This one goes out to my boy Slim Colt, a true gentleman, and the only person I've ever seen wear 4 sports jerseys at one time. He was in town the other night and we recounted this story for the 900th time. It's a short one, but a good one.
When I think back on college, the images that usually come into my head are the nights in the dorm and in the bars. Other than the occasional dormitory party, I always think of the weeknights, where we'd just be in a lounge watching TV or doing homework or playing Tecmo Super Bowl and those kinds of things. And Thursday nights at the Shire, especially my senior year, were also especially memorable, though I have forgotten the details of nearly every single Thursday night I spent there. When I think of college, these are the things I think of and the things I miss the most.
But some events came out of the mundane events of a regular sober night, sometimes even occuring in the midst of studying.
One such evening, my buddy Mike "Slim Colt" Short and I were in the academic buildings, probably using a computer lab. Well, he was probably using the computer lab, I was probably searching for pictures of nude women or something. But that was way back then when such things interested me and the details are hazy at best.
So Mike and I, burly men that we were, got a bit of a hankerin' for some grub. So we headed down to the Dolphin Den, a small cafe-type area in the basement of Grewen Hall. (Note: Some of you may remember the Dolphin Den as the site of another stupid-ass thing I did with mayonnaise.) Then was usually empty or close to it on most weeknights, because classes were out and no one was in the building except for schoolnerds.
Wednesdays, however, were an exception. For you see, every Wednesday night, the college held classes for people with "special needs." (Don't worry, this is not going to turn into me making fun of people with special needs.) So around the same time every week, these groups of differently-abled teenagers and people in their early twenties would converge upon the Den to get food, or perhaps even a lovely beverage.
This particular day, Mike and I were waiting for some curly fries or some such item, and they were taking a bit longer than normal. As we waited, I made eye contact with one of the special needs girls. I waited a moment longer, and before I knew it, she had sidled up to me. She began to make a bit of small talk: "Those fries look good. Do you usually get them? Is this your first time here?" etc. She was very affable.
Suddenly, the conversation -- clearly going somewhere in this young lady's mind -- took an unexpected turn...
She said the following:
"So I have a question to ask you. (quietly, to herself) I can't believe I'm doing this... (normal volume again) Okay, so my friend Steffie has had a really bad week. So I was wondering, do you wanna go out with her?"
My brain began working overtime. I had no idea how to respond to this most unanticipated query. I had a couple options. I could have taken the easy, rude way out and simply said, "No." But my mama raised me better than that. I didn't want it to look like I was being insensitive to the girl just because she was in a special class.
I briefly (like, nanosecond briefly) bandied about the idea of humoring her, and saying, "Sure I will!" This would have allowed the young lady to save face. But this would have been disatrous. Though I was single at the time, I had my doubts that -- sight unseen -- Steffie would have been a viable counterpart for me, romantically. Okay sure, in theory, maybe Steffie was this young lady's hot nymphomaniac sister. Maybe this was some sort of unlikely oddball romantic comedy in the making. But the odds were against it. And assuming that Steffie was not compatible with my particular situation, all this would have done was get poor Steffie's hopes up.
What if I had been the "funny guy," and played along. It would only have been for Slim's benefit if that was the case. I could have said, struggling to contain my laughter, "Oh yeah, you tell Steffie to be here one week from tonight and I'll take her out for a steak dinner." I had a feeling this girl did not have a nose for my sarcasm and would not have detected the intended irony. Yeah, I'm a real cut up and next thing I know, I come to the Den in a few Wednesdays and have an armada of pissed off special needs folks ready to beat the shit out of me for jilting poor Steffie. I've had dreams about that kind of thing, so thank you, no. (Clearly, she would have been similarly disappointed had I actually shown up anyway, so either way this was a wash.)
There was only one way to solve this very delicate conundrum, and luckily, my subconscious was thinking faster than my conscious. The words came flowing out of me, completely independent of my actual working brain. The perfect two-word phrase escaped my lips so fast and involuntarily, that I was actually surprised after they had been uttered:
Steffie's friend suddenly broke eye-contact, nodded her head sympathetically, and wordlessly backed away, terminating any further conversation with me. I looked back at Slim and he was silently laughing. I wasn't sure if he was laughing at me because he found it funny, or if he found me pathetic. But I did know one thing...
Steffie's friend is a goddamn homophobe.