Previous installments: Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
, Part 4
, Part 5
, Part 6
, Part 7
. Also check out the official Livin' Large FAQ
The next week with Mat was more of the same: he'd come home a little (or a lot) drunk, stay up all night, and partake in the carnal glory of random hookups. I was studying for a Calculus quiz one evening when he and some girl practically fell through the door together, laughing and talking like their eardrums were busted. Let me tell you, it isn't easy to work out the derivative of a function when there's a naked girl five feet away screaming about the size of your roommate’s genitalia. Sometimes all I could do was give up studying to go next door and visit Nathan until the shrieking stopped. I tried to tell myself it was only one year, but I still hade most of that year left to go. I really didn't want to keep living like that.
Mat, meanwhile, was having the time of his life. People loved him...and not just the ladies on campus. One day he received some gifts in the mail from "concerned alumni" who understood how "lonely and isolated" a foreign student could feel. He got a portable CD player, some cash, and a few other things I can't remember. Talk about isolation busters. I was pretty sure that kind of treatment violated several NCAA rules, but rules only apply if you get caught, right?
Free gifts weren't enough though. He had come up with a new gimmick: stealing CDs from frat parties. Mat's pockets were huge. So huge he could slip two or three CDs in them at at time. He returned to the dorm one particular evening flush with the excitement of a master thief. "Look at this shit," he exclaimed as he emptied his pockets.
"Don't you think those frat guys are going to miss their CDs?" I asked.
"Hell, are you kidding?" he bellowed. "Dey got so many CDs, dey'll never even know dese are gone. Besides," he said with a hint of menace, "nobody's gonna say shit to me, you know?"
Probably not. But still.
On Thursday, I decided it was time to become pro-active. I went to Brett and requested a room change, immediately if not sooner. He eyed me warily for a few ticks and then said, "I don't know if that's going to work. We don't have any vacancies in this wing."
"Fine," I said. "Move me anywhere. I don't care where. Up. Down. Over and around. There has to be an opening somewhere, right?"
Brett thought about it. "I don't know, tell you the truth."
"Look," Brett said, "talk to Mat again. I know, I know," he said as I glared daggers at him. "But just try. Give it the weekend. See if he responds. If he doesn't, I'll get you an appointment to talk to the hall manager."
"Okay, fine" I said. But I didn't like his plan. In fact, I hated it.
It was with a heavy heart that I approached Mat later that night. Jennifer was on her way over, so I had to work fast.
"Mat" I said. "How are, uh, things going?"
"Fine," he said, apathy and irritation oozing from his giant pores. I felt like a telemarketer or something.
"Look, man, here's the thing," I blurted out. "I just need a break from the all-nighters. And, like, if you want to have sex in the room, can you just let me know ahead of time. I'll make plans or something."
"Yeah, sure, whatever," he said.
Yeah. Sure. Whatever. Nothing was going to change.
"By duh way, a couple girls called for you," he said, and he looked about as surprised as I felt. "Carolyn and Tiffany." He then handed me a piece of paper with their numbers on it.
Carolyn and Tiffany? Had I ever met a Carolyn, let alone a Tiffany? I had no idea. I was and still am terrible with names. There was this one girl in German class I'd been talking to, and I'd met another girl during a fountain run. (There's a large fountain in the middle of the campus, and there's a long and storied tradition of students running through it. Sadly, a litigation-conscious former university president conspired to enclose the water jet inside a large metal tube. Very lame.) So yeah, I knew two girls, but chances were they didn't know each other. I couldn't figure it out, and I was too nervous to call them back. I passed it off as a wrong number.
"Dude," Mat said. "It wasn't a wrong number. Dey asked for you by name." He seemed to want to get to the bottom of this great mystery: why girls would be calling his dweeby roommate.
I refused to give him the satisfaction. I didn't call back. You know, the old "cut off your nose to spite your face" routine.
Despite not getting much sleep, as usual, I woke up refreshed and invigorated. I was going home that weekend. Not just going home, either. I was getting face time with Aimee. It might have been my imagination, but I really believed she was warming up to the idea of being my girlfriend and not just my girl friend. I figured it was time to make my move. Only...I had no moves. Gulp.
On Friday night, I had dinner with my mom and hung out with my hometown buddies Greg and Gauvin. Those two guys had never really gotten along, but they tolerated each other when I was around. However, a fight almost broke out when we were cruising around in Greg's car, a sweet-ass 1957 Chevy Impala. Meat Loaf's "Paradise By The Dashboard Lights" came on, and we all sung it together up until the woman's part. At which point Gauvin continued singing. By the time Gauvin belted out, "would you take me away, will you make me your wife," Greg was freaking out.
"DUDE," he yelled. "YOU DO NOT SING THE CHICK'S PART!"
Gauvin realized his faux pas but refused to back down. "Whatever. I can sing whatever part I want."
Greg's eyes bulged. "THE GIRL'S PART? SERIOUSLY?!"
Things didn't improve. Not until the next night, anyway. Aimee's family was celebrating her brother's birthday at Chuck E. Cheese. We ate pizza, played skee ball, and killed time until we could go hang out on our own. To this day, I still remember the absolutely hideous outfit I had on: blue jeans, brown weave belt (too long and tied into a little loop), and this long sleeve t-shirt that was made up of thick, alternating, horizontal purple stripes. If I ever finish my time machine, I'm going back to that night to kick myself in the groin for dressing like that.
Aimee and I went back to my house to watch a movie. Mercifully, my mom stayed in her room to give us some privacy. We ended up watching a chick flick: Dirty Dancing
. This was not a new situation. Aimee had brought her friend Heather over the previous summer so we could all watch The Bodyguard
together. One thing led to another and we took turns giving two-on-one massages in what was probably the most erotic moment of my life to that point. Not that anything sexy happened...it was all very above-the-clothes and chaste. But I was an 18-year-old virgin. Kitchen tile was erotic to me. Sadly, the fun ended when Heather started getting a little too frisky with me and Aimee cooled me off with a couple ice cubes down the pants.
On this night, there was no Heather and no ice. We watched the movie without really watching the movie. You probably know how that is. After it ended, I turned off the TV and we just talked for a while. The conversation eventually turned to my feelings for her. She smiled and blushed and tried to hide behind her hair. Then, and I don't remember exactly how it began, we kissed for the very first time.
I was terrible.
Seriously, it was like I lost all control of my lips. They became these thick, rubbery, lifeless things. Honestly, it was humiliating. I pulled back to apologize for sucking at the whole kissing thing, but Aimee said, "Sssh. Just relax. It's okay." And we tried again. And again. I didn't get any better.
At some point, I pulled back and said, softly, "Where do we go from here?" What I meant was, "Does this mean we're a couple now?" Aimee took it to mean, "Wanna have sex?"
She jumped up and said, "Uh, I go home and you go to bed!"
It took me a second, but I figured out what she was thinking. "No," I said, a little flustered. "I mean, where does our relationship go from here. Like, are we dating? I mean, like a couple."
She looked very tiny and afraid at that moment. So unsure. For some reason, seeing her look so vulnerable made my heart pound even harder against my chest.
"I don't know, Matthew McHale," she said. I knew it was serious when she pulled out my full name. "I...really don't know."
Then we hugged and she walked out to her car -- this huge, rusty old Ford truck -- and motored away. Don't laugh at this, but I honest-to-God watched her drive away and thought, in complete seriousness, "I screwed that up...and I might never get the chance to kiss a girl again." What a schmuck.
I went over to Aimee's house for lunch the next day. I was hoping the previous night's passion would still be alive, but Aimee was moody and distant. She also took great pains to avoid discussing anything romantic. I somehow ended up feeing both incredibly excited and utterly frustrated. Such is the life of a teenager in love.
The ride back to school was steeped in gloom. My mom became concerned over my dreary silence, so I told her I was just bummed about Aimee. In reality, I was filled with dread. I didn't want to go back to living with Mat.
When I stepped into our room, I discovered my fears were totally justified. Once again, the place was trashed. All my food and soda had been consumed. (My Kleenex, however, were untouched.) My bed had been stripped and my sheets were gone...to where, exactly, I never discovered. I ended up pulling Mat's mangy sheets off his bed and exchanging them for fresh linen. The only saving grace was that Mat didn't return that night. I figured, with any luck, I'd never have to spend another night sleeping across from him.
Brett got me in to see the hall manager the very next day. At first, I tried to be cool. I explained to Chad that me and Mat didn't have much in common, and that it would probably be best for both of us if I moved out.
"I'm really sorry, Matt," Chad said, "but that's impossible. The hall if full. I don't have a single opening in any room, on any floor, of any wing. But look," he continued, "Mat's a great guy. I'm sure if you talk to him, you can work everything out."
"No, it won't." I said. Then I spilled my guts. I talked about the booze, the occasional drug use, the fact that he slept with a different woman every night. I told Chad that Mat never went to class, that he stayed up all night, that he ignored me when I asked for compromise. I didn't want to get Mat in trouble. I didn't want revenge. All I wanted was a new room assignment. And I really figured that what I told Chad would seal the deal...and maybe even get Mat kicked out (even though I didn't want that to happen, if only so that I could avoid his wrath).
"Matt, there's something you need to understand," Chad said. "Student athletes are special people. They're under a tremendous amount of stress. It isn't easy balancing school work and classes and all their responsibilities to the team. We have to be patient with them, and very understanding. We have to make special allowances for them because student athletes make our lives better. They represent the university. They give of their bodies and minds so we can feel happy and excited about our teams. Don't you think that the least you can do in repayment is give Mat a little of that patience and understanding I was talking about?"
He phrased it like a question, but it wasn't one.
I walked back to my room feeling completely defeated. Mat was my roommate, and he would continue to be my roommate whether I liked it or not. I briefly considered asking my mom to get involved, but that would have been way too humiliating. All I could do was endure and count down the days.
And maybe plot a little revenge...Part 9
Labels: college stories, Livin' Large