The Stuff I Get Myself Into

from Nick Suss

April 10, 2013, 2:05 p.m.

I had been here before. I knew it the second I committed myself. I had made a much publicized mistake of the sorts in the past and I just openly let it happen again. Maybe I’m a masochist, But something had to be different this time, right? Am I insane for thinking that things change or am I insane for assuming that things can’t change? I chose the latter. Four days have passed and I still haven’t decided if I was right.

All of this really started on Friday night. There was an open mic night in the basement of my building. Scrap that. It started where all of my stories start. Before the open mic night there was a trivia night in the dining hall next to where I live. I played in that trivia night because, well c’mon it’s me and trivia, and I did okay until the last few questions. Then I turned it on. And I sent it to a tie breaker between my team and a team at a table adjacent to us called “The Brumby Beauties.” (Brumby is the name of the 9-story all-female resident hall on campus. If that gives you more insight to the team name I have done my job.) The tie-breaker question involved us being given the title of five Disney Animated Features and answering with the name of the villain in each film. FINALLY! A practical application for my unending years of Kingdom Hearts! But I knew it would be close because girls are gonna be girls. But, they weren’t. Oddly enough, they could only get one of the five while I got five out of five. I won. And I was swaggering around like the trivia douche I am when I turned the answer in. Yes, I was conscientious and talked to them after the game, but I really was riding the euphoric high that only trivia can do to me. So I was amped. And then the open mic night happened. I walked into the basement with my water bottle and Zaxby’s gift card for 10 dollars I had won as if I was holding the Holy Grail and a never ending supply of the greatest substance known to man. (Oreos?) When I arrived, the Hall Council was still setting up despite the fact that the program was supposed to have begun five minutes prior. I helped set up. And I talked up winning trivia to my friends as if, no, I have already used a trivia simile. I’m not going to use another. I talked myself up, okay. So then people started asking me what I was doing for open mic night. And I said that I hadn’t signed up. That surprised them. But it didn’t surprise me. I had no tangible talents to be showcased. I can’t sing. I can’t dance. Trivia is not a talent one can display with a microphone. I don’t rip-rap like the cool kids from the hizzay nor can I recite beat poetry that I have written with perfect rhythm. My truest talent, really long winded essays about stuff that people really don’t need to know but feel like they need to know because of pity and a weird connection to me, is not something that would fit in the time limit or engage anyone. So I hadn’t planned on performing. But I was coerced. Fine, I sort of chose to also. I can’t help myself; I really like to perform sometimes. And so without me even saying it, you guys know what I did. You know me, you know what I’m about. I told jokes. I did “stand-up.” And I use the quotations because I don’t really think what I do qualifies as stand-up. Because I don’t really tell jokes. When I try to tell jokes, it comes off as sad. But when I try to make people feel uncomfortable, people laugh hysterically. I guess I’m just bad at comedy because I’m good at comedy. I don’t know. But anyway, I was the third person on, after two of my friends doing solo acts with guitars (and harmonica in one case) and before those two friends banding up as A Lot More Less. So I had fulfilled a dream of mine of being the crappy standup before a college band. (That’s a weird dream to have.) And I got on.

I started off by saying that I hadn’t planned on going tonight and all of this would be spur of the moment. You know as well as I do that that had been a lie. I do standup on you guys all the time, it’s just disguised as conversation. I’m good like that. I then went into my bit about how much I hate Halloween. That got some chuckles, but mostly from when I insulted someone for liking Milky Ways and made fun of myself for being slow and out of shape. Then I did it. I used the three questions. It’s the funniest thing I’ve got. I might as well use them. (If you don’t know me but read the site from someone you know that knows me, ask them about the three awkward conversation starters. If you know me and don’t known the questions, that is by design. They really are that awkward. You can ask me, but you will be disappointed in me. I’m talking directly to you Mom and Dad. I know you’re reading this right now and thinking “Ah, they can’t be that bad, I want to hear them. YOU DON’T. Let it go. The fact that I have devoted that much time into explaining to you that you don’t need to ask me about it is proof enough that you don’t.) Those things freaking KILLED! It was a laugh riot. I changed the second question slightly to make it more dorm centric and not to gross people out, but I changed nothing about the genius that is the third question. I asked for a volunteer. I got a volunteer. She did exactly what I wanted. People laughed at me as much as they laughed at her. For the first time, this landed in a foreign audience. And I was confident. For the rest of the night I was confident. I would crack wise comments between acts. I arranged people to dance when people would sing familiar songs. People, check that, person egged me on to go back on stage (floor with a lamp) but I was out of SFW material. (Yes, I consider the questions SFW. You should hear some of my other stuff I got rattling around in my head.) But yeah, I was confident. That’s not necessarily something I’m all that accustomed to. But I was. People told me that I was great. Being me, I called them liars and they laughed more. I was playing a character. (As if I don’t just play a character in real life. No one knows the real me. I’m actually from Bulgaria.) Other people told me that I should find an open comedy night at a club and perform because I have what it takes. What makes them Simon Cowells of comedy? Is Simon Cowell the Simon Cowell of comedy? Seriously though, people thought I was funny. And when you add trivia night victory and standup comedy success together, you know I’m gonna think I’m invincible.

So Saturday rolled along like Rosie O’Donnell down a hill. I woke up. I got ready, went downstairs and ate lunch. It was 11 o’clock. That’s early for me on a Saturday, especially when I had stayed up until 2 am watching Batman Beyond and Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix with a friend. (I know I’m fifteen years late and only two episodes in, but Buffy is pretty good. I assume more will come of that later. Not later in this article, just later in life.) But the G-Day scrimmage was Saturday at one and I wanted to go to that to watch football. My friends wanted to go to it because they think day drinking is the coolest and bestest thing that humans can like ever do in like their whole entire lives! That kind of disgusted me, but not because of the drinking. By that I mean the sentence where I jokingly used like incorrectly. But I digress. The game wasn’t all that fun. Spring games aren’t that fun when you aren’t playing in them. But it was cool. So I was satisfied and I assumed my day was over. And you know what they say about assuming. Do it.

I got back to my dorm, considerably after everyone else because I stayed deeper into the game and got there earlier to boot, and I had a feeling people would be in my room and I didn’t want that so I just got my laptop and went downstairs back to the basement. Friends was on. I probably might have mentioned this before, but I like that show. A lot. A lot more then is healthy. Too much. Okay. It’s ridiculous how much I like that show to the point that I can name almost every episode by title within a minute of watching the show. And I can recite a lot of the jokes. It’s not that much fun to watch Friends with me. Unless you’re me. Then it’s really fun. So Friends was on. And I was still in the process of typing up a completely unfinished sitcom script of my own, so Friends was inspiration. For the record, this is irrelevant to the story. I just like Friends, so I wanted to type about it. I go back upstairs after two and a half hours in the basement. It’s about 6 at this point. When I get back upstairs, my next door neighbor tells me that we were gonna go play volleyball with a friend of his and some of her friends. I said okay, because volleyball is fun when you can guarantee you’re going to be the tallest person there. And unless his friend had some 6’3” female friends, I was pretty confident that I would be the tallest. So we showed up. Counting me, four people came from my floor. Counting the friend, one person came from the side of the net. So we had five people. And we played. And my roommate punched the ground and yelled at himself angrily when he could demonstrate his domain over the ball. (Seriously, what was the ball thinking? It should’ve known he would defeat it. Why didn’t it just give up?) We play for about a half an hour. Then my neighbor’s friend gets a text message.

“So any of you guys interested on going on a blind date tonight,” she asked with the inflection of someone entirely to giddy for the situation. She is a positive person. “She’s really pretty and nice and her date just canceled on her for swing dancing. Do any of you nice gentlemen want to go with her?” She looked at my roommate. “I have a girlfriend,” he said without emotion or inflection. He was still in game mode. She looked at his friend John. John does not go to UGA. “I don’t go here,” John said. “So I don’t really have the clothes.” She looked at me. “I don’t really have an excuse I guess,” I said externally. “Why am I about to do this, I know this is a bad idea. This has never worked out for me in the past, and I’m me. There is no way that this can work on such short notice. Again I’m me. But on the other hand, she is a girl. I do like that. Let’s make a positive/negative chart shall we? On one hand, I have never met her before and blind dates have never worked in the past for me, but on the other hand, girl. On one hand I have not showered yet today and probably wouldn’t have anything to wear, but on the other hand, girl. I don’t know how to swing dance and would probably look like a fool, but on the other hand girl. I guess I’ll do it. This shouldn’t be this bad,” I schizophrenically argued with myself internally. Externally again, I said “You know what, sure. I’ll do it.” “It’s awesome there are guys like you,” the girl who had proposed the proposition (as if you can do anything else with a proposition) said. At least that’s what I think she said. I was moving pretty fast and was still riding the kind of high from the success of the night before. For all I know, she might have said “You’re gonna fail asshole. I hope you die from lead poisoning.” I really hope she didn’t say that, but right now let’s just mark that down as a possibility. And I was off to the races. I had about ten minutes to make myself presentable enough for a date.

I put on more deodorant. I changed into a black polo shirt (yes, the same black polo from Try Everything Once ) and some khaki shorts. It was hot enough out that no one would be wearing pants. I didn’t think I would be over dressed. I got a text while I was dressing from a number I didn’t recognize. It said “Hello Blind Date!” I assumed this was the girl. I assumed correctly. I responded “Hello.” Notice the punctuation. She was exclamatory and I was declarative. “WE WERE POLAR OPPOSITES! NOTHING COULD GO RIGHT” I overreacted, quite ironically using an exclamation point for that one. I told her to meet me outside the dining hall. I sat outside the dining hall. Music was playing from inside the dining hall. From inside the dining hall I hear the song “Don’t Look Back in Anger by Oasis,” and I rather like that song. “If you slip inside the eye of your mind, don’t you know you might find a better place to play,” the song begins. I once wrote a Laws of Life paper in high school using that quote about broadening my horizons. That might have been a sign. I slipped inside the eye of my mind for a memory.

None of you probably remember this, but in the eighth grade I got disastrously close to having my first girlfriend. That would’ve been, as I said, disastrous, but I did get within a moment’s touch of asking a girl out on a date. It was April. I remember this because baseball season had just began and in PE we were preparing for field day by playing outside and breaking up into games of “do whatever you want ball.” I was playing football with three or four friends. We had been systematically excluded from the cool person game of football and we didn’t care. I remember a time two years before that where the coaches made our team of the uncool face off against the cool team and we, mostly Brett and I, schooled the cool. So I didn’t care. In our sad game of two-on-two PE middle school touch football, two girls asked if they could play. The other three guys scoffed as if the girls had asked them to commit arson on an orphanage for the insurance money. But I said okay, much to the surprise of the girls and guys. I really was saying “aw, what the hell,” but it was middle school and I was afraid to say hell. So they played with us, and I as quarterback threw the ball to them as often as I threw the ball to the others. They smiled and smiled and I smiled and smiled because isn’t PE a wonderful place and being 13 years old is so awesome. But because of my overt machismo and irresistible sexual aura, one of the girls developed a crush on me. I was told that by a mutual friend. Well, he was her friend, I didn’t like him all too much. This was on a Wednesday. On that next Friday afternoon when I had returned home from school and was, in all reality probably watching Friends then too, I received a phone call from her. She was inviting me to accompany her and her family, along with the aforementioned kind of my friend, to Atlanta to see a Braves game together. I shook and convulsed like a spooked Chihuahua staring into the face of a grizzly bear. My voice cracked. I trembled. I mustered enough courage to say I’ll call you back. Later in the night I realized I had a project to do and couldn’t go, but at that moment I understood that she liked me. I talked to my parents. They encouraged me to do what I thought was best and in perhaps the most uncharacteristic moment in my entire life I decided I would ask her out on a date. (I know, right. How have you not heard this story before?) So Monday rolls around. I had decided I would ask her if she wanted to be my girlfriend during PE. She had a different teacher than I did, so she was outside and I was inside, but I told the intermediary kid to have her meet me in the hallway beside the concession stand at Riverwatch at a certain time. I waited by playing basketball. I played nervously. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. I couldn’t control my nerves and anticipation. The time came. I walked out into the hallway. I saw her face through the glass window in the door and she and I made eye contact. I smiled. She looked at me and just ran away. I was momentarily devastated. Then I realized that she was afraid of me. And in that moment I vowed to not ask her out. I vowed that anyone who was afraid to talk to me was not someone for me. And in that moment, I burned the first bridge I had as a chance for a girlfriend. Yes, I probably wasn’t ready to begin with, but what could’ve been? I psyched myself out and just assumed things would go badly because of an impulse decision that an eighth grade girl (a demographic known for rational behavior) made in an instant. I think about that decision I made a lot. Especially in situations like this one.

“So, Sally can wait. She’s knows it’s too late as she’s walking on by. My soul slides away. But don’t look back in anger. Don’t look back in anger. I heard you say. At least not today.” The song ended. I looked for any girl who looked pretty and nice, as that was the only description I had gotten of her. I also looked for closed-toed shoes. It was warm enough that almost all girls were wearing their flippy-floppies. So I knew if I saw someone in sensible footwear then that would be my girl. I waited. I waited some more. I went back upstairs to grab some cash, upon request from her text she sent me later. I came back down and sat on my perch. My excited friends could barely believe that I had consented to do such a thing after last time. Contrary to the Sheldon Cooper-esque asexual persona that I convey on a daily basis, I really do have a less than logical outlook on girls occasionally. Mais, je suis maladroit. So I continued to wait. And then she arrived.

Somehow, we both just kind of knew that we were there to meet one another. She instantly looked at me, probably because I was the only person there that was not with other people and was moderately dressed up, and I to her, probably because she had gravitated to me. We shook hands, I think, I can’t really remember. But we made small chat. I learned her name and she mine. She told me we had to wait a couple of minutes because one of her friends had to grab a key for something or other, my memory is forsaking me of the details of this moment. What I do remember is that my roommate, my neighbor, and his friend all walked into the dining hall as we waited and chatted, each inputting their own opinions into the situation. The friend said “See. Told you she was pretty.” I politely chuckled. Not because I thought she was lying, but because I felt it was the right thing to do. That laugh didn’t really make sense in retrospect, but I am literally the only person in the world neurotic enough to analyze when chuckling at what may or may not have been a joke is inappropriate. A minute or two more of conversation and basic getting to know you questions passed and her other friend arrived with a key. We were off.

It was about 8 o’clock at this point. I remember because it was in the middle of the second half of the Louisville vs. Wichita St. game. I also remember because I checked my phone a lot. The two friends, who didn’t know me but knew each other, naturally talked to each other. I chimed in every once in a while with what I thought was something witty or significant, but ended up being probably pathetic and sad. Maybe I’m just being hard on myself. When did this turn into a diary entry analyzing my psyche? I’ve got a story to tell. We arrived at the next place we had to be to pick up the other friend’s date, waited there for long enough for me to hear an infuriatingly incorrect conversation between four guys about the plot of the Hangover 2, and then began to walk as a foursome to Herty Field where the night would take place. The friend’s date was practically in a tux. I was not. That didn’t feel too good, but in my defense it was short notice. Out of my defense, had it not been short notice, all I would’ve done different would’ve been shower and wear a pair of pants that didn’t have a gaping crotch hole. We got to the party. It was a fundraiser for some cause that had to do with preventing diseases in children. I don’t say it that way as to disparage the cause, I just don’t quite know what the organization CURE does per se. I can tell you however that as it was a fundraiser funds needed to be raised. I paid for her ticket. It totaled to fifteen dollars. I think she said thank you. I think I said you’re welcome. Either that or any time. Any time would’ve been a lot smoother, but I probably didn’t say it. You know what, I might have. Am I smooth? DAMMIT! GET TO THE POINT! Sorry. We got there and there was food. That was good. I hadn’t eaten yet. It was Chick-fil-A and snacks and water. I am a huge proponent of snacks and water, so two outta three ain’t bad. The four of us ate for a while and then it was time to shake our groove thangs as no one would say. I looked at my date and told her I had never swung before. (Swang? Swinged? Swungded?) She told me it was okay and she had never done so either. That comforted me. We went out there and watched other people. They were far better than we hoped. Now we would look even sillier. (As if someone on a date with me could look sillier.) We talked to some people and they showed us some moves. Then we tried it on our own. It was rough. I messed up far more often than she did. I couldn’t get most of the steps right. It’s odd, because I could tell you the steps any player on the offensive side of a football field should make on any given play, but I can’t memorize the single pretzel. I’m just not that good of a dancer. It’s not a skill I’m sad I lack. She wasn’t all that great either for the record, but it was obvious that I was holding her back. But you guys obviously don’t care about the technical aspects of the night.

Yes, okay, she was nice. Fine, we had a good time. We smiled a lot. Most of it was based off of the fact that it’s impossible not to smile when you’re doing the adult equivalent of playing Ring-Around-the-Rosie. But also because we may have actually been enjoying ourselves. I dunno. I’m probably just being bashful because I remember smiling the whole time. Maybe it was because I was actually doing something on a Saturday instead of holding a one-man pity party in my room. Maybe it’s because the field was lit up well and there was a fountain in the background and there was a live band that was playing exclusively The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and other bands I like. Or maybe it was because for the first time in my life I allowed myself to have fun in a foreign setting. But the band was really good. We talked about the music a lot. She is a music minor and she liked a lot of the songs that I liked that night. She played soccer in high school, I learned, and she also mentioned that she had gone on a long bike ride that day. I had done nothing that day, so I stayed quiet. That’s a lie. I can’t stay quiet. But I probably just talked about something else. Wazzy was there with his girlfriend. I talked to them a little bit. A talked to her friends too; she had a lot of them there. All in all I think there were five or six kids that went to Lambert there. Each of them was better at swinging than me. We danced for what amounted to three hours if you don’t take into account the breaks for food and water that we took. (Because of her, not me. I’m lazy, but I’m not lazy enough to dictate the pace of a date.) As the night ended to the sounds of Rock Around the Clock and people were herded off of the field, the four of us departed on our own terms. I remember the walk back quite vividly.

She said “Oh, why not.” I was confused for a moment and then she hooked her arm inside of mine. My hand was in my pocket. I didn’t know what to do with my hands while this was going on, so I just left it there. That may have left me in a back situation for my shoulder, but had I moved I felt that she would’ve thought I was rejecting her. I know, I was being neurotic again. We walked through the University Garden on the way back. We walked through it on the way there too, but this time I actually realized that it was a garden. The Sigma Chi house was having a party down the road and the bass was bumping far enough that we could hear it from a mile away. We chatted about that. We chatted about other things. Talking is the thing I’m good at, remember? Then we got to her dorm.

This ended either better or worse than last time. It was better because a drunk girl didn’t tell me her deepest secret barely an hour removed from licking my hand. It was worse because I was put in a situation where I didn’t know what to do. We arrived at the hand scanner for the door to get into her hall. It appeared to me that the friend’s date was not going inside with them. I assumed from there that it was not my business either. So all I did was the gentlemanly thing and held the door open and said goodnight. It was 11:15. I said goodbye to the friend’s date outside. He said I’ll talk to you later. I assumed that meant we were friends now. I was okay with that, be we have yet to be in correspondence. He might have been lying. I made it back to my dorm in time for SNL, which was something that I had been aware of all night. I need help. I gave my tipsy friends (that’s all they were at this point) exactly four minutes to ask me questions about the night. The first one they asked was are you going to see her again.

I did. The next morning in fact, I saw her again. I had planned on texting her later in the day and saying thanks for the night, I had fun and we should do something like this again sometime. That would’ve been good. But I didn’t do it because I saw her again. And she was with the two friends I had met, the one from volleyball and the one from the dancing. So I sat with them. And I talked to them for a few minutes. It was probably about 15 minutes.

It has now been three days since then. I have a few decisions to make.


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