Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Off to College

In high school I was an average student at best. If not for my guidance counselor, Mr. Szepanski, I wouldn't have dared to dream that I could get accepted at Washington State University. I hadn't even bothered to take the SATs, and that's a good thing, because if I had, I most certainly would not have gained admittance. Due to a misunderstanding, a flowing letter from the good counselor and a barely acceptable grade point average, I finally received a letter that was my deliverance from the oppressive guidance of my father.

College was my chance to find out who I was for the first time in my life. In high school, I was defined by the attitudes of the many that had come to despise and ridicule me; college, on the other hand, was a fresh start, in a new city where nobody had a history, free to start anew.

I took full advantage.

I lived in the dormitories for a couple years, then tried out two fraternities, then back to the dorms again. I lived on different floors in different halls, and tried on the hat of serious student, crazy tough guy, obnoxious party animal, and borderline criminal. The latter two would be my eventual -- albeit temporary and sorely needed -- demise, but honestly, I had the best time of my life, and came out the other end a serious and well adjusted adult. For now though, I needed to release some tension, a whole lifetime of it.

Washington State is located in Pullman Washington, barely 20 miles across the Idaho border to Moscow, where the drinking age was nineteen. Fridays and Saturdays were all about Rathskellars, a bar that featured live local bands, dollar pitchers, and caveman bouncers.

My best college friend, not to be confused with a real best friend, was a Canadian called Jay. He was a preppie, selfish, handsome and egotistical SOB -- in other words, a real ladies man. His favorite tag line was, "I know you wanna kiss me." As unbelievable as it sounds, this had about an 80 percent success rate.

Jay, I think, enjoyed my raw spontaneity, while I admired his self confidence and charm, as hammy as it could be. I wanted a little of what he had, and possibly vice versa. He was like a little dog with big attitude, causing trouble then hiding behind the big dog, namely, myself. One night at Rats, Jay was having a fight with his latest sex partner Stephanie. She was a knock-out brunette with long legs and a derriere I had to wear a neck brace to avoid staring at. In a fit, she stormed away and found a mean looking partner for a slow dance. Jay went out onto the floor and gave him a shove, which was returned in kind. Soon enough, the guy had two of his buddies, all my size or bigger, threatening to kick his ass.

Ever the faithful lapdog, I jumped between them and told him to back off or I was going to kick his ass, which had the effect of a bug to a windshield.

"Let's go outside and settle this mother fucker!" he yelled in my face.

"All right cocksucker," I feigned bravado, "but the odds are three to two. How is that fair?"

"So go get a friend."

"A friend. Hmmmm. Any friend?"

"That's right, anybody!"

"You're on. Wait right here, and don't go sneaking out while I'm gone."

"I'll be right here," he laughed and pointed at his feet. I flipped him the bird and wandered into the crowd.

Washington State, as many probably know, is a Pac Ten football school. The players that drag their knuckles across campus are simply not human. I knew of one player in particular, who was red shirted for the year, and as luck would have it, was here tonight. He wasn't hard to spot. He must have been Nordic, as he would not have looked out of place wearing a metal helmet with protruding horns, and wielding the hammer Mjolnir. He was seated by the dance floor with a slight waif of a girl on his lap, who looked more like a ventriloquist dummy in comparison.

"Andy," I started.

"Fuck off! I'm busy." he growled, gesturing towards his lap candy.

Wow, the 'roids must be boiling his brain. "Andy," I hazarded again. He looked up at me with a look that said, this better be good. "Listen, I don't want to interrupt, but there are three guys that are fucking with me and I'm one guy short. Would you mind..."

Andy picked up his girl and placed her on his seat and said simply, "Where?"

"Follow me." I couldn't suppress my smile.

I pointed towards the ring leader, who along with his cohorts, with big, mooney, Puss N' Boots eyes, looked like they just pissed themselves. Andy loomed over the flock and bunched his fists, seemingly in the last stages of metamorphosis into the Incredible Hulk. His body shook and a guttural, visceral growl built to a terrifying crescendo. Then he yelled into the face of the leader, "ASSHOLE!"

"N-n-n-now w-w-wait a m-m-minute," he stuttered, "there's no need for any of this. I was just dancing with her, you know?" His face was pathetic, and oh so satisfying. Andy, disappointed, simply turned and walked away.

"Man," the leader continued, "I am sooooo sorry man. I don't know what I was thinking. Can I buy you a beer?"

"You know," I said as I put my arm around his neck in a soft headlock and gave him a knuckle rub on the head, "a beer would be great."

And so it goes, the whimsy of the young mind; for the rest of that night, Jay and I partied like it was 1999 with our new friends.


NYPinTA said...

Nice to know that football players are actually good for something. Ha.

Scott said...

Nice to know someone read this post! I really enjoyed writing it.

Alan said...

Did Andy go back to his table as the humble Don Blake?


Kathleen said...

Oh, so nice when you can turn the odds in your favor.