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Monday, 31 July
Metanoia Will Destroia

At Willamette University, where I received my precious, useless liberal arts education, students were required to spend the first two years in the dorms. This policy was enforced ostensibly to foster the social nature of college life, which I totally believe to this day: nothing says "Let's hang out!" like the guy across the hall blasting Enya's "Orinoco Flow." What it emphatically was not was a cynical way for the university to extract precious room and board dollars from powerless underclassmen. I used to think that, I confess, but I really changed my mind when I went to lodge a complaint with the dean, and he was blasting "I Melt With You" from his office. I had a little cry and realized that I had read the administration all wrong.

Anyway. My sophomore year, I decided to move out of the dorm I had lived in for my freshman year, and, in one of my many horribly stupid choices that continue to dog my life, I thought I knew just where to go. There was a new dorm being set up across campus, thanks to the recent yanking of a fraternity's charter--multiple allegations of date rape can do that to an otherwise cheery organization. A bunch of campus hippie goons petitioned for the hastily vacated building, and were granted the go-ahead to set up a new dorm.

It was to be called Metanoia, which at the time I was told was a Greek term meaning "peace through change." Stickler for research and minutiae that I am, I took this as the truth. But! According to Wikipedia, which, like stoned college students, is never wrong, metanoia is:

Metanoia (from the Greek metanoien, to change one's mind) is a rhetorical device used to retract a statement just made, and then state it in a better way.

Huh! Well, that's much different! And so is this, also from Wikipedia:

In english the closest word to "Metanoia" is "repent." However, the word "repent" has many inaccuracies. The word repent implies a "turning away from sin" or a form of penance. This is an incorrect interpertation of biblical doctrine. One must first change their mind(metanoia), accept Jesus Christ as savior, then choose to change their life through the power of God. Considering Jesus Christ died for all sin, how could one think they could turn from sin without first accepting Jesus Christ?

I think it's fair to say that I had no idea what I was getting into, and learning all this now, I still don't. Wikipedia can't be wrong! I think I would have remembered the Jesus stuff, but then again, I was stoned a lot of the time too.

So was my new roommate, R. R. was a fellow theater student, a year ahead of me, and had I not been so grievously disoriented by pummeling Enya melodies, I might have realized that we did not make the best fit. R. was a fairly hardcore hippie type. He worshiped the Grateful Dead, and I quickly learned to absent myself on Sunday nights at 9:00, when the local radio station aired an hour-long block of the Dead. R. also eschewed underwear, which I learned extremely quickly and in the most predictably devastating way possible.

R. was rivetingly hairy, and try as I might, I could not help noticing him as he took off all his clothes to sleep naked, just like nature, disgusting fucking nature, commands. He looked like a garden gnome as interpreted by Rick Baker. I had many nightmares.

R.'s presence also made it difficult for me to fuck my girlfriend at the time, a lissome dancer named B. In addition to his unwelcome existence at these times, there was also the ancillary issue that R. hated B.'s guts. "You're a bitch," he told her baldly at one point. That went over well. "Did you hear that?" she hissed at me. "Are you going to do something?" What was I going to do? He had no underwear to strangle him with. We resorted to trudging down to the commons room and pushing together couches. I'm all man.

Metanoia was big on meetings, and WHO DOESN'T LOVE MEETINGS? We'd sit (on the floor, of course--chairs are tools of the man!) and discuss potent issues: what's the status on our electrifying project to pick up trash around the local prison yards? (True.) Any progress on our food drive? (So many cans of garbanzo beans! Enjoy, poor people!) The only thing I could really feel decent about was a laudable program where a solitary girl could call a number and get an escort across campus so she'd get home safe (nasty memories here of how we got the building in the first place). I never did volunteer for it, however, as I noticed a certain salacity in some others who thought this was a capital way to meet single girls. Truly, we were an unstoppable force for . . . what? I put my shoulder into the cause, if by "the cause" you mean "my cause," which was to start scoring ecstasy from the guy across the hall.

R. really didn't give a shit at all either, though that might be because nobody ever backed his idea to blare "Terrapin Station" from the bell tower every day at noon. The only one who did give a shit, really, was Metanoia's lone Republican, an Asian-American kid who enjoyed our meetings if only to lightly mock the terrible, mostly neglected high-minded projects of the group. "Every underprivileged family enjoys cans of mashed pumpkin in March!" he would crow. During the febrile heights of the Gulf War, when I was mouthing terrible inanities like "Complacency is the enemy!", he would hold up a map in front of me. "Show me where Kuwait is," he commanded. I of course spent an embarrassing amount of time squinting. Later, I lay in bed, roiling with shame, staring helplessly as R. contemptuously pulled down his pants, readying for bed, pointing his awful Wookie ass at me.

It was a terrible year, and I try not to think about it too much. But a minor, dumb thing today made me remember. I was walking home, and a passing guy walked towards me. He looked me over--big deal, gay neighborhood, I thought--but then exclaimed something unintelligible to me. "Fuckin' good!" I thought he said. "What?" I asked. "Affection good!" he clarified. Huh? Why do I stop for this shit? "I don't know what you mean." I stood there like an idiot.

"Affection good!" he hollered. He gave me an exuberant double thumbs-up. "Violence bad." He frowned theatrically, and thumbed downward. I realized, finally, that my time was being wasted. "Agreed," I muttered, and walked away.

"Affection good!" he called after me. I knew just the place for that guy, but I couldn't be bothered to turn around.


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Comments

Hehehehe,
THANKS A LOT!! I just HAD to listen to the first copy of 'Orinoco Flow' I could find on the internet!! (Your fault, man!) Not only to remember how it goes, but apparently to forget as soon as possible too!! You see, I had to turn it off about half way through not only because it was a sucky 28.8K version, but because it made me want to walk out of my cubicle, out the door, and drink Mike's date-rape special in the rain!!

I definitely feel your pain.

Back to work. And sorry to mention the word rape again..it just goes so well with any description of Mike's Hard to drink lemonade..or maybe it's because I'm a huge fan of your "Coyote Ugly" post?? Who knows??

-Em

Comment number: 007874   Posted by: Emily on August 2, 2006 11:23 AM from IP: 208.149.253.101

My freshman year dorm experience (at the school rated #1 party school by Playboy that year) included one roommate who was a born-again Christian and another roommate who would creep into our half of the suite early in the morning so we could refresh her memory regarding the name of the guy in her bed. She also once pondered whether black men had brown sperm, and stated, "Don't be stupid, women can't get AIDS." Then again, she also flunked out of her Fashion Merchandising major, with her first F coming in a class called "Fibers and Fabrics."

Dorms suck.

Comment number: 007876   Posted by: Candi on August 2, 2006 01:12 PM from IP: 71.215.176.186

rivetingly hairy

A nut went down the wrong way when I got to that. A walnut I should add.

Comment number: 007877   Posted by: on August 2, 2006 11:38 PM from IP: 124.254.67.188

And the strange scent of petuli rises in the air.

Comment number: 007883   Posted by: Todd on August 5, 2006 10:43 PM from IP: 24.22.108.67

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