Adventures With My Roommate: MySpace Man, Part II
My eavesdropping abilities are spectacular. I’ve spent a considerable amount of my life relatively friendless, so I’ve learned the value in being able to enjoy other people’s dramatics. And so, through a rigorous course of listening-without-looking-like-it, I knew pretty much everything about my roommate’s beau.
- high school education? Not for him. He realized that education was overrated in eleventh grade, at which time he promptly dropped out.
- his own place? Not when he can live with Mom for free.
- a car? Not when you’re still going through classes to restore your standing after that pesky D.U.I.
- make money? ’course. Construction pays great.
- come visit? You bet, sweetheart.
Number five, naturally, alarmed me the most. Beau —whose name, I have since learned, is Will (pronounced by my roommate with an excruciatingly thick southern accent: ’Wee-uhl”) — was coming to a) visit, and b) attend a sorority semi-formal with Roommate.
Of course, before he could come and see her, she had to meet him in person. Not that finding out what he looked like was an issue; she already had scads of photographs to prove that he was, indeed, “an adorable guy.”
And so her mother drove here, picked her up, drove her home, and allowed her to go on a “date” with Will. This date following a (I’d wager) pretty extensive Q&A session with the folks.
I was lucky enough to met Will a few weeks later, when he made the journey to campus in order to accompany his “baby” to her semi-formal.
Will arrived mid-afternoon, toting a black duffel bag and his shirt, tie, and dress pants on a couple of wire coat hangers. My roommate opened the door with a flourish.
She saw me seconds later; I was able to wring some grim satisfaction from seeing her face fall once she realized that I was present. Will stood awkwardly in the doorway, hunched over and clinging to his belongings.
I raised my eyebrows. Roommate realized that skipping introductions is technically rude and proceeded to remedy the situation.
“Detgen, this is Will. Will, this is Detgen.”
“Detgen. Rhymes with ‘Gretchen.’ ”
“Oh… wait. It’s Gretchen?”
“Rhymes with. It’s Detgen.”
“Spell it fer me.”
(As if that would help.) “D. E. T. G. E. N.”
“Forget it. Nice to meet you.”
(Disclaimer: Typically I’m not that unforgiving when it comes to people mispronouncing my name.)
We shook hands — me with the vice-like grip my ex-stepfather drilled into me at the tender age of eight, him with the fishlike frailty of an eighty-year-old woman. (I judge by handshakes. Will wasn’t doing too well on my Meter of Merit.)
He’s a tall fellow, with a long face and a large nose and rather unfortunate teeth. I typically try to avoid criticizing people’s looks, but I can say with some certainty that Will is pretty much an all-around unattractive person. He wore a fairly exciting T‑shirt: HE DIED FOR YOU written in “bloody” letters across the faint outline of a crucifix. His shoes were sparkling white and his ear lobes appeared to be mostly missing, due to the rings of metal that were slowly (but surely) stretching them out. I’m sure on some folks rings-of-metal look positively badass, but Will looked rather ridiculous. And his eyebrow piercing was just overkill.
After dropping his things by the sink, Will collapsed into a desk chair and swiveled around to face me.
“So, Dutchin. What d’yah do?”
“I’m an English major.”
“So you…read an’ stuff.”
“Yes. I read and stuff.”
“What d’yah do wit an English major?”
“I go to grad school. Or I write. Or —,” I smiled sweetly, “I work construction.”
He blinked. I like to think that I hit a nerve, but it’s possible, even probable, that the barb went right over his head.
He decided to try another tack.
“My baby here don’t drink — ever. I’m gonna change that.”
His baby squealed “Wee-uhl!” and looked at him reverently. Saccharine adoration oozed from her very pores.
“She’s gonna understand that a bit o’ al-kee-hol kin be fun.” He took a minute to heft my roommate onto his lap. It was awkward and difficult to watch — but impossible to look away. Somewhat like a train wreck.
“Mebbe we’ll drink together some time.”
“I doubt it,” I said, turning to my computer, “I’m very busy this weekend.”
That was the end of my Will-Interaction for the moment. I had assumed that that was it, for life — it wasn’t as if he was going to want to sit around and discuss Chaucer with me. Furthermore, I had assumed that he wouldn’t be spending time in the room when Shelley was away.
But that was just too much to ask.
I returned from my German class only to find Will sitting at my roommate’s desk, studying his MySpace page. Slipknot blared from the speakers.
I closed the door with a bit more force than absolutely necessary and dropped my bag on the floor. He looked up distractedly.
“Oh,” he said, nodding. “Yer back.”
“Yes. I’m back.”
He turned to face me and settled into his chair, as if he was preparing for a conversation.
“…d’you ever… smoke?”
Oh. This was too delightful. I glanced towards his bag; a pack of Marlboro Menthols was resting atop a pair of discarded boxers. I was of course aware that he wasn’t referring to tobacco — no one talks about just-tobacco with that sort of intonation — but it was going to be so wonderfully awkward for him if he had to spell things out.
I blinked. “Cigarettes?”
He looked around nervously. “I was actually referrin’ to, uh —,”
I blinked again.
“Oh,” I said, making a great show of recognition. “I see.”
“Yeah. So, do you?”
“What does that mean?”
“Don’t tell my baby — but — yeah, I do.”
At this moment in time, I wanted to know two things: a) why didn’t he ever call her by her name, and b) why the hell did he want to tell me this? I wasn’t able to get an answer for either inquiry.
Instead, the fairly weighty silence was broken by my roommate bursting through the door. Her enormous grin — positively face-cracking — disappeared once she saw me.
“Hi,” she said, closing and locking the door behind her. (It’s some sort of reflex. Apparently occupied dorm rooms are irresistible to thieves.)
“Will and I were just having a chat,” I said, sitting down on my bed.
“Uh-huh,” he affirmed, shooting me panicked looks.
“That’s nice,” Roommate intoned, walking across the room and putting down her sizable purse. “What were you talking about?”
“Bands,” Will blurted, grabbing her and lugging her onto his lap. “But that don’t matter now that you’re back.”
They proceeded to suck face for roughly seven to nine minutes. I gathered up my things as quickly as I could and left, slamming the door behind me.
Unfortunately, that would only be the least of it.
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