maker met its demise under the weight of these group sessions. The motto at the Bubble House was always, "work hard and play hard." The lone remaining task in securing the Bubble House within UCSD's academic and social network was to pull off the Halloween party.

In 1980, we decided we would wear green, head-to-toe leotards, green face paint and wire antenna sticking out of green skull caps, producing seven identical Martians. The band came by the weekend before to check out the electrical upgrades; apparently the power had blown in 1979.

On the day of the party, a constant flow of supplies arrived. At five o'clock, Ash broke the seal on the first keg. Seven Martians geared up while listening to the band's sound check. At seven, our friends began arriving in costume. By eight it was difficult to get to the kegs. It was nine, and the decks were full of dancing revelers. By 10 the crowd flowed out into the street and an upside-down man appeared to dance on his hands along the railing. Martians were scrambling to deal with various "issues." At 11, a woman in a toga grabbed me and said she wanted to see what it was like with a Martian. At midnight the beams below the deck gave way under the weight of the dancers jumping in unison. By the time the sun came up, the role of the Bubble House in social and academic life had achieved legendary status.

Years later, I was in San Diego on business and decided to pay a visit to the Bubble House. A young man was studying at the kitchen table. We talked for a while. I then asked him if they were going to have the Halloween party that year. He said, "Yeah, we're already getting ready for it." A young woman poked her head in behind me and said, "Hey Sean, you mind if Lauren and I park here? We're going to the beach." I smiled at Sean and said, "I'm sure it's alright."

Michael C. Litt lives in Connecticut with his wife Michele and their two daughters. He has traded in his surfboard for a paddleboard and now relies on his social network to manage money.