Johnny America


Ad­ven­tures With My Room­mate: My­Space Man, Part III


Ah, young love. So in­tense. So pas­sion­ate. So tender.

So in­va­sive.

A mere two weeks af­ter se­mi-for­mal week­end, the Chris­t­ian Soror­i­ty was back at it, throw­ing a hon­est-to-good­ness for­mal. The theme was “A Night At the Os­cars”; prom dress­es and tux­es were the nec­es­sary attire.

Nat­u­ral­ly, Will was com­ing back for the occasion.

A week pri­or to his ar­rival, my room­mate sat me down for A Conversation.

“Det­gen, you know that Will is com­ing this weekend.”

I nod­ded.

“And you know that last time, he slept here.”

God. Did I know.

“And last time, I had him… sleep on the floor.”

In a man­ner of speak­ing. More specif­i­cal­ly: if you call sand­wiched be­tween you and the wall the floor.

She took a deep breath. “I just want­ed to know that —well, I’m bein’ sil­ly, this won’t both­er you, you don’t mind things like this — but I want­ed you to know that this week­end, Will is goin’ to sleep in the bed.” Pause. “With me.”

“Of course it won’t both­er me,” I agreed solemn­ly. Im­moral be­yond words, I am.

“But don’t tell my mama,”

Be­cause I talk to her so of­ten. “Of course not.”

And that was that.

The fol­low­ing Wednes­day, I was in­formed that Will was not on­ly com­ing for the week­end — he was com­ing for a four-day week­end. He would be ar­riv­ing Thurs­day evening (dri­ving him­self, this time — he had been giv­en lim­it­ed dri­ving priv­i­leges). The is­sue was that there would be no one to re­ceive him on Thurs­day evening. My room­mate was go­ing to be at­tend­ing a “mock­tail” (on­ly Sa­tan has cock­tails) party.

So, nat­u­ral­ly, she asked me for a favor.

“Det­gen,” she be­gan, swivel­ing her chair to­wards me, “I’m go­ing to need you to let Will in on Thurs­day night.”

I looked up, slight­ly con­fused. “Thurs­day?”

“Mmhm. He’s com­ing Thurs­day; he leaves Sunday.”

I man­aged to sup­press the urge to point out that she had been be­ing pret­ty lib­er­al with the de­f­i­n­i­tion of “week­end” in our ear­li­er conversations.

So this was the mo­ment of truth. Lie and say that I was busy, or agree to let lover boy in­to the dorm.

I start­ed to open my mouth to say that I’d let him in — but then I re­mem­bered that I did have a Thurs­day night engagement.

“I’m sor­ry,” I said, plas­ter­ing on a face of Sin­cere Re­morse. “I’m go­ing to a drag show.”

She was speech­less. Her jaw dropped; I smirked.

Luck­i­ly, she had oth­er peo­ple — soror­i­ty sis­ters — to ex­ploit. She roped Soror­i­ty Sis­ter Stephanie in­to tak­ing care of things. (Just for the record: Stephanie is rough­ly 6′-3″, 160 pounds; she could beat me up, easy. In fa­vor­able com­pa­ny I call her ‘The Amazon.’)

So I did­n’t have to cope with the guilt.

Un­for­tu­nate­ly, I did have to cope with sleep­ing in a room for four nights with a girl and boy who are sig­nif­i­cant­ly less moral in prac­tice than they are in the­o­ry; by one a.m., a ridicu­lous hour on a Thurs­day night even by my stan­dards (par­tic­u­lar­ly when I have eight a.m. class­es), I was ready to tell them that if they did not dis­en­gage, I would do it for them. Thank­ful­ly, things came to an end right be­fore I had to ac­tu­al­ly sum­mon up the en­er­gy to is­sue my ultimatum.

Of course, that was­n’t the end of it. On Fri­day night I had to go grab a for­got­ten book from my room. I had been told that they were go­ing to a con­cert that night, and would not be back un­til late; see­ing as how it was on­ly about ten o’­clock, I fig­ured I was safe. Just be sure, I made a great — noisy — show of un­lock­ing the door, hop­ing that if they were do­ing any­thing, they would have time to spring apart and cov­er themselves.

In­stead, two things hap­pened: 1) they clung to each oth­er like drown­ing lovers, and b) I dis­cov­ered that Will has pierced nipples.

El­yse, the friend who had ac­com­pa­nied me on this ill-fat­ed ven­ture, took one look at the sce­nario — I had (stu­pid­ly) turned the lights on and the two of them were bathed in a flu­o­res­cent glow — and said in a dull, shocked voice: “I’ll wait outside.”

I scram­bled fu­ri­ous­ly for var­i­ous items, mum­bled some­thing about spend­ing the night in afore­men­tioned friend’s room, and left in a breath­less hur­ry. As we were walk­ing back down the hall, El­yse and I heard the click of the lock.

Once we were out­side, we re­gained the abil­i­ty to speak.

“You think she sucks on those rings?” she asked in an amused tone.

I stopped in my tracks and glared. “Do. Not. Speak. Of. Such. Things.”

El­yse chuck­led and I rubbed my eyes, try­ing to force the im­age out of my vision.

“You don’t have to live with her,” I spat. El­yse had the de­cen­cy to look slight­ly less amused.

The next day — a par­tic­u­lar­ly sun­ny Sat­ur­day — found me back at my room at rough­ly two o’­clock. I ra­tio­nal­ized: two p.m. does not in­vite fore­play. I knocked on the door — loud­ly, with force — and wait­ed for a voice. When I got noth­ing, I fig­ured that it was per­fect­ly fine to as­sume that the room was empty.

I opened the door — again, with a great show of unlocking…

And was lucky enough to see Fri­day Night: Part Deux.

I could­n’t take it any­more. This was too much. I backed out of the room, slammed the door, and stood — threw my­self — against the wall across from my door­way, look­ing around frantically.

I could hear them both call­ing to me: “Det­gen, it’s okay,” chirped Room­mate; and then, Will: “C’­mon, Dutchin. It’s noth­ing you haven’t seen before.”

(And yet, it’s some­thing that I nev­er want­ed to see again.)

I did­n’t move. Will opened the door in a pair of box­ers. “It’s okay, re­al­ly,” he said, talk­ing to me as if I were a ner­vous child. “We’re decent.”

(More in some ways than in others.)

I took a breath and walked in­side, gath­ered up my things in a mat­ter of min­utes, and left with­out say­ing a word. I spent rough­ly six hours in the li­brary that day. Up­on my re­turn, the two of them were again sit­ting awk­ward­ly in her chair: her girth spread­ing on his lap, his arms fail­ing to ac­tu­al­ly reach all the way around her.

I shot them a look that I hope con­veyed a quar­ter of the rage that I was ac­tu­al­ly feel­ing, de­posit­ed my books, and left for dinner.

Will at­tempt­ed to re­pair the dam­age lat­er, on Sunday.

“Hey, I got­ta ques­tion fer you. I dun­no if you can an­swer it or not.” A pause, to let his chal­lenge set­tle. “Okay, here goes. When a man, uh, be­comes a woman — you know what I mean?”

“Uh huh.” (I ad­mit to be­ing a bit cu­ri­ous as to where this was going.)

“Okay. So, when that hap­pens — can he — or she, what­ev­er — have a baby?”

“No, Will. No.”

“Why not?”

“Think about it.”

He screwed his face up; it looked rather painful. There was a mo­ment of con­cen­trat­ed si­lence. “I don’ git it.”



“Nev­er mind.”

He did­n’t pur­sue the subject.

And then, later:

“So, d’y­ou have a boyfriend?”


“D’y­ou have an almost-boyfriend?”

I shot him a looked that — I hoped — would cause flow­ers to with­er and die and replied, in my most ven­omous tones, “No. I do how­ev­er, have a pa­per to write.”

We did­n’t speak again. Mon­day morn­ing he was gone by six o’­clock. He had a con­struc­tion job.

Next year I will be liv­ing — bliss­ful­ly — alone, far away from my room­mate and her id­iot boyfriend. She’s ac­tu­al­ly gone al­ready; her ex­ams fin­ished some time be­fore mine.

Our part­ing words, spo­ken as we stood some feet apart, were suf­fi­cient­ly poignant:

“Well, Detgen…have a good…”

“Yeah. It’s been in­ter­est­ing, Shel­ley. Have a nice life.”

Filed under Non-Fiction on May 11th, 2006

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Reader Comments

Will wrote:

Dear Dutchin. And here I thought we got ‘long pret­ty good. Sur­prised you feel thi­s­away bout shel­ley, god bless her soul. Well, you have a nice life readin’ and writin and be­ing 2 damm good fer any­body else.
By the way, she did suck my nip­ple rings, makes me hot­ter than african goat piss.

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