Previous installments: Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
, Part 4
, Part 5
, Part 6
, Part 7
, Part 8
, Part 9
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The next week was a real whirligig of activity. For me at that time, anyway. In addition to classes, homework and kitchen duties at the dorm's food service, I played pickup ball with my buddy Joe, got together with Nathan for lunch a couple times, and started hanging out at the APO office between classes. Susan and I met there to sign up for some community service activities together. We had to complete 30 hours of service by the end of the semester to become active members. That sounded easy at first, but once we started trying to schedule those hours, it began to look pretty challenging.
On Wednesday, Susan and I put in our first hour of pledgeship by working at a signup table for...something. I have no idea what it was for. But I do remember that I brought a bag of freshly baked cookies, which Susan happily shared with me. "Oh my God, I love
cookies," she said, nibbling on one as she spoke. "Keep bringing cookies, and we're going to be really
I sure hoped so.
Later that night, my buddy Greg from Kokomo called. "Dude," he said, adopting a hillbilly accent as he went on, "we country boys are gonna come visit your big ol' college this weekend." Gauvin was the other half of Greg's "we." I told Greg I was all for a visit.
Greg and Gauvin wanted to crash in my room, but I decided to check with Mat first. Otherwise, things could get awkward. When he finally returned to the room, I asked if he minded my friends staying the night on Saturday.
"Dat's cool," he rumbled. "Tell you what. I'll get you guys into a frat party."Wow
, I thought. That's pretty cool of him
Honestly, I wasn't sure I wanted to go to a frat party. Like many things in those early days at college, the idea of large social situations freaked me out. But I figured I'd leave it to my buds to decide.
I called Greg back. "A frat party?" he said. "Awesome! Let's do it!"
Alrighty then. We were going to a frat party then. I didn't argue. After all, I kind of wanted my friends from back home to believe I was living a crazy, fast-paced college life. I figured taking them (via Mat) to a frat party would further that notion. At any rate, I was so grateful to my roommate I hardly noticed the nasty things he did to Jennifer that night.
On Thursday afternoon, Susan and I once again met at the APO office. We signed up for an activity that was taking place at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Greg had told me he needed to leave early Sunday morning, which meant I wouldn't have any trouble making it to the local campground, where we'd be building shelters for campers.
That night, Aimee actually called me for a change. (She usually had me call her, because she didn't have a job and couldn't afford the long distance.) There was a reason for that, of course. "I've got tickets for a showing of The Secret Garden
on Friday night," she said. "I'd really like you to go with me."
"Is this a date?" I asked hopefully.
"I wouldn't say that exactly," she mused. "But I wouldn't say it's not
a date, either."
I realized, for like the thousandth time, that women could be immensely frustrating. Still...I felt like this could be a golden opportunity. And yet it was really complicating my weekend plans.
"You realize I don't have a car, right?" I asked.
"Not a problem," she replied. "You can take the Greyhound to downtown Indianapolis and then take a bus to Butler."
"Well, how'm I gonna get back?"
She laughed. "On the Greyhound, silly!"
Oh. Right. "They run that late?"
"No," she said. "You'll have to stay overnight."
Overnight? Overnight?! I had to act cool.
"Oh, sure, right. Where am I going to stay?"
"In my room." She giggled, and then said, "You can sleep on the floor."
"Uh, there's another problem," I said. "Greg and Gauvin are coming to visit me on Saturday."
"When are they going to be there?" she asked.
"One o'clock, I think."
"That's fine," she said. "I've got the Greyhound schedule right here. There's a shuttle that'll get you back with a half hour to spare."
A half hour was cutting it pretty close. But this was a solid chance to go out with Aimee on something she wouldn't say wasn't a date! Yeah, I know. I was pathetic. I was also locked in.
Fortunately, despite the fact that I was taking 18 credit hours, I had only one morning class on Friday. I ran home after class to pack my things, and while I was doing that, Zach called and asked if I wanted to get lunch. We met at Taco Bell, which was on my way to the Greyhound station.
Life was getting hectic. I had friends and a schedule packed full of things to do. I danced a little jig as I left Taco Bell. I felt, for the very first time, like a real, honest-to-goodness college student.
True to form, I arrived at the Greyhound station an hour and a half early. After buying my ticket, I had nothing to do but wait. I was outside wandering the parking lot with no real goal when I ran into my English professor. He was doing his laundry at the Laundromat next door. I didn't notice him at first, but he waved me down.
"Matt, how are you?" he said. "I wanted to tell you, I really liked that paper you wrote on the construction of gender in Ghostbusters
. Honestly, it was one of the best freshman papers I've seen."
Now I was getting compliments from my professors?! Things were really looking up. "Thanks, Professor Webster."
"Call me Bill," he said.
We chatted for a bit about his class, and then he asked me what I was doing. I explained I was going to visit my non-girlfriend in Indianapolis.
"Ah," he said knowingly. "A long-distance relationship. Sweet torment, right?"
"I'll let you know if it ever gets to the 'relationship' part," I said. We both laughed.
I really liked Prof. Webster. He was one of those cool teachers who wore jeans and talked like one of the guys (although, admittedly, with a slightly enhanced vocabulary). Maybe that's why I opened up to him about my feelings for Aimee, my crush on Susan, and how those two things left me feeling very confused and unsure of what to do.
"Matt," he said, "life is a series of self-limiting decisions. For each path you walk down, there are several others you have to bypass. Maybe walking those paths would have made you happy, maybe they wouldn't have. You'll never know. Choose your path, walk it, and make the best of it."
I remember thinking that was really deep.
I then told him about my roommate Mat, and about all the women he slept with. "I don't see how he can do that," I said. "He doesn't care about these girls. He's just using them. I couldn't do that. It shows poor moral character."
Professor Webster laughed. "I know you feel that way now
," he said, "no, don't look at me like that. Hear me out. Like I was saying, I know you feel that way now, but as you grow older and your life becomes more complicated, you'll sometimes find yourself making decisions and acting on impulses that are strange, irrational and even dangerous."
I looked at him skeptically.
"Take myself for instance," he continued. "I'm currently having an affair with the wife of the dean of the School of Liberal Arts. In other words, the wife of my boss. Not only am I in peril emotionally, I'm putting my career on the line...all because I fell in love with a married woman."
I was absolutely floored. Not only by the situation, which was one of the craziest things I'd heard by that point in my life, but also because of the fact that he was sharing something so deeply personal with some freshman kid he barely knew. In hindsight, I figure it was because he simply needed to tell somebody
. And there I was.
We talked for a while longer, and then it was time to catch my bus. I bid farewell to Professor Webster and got on a Greyhound for the first time. It wasn't so bad. Of course, I would feel very differently a few years later when I took a 24-hour Greyhound ride to Washington D.C. -- still one of the worst experiences of my life -- but this ride was short and uneventful.
About and hour and a half later, I arrived in the "big city" of Indianapolis. With some effort, I found the bus that took me to Butler. When I got there, Aimee and Latrisse were waiting for me with smiles and hugs. We dropped my things off at their room and then the girls showed me around campus. It was quite a bit smaller than my school's campus, but it was still pretty nice.
We went back to their room to relax until it was time to leave for the play. Latrisse said, "I hope you have fun sleeping on the floor." Right. The floor. Yippee.
I plopped down on Aimee's bed and she snuggled up against me. Actual physical contact! My heart started pounding like crazy. It was pounding so hard, in fact, that it shot a geyser of blood down to my man region
. To my great embarrassment, Aimee noticed. Fortunately, it didn't seem to bother her. She simply said, "Why Matt, I've never seen you like this." I could feel my face burning.
The hours passed until it was time to see The Secret Garden
. I don't remember a single thing about that play other than the name. I just went to the wiki page
and nothing in the plot summary is even remotely familiar. Oh well. I had other things on my mind.
Aimee held my hand during the play. It made my palms sweaty. During intermission, we shared a soft drink and sat in this little cubbyhole in the theater wall. She asked me about basketball, so I told her about playing with Joe earlier in the week and mentioned how I'd tweaked my lower back during the final game. I fully (but not proudly) admit that I brought up my back in the hopes that she wouldn't make me sleep on the floor. In fact, my exact words were, "I hope sleeping on the floor doesn't make it worse."
She looked at me with a devilish grin. "You don't have to sleep on the floor."
Given the situation and my complete and total lack of experience, that was the sexiest thing anybody had ever said to me. (Well, with the possible exception of the time in high school when an underclassman girl had offered to give me a blowjob. I declined, in case you're wondering.)
The play ended in a blur. Then we were back at her room. Latrisse was already asleep...or pretending to be. I changed into (you guessed it!) my Larry Bird shorts and a t-shirt. Aimee put on sweat pants and a t-shirt. We crawled into bed. I was so nervous I thought I was going to pee myself, which would prove to be a mild form of foreshadowing.
I'll cut to the chase: all we did was kiss for a few minutes. But it went much better than the first time
. Then we stopped, wrapped our arms around each other, and got an exceedingly uncomfortable night's sleep.
We woke up late the next morning. I had to throw my things together and run down the street to catch the bus to downtown Indy. But, for whatever reason, the bus never showed up even though it was scheduled to. I started to wig out. Aimee took quick action. We sprinted back to her room and she called a taxi.
I jumped in the cab and the first thing the driver said was: "Are you a patriot? Because if you don't love America, you ca get the hell outta my cab!"
Ooookay. I gave the right answer ("yes") and we were off. I made it to the Greyhound station with only minutes to spare. Once the ride began, I realized I had to pee. Like, really, really bad. After a moment of reflection, it occurred to me that I hadn't relieved myself since the previous night...before the play
. It's like I'd been blocking the need out of my mind. That was impossible now. My bladder felt like it was going to explode in a red-and-yellow rainbow, and this particular Greyhound bus didn't have a bathroom.
The bus was late getting to my school's town, naturally. By the time I stepped gingerly (to avoid bladder detonation) off the bus, it was 12:46. I had 14 minutes to get back to my dorm. That happened to be almost the exact amount of time it would take me to walk back. In other words, I couldn't stop for a toilet break. It never even occurred to me that Greg and Gauvin would wait.
That walk back to my dorm almost killed me. Okay, that's an exaggeration. But I'm certain it nearly did permanent damage to my bladder. I screamed once or twice while walking the final block or two. Out loud. For real. I got to my room, pushed the door wide open, and then wobbled across the hall to the bathroom...where I had what may have been the most wonderful pee of my life.
I had barely walked back into the room when Greg and Gauvin showed up. We exchanged shugs
, and the guys asked for the grand tour. We walked all over campus. I showed them the cool buildings, took them to the APO office, and introduced them to the cool little strip mall just off campus.
As the day went on, the tension started to grow. It became clear that whatever excitement they had felt about the frat party was transforming into fear. But, being 18-year-old males, we were physically and psychologically unable to divulge our vulnerability for fear of mockery.
We avoided my room for as long as we could, but there were only so many things to do on campus for students (and non-students) who hadn't reached drinking age. When we got back to my room, Mat was waiting for us. "You guys ready for da party?" he asked.
Greg and Gauvin could only stare. Sure, I had described Mat's size, but that hadn't prepared them for the stunning reality. All they could do was stare at him with their mouths hanging open. Finally, Greg said, "Uh, you know what, I just remembered some stuff I have to take care of back in Kokomo. It's been good seeing you, Matt. You ready Gauvin?"
Gauvin nodded, and they practically ran from my room.
"Your friends are leaving?" Mat asked. I nodded, and he said, "I guess it's just you and me den." Oh boy.
Mat and I walked to the party in silence. We didn't really have anything to talk about when we were in the room together, and we certainly didn't have anything more to discuss now. I felt like I was walking to the gallows.
We got to the party and a crowd formed around Mat instantly. Guys, girls, everybody wanted a piece of Big Mat. Meanwhile, Little Matt slunk off by himself. I walked over to a table full of food and started munching away. There was a group of guys sitting on some couches nearby. They eyed me suspiciously, no doubt wondering what the nerd was doing at their party. They asked me who I was, and I explained I was Mat's roommate.
"No shit," one of them said. "Cool. What's he like?"
"Uh, I...don't really know. I mean, we don't hang out much."
"Oh," he said, looking at me like someone who had no idea how lucky he was. "Well, you want a beer or something?"
"No, thanks. I don't drink."
Now he just looked at me like I'd gone crazy. "You don't drink? Why go to a party then?"
It was a reasonable question, even if he delivered it like a douchebag.
I milled around for a 20 minutes or so hoping somebody who didn't look (or act) like an Alpha Beta
would come up and talk. It never happened. I finally resorted to walking by Mat, but he was way too busy talking to this throng of "fans" to talk to or even notice me hanging around. Finally, I had no choice but to leave. I was miserable there.
Fortunately, I always had my old fallback: a hamburger from the dorm grill and my beloved basketball tapes. Mat didn't come home that night.
I trudged over to the APO office the next day to take the shuttle to the campground. Susan never showed. She had a car, so I figured she might meet us at the campground. She didn't. I really hated going into social situations by myself, but I was "adopted" by a girl named Nancy and her group of friends. Nancy got on my good side immediately by engaging me in a conversation about professional wrestling. She even mimicked Hulk Hogan's hand-to-the-ear thing. I ended up having a great time. After the shuttle took us back to campus, Nancy gave me her number before we all went our separate ways.
By the time I got home, I was exhausted. I flopped down on the bed. There was no sign of Mat. He never came home that night, which meant he missed Shelly's call...but I was there to take it. "Where's Big Mat?" she asked playfully.
"He's probably at a team function," I said, covering for him reflexively even though no team function could possibly have been going on at that time of night. Certainly not on a Sunday. But Shelly either bought my story or didn't care.
I figure it was the latter, because she said, "Well you tell him he'd better call me the first chance he gets. I've got exciting news."
She tried but couldn't hold it in. "I'm coming back for a visit!"Part 11
Labels: college stories, Livin' Large