April 22, 2009

Falling Apart: Freshman Year Memories

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As you could tell from last week, I’m on a reflecting bender, which is something I like to call a reflender. But this week it’s turned into a productive exercise in my literacy. I did it. I read Things Fall Apart. I chillaxed with Okonkwo, finished up my Freshman Reading Project, only, approximately, 1369 days late, give or take. Again, since I’m on a roll in the spirit of reflending, Okonkwo and I have decided to tell the story of how things fell apart in my life, also known as “Freshman Fall.” We shall tell this story through a series of quotations that I found particularly illustrative from the book, quotations that did not make me sad when I hadn’t read the book before, because, in fact, it is the worst book ever written.
“As the Ibo say: ‘When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for a walk.’ Pg 10
At the time, my roommate Renee and I referred to it all as being “so aqwassme.” Aqwassme being “awesome” in the drunk dial speak we were learning. We lived in Domlom (sic) with our RAs: big gay Justin, big gay Sam (lesbian) and small, questionably gay Will, the RA that got kicked out for harassing both male and female students. On my floor, I met a new friend from my hometown whose name is Calvin, and I used to chat it up with him until his roommate would walk in, throw up on the floor, and pass out in the vomit. And upon further inspection, he also had cigarette burns on his arms.
“On great occasions such as the funeral of a village celebrity he drank his palm-wine from his first human head.” Pg. 10
My first concert at Cornell was Third Eye Blind in Barton (terrible, terrible Barton). Renee and I got stuck standing behind two lesbians who, at first, put their cell phones in the air to take pictures of Stephen Jenkins, but then left them in the air so we got a good view of their messages. “This ROX. Wanna make out?” one said. “Tomorrow I will eat a ham sandwich,” said the other.
“But Okonkwo was not a man to stop beating somebody halfway through.” Pg 30
On our never-ending quest to find forms of alcohol other than Milwaukee’s Best, Renee found her way to a full handle of peach schnapps. Sometimes being nice to a really awful rich kid who used to invite us to his room by saying “the goose is flying” (to indicate Grey Goose) pays off — emphasis on pays. We developed a ritual. Renee would pour herself a drink, then lock me in my closet with the bottle and a hoodie, then turn on “Will You Be There” (a.k.a. the Michael Jackson song from Free Willy) extremely loud on her computer until she deemed I was sufficiently drunk and ironically emo-looking to emerge, usually at the crescendo when Michael screams “Hold me! (Show meeee!) Lay your head lowly! (Told meeee!) Softly then boldlyyyy! Carry me theeeeere! (I’m only HUMAAAANNN)” I still get shivers listening to this song, watching that whale escape above the ragamuffin’s hand from the inside of my closet.
“He was like the man in the song who had ten and one wives and not enough soup for his foo-foo.” Pg 53
The best day of all of freshman year started out with me and my friend Evan began taking care of Jamal, who was inebriated enough not to be able to find the opening of the water bottle we provided, so he suckled on the bottom. As we left his room, we encountered a very bewildered girl, whose name turned out to be Shanna. Shanna explained that she was on a date with a kid on our floor named Sheikh, who left her in the dorm wandering while he was wandering in another direction, leaving only a trail of his vomit — henceforth he was “Sheikh the Mistake.” Shanna was from Ithaca College and needed to get back, so we tried to help her by letting her use our friend Mike’s computer to find her friend’s phone number on Facebook. Not unsurprisingly, this girl wasn’t good enough friends with Shanna to pick her up since she wasn’t good enough friends with Shanna to give her phone number away.
Shanna tried to cover her tracks by telling Mike, “Your computer has the wrong interface,” so we just gave her the taxi number. She called and requested a cab “from DOMLOM to TWO-SEVEN.” Then she passed out in the second floor common room where we poked her and took compromising pictures with her for several hours until the cab took her to … Two-seven. As if a gift straight from the heavens, we found her still logged on to Facebook in Mike’s room and did all kinds of damage. Three years later, according to the Facebook profile she’s since cleaned up, Shanna is engaged. We’re all waiting for our invitations.
“If a man comes into my hut and defecates on the floor, what do I do? Do I shut my eyes? No! I take a stick and break his head. That is what a man does.” Pg 158
The diversity arches, another Things-Fall-Apart-type celebration of diversity gone awry, were peppered all over campus in 2005. Every time I walked under one, all of my hatred for people different than me diminished (with the exception of the old and feeble). In my circle of friends, you got five life points if you vomited on the Balch Arch on your way back from a party instead of just on the steps like normal. But then Evan and another friend (whose name is far more unique and thus more easily tracked, so I shall call him Mudson) completely knocked over the arch, never to be restored to its Big Red glory ever again. 100 life points.
“I cannot live on the bank of a river and wash my hands with spittle.” Pg 165
Renee’s older brother is a very nice boy who helped us loft our beds on the first or second day of orientation. When I was moving out that year, I was doing some light cleaning underneath my bed, and I fell asleep with my feet sticking out from underneath. That’s how Renee found me, and probably her most lasting memory of me as a roommate. It’s a metaphor I haven’t yet figured out for my life, so for now, I plan to read more books by Chinua Achebe, where I can have simpler ones like: “Your buttocks said he had a son, so he must have a wife and all of them must have buttocks.” Pg 147
The End.