Previous installments: Part 1
, Part 2
Once again, I'm not including the last names of the people involved or identifying the university at which these events occurred. Feel free to make guesses, but understand that I will not publish comments that contain the exact names of the people or places in question. I'm just trying to avoid any...Imperial entanglements...so to speak.
By the time Mat finally woke up, Brett had already taken Shelly to the airport. This caused Mat to be unusually bummed out all day. I say "unusually" only with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, since I didn't really know much about his habits at the time. But he was dispirited enough to make small talk with me, much of which had to do with Shelly and what I thought about her.
"She was pretty f***ing cool, wasn't she? Man, dat woman is fine. You thought she was fine, right? Damn, I miss her already. This sh*t sucks. I wish she was home already so I could call her. Maybe I should wait, you know, be cool. You think she'll call me? I can't believe I met her right before she was leavin'. Can you believe dat? Aw, man, f*** me." ("F*** me," I would soon discover, was Mat's go-to phrase for virtually every situation, good or bad.)
Eventually, he got around to asking questions about me. Sadly, I had little to tell that he would care about or understand, so he focused on two things: my interest in basketball and my love life. Unfortunately, his knowledge of the NBA wasn't that broad. He knew Rik Smits (who was a fellow countryman) and loved Michael Jordan (which was something of a gimmie). That was pretty much the extent of it. I asked him about his prep school career, and all I got out of him was that he was "really good" and hit "about 80 percent" of his free throws. He claimed not to remember his rebounding numbers, which I found bizarre. The dude was seven-plus feet tall and weighed 300 pounds. I expected him to boast Wilt Chamberlain-esque boarding stats...and the fact that he didn't probably should have told me something.
The discussion of my love life was pretty uncomfortable. I tried to explain the fact that I loved my not-quite-girlfriend Aimee despite her refusal to have a committed relationship with me. ("Shit,man" he said, "you need to tell dat ho what up.") And when I admitted that we hadn't had sex -- that we hadn't, in fact, so much as kissed -- his eyes nearly bulged out of his giant head. ("What the f***? How you love somebody who don't even have sex wit you? F*** me. That's some f***ed up sh*t.") I don't know if we were bonding, but the conversation certainly earned me his rather unique form of sympathy. It also made me feel like a gormless stooge.
"Look," he said, waving off my explanation about how sometimes loving someone means waiting for little things like physical intimacy, "here's what you gotta do. Tell dat girl, 'You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.' I'm telling you, dat sh*t works every time."
I was certain he was right...assuming the line was clumsily delivered by a physical freak who appeared to be -- based on his size alone -- a mortal lock for the NBA. But for me? All I could see was a pathetic, perhaps even lethal dose of fail. When I expressed my skepticism, he suggested I enhance the line by playing Sade's "No Ordinary Love"
in the background. He wasn't just paying lip service, either. The "most beautiful woman" line/Sade combination would go on to become a staple of Mat's many hookups, which is probably why, to this day, "No Ordinary Love" makes me want to punch myself in the groin until I pass out.
I was able to hold Mat's interest for only so long, and eventually he simply got up and wandered out of the room. He was gone for several hours, during which time I copied my schedule into my daily planner and mapped a route to each of my classes. I sharpened pencils, packed my backpack...you know, all the things a good little freshman nerd does. Once I ran out of preparations to make, I called Aimee. She had moved into her dorm room at Butler University the day before, and she had been having a blast ever since. She dug her roommate (a nice but socially awkward girl named Latrisse) and had spent the last 24 hours partying and making friends. It made me feel angry and jealous.
When I told her my first couple days at college had been lousy, she was incredulous. "How can you not
be having a great time?" I told her I didn't know anybody to have a great time with. "Go out and meet people then!" was her answer to my problem. If only I'd known it was that simple. After a while, I tried to turn the conversation to our budding not-relationship, but she dismissed it. "You know how I feel about that." Maybe Mat was right. Maybe I really did need to "tell dat ho what's up."
Talking to Aimee did nothing to improve my mood. It only turned it from "black" to "blacker." Then one of those strange "only in college" things happened. My door opened and in walked a fat guy with thick glasses and an even thicker belly. He was wearing nothing but a towel that was about 50 percent smaller than it should have been. He took three or four steps into my room before he realized his mistake.
"Oh," he said in mild surprise. "I don't live here. I'm sorry." Then he offered me the hand that wasn't holding his too-small towel closed. "I'm Ron. I live...next door, apparently. Nice to meet you."
I shook Ron's hand and introduced myself. "Well," he said, seemingly in no real hurry, "I'm sure we'll be seeing more of each other. Hopefully I'll be wearing more clothes next time. If you ever need anything, feel free to stop by. In fact, feel free to stop by even if you don't need anything. I'd be happy to have you over, and I'm sure my roommate, Nathan, feels the same way." I couldn't help but wonder if this guy was for real. On the one hand, this was the closes I'd come to making a friend so far. On the other hand, he was weird and mostly naked.
After Ron left, I sat down to do the only thing I had to do at that point: watch an old basketball game. I really needed to get off that crazy rollercoaster of fun.
Mat got back around 10 p.m. and immediately called Shelly. (So much for being cool.) She had only just made it home and was unpacking, but they still sweet-talked each other for the next 45 minutes or so. It was weird to hear this monster of a man cooing like a lovesick teenager, but I found it kind of endearing. By the time he hung up the phone, I was getting ready for bed. "Good idea," he said. "First day of classes tomorrow. Gotta be ready." I asked him if he had his schedule. "Yeah," he said, glancing around, "it's here somewhere."
Then he collapsed into his bed with a huge grin on his face. "Dude, she told me she loves me."
"No kidding?" I said. That seemed pretty fast to me.
"Yeah, she loves me." Then he heaved a deep, self-satisfied sigh.
"So, what, you guys are dating now?"
He thought about that for a few seconds and then said, "I guess so."
So the girl I'd been friends with for five years and had bent over backwards for on more occasions than I could count had never said she loved me nor would she even consent to dating me seriously, but this goon meets a girl, sleeps with her immediately, and then gets an "I love you" the next day? I was pissed
, but I played it off.
"Good for you," I said.
A few minutes later, we killed the lights and went to bed. Despite my bitterness over his luck with women, I thought things had gone pretty well between us that day. We'd talked and gotten along. He was apparently in a long-distance relationship, which I took to mean he wouldn't be banging a different girl every night of the week. And he was even going to bed at a reasonable time. I smiled. It looked like this was going to work out okay after all.
The next day was a blur. I had three classes and a seminar for my scholarship group. Even though I'd already picked up the books listed on my course schedule, a couple of my teachers gave us another list of additional books we needed to pick up. I was immediately assigned a couple hundred pages worth of reading, a term paper and a huge Calculus assignment. After my classes, I had to work an evening shift at the dorm's food service, which lasted a grueling four hours. (I was tasked with restocking the dining room, which included a large salad bar, a soft drink station, a tea/lemonade machine, a milk machine that dispensed three different kinds of milk, and two ice cream machines. I also had to clean up any messes. In case you didn't know this: men are sloppy pigs. That is all.)
When I finally dragged ass back to my room, Mat wasn't there. I settled down at my desk and dug into my homework. I was at it for three hours before taking a short break, during which I went down to the grill for a hamburger. When I got back to the room, "No Ordinary Love" was playing because -- you guessed it -- Mat was in the middle of sexing up some girl. She was squealing and laughing like a 12-year-old, and the festivities didn't stop when I came back into the room. Mat had dimmed the lights for obvious reasons, so I stooped down at my desk and quietly munched on my hamburger. Once they finished -- mercifully, it rarely took long -- the girl got dressed and left.
A few minutes passed before I said anything. "So," I finally said, trying to keep the judgment out of my voice, "I thought you were seeing Shelly."
"I am," he said in a casual voice.
"Well, uh, who was that then?"
He glanced toward the door as if trying to recall the girl's name. Apparently, he either didn't know or didn't care, because he said, "Just some girl."
"I don't think Shelly would be real thrilled," I said.
Mat rolled his eyes. "Man, she a long way away, you know?"
I didn't "know," but I kept that to myself and got ready for bed.
Shortly after I crawled under the covers, Shelly called. After the perfunctory greeting, she and Mat began talking dirty, discussing all the naughty things they'd like to be doing to each other. It started to sound a little too much like phone sex to me, so I pulled my pillow around my head and tried to pretend I was alone, in a cave, on the moon. With some effort, I was eventually able to drift off.Part 4
Labels: college stories, Livin' Large