Tag Archives: college

Fuck Winter

I hate winter.  It’s too goddamn cold.  It’s ridiculous.  All it does is cause problems.  You know that sort of riddle-type question people sometimes ask, “Would you rather be really sweaty hot or really freezing cold?” I hate it when people say, “Oh, freezing cold because I can always wear more layers to stay warm.” That’s just a backwards way of saying you’d rather be hot.  Besides, I’d rather be hot because at least then I’d be able to move my fuckin’ limbs.

Winter was the cause of my trip from hell roughly a month or so ago.  I went to Johnson City, Tennessee for my sister’s college graduation ceremony.  Now, granted, a trip to Johnson City for any reason is hellish enough to begin with, but when you add wintery weather into the mix, it only heightens the agony.  Under normal conditions, a drive from Nashville to Johnson City is roughly four-and-a-half to five hours.

Mine took twelve.  TWELVE.

And here’s where our saga begins:

It’s mid-December.  Late afternoon.  I’m on I-40 en route to I-81.  I’ve been on the road for about four hours.  It starts to snow a bit, but it’s the home stretch, so I’m not concerned about it.  I’m about 30 miles from my exit onto I-81.  As I get about 10 miles closer, I begin to see some red glows off in the distance.  You know that moment when you see a traffic jam up ahead, and you wanna pretend it’s not really there even though you’re heading RIGHT FOR IT?  You’re sitting there thinking to yourself, “Ah, I think we’ll be fine.” Then you get a little closer, and you have that painful moment of concession where you’re like, “OHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOO!”

That’s a nice moment, isn’t it?  That feeling of impending doom, and you can’t do anything to stop it.  I look around: it’s snowing HARD, and it’s starting to accumulate on the road pretty heavily.  I slow down to a crawl, and then…to a complete stop.  And all you can think is…

“…fuck.”

So I’m sitting there.  And I’m waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.  Soon enough, my mind began to wander.  I don’t know if you know this, but traffic jams are, honest to God, the keys to your subconscious.  You will never have stranger thoughts than when you’re in a situation like that.  Your mind will go to all kinds of weird places.  You’ll sit there sifting through your brain like a radio dial:

“If I dropped a basketball from the Empire State Building, how high would it bounce back up?…What if you had an addiction to support groups for addiction?…When mimes have sex, do they use real condoms or just mime it?”

Then an hour goes by, and nothing has changed.  You haven’t moved.  The snow keeps piling up.  The road begins to freeze over.  And then, just as the night falls and you are left to your own inner dementia beneath the frigid moonlight, your brain starts going to darker places:

“I think for my funeral, I’m not gonna be buried or cremated.  I’m just gonna have an envelope filled with money stuffed inside my body and then have my friends and relatives dig around for it…The best way to commit a murder has to be stabbing someone to death with an icicle.  Because then when the icicle melts, you’d have no fingerprints, no murder weapon, and a dead motherfucker.  It’s perfect!”

And when you’re sitting there, you eventually realize how trapped you really are.  You know that, right?  You’re helpless, and there’s nothing you can do.  Nothing.  NOTHING.  You look ahead: cars behind cars.  You look behind: cars behind cars.  You are stuck.  It’s a truly one-of-a-kind existential crisis.  There are ways to fight back, though, or at least relieve yourself of the pent-up rage that has accumulated faster than the piles of snow along the road.  After a few hours, I got out of the car and made a snowman on the side of the road.  Then I stood it down, yelled, “FUCK YOU, FROSTY!  AHHHHHH!” and kicked its fuckin’ head off.  It wasn’t much but it was a nice revenge fantasy that paid off, if only in the short term.

Then, at one point, after being stuck for about three or four hours, I saw a car with some decals on it promoting some business called the Video Game Hospital: All Systems Repaired.  And in my slowly devolving primitive state, I just kept repeating it.  I don’t know why I did this—I was already far enough into the deep end to not give a shit.  Video Game Hospital: All Systems Repaired.  And then I had an epiphany: humanity is really not that far along the evolutionary scale.  Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying I DON’T believe in evolution.  I completely and unequivocally DO, but I realized that humans are not as highly evolved as we sometimes like to think we are.  In fact, in my hazy diversions, I inadvertently determined that we’re really only about four sentences away from becoming Neanderthals again, because I was sitting there repeating that phrase—Video Game Hospital: All Systems Repaired—but each time I repeated the phrase, the more primitive I became.  The pattern went like this:

“Video Game Hospital: All Systems Repaired.”
“Vidja Gaym Hawspitale: All Sisstims Ruhpayred.”
“Viya Gaye Hasitle: Aw Sissmz Rapurred.”

Finally, it just went all the way from, “Video Game Hospital: All Systems Repaired,” down to:

“BLLLLAAAARURURRGGGHH!”

Cars next to me are watching me have this crazy primal breakdown, like a gorilla that can’t crack open the coconut.

The total scale of the traffic jam was this: it took me six hours to go twenty miles.  That is the absolute truth.  It took longer to get through those last twenty miles than the entire trip would have taken under normal conditions.  By the way, if you’ve never been in a six-hour traffic jam during a snowstorm, here’s what it’s like: go into your kitchen, open your refrigerator, and take everything out.  Empty the whole thing.  Then, get inside, close the door, and wait to die.  It’s roughly the same experience, but you don’t have to shell out money for gas.

The worst part of the whole trip was telling people about it after the fact, and their pathetic attempts to empathize with what happened.  You ever have that one guy who tries to empathize with you, but it comes off as sounding insulting?  I was talking to a friend of mine about the trip and after I tell the story, he goes, “Yeah, man, I had a thing like that happen to me once in Arkansas, except I was only stopped for about an hour.  I know how that is, man.” No, you fuckin’ don’t.  That’s like saying, “Oh, man, you’ve got cancer?  Dude, yeah, I once had a mole that the doctor wanted to get tested but then it turned out it wasn’t cancerous.  Fuckin’ scary, dude!  I can TOTALLY relate!”

At which point, you should relate your fist to his face.

Until next time,

–Riley

My Roommate From Hell II (Or: The Trials And Tribulations Of Masturbation)

About a week ago, I wrote a piece about my roommate from hell during my freshman year of college.  If you haven’t read it, you should—especially for the second part of the story about my moving into the French guy’s room.  The reason I bring it up is because after publishing that post, I had been reliving some of the memories from that tumultuous year, and my reminiscence brought me back to another story from that year in my life that I wanted to write about here.

To be fair, though, I should maybe clarify something.  The phrase, “(noun) from hell” typically denotes something of the worst kind, and in his defense, my “roommate from hell” wasn’t THAT bad.  Sure, it was hard for me, but he could have been eons worse.  In the end, however, he probably doesn’t deserve that title. (Or, perhaps in a more cheeky sense, he wasn’t WORTHY of the title.)

He was still pretty bad, though.

I do want to preface that this other roommate story I want to share is one of a considerably personal nature.  I know there are people close to me reading this, so you’ve been warned and if you have a problem with it from this point on, it’s your own fault.  Can’t blame me, fuckers!  Mwahahahaha!

Anyway, this story takes place roughly a couple of months into the fall semester of my freshman year.  The first semester.  The toughest semester, for countless reasons.  One of the things I found most difficult to cope with and adjust to was the overall lack of privacy when you begin living with a roommate.  Up until that point, I’d always had my own room—it was the first time I had to share my room with somebody else, and I’m a guy who REALLY likes his privacy and REALLY values his alone time.

And it was even harder to balance that against someone with a polar opposite personality.  I can remember spending countless nights sitting in my car in a parking garage on campus, armed with a legal pad and a pen, just to be by myself for a couple hours, and not around my party-happy roommate or his party-happy friends (who would often be present in our room).  It was by no means a glamourous solution, but goddamn it: I was content enough and it gave me an extra thing to vent about in my vitriolic written diatribes.

But the most darkly comedic challenge within all of this delves into something a little more on the primal side.

Guys—and I’m speaking mainly to any actual guys reading this—let’s be frank and honest here: one of the hardest things to reconcile if you live with another guy is masturbation.  It’s just one of those things.  You gotta do it sometimes (and I assert that if you don’t do it at all, then you’re the REAL freak).  If you live by yourself, it doesn’t matter when you do it, because you’re only responsible for yourself.  But if you live with a roommate, you don’t want to do it with the other guy in the room, so you have to wait until he’s gone for a while to do the deed.

And sometimes, you miscalculate.

Before you jump to conclusions, allow me to state for the record that I never had any trouble timing my deeds.  My roommate had a night class once a week that lasted at least two hours.  It was great.  My window was wide open.  He would leave for class, I’d wait a half-hour, do the deed, wash up, and then go eat dinner.  I could even go bowl a couple games at the campus bowling alley and be back in the room suffering my way through a Jane Austen novel before his class was even finished.

My roommate, on the other hand, had worse luck, because I walked in on him doing the deed on a fairly frequent basis—say, at least once every fortnight.  The first couple of times, it was embarrassing for the both of us (from a guy standpoint, I was essentially blue-balling him).  After a while, I stopped giving a fuck.  I tried to be more diplomatic.  I’d approach the door and turn my key extra slowly to give him a few more seconds to cover himself before I entered the room.  It rarely worked.

One time, and I’ll never forget this: I walked in on him doing the deed, and as I opened the door, he immediately pulled up a Microsoft Word document and began to type randomly in an attempt to look like he was working on an essay of some sort.  To the layman’s eye, it could have been a foolproof act of subterfuge.

However, in his haste, he neglected to pull up his pants.

I decided not to bust his balls about it (pardon the pun).  I figured, since he went so far as to act like he was working on schoolwork, I’d go so far as to act like I hadn’t just seen him wackin’ it.  But I played out the scenario in my head, and just let my imagination run wild:

“Dude, why is it that every time you’re working on an English paper, your pants are around your ankles?”
“Uh…it’s how I get into my zone…”

I never summoned the courage to actually ask him about it.  I didn’t want to know the real answer.  And I didn’t want the real answer to spoil the fantasy answer I concocted in my head.

I was content enough to pretend that I lived with a guy whose dick served as his muse.

Until next time,

–Riley

My Roommate From Hell And The French Guy

I spent my freshman year of college at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  My first semester, I was involved with a classic “roommate from hell” situation.  I had been assigned to him via the random roommate option offered by the school.  I didn’t have any close friends going to UT, and I had that deep hope that maybe I’d end up with one of those best friends for life that so many people talked about for months on end, prior to moving in.  Because of that, I was looking forward to meeting my random roommate.

However, I was nervous about it as well, because for every great and inspiring success story about being randomly assigned to the person who would later become some guy’s best man at his wedding, I heard a horrifying tale of personality clashes to the extreme.  So in the weeks leading up to the move-in and eventual meeting of the roommate, I obsessed over what I would say.  The introduction.  The ice-breaker.

I’m fucked.

I didn’t know what I was gonna say.  Hell, what COULD I say?   I didn’t know anything about him.  I honestly thought about introducing myself this way:

“Hi!  Depending on how this conversation goes, I may or may not be Riley Fox.”

But where to go from there?  Obviously, the easiest thing would be to find some kind of common ground:

“So, uh…do you like normal things?  I know I do.  Hey, you know what sure is swell?  Living!  Boy, do I looooooove living.  Hey, it’s nice to meet you—I’M NOT GAY AND PLEASE DON’T KILL MY FAMILY!”

When we did meet, we ended up talking about music, movies, TV shows, etc.  The general stuff that NORMAL PEOPLE TALK ABOUT.  Okay.  Good.  At least he’s not a psycho-murderer.

But he was a mega-drug-alcohol-fratboy-party-animal.

I’m fucked.

I will never forget the first time he got busted for drug possession at the school (oh, yes, there were several other times).  I was in class, and when I got back to the dorm room, he was sitting at his desk looking somewhat downtrodden.  I set my bag down next to my desk and sat in the nearby chair.

“Hey, what’s up, man?”
“Dude, I’m in some shit.”
“What’s going on?”
“The RA caught me and Matt drinking in here, and reported it to the hall director.  They’re on their way up here now, and they’re gonna search the whole room.”

For those unaware, UT is a dry campus, meaning alcohol is banned (despite the fact that there were liquor shops literally a five-minute walk from my dorm building).  I knew I personally had nothing to worry about because I hadn’t done anything wrong.  But then my roommate threw a curve ball.

“There’s something I should probably tell you.”

I’m fucked.

“Before I came here, when I lived in Atlanta, I got into some pretty deep shit with drug possession charges.  They’re coming to search the room.  I’ve got some shit, and if they find it, I’m likely to go away for a while.”

This is probably not something you want to tell your new roommate two months into the semester, when the dorm hall director, the RA, and a cop are en route to your residence.  I was speechless, and just when I thought that that was it, he continued:

“Dude, do you think you could just tell them that it’s yours?  Please?”
“Man, I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.”

You’re fucked.

The next semester, I lucked out.  There was an exchange student from France living on my floor, and after the fall semester, he had to move back to France.  This had no bearing on me until I found out that he had lived in a single room by himself, and now that the room was open, someone could move into it.  My roommate found out about it and told the RA that I would be interested.  When the RA came to me, I was ecstatic.  I figured that after my experience with my roommate, spending the spring in my own private room would be just what I needed.  I filled out the necessary paperwork and got all the required approvals, and within the first week of the spring semester I was ready to move in.  I got the key for the new room, unlocked the lock, and opened the door…

…and the French guy still had a shitload of stuff left in the room.

I immediately got the RA and showed him the room that seemed only half-vacated.  There was a fold-out chair, a stereo system and CD player, a bicycle, a pair of computer speakers, a couple pairs of shoes, and several other less significant items.  The RA had assured me that the French guy was not coming back—he lived in France, after all—so he figured that I could keep what I want and toss the rest, and as he left I noticed him looking at the computer speakers.  I even talked to the hall director, and he said the same thing.  So I gave the RA the pair of computer speakers he wanted, and kept everything else.

Around spring break, I was strapped for cash and desperate.  One day, I turned and looked at the bicycle the French guy had left behind.  I hadn’t ridden it once.  I hadn’t even taken it outside of the room.  Clearly, I wasn’t planning on using it—I’m more of a walker anyway—so I figured, “Well, hell, I could sell this to somebody.”

I was apprehensive at first.  I knew it technically wasn’t MY bicycle, but: I wasn’t going to use it, it was too big for my car, and the French guy whom it belonged to was not coming back according to two very trustworthy sources.

Twenty minutes later, I was posting flyers around my dorm building advertising the bicycle that was now for sale.

Two days later, I received a phone call.  A guy down the hall wanted to buy the bike.  He was my first offer, and I was extremely desperate for whatever I could get, so I sold it to him.

At the end of the semester, I began packing all of my belongings in my car for the final drive home.  Many of the French guy’s things were still in my room.  Most of it I didn’t want or need, so I just left it under the bed where it all was when I found it. (However, the fold-out chair and CD player/stereo system was in my car.  He wasn’t coming back and I wasn’t leaving that stuff.)

The day before I planned on leaving UT for the summer, I was sitting in my dorm room watching a TV show on my computer, when I heard a knock at the door.  I opened it up.

It was him.

THE FRENCH GUY.

“I’m here to get my stuff.”

I’m really fucked.

I was at a complete loss for words, yet my mind was racing a mile a minute.  I had sold off this guy’s bicycle without his knowledge or approval, and now he’s here to take it back with him to France.  I was cornered, and had no chance of escape.  Finally, I managed to conjure up the wherewithal to speak the only thing that could come to mind:

“So, uh…do you like normal things?”

Until next time,

–Riley