from Nick Suss
June 2, 2014, 2:29 p.m.
She, the girl I had just met, said something like that. I, the person who you all know have no shame, said.
I, the out-of-shape and usually-sane human being, said. She, a friend of a friend unaccustomed to my hijinks, thought me to be joking.
I, the person who overcommits to jokes, said.
The room, a veritable Grecian chorus of names I once heard in long-forgotten stories, replied.
Two other idiots, one of whom I’ve known for nearly my whole life and the other of whom I could barely remember a first initial, said.
I, now weary of the consequences of my actions, said to the original brunt of the joke.
She, still uncured of her hiccups, said as two complete strangers and an old friend of hers darted barefoot out the front door of the house out onto the cold, slick front porch only to be greeted by more befuddled faces.
I’m glad I deadpanned that line. It was a like a scene out of a movie. You know, one of those scenes where a group of people decides to do something ridiculous but they think it’s totally normal. One of those scenes. The porch-goers watched confusedly as the three of us sprinted toward the end of the driveway. Then it became like another movie scene. You know that part in Forrest Gump – of course you do – the one where Forrest decides he’s going to start running? How first he just runs to the end of the driveway? Then the street. Then the town. Then he runs straight out of Greenbow County. It was one of those things. We ran out of the cul-de-sac. Then we ran uphill to the top of the street. Then we ran uphill to the top of North River. Then we ran to the main road. Then we ran to the neighborhood pool. And we would have kept running. But that was a mile and I don’t have that kind of endurance. So like Forrest when he hit an unpassable body of water, we turned around and did it again. In all, not counting the legs I lazily walked, we probably ran a total of two miles.
As a joke.
That’s the sort of thing we do in the month of May. By we, I mean college students. And by sort of thing, I mean get bored and find activity. May is a weird month in the life of a college student. It isn’t like high school May. High School May is the worst. College May is to High School May what tasting chocolate for the first time is to being kicked in the stomach. There is no exaggeration there whatsoever. For a large portion of college students like myself, College May is an oxymoron; it’s a month where every single inhibition you had because of college can slide smoothly like a 12-pound ball curving towards 10 pins. (We’ll get there.) Even for the people who choose to take classes during Maymester or are put to work, the pure thrill of not having a full college workload is exhilarating. But it’s also tremendously boring.
I’m used to a certain degree of business. Spring semester of college to me meant waking up at 8 a.m. and staying up until 2:30 a.m. just to have enough hours in the day to feel like I still need six more hours. And I was one of the least busy people I knew. In other words, college-ing ain’t easy. But that’s not to complain. I love college. I love a lot of things about it. And as a person who would probably be accurately defined as a type-A-and-a-half personality, this kind of stress is exactly what I needed. But it also felt good to not be that busy. So my first week of being home from school was awesome. I did what I needed to do, I still got work done and managed to not watch Netflix for a full two weeks somehow, but I didn’t do a shred more. I allowed myself to just unwind. But eventually I realized one thing:
Unwinding isn’t all that fun.
As much fun as six-hour FXX marathons were (Story Coming Soon), they couldn’t quite compare with six-hour work binges crammed in between a class period and a baseball game I had to be at. Although one was heaven and one was less heaven, every single part of me missed being up against the clock. When I played football in high school, I used to say something weird. I would always say that when I was at school, all I could think about was being at home. When I was at home, all I could think about was football. When I was on the football field, all I could think about was school. Joni Mitchell said it better. “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?” I don’t know if it’s just me or if I’m speaking to a large faction of you, but it’s kind of hard to live in the moment. I’ve always found it hard at least. The moment never compares with the memory, at least when every memory has been idealized.
But that’s what makes College May so great. You have time. And time is awesome. Time is the best gift. Time is all you need to make new memories you can idealize later.
I made three awesome personal memories this May. Sure, there were things that made me proud and things that made me happy and things that made me cry. In a few occasions, there were things that made me all three simultaneously. (Yeah. I’m man enough to admit it. Sometimes I cry. You got a problem with that?) But three memories stick out on a personal level. I’ll explain that first story a little later. For now I’m going to tell you a story you could have easily monitored @nicksuss.
When we heard the word “teams,” we knew we had a shot. We may not have been smart enough to know that a thrush is a horse disease, but we were coordinated enough to execute a nearly-flawless eight-way high five and we almost never missed sports questions. I was sweating through my number 33 Michael Griffin jersey. It’s rather difficult to listen to two things at once, especially when those two things are the two most important things in your life. The Trivia Gods have always had a knack for timing, but never quite anything like this. The clock was ticking down. But Lou was also deejaying. To quote Ron Burgundy, I was in a pickle.
We knew the Yankees were worth more than the Dodgers. That much seemed obvious. We knew Real Madrid was worth more than the Yankees. You weren’t going to trick us with that. We were on. But then there were the Redskins. We knew they were the most valuable NFL team. It doesn’t make sense, but we knew it to be true. But how would the most valuable NFL team stack up against the second-most valuable MLB team? That’s the tough differentiation to make. We came to a consensus. Real dwarfed Yankees dwarfed Redskins dwarfed Dodgers. We were sure. We held those truths to be just as self-evident as the Founding Fathers thought of the idea that all men were created equal. We confidently smacked the number 20 onto a little slip of paper. We were all in.
But something else was in. The pick was in. The 10th pick of the 2014 National Football League Draft to be specific. That pick was held by the Titans of Tennessee, perhaps the only team in the world I identify with more than the Turtles on the Fencepost. (You can take that last dependent clause to be hyperbolic if you want. I don’t know if I will though.) At this point I was pacing back and forth between the chair in which I was planted all night and the wooden divider against which two of my teammates leaned. More than a few things were at stake. Not only did the future of the franchise I love way too much hinge upon the next name Roger Goodell would read, but 40 bucks and a summer of bragging rights were on the table. Goodell would speak first.
I made an ass of myself.
Lou spoke next.
I made a bigger ass of myself.
That night I took home three things: a reaffirmation in the logical strengths of the Tennessee Titans franchise, some pride in the knowledge that my friends and I know a lot about sports and a gift certificate worth 40 dollars on which the phrase “First Place” was written.
Alright fine. That was a trivia story. But it’s awesome. And I think it qualifies as serendipitous. I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure what serendipitous means. I’ll look it up. Nope. It wasn’t serendipitous in the slightest. But it was awesome. We came back from a doubled-digit deficit and rallied from fifth place to first place with one question. And that happened while the Titans made a good draft pick. Pretty much the greatest moment of my life. Here’s another story for you. I promise there will be no more trivia. And as an extra promise, there will be no fantasy baseball stories, but do I have some for you or what. NO! Resisting the urge. Swallowing sadness. Moving on.
“You know what I should’ve said?”
You have no idea how many of my stories begin with that line. The only phrases I begin more sentences with are “Here’s the thing” and “What was I going to say?” But this time, I really should’ve said it. Because it would have been awesome.
You see, I was with a few friends at the local rec center. We were trying to play a few games of 2-on-2 basketball. The games were almost never fair, but we had fun for two reasons. The first reason was that we have fun playing basketball, the second and main reason was because we’re nerds and we can make fun out of bizarre situations. Here’s the thing: there were some young children at the rec center that day. Of course, when I say “young children,” I mean freshmen in high school. As you likely know and definitely remember, high school freshmen are the worst. 14-year olds are the scourge of society. And these chitlins were no exception.
There are limited courts at the rec center. There are two, actually. Those two courts total to having six baskets each, but in all truth no more than four can be used at any one time. So sometimes, larger parties either have to break up or play pickup games while smaller parties such as ours could vulture single baskets and lock down a corner. Now the hell hounds were circling the only way 14-year old boys know how to. By that I mean they were lobbing senseless threats and insults in the direction of my three friends and I. They would obviously not try to provoke me, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound man with a beard, I’m scary. But I told them to. I improvised a Letterman-esque Top 10 list of things they should make fun of me. They rather appreciate the ammunition. Somehow they had missed my comically large ears and they were happy to be able to pick on me for that. But they much preferred making fun of my lack of basketball ability. It was extremely evident that day that I was a subpar basketball player. And that’s if subpar means phenomenally poor. So they picked on me. And they picked on my friends. The highlight of the affair had to be when they picked on a friend of mine for being Indian despite the fact that he wasn’t Indian and there was a group of Indian people within earshot who would’ve taken offense to what they were saying. So I let them play their games. Because I was playing mine.
But when I tired of the championship bout worth of reverse sarcasm I had left on the floor, their shtick had too gone cold. So they went to the other side of the court. All was peaceful in the galaxy until I heard one of the infants yell “Well, my balls are bigger!”
I turned my head to see my non-Indian friend already halfway down the court to break up the fight forming between one of the most vocal of the youngins and one of the players in another game. Though the two people claimed they were the same age, the aggressor, my “bully,” was a solid eight inches shorter than the person who he claimed his balls were bigger than. Two thoughts crossed my mind. Firstly, I wondered if my friends and I were that bad at smack talk when we were their age. Seriously. Whenever the phrase “You’re a p***y” is followed by the line “Then show me your balls and prove it,” you’re straddling a fine line between fighting and accidental foreplay. Secondly, that kid was about to die. I had to step in.
The thing was, no matter how many times I stepped in, the little whirling dervish wouldn’t stop trying to fight. I had to stop playing games I was in the middle of just to prevent this kid from having his head bashed in. And stopping was difficult for me. Not because I really wanted to play basketball. I mean stopping literally. I had pulled my butt muscle bowling earlier in the week because I’m an athlete. But anyway, one of his friends stopped me and asked me why I kept breaking up the fight. I responded that I didn’t want to see someone get killed. Also, I pointed to the sign on the wall that said fighting may result in a one year suspension. He laughed at my sincerity. Later on in the day when I was talking to one of my good friends who was there with me, I thought of what I should’ve said. Here it is.
“You know why I don’t want to see a fight today? You really want to know? Well here it is: I just wish someone was here to tell me to break up a fight when I was your age. Because if there was someone like me around a few years back, I could’ve avoided most of the hardship I’ve faced. You see kid, I never was one to get in fights. But I had a good friend who was. He wasn’t as good of a fighter as he once was, but he had more confidence in himself than anyone I’d ever met. He would never back down from a challenge. And there was this one day we were at a place a lot like this. There was this dude a lot bigger than he was and he wanted to fight him. I didn’t think needed to stop him. And he told me not to. He looked me in the eyes and told me no matter what, I shouldn’t stop him. I had his back. But I could tell he was in over his head. The big brute just kept hitting him and hitting him and hitting him. Before I could even yell out his name, the Eastern European menace had knocked out my best friend cold. I was terrified. The towel fell out of my hand. I stared the other guy in the eyes. He looked back at me. And with no emotion, he said ‘If he dies, he dies.’
That was a long way for a Rocky IV reference, but I think I pulled it off. Let’s move on to our final story of the post. This one is my favorite of the month of May. And, if you think all the way back to the introduction of this story, it will explain what the hell I was doing. Enjoy.
When you only get to see one of your best friends once a year, you try to make the best of it. I was put in this circumstance a few weeks back. And I definitely wanted to make the best of it. A good part of me thinks I did. But that also involves making a complete fool of myself, which I habitually do. So that wasn’t that big of a deal.
This is what I mean. There were a lot of people at his house that day. He invited a lot of his friends over. I, for one, was not actually invited. I just kind of walked to his house and opened the door. I’ve been there enough. I don’t feel a need to knock anymore. When I got there he had a total of two friends over. By the end of the night, I think six more would join us. And that isn’t counting his four siblings or his parents or the other friends that came along with me. Needless to say, it was a packed house. And aside from the people from Crab Valley, the pleasant nickname we have given our street for surprisingly clean reasons better left unexplained, I knew pretty much nobody there. Despite this, I had heard stories about nearly every one of the people there and they about me. That can’t have been good. Stories about me not told by me tend to make me come off as a, well, you can imagine that yourself. But this is what I’ve heard when people talk about me. They normally begin by complimenting my intellect then saying how much I talk and then citing something stupid I’ve done. And it’s never anything criminally stupid, just dumb stupid. Like how I can recite almost every episode of Friends. Or how I know more about baseball history than I know about myself. Or the time that I commentated an entire game of Mario Baseball that I wasn’t even playing to the tune of the Axis of Awesome’s 4 Chords song substituting my own words into the tune off the top of my head. Like that kind of stupid. So naturally, around people I’d never met and had the opportunity to create a clean slate, I tried my hardest to prove those stories to be true.
I don’t censor myself around people. I like to come on strong. That’s one of my biggest problems. From the moment you meet me, you tend to know all of me. I have a filter, I know which words to say and which words not to say, but I just say a lot of the words I can say. Needless to mention, these people did not know what to think of me. From the stories I heard about them from my friend, I knew that there would be predominantly girls there. And I’m not in middle school anymore, so I’m pretty okay with this. But I also know that historically it is tougher for girls to catch on to my humor. Let’s be honest, how many girls have gotten this far into the post? Maybe three of you? But anyway, that just meant I had to come on stronger.
We began the day by playing a friendly game of Diplomacy. If you’ve never played it before, try to as soon as possible. It’s the best board game ever. As a teammate, I was paired with my friend’s girlfriend. As he put it, pairing the two of us together is like pairing the most conniving player with the least conniving player. I preferred to say it was like having The Joker pair up with a civilian. Here’s the rationale for that. I don’t play board games to win. I play board games to watch the world burn. I like to incite trouble. And in a game like Diplomacy, inciting trouble is all too easy. It’s as simple as a lie and a loophole. But never mind my board game idiocy. It was how I acted that made me the happiest. People began to label me immediately. Which is what I wanted. Why I wanted that, I don’t know. But I do know that it made me happy.
I went home shortly after the game ended to eat dinner. But we reconvened a few hours later to play a friendly game of Mafia. I don’t particularly like playing games at parties, I prefer to just talk because, as you are aware, I’m the king of rambling. But Mafia is always fun because it allows me to prove my skills of deceit. Unluckily, I was always a common person in the game. (I’m not going to explain the rules. Just take that as what it is.) So I was always on the defensive. Because of the reputation I had built up in Diplomacy, I was a target. Big time. So I ran the gamut of defensive strategies and managed to keep myself alive for quite some time. Which is nice. But we stopped playing around 11:30. It was about that time when one of the girls continued her complaining about having the hiccups. I don’t mean complaining negatively, she legitimately had room to gripe. She’d been hiccing up for a couple of hours. Why that pushed my mind to want to jog I’ll never know. But three of us did. If they didn’t already consider me a weirdo, they did after that.
So if any of you have stumbled upon this, here’s something directly for you. I’m not that crazy. I’m not that impulsive. I just like to come on strong. And I also like the make you read 3600 words before you get to the apology. Sorry for that too.
So that was my College May. From the looks of it, College June will be an interesting experiment as well. Here’s hoping.