Thursday, September 11, 2008


            “Hey man it smells like mad chocolate shit up in here, you been burnin’ that shit or what?” It was an unceremonious entrance for an almost complete stranger to make, but I went with it because things like this don’t happen every day, and especially not to people like me.

“Yeah,” I said, hoping to sound like I had completely shrugged off the dullness of my actual personality, hoping not to blow my shot at the coveted second-floor, “I, uh, made coffee…”

Okay, so it was a complete failure; the word “coffee” ejected from my mouth like a goose wrestling with a hamburger bun. Hey, a personality like mine only comes with years of careful, studied isolation, and won’t be tossed aside like a matador cape. But if the guy noticed my petrified demeanor and wincing facial expressions, he was either nice enough or indifferent enough not to show it.

For a moment he sort of ambled and grooved in circles, marveling at the construction of my room, wheezing fragments of cusses and gesturing at particular features that seemed to impress him. He stopped here and there; the poster of Chewbacca from the 80’s, the dingy white carpet that I’d rescued from a dumpster a couple years ago and still hadn’t gotten around to bleaching the big black stains out of yet, my roommate’s TV, which was much larger than anything I could afford, and particularly my one major purchase: the Xbox 360 Elite with the 120 gigabyte hard drive and an extra controller in the vain hope that it might somehow lure the second-floorers into my social life.

He was tugging a plaid shirt from my closet now, and holding it up to himself as if somehow modeling my clothes for me was bringing us closer together.

I guess I better explain that I didn’t ask to be put in this place, and by all rights I should have been politely discharged to a quieter, more remote corner of the campus ages ago, but for whatever reason, I’ve been allowed to cling to the scraps of glorious social status that occasionally leak down to the first floor through the air vents as the shiny river of women, booze, and mind shattering bass courses past my room and up the stairs. They call me Swirly – I’m still not sure why – but I take it at least as a sign of recognition.

“Fuck, Swirly man! Dis a classy joint yaw!” he exclaims with a swipe at my shoulder.


“Da-yum! That a nice guitar!”

As he makes for my guitar, he punches me in the face with the kind of a smell that could only have been engineered by the latest rapper or someone just as unqualified to decide what a good smell is. It engulfs him like some force field of designer masculinity.

“I dunno much ‘bout playin’ guitar, but dis a nice fuckin’ guitar,” he drawls while he clumsily plinks out a couple riffs from a Red Hot Chili Peppers song.

“Actually, it’s a piece of crap. I got it for seventy-nine bucks from a, damn Walmart.” I cringe inwardly at the sound of my own voice, making a mental note to be more vindictive about my cursing. It’s how these guys communicate.

 “Well fuck, a'least it smells delicious," he says while he huffs the soundboard as if he’s anticipating of a delicious first bite. I'm baffled that someone wearing Eau de Yankee Candle store or whatever he’s got on can possibly distinguish a scent beyond his personal atmosphere.

"Yeah, it's cedar topped; good for conducting s-”

“Shi’ man, das crazy, but listen man, there some bitches upstairs wif my name on ‘em, yaw, so I’ll catch y’later, dawg”

He tosses the guitar on my bed, which is, unfortunately, made nicely with the squared corners like my mother has always insisted, not rumpled or tattered or covered in “bitches” like probably every bed upstairs is.

And that’s when disaster strikes. He raises his hand. I’ve seen this executed perfectly hundreds of times, sometimes just feet away from my door. As I dedicate myself idiotically to the embarrassment soon to come, I yearn for someone that could just demystify the process of improv synchronized hand jive for me. For a minute or possibly an eternity, I flail my arm awkwardly at his while my soul weeps softly, mourning the loss of any possible status gain. He departs with a “Peace,” and I stifle the urge to blog.


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