Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Saturday, March 25, 2006


A Trip Down Crappy Memory Lane

I was watching the LSU/Texas game a little while ago and my wife noted that one of the LSU players, a freshman, she thought, was married. Apparently, CBS had shown his wife during a previous game. My wife was of the opinion that he seemed awfully young to be married already. I remarked that my first roommate at college had gotten married before our freshman year was up.

At least I think he did. Truth be told, he moved out after the first semester and the only contact we had with each other after that was his slightly angry attempts to collect my portion of our phone bill. I believe he married his girlfriend sometime that year after they got pregnant. They were still together a couple of years later, I know, because there was an article in the college paper about him. (He'd gotten involved in student government.)

Anyway, this all got me wondering just whatever happened to the guy. Not in a "I'd like to call him up and get together for beers" kind of way. Just curiosity. We didn't really like each other. He was a black guy from the Bronx and I was a cracker from rural Ohio. A cracker with a perm. It wasn't pretty.

I think, in the first couple of weeks on campus, we ate together a few times in the cafeteria. I remember him inviting me to go out a couple of times, but I was a little overwhelmed by things the first month or so at school and I declined. I'm sure he came to the conclusion that I was a racist. I don't like to think I was, but I suppose there could have been some of that on some level. Mostly, though, I was just shy. I didn't go out much at all when I was first there.
I ended up spending a lot of time by myself in the library. Which is good, because I got a lot of reading done.

But then I eventually found a group of friends in my department and he found a group of friends and joined a frat and we just never had much use for one another. And when you're not friends with someone, the typical roommate bullshit just becomes that much more aggravating. I walked in on him with girls a few times because he forgot to write our codeword ("fun") on the notepad on our door. Other times, I was shut out of the room until much later than I wanted because he'd remembered to put the codeword on our door. I suppose my unreliability to pay the phone bill probably annoyed him, as did the fact that I could usually be counted on to be sleeping when he wanted to bring friends over and hang out late.

One late night during finals week, he got some friends together and put on a kind of lame radio play over the phone and outside our door in an attempt, I guess, to freak me out. I was meant to think that a guy named "Big Lou" was coming over to collect money my roommate owed him and that anybody found in the room was toast. I think I bought it for a little while, but as it dragged on, it just got annoying. And I had a final in the morning, so I eventually unplugged the phone and went back to sleep.

And then he moved out and I got stuck with a redneck idiot from Twinsburg who hung out in the room with his girlfriend, talking babytalk. It took me three semesters before I landed a roommate who I actually liked enough to hang out with.

When I think about my first roommate, it's with a lot of regret. I'm sorry if I made a black guy from New York that much more uncomfortable in small-town Ohio by not being friendlier. I wish I could've been a more outgoing person instead of the guy who's sleeping when you bring friends to the room. I wish, also that I could've kept him waiting in the hall while I had a lot of sex, but that's neither here nor there, I suppose. Mostly, I just think the problem was that we were too different.

I teach in the Bronx now and, although it's a large place and I don't even know where in the borough my roommate was actually from, I every once in awhile wonder if I might bump into him, maybe while he's back in town visiting his family or something. Not likely.

I googled him, but came up snake eyes no matter how I tried to narrow the search. Kent State has an alumni-locator service called "Find-a-Flash". (Have I mentioned that my alma mater has the single lamest nickname in collegiate history: "The Golden Flashes"? Well they do.) The problem with that is that you have to sign up for the alumni association and I've made it this long without being inundated with requests for money. I'd hate to blow that now in a moment of weakness by telling them how to reach me.

Besides, what the hell would I do if I located the guy? Call him up and say, "Hey, you remember that guy you yelled at because you thought his Dr. Scholl's Foot Powder was causing your alarm clock to malfunction? Well that's me! Hiya!"? Probably not a great idea.

This must be kismet!

I got to this blog through a link from the Young Republican Black Panthers website (apparently they are huge fans of your work.)

Anyway, in reference to our differences as roommates--don't worry about it! We were both immature assholes, and I was actually going through a whole 'Malcolm X' stage while you were struggling through your own 'Charles Nelson Reilly' stage. Plus, I always felt guilty about using your clothes as gizz rags...sorry, man.

Let's let bygones be bygones, bro. Maybe I'll catch you some Sunday down at Sam's on the GC. You can buy, since you still owe me like fifty bucks in delinquent long distance charges.

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