Previous installments: Part 1
. Also check out the official Livin' Large FAQ
, Cast List
, Flow Chart 1.0
, and Flow Chart 2.0
For the next few days, I was still stunned by from Mat's near fail-out-of-school experience
. The whole situation was bizarre to me: the dude hadn't been going to class, turning in homework or taking tests. And yet, against all reason, he'd been allowed back into all his courses with a "C" so long as he attended "most" of the rest of his classes and did his homework. It was cheating. It was wrong.
It's also the way the world works, which is a lesson I had to learn sooner or later. We live in a society where, for example, a professional athlete can receive a mere slap on the wrist for running down a meter maid in a car with marijuana in it
. Simply put, there are different sets of rules for different kinds of people. And right then, Mat was the kind of person for whom the rules were extra bendy.
Meanwhile, I watched one of my fellow non-athletes get kicked out of freshman calculus for missing three classes despite the fact that he was pulling a solid "B" at the time.
Now, it was true that I hated the Heineken light, the constant sexcapades, the fact that Mat stayed up all night while I was trying to sleep, etc. However, I was beginning to realize that the primary reason I didn't like my roommate was because his very existence violated my sense of right and wrong. Mat wasn't evil. He wasn't drowning kittens or drop-kicking babies. (Not as far as I knew anyway.) But he was perfectly content to lie, cheat and/or steal to get what he wanted regardless of who got hurt...which was exactly the opposite of how I was trying to live my own life. In the words of Dr. Perry Cox, Mat was a bastard-coated bastard with bastard filling
. This point was driven home shortly after the near fail-out.
I had been wondering how Mat was able to call Shelly long distance so often. I was working about 20 hours a week for the dorm's food service and I could barely cover my long distance calls to Aimee (along with a few other petty expenses). Mat wasn't working at all. Sure, he'd gotten a handful of cash gifts from "concerned" alumni, but he was always buying things. How could he afford it all?
Petty larceny, that's how.
At the time, the dorms at my college assigned each student a long distance security code through AT&T. This code could be used on any phone at any dorm. Whenever you dialed a long distance number, the phone system prompted you to enter your 10-digit security code. At the end of each month, you received the bill based on the calls made using that code. If you didn't pay, the service was cut off.
Well, unbeknownst to me, Mat had maxed out his own long distance service the first month of school and simply hadn't paid the bill. Suddenly, he couldn't call his girlfriend in California (or his girlfriend in Conneticut, or his friends and family in Holland, etc.). So what's a ballah to do?
Here's what: he stole somebody else's security code. Not mine. I would have figured that out almost immediately. So if it wasn't me, then who? Well, remember when I bailed on Mat on Labor Day weekend
and he had some guy from down the hall "fill in" for me? Sometime after that incident, Mat was hanging out with him in his room and, you know, snuck off with the guy's security code card.
Apparently, this guy didn't make many long distance calls, so it took him a while to realize there was a problem. When he finally opened his bill, it was several hundred dollars. Naturally, he freaked. The guy called AT&T and reported that his security code had been stolen. This initated an investigation into the calls that had been made...a few of which (short ones) had been to Holland. To his credit, the guy was able to put two and two together, so he called off the AT&T hounds and confronted Mat directly.
At first, Mat flatly denied doing anything. But when the guy threatened to report the theft of his security code to the campus police, Mat quickly agreed to pay the bill. (Of course, he had to use the poor guy's code one last time so he could call his parents and ask for the money.) Mat seemed a little shaken up by the incident, possibly because it happened right after he'd almost failed out of all his classes (which would have resulted in the loss of his scholarship).
Once he'd recovered a little, Mat said (mostly to himself I think), "I gotta get my shit in order." At first, I took that to mean he was going to start, I don't know, working hard and acting more responsibly. (Getting a job was supposedly out of the question; he claimed that his scholarship restrictions prevented him from seeking employment.) I really should have known better by that point.
Here's what Mat did about his money situation. First, he told Shelly she was gong to have to make all the phone calls from now on. He did the same thing for anyone else who called him long distance. Mat also asked his parents for a little cash influx, and he got Jennifer to make some of his semi-regular purchases.
With the money problem solved, Mat turned his attention to his studies. There was no way to get out of attending his classes, but he apparently had no intention of doing his homework. Like, none at all. So Mat found a handful of little workarounds. For instance, he traced a picture out of a comic book to complete an art class assignment. He copied -- word-for-word -- the lyrics for a song out of a Dutch rock album to complete a poetry assignment for his English class. He found a few girls willing to complete his math homework and various other assignments. These girls even did their best to mimic his clumsy scrawl.
As he cobbled together his little system, I was equal parts disgusted and amused. Disgusted at the academic dishonesty and amused by the fact that he was expending almost as much energy cheating as it would take to just get everything done himself.
While all this was going on, I received a jarring bit of news: Susan had started dating somebody. Like, seriously dating. His name was Rick, and I hated him sight unseen. I had no right to feel this way, of course. It's not like I'd done, well, anything at all. Susan wasn't someone who was going to remain single for very long, so I'm not sure what I expected. Still, her sudden attached status combined with the chilly relations with Aimee did a number on me. I was totally bummed.
That night, I asked Nathan if I could use his computer. I logged on and started chatting with Latrisse. Aimee didn't come up. The chat lasted so long that Nathan and his roommate Ron went to bed about halfway through. (Nathan told me I could continue using the computer as long as I wanted.) The chat became very flirtatious, particularly after Latrisse showed me how to chat in a private room. Flirting led to a little game of roleplaying. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember that her "character" was dressed as Shanna the She-Devil
. That and the roleplaying became a wee bit naughty.
Eventually, the computer lab Latrisse was using kicked her out, so I started browsing the alt.sex newsgroups, which I had only recently discovered. I was about two pages into a particularly steamy story when Nathan's voice drifted down from the darkness of his loft.
"Matt," he said, "I know what you're doing. I understand why you're doing it, and I admit I've done the same thing. However, those newsgroups are bad for your mind and soul. I would strongly advise you to stop reading them."
I turned off his computer and slunk out of the room without a word. I didn't ask to use his computer again for a few weeks.
The next evening, I was in the room working on a paper about medieval witchcraft when I got two phone calls.
The first call was from Aimee. "Latrisse was telling me you guys chatted for a couple hours last night."
"Oh...really?" I said. All Latrisse and I had done was some naughty flirting (and it was actually pretty innocent by today's standards), it wasn't out-and-out chat sex or anything, but I still felt guilty.
"Yeah," she said, and it became clear she wasn't upset or angry. If anything, she sounded sad. "It made me realize that...I miss you. I miss you a lot."
"Uh, that's...cool," I said.
"Cool, right. Anyway, can we please start talking again?"
Please? She was asking me to please
start talking to her again?
"Yeah, I think we can do that," I said.
"Yay!" she said in a girly squeal.
So we caught up on recent events -- she was thrilled to hear Susan was dating someone -- and then, shortly before we hung up, she said, "Matt, I do love you, you know."
I was floored. "I...I love you too."
"I probably won't say it all the time or anything, but I wanted you to know," she said. "Anyway, I need to study. Talk tomorrow?"
"Yeah, yeah for sure," I said, and we hung up.
I was still recovering from that call, just sitting at the desk and staring into space, when the phone rang again. It was Cindy.
"So," she said, sounding as if she was working up some major courage, "would you be interested in going to a dance with me?"Part 16
Labels: college stories, Livin' Large