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So that was it. I was done being Mat's roommate-shaped doormat. As far as I was concerned, the situation was over. I just had to figure out how to make that happen. Unfortunately, I didn't have one of those Dr. Evil-style buttons that would drop Mat into a fire pit or a room full of poisonous Mogwai
. So, since a bloody and painful homicide was (unfortunately) out of the question, my next best option was an appeal to authority. So I went to Brett, our R.A., to plead my case.
"I can't keep living with that guy," I said. "I can't. I won't."
"Yeah, I figured you might feel that way," Brett said. "And I might have some good news for you."
"Really?" I had no idea what he was going to say, but the mere thought that he might get me out of living with Mat caused me to experience a seeing-naked-boobs-for-the-first-time level of excitement. Okay, maybe that's overstating things. Maybe more like a beating-Mega-Man-for-the-first-time level of excitement. "What is it?"
"Well, at the end of every semester, there's a certain number of students who leave the dorms because they graduate, fail out, or just quit for whatever reason. Anyway, that means there are a lot of room vacancies, particularly at the beginning of the second semester."
"No kidding?" I said.
"No kidding. There are three openings here in NE3 alone," he said. "And I think, like, maybe 15 or 20 in the whole dorm. I don't know how many openings they have at the other dorms..."
"I don't care about that," I said. "I'd really rather stay in this dorm. And in the same hallway, if that’s possible. Who's gone?"
Brett picked a piece of paper up off his desk. "Let's see here. Jake graduated, but it looks like his roommate already found somebody else to move in. Dave is moving to the Quad..."
"Wait, what? Dave's moving? Why?" This was news to me. Not that Dave and I really talked much outside of the roleplaying group, but still.
"Not sure, but I don’t think he wants to live with Garrison anymore," Brett said.
And now I shall briefly turn this narrative over to BadDave
My first semester was a completely different (and mostly less dramatic) time than Bawful's. For starters, while he was looking forward to college, I was looking forward to leaving the miserable vomitous mass that was my hometown. Literally, the only thing that made me even slightly bummed was leaving my cat behind, and that certainly didn't keep me up during classes. So I showed up on campus with long hair and no expectations. I guess I was supposed to go to class, but all I knew is that I was free. I was even so desperate to be at college that I signed up for marching band. Band members could be there a week early. I quit marching band my sophomore year of high school because it just wasn't for me. But if it got me to college quicker, then what the hell.
Of course, it's never that easy. After being there for 4 or 5 days (during which time I had met Nathan -- what an odd bird) and some other folks, other dudes on the floor started arriving. They were cool enough. But when they asked me who my roommate was, I would tell them. The response was always the same. "The Garrison? Maaaaaann." It was one of those awkward things -- I knew it was bad, but I didn't know what kind of bad. Would he make evil plans and then make me solve riddles to stop him? Was he a chronic masturbator? (Trick question: all college males are chronic masturbators.)
Nobody would answer when I asked, I just got an odd smirk and awful silence. Somewhere in those days, I also got the nickname of "Duuuuuude." Partly because I said it, and partly for the long hair. Because in the midwest, long hair equals hippy surfer dude. Whatever; at least I wasn't "Biscuit" or something. So my roommate showed up one Saturday while I was gone. Now, you youngun's need to remember: we got notified of our roommates, but my only options were to call or write to him. No e-mail. No Facebook stalking. I think I called once and left a message, but we never spoke before seeing each other. So I entered the room, and the horror.
He was a country boy. He had a country two-by-four and plaid chair that had molded to him over years of sloth. He had tight jeans. He was a big guy -- probably 6'1" or so, but he carried himself like he was 5'5". He wasn't in shape, but neither was I. He had thick horn-rimmed glasses, and greased, short black hair laid flat towards his face in the style that George Clooney would later make look good and popular. No, the horror stemmed from two things. First: country music was playing. Second: he was just sitting there. Without a shirt. With lots of hair. On his back. Greasy, stringy, black strands that clung wetly to his pallid, lumpy skin. He was sweating. Into the chair. Into the room.
Seriously, within hours the room smelled like The Garrison. He never spoke -- he was incredibly nervous. He was always in the room. Unless he was eating or in class. He was this ball of anxiety that was always waiting for me in the room. Now, mind you, I was not a good roommate either. I left my laundry in a huge pile by my desk. I was a slob. After a few half-hearted efforts to know him, I gave up. I was no Bawful. There was no sympathy. No pity. I just made sure I was never in the room except to sleep, and occasionally change into new sweats.
One thing about band I loathed was Saturday mornings of game days -- we had to be up and dressed in our spiffy digs by 8 a.m. So I would stir from my hangover at 7:30, and The Garrison would already be up watching WWF on mute. What. The. Eff. I spent my nights with friends, playing nerd games, drinking, video gaming (SNES was new, and I dominated in Street Fighter 2), and god knows what else. Sometime in October I got a girlfriend (whom I actually am still with; what went wrong there?). I actually was less wild than I was in high school, but I still never was in the room or in class. Except for about two weeks after that girl and I got together, The Garrison walked in on us. I thought he was gone for the day. He walked in the room and without missing a beat, spun on one heel, shrunk to half his size, and walked out. So -- okay. I was a jerk roommate, and frankly, I kind of wanted a room I could spend some time in. So I put in a transfer to another hall at semester break, and got it.
"Well, I really don't want to live with Garrison," I said.
"Yeah, I figured," Brett replied. "And that brings us to the third option, which is going to be good news and bad news for you."
"Ron failed out," Brett said.
"Wait, Ron, as in Nathan's roommate?" I said.
"That's great!" I said.
Brett raised an eyebrow.
"Well, not great, maybe," I said. "I mean, I feel bad for Ron and everything. That totally sucks. But me and Nathan are pretty tight."
"I know," Brett said. "When I heard Ron was leaving, I had a feeling you might end up living with Nathan."
"So I guess I'd better go talk to him," I said.
"I guess so," Brett replied. "Good luck."
I sprinted down the hall to Nathan's room to fast I’m pretty sure I went back in time a few seconds.
"So, Nathan, I understand Ron failed out."
Nathan nodded. "Yes, he did."
"Bummer," I said. "And that means you’re out a roommate."
Nathan nodded again. "Yes, it does."
"Which means you need a new one," I said.
"Not necessarily," he replied. "I also have the option of paying extra to have a single room for the semester."
"Well, I can save you that money," I said. "Because it so happens I'm looking to move out of my room."
Nathan sighed. "I had a feeling this was coming."
I ignored his not-so-positive tone. "Think about it. We're friends, we get along pretty well. I'm not seeing the downside here."
"The downside is I'd really like to have a single,” he said.
"And I'd really like to live with a roommate who doesn't threaten to turn me into a bloody smear when I criticize him."
"I understand where you're coming from..." Nathan began.
"No. No, I don't think you do," I said. "Look, I'm in an incredibly shitty situation. You’re my friend. You can help me. So...?"
"So...I really want a single," he said.
I wanted to kick him in the ass so hard he’d be tasting my shoes for weeks.
"Is there anybody else you can move in with?"
"Like who?" I said. "If I move in with some random dude, I could end up with another Mat-like situation. Well, maybe not as bad. But I’d still be playing roommate roulette. Whereas moving in with you would be perfect."
"For you," he corrected.
"Oh, for fuck's sake," I spit out. "You know what? Forget it. Just forget it." I stormed out.
Five minutes later, as I was pacing around the room trying to figure out my next move, there was a knock on the door. It was Nathan.
"I realize I'm being selfish," he said. "I just need some time to think about it. Give me until the end of the week, okay? Friday."
"Fine," I said, even though I didn't really feel like it was fine. "I'm not going anywhere. Obviously."
But that wasn't necessarily the case. Brett had said there were several openings in our dorm.
"Nathan wants until Friday to make up his mind," I told Brett. "Do you think those other openings you told me about will still be available if he says no?"
"We're not going to fill all the vacancies, if that's what you're asking," he said. "I'll talk to the other R.A.s and see if I can find a good place for you to move to. Do you have any specific roommate preferences?"
"Yes," I said. "Anybody other than Mat."
"Well, there's always Garrison..."
"Brett," I groaned. "You know what I mean. The less like Mat any potential roommates are, the better. How's that?"
"Got it," he said.
Now I just had to endure the four-day wait. There's not much to say about that clump of days other than it was pretty much like every other week I'd lived with Mat. Except for the fact that, these days, we pretty much hated each other. Of course, the silent hostility only served to strengthen my resolve.
On Friday morning, Nathan met for a late breakfast.
"Well," he said, looking somewhat defeated. "I've made my decision. You can move in."
I literally could have jumped with joy. "Seriously? No joke?"
"Yes, seriously," he said.
"Thanks, Nathan. I mean, really, thanks. I can’t thank you enough."
He waved off the praise. "It's okay, don’t worry about it. I already talked to Chad about it. He said we just have to fill out some paperwork first. Do you have any openings today?”
"Not really," I said. "After I leave here, I have class pretty much until 3 p.m."
"That's fine," he said. "As long as we do it before five o'clock. Then we'll move your stuff over."
"Wow," I said, shock starting to set in. "Wow. I can't believe it. It's over. I'm done living with Mat."
Nathan finally smiled.
"Seriously, man, thank you."
"And seriously," he said, "it's fine. Enjoy your day knowing that I won’t be having sex with anyone while you try to sleep tonight."
"You don't leave any lights on all night, do you?"
"No," he said.
"Nathan, I think I love you."
"Go," he said. "Now."
I was stoked all day. Honestly, I hadn't felt that happy since the day Aimee and I had become a couple. I could hardly believe it. And I could hardly wait to tell Mat goodbye.
After I got done with classes, I headed back to the dorm. I decided to drop my backpack off at the room before meeting Nathan at the manager's office. When I got to the room, well, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw: Mat was loading his things onto a cart.
"What...what's going on?" I asked. They were the first words I'd spoken to him since mid-December.
Mat smiled so wide he looked like one of those Mr. Mouth
games. "I'm movin'!"
"Moving?" I said, still confused. "Where to?"
"The Overpass," he said triumphantly. The Overpass was a "secret" hallway in our dorm that had bigger-than-normal rooms. Like, twice as big as the standard units, maybe even bigger.
"How'd that happen?"
"A couple of de football players left," he said. "So de room was empty, and I was next on de waiting list."
"So who's moving in with you?"
He shrugged. "Some guy down the hall."
And thus was Mat rewarded for stealing another student's long distance calling code, not going to class, almost failing out, and being temporarily declared ineligible for cheating on his SAT. Fortune favors the brave...and the stupid.
Once the cart was full, he pushed it outside and headed for the freight elevator. "I'll be back for de rest of my things in a little while," he said.
I didn't waste any time. I took everything of his that was still in the room and piled it haphazardly next to the door. Then I started transferring some of my things over to what had been his side of the room. Then I rearranged the furniture. When Mat returned a half hour later, the entire room had been transformed.
I was laying on the bed with my hands behind my head. "As you can see, I'm really going to miss you," I said. "Oh, and I put all your things there by the door."
"Fuck you," he said.
"I'll pass, thanks," I replied.
Mat put the rest of his things on the cart and left without another word. And then, at long last, I was alone.
But the story doesn't quite end there.
About two weeks after Mat moved out, the phone rang. It was Shelly.
"Hey," she said, and it sounded as if she'd been crying. "Have you talked to Mat lately?"
"No," I said. "Why?"
"Well, right before he moved out, he called and said he'd call me again later with his new phone number," she said. "Only, he never did. I haven't talked to him since. Isn't that weird?"
"Kinda," I said.
"What do you mean 'kinda'?" she asked.
"Oh, well, I mean, that's how Mat gets rid of girls," I said. "He just stops talking to them."
"Wait, what do you mean that's how he gets rid of girls? Like, he's been seeing girls this whole time? Like the whole time I've been dating him?"
I felt bad bursting her bubble this way, but she probably deserved the truth at this point. "Yes, he has. Seeing, fucking, using and abusing, then discarding. It's what he does, who he is."
"Mother fucker!" she said.
"Why didn't you tell me this was going on?" she asked.
"Honestly? It wasn't any of my business, or my responsibility," I said. "And seriously, would you have believed me?"
"Probably. Maybe. I don't know," she said. "I can't believe it."
"Believe it," I said.
"Can you get me his new phone number?"
"As a matter of fact, yes," I said. "He left it so I could forward on his calls."
"Oh!" she said. "Maybe he meant for me to get his number from you!"
"Shelly," I said, "trust me, that's not what he intended."
"We'll see..." she said.
A week later, there was a knock on my door. It was a Friday night, and I had just been getting ready to leave. I opened the door...and it was Shelly."
"Hey," she said.
"Hey back," I said. "What, uh, what are you doing here."
"That bastard wouldn't answer his phone when I called, and I called a lot," she said. "He didn't return any of my calls, either."
"So...you flew out here to see him?"
"Yes," she said.
"Can you take me to his room? Do you know where it is?"
"Yeah," I said. "But you know he might not even be there, right?"
"Just take me," she said.
We walked down to the overpass in complete silence. Shelly stalked along next to me like Jason Voorhees. That chick looked ready to kill.
When we got to the room, I heard the telltale sounds of "No Ordinary Love." He was home...and probably getting ready for a booty call. I told Shelly to wait right around the corner. "Let's surprise him," I said.
It took a few tries, but Mat finally heard me knocking. He answered the door. "Hey man," he said, and he actually sounded pretty friendly. I guess not living with me had at least partially nullified his hatred for me.
"Check out this room," he said, stepping aside so I could see his new digs. "Nice, huh?" And it really was nice. Nicer than he deserved, in fact, which made me feel a little better about what was about to happen.
"So, what's going on?" I asked.
"I'm getting ready for a date," he said. "Dis girl's a model."
"Wait, our school doesn't have a modeling program," I said.
"No, she's a nude model for de art classes," he said.
"Ah, I see. Classy."
"So what'd you stop by for?" he asked.
"Well, I have a surprise for you."
"You do?" He looked genuinely astounded.
"Yeah," I said. "I brought you a visitor."
Then Shelly walked around the corner.
"Hey baby," she said, and there was a dangerous edge to her voice.
"Oh," he said, looking utterly floored. "Uh, hey girl, what up?"
"I just wanted to see my man," she said, and she hugged him. He stared over her head at me with a "WHAT THE FUCK!" look on his face.
"So anyway," I said, turning away, "I'll leave you two lovebirds alone." And that was the last time I ever spoke to Mat.
A few days later, I was studying when the phone rang. It was Shelly.
"I want to get that bastard," she said.
"Hello to you, too."
"I'm going to make him sorry he ever fucked with me," she continued.
"Well, good luck with that," I said. "Give him hell."
"Oh, I plan to," she said. "And I need your help."
"I already called somebody at Hard Copy
. I'm gonna expose all the stuff your school's athletic program has been pulling to help Mat out, the money from alumni, the grade shit. But they need at least two sources, so you have to back up my story."
"Whoa, hold on there," I said. "I'm not going to go on freakin' Hard Copy
and accuse my school of serious misconduct. That's crazy."
"You'll do it. You owe
me for letting him screw me over all those months."
"I don't owe you anything. If you want to get back at Mat, do it without me. See ya!"
I hung up. Seconds later, the phone started ringing again. I picked up the receiver and then slammed it back down. The phone started ringing again. Then again. Then again. I finally just pulled the phone jack out of the wall.
"What a crazy bitch," I whispered to myself.
And that was the last time I ever spoke to Shelly.Next: The epilogue! Part 1!
Labels: college stories, Livin' Large