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Wednesday, 14 November
Imperfect Strangers

For two years in college--my junior and senior years--J. was my stalwart roommate. J. and I made a good pair: we were both skinny little art twinks, and we got along together. More importantly, I could usually get J. to do whatever I asked. This was important, as J., who had a modest trust fund to get him by, also had a Corgi-sized PC loaded with hot-shit WordPerfect, a gas card at his disposal, and a Mitsubishi, which came in handy when my girlfriend at the time graduated and moved to Portland. J. was remarkably sympathetic to my pleas to borrow his car for the drive up from Salem, probably because he then got to fuck his girlfriend at the time in relative peace, which is to say without me clawing at his bedroom door asking if I could use his computer.

J. did love that car, and of course, so did I. So did his good friend M., who shared J.'s penchant for Euroweenie 12" singles by the likes of entities such as Clan of Xymox and Tin Tin and Front 242; M. particularly enjoyed the time-honored art of tracing horrible things into J.'s car dust. I fondly remember the two weeks J. drove around with the bold legend "RICE DICK" blazing from the passenger window. J., for some reason, did not notice; he might have been transported with rapture by the newest Malcolm McLaren and His Bootzilla Orchestra release.

I mustn't be too hard on J. College is, after all, a weird time for anybody. J.--ever fashion-conscious--took to wearing his hair (or his hair took to wearing him) in a sort of Eraserhead/Lyle Lovett coif that sat atop his skull like brown popcorn erupting from his brainpan. (For my part, I spent a brief period dressing as if Siouxsie Sioux had wandered into an exploding Jay Jacob's outlet.) Being in Salem, Oregon, of course, we looked patently ridiculous, but we would never have known it, and we strutted around campus, obliviously clad in purest grief.

J. did love his things. He had that little trust fund cash every month, and he'd generally blow it immediately (forcing us to then use his gas card for the rest of the month; the bills conveniently went to his mother). J. was a tremendous fan of computer games, all of which he was unremittingly hopeless at. I would accompany him to the game shop and handle these mysterious games with wonder: What in the hell was "Leisure Suit Larry" and why would anyone want to play it? Because of the horrible, pixilated boobs that the cover seemed to promise? The thing cost fifty dollars. You could get a Hustler for six bucks, I thought.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise later on, given J.'s hunger for trinkets and baubles--things--that I discovered that he had bought a gun. A nine millimeter Glock, to be exact. I came across this knowledge one night when J. waved it crazily in my face.

"Check it out, man!" he crowed. He was taking aim at my forehead.

"HEY, THE FUCK!" I screamed, ducking madly. J. cackled.

"I got a gun!" he cried, quite unnecessarily. He drew fresh aim at the television. Now, I grew up with guns. I saw that he had his fucking finger on the trigger.

"Put that fucking thing down!" I howled, deftly rolling under our crumbling particleboard coffee table. "Don't shoot our fucking television!" Note my keen sense of priority. Shoot me, not the TV!

He lowered the gun. "It's not even loaded," he said calmly, fumbling out the magazine. "See?" He showed me the empty clip.

I learned later on that J. liked to sleep with the thing under his pillow. I learned this from his girlfriend at the time.

"Does he keep it loaded?" I asked incredulously.

"I assume so," she yawned. "He says there's no point in keeping an unloaded gun around."


"He's got dick issues," said my girlfriend a little nervously.

"I don't think so," replied J.'s girlfriend. "He's got a huge dick."

I didn't say anything. I already knew that. Hey, you live with a guy for two years, you're probably going to see his dick. J. really did have a goddamn hose. I figured he had to thread it between his legs and tape it up against his back.

J.'s girlfriend yawned again, and I said, "I guess it's bedtime, huh?" I was still stewing over the whole weird gun thing.

"I don't know," she said tiredly. She looked down at her lap and sighed. "Sometimes I can't even face it." There was a silence, because everyone knew she was talking about J.'s monstrous penis again. I helplessly wrestled against the barrage of double-entendre images brought to mind with her unfortunate phrasing about having to "face it," and realized I would sleep uneasily that night.

No wonder he never got that upset when he found that "RICE DICK" carved into the dust of his car.

That girlfriend really didn't last all that long--God only knows what sort of dong-y horrors drove her out--but she was soon replaced by the Pod. The Pod was, in retrospect, a clearly depressed young woman. Not because she dated J., but, well, she just was. We--my other roommate N. and I--called her the Pod because 1. she seemed to lie around all day on the couch hunkered under a green blanket, and 2. because she had magical powers, as long as one followed the ritual.

N. and I had a saying. "If you caress the Pod and care for her," we would say to each other, "wondrous things will happen."

N. and I would make sure every morning, on our way to class, to stroke the Pod's hair gently--for she was always there on the couch--and she would tiredly murmur her thanks and shimmy dolefully under her blanket. Then, in the afternoon, when we came home from class--


The apartment would be clean. (As clean as it ever got. This was, of course, a place where during one party, someone took a shit on the floor over by the phone.) There would be beer in the fridge. The noisome carpet of dead flies would be skimmed from the sink, and the dishes cleaned. And the Pod would be there, on the couch, beneath her blanket, as if she had never moved.

We would lavish praise on the Pod, once again patting her head. "This place looks great! Oh, man!" The Pod would smile wanly and continue watching The Abyss. (I'm pretty sure that during those two years in college, the only thing on television was The Abyss. At the end of the movie, the credits would roll, and then some announcer would yell, "Coming up next, don't miss . . . The Abyss!" We never did.)

We never quite understood J.'s relationship with the Pod, and nor did we dare inquire. We weren't even sure if they had sex. Perhaps the Pod employed blanket-y pseudopods to creep up the stairs and ravish J.'s tremendous penis in the night while he rapturously held his pistol in his mouth. It was best not to think about the whole thing.

Eventually, graduation rolled around, and we packed up our miserable bunches of crap. Crowbarred from her perch on the couch, the Pod looked naked and exposed. She blinked in the sunlight as we stood on the porch, getting ready to go our separate ways. The Pod sloped over to the Mitsubishi and listlessly tumbled in.

"I guess this is it," I said. I had no fucking idea what I was going to do next. I wondered if J. felt as unmoored as I did. "So what's next for you?" I asked.

J. scratched the back of his neck. "I don't know," he confessed. Another moment passed. "I've been thinking about converting the Glock to full auto, though."

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


I'm all sweaty now. I wonder if the pod would come over here.

Comment number: 015773   Posted by: i, squub on November 15, 2007 07:10 AM from IP:

Oh, my goodness...

I was one of those...Pods, that is...

I was just a friend that needed a place and agreed to clean up in exchange for the couch. I slept, ALWAYS! I got patted on the head!

This is creepy...

Comment number: 015777   Posted by: blu on November 15, 2007 09:23 AM from IP:


Comment number: 015783   Posted by: Alyxmyself on November 15, 2007 07:27 PM from IP:

I, too, dated a man with a gun under his pillow. Suffice to say, that was the ONLY thing he was packing.

Ah, college. Good times.

Comment number: 015792   Posted by: myrall on November 16, 2007 04:23 AM from IP:

I have no words. That post was just awesome.

Comment number: 015795   Posted by: superblondgirl on November 16, 2007 08:32 AM from IP:

um, FYI, "twink" is a gay-only word. saying that you and your friend are twinks implies you are both interested in man-hunting goodness. i am telling you this cos i am teh gay and therefore can inform you with authority on all things gay-like.

Comment number: 015806   Posted by: Christian on November 16, 2007 05:23 PM from IP:

Awesome piece of writing.

fyi, here in New Zealand "Twink" is the brand name for correction fluid.

Comment number: 015816   Posted by: Chaz on November 17, 2007 11:25 AM from IP:

I had a friend with a dong like that. His girlfriend said she was never quite sure if she should suck it, or put it over her shoulder and burp it...

Comment number: 015874   Posted by: Floober on November 26, 2007 03:35 PM from IP:

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