I'm not sure why I continue to flip through my college alumni magazine before throwing it in the trash, I'd be much better off taking it there straight from the mailbox. Actually, the way the recycling barrels are placed I could stand at the mailbox and chuck it over the porch in one graceful, socially responsible arc. The most useful thing about this magazine is that it stands as a record that white upper middle class lawyers and accountants not only date drunkenly, mate clad in Vera Wang, reproduce tastefully, grow old in the country house, and die at a clambake, but they are vain enough to request publication of the photographic evidence of these milestones in a magazine that is sent to thousands of people who either don't have a clue who they are or only vaguely remember them throwing up after a bad grinder at Mr. G's.
All that aside, I'm not really disgusted by it, people have a right to share their stories; God knows you wouldn't be here if you didn't agree. So when I saw a highlighted box in the corner of a page that said "ROOMMATE STORIES! Send your best (funniest, most exasperating!) roommate stories to us and you (and your former roomie!) may be featured," I knew the time had come for me to be improperly kerned along with my advertising executive brethren and sistren.
My freshman roommate was from Westport and her name was Wendy. By the time she arrived at our double in Larrabee, I'd already taken the best bed and taped up all my Clash and Sex Pistols posters, and I sat on my desk intimidatingly eating a box of Wheat Thins while her mother helped her unpack and hang up all her clothes on plastic hangers. When everything was folded and put away, I watched as Wendy rather reluctantly taped up a small print of a sailing scene. The beauty of the room's feng shui was that when I lay in bed I got to stare at her sailing scene, and when she lay in bed she had to look at Johnny Rotten.
About two weeks into a shared avoidance, we had a short talk and agreed that we really weren't cut out to be roommates, and I volunteered to ask the R.A. if we could be reassigned. The R.A. was a senior who was a lot shorter than me, and my reasoning was so thoughtful and free of blame (read: unfreshmanlike) that she agreed to file the paperwork and put us on a waiting list for single rooms.
The thing was, once we admitted we didn't really like each other that much, we became a lot more relaxed around each other, and one night we decided to have a wine and cheese party for ourselves and a couple of other new freshmen. This was back when the drinking age was 18 and the liquor store would deliver your jug of Mountain Chablis right to your dorm room (and they'd take a check), so after scrounging some plastic cups, a plateful of unbroken water crackers, and a hunk of gouda from Stew Leonard's, we got good and drunk and laughed our asses off. The next morning, when we discovered the red wax from the cheese balled up and stuck to the ceiling, we decided that we were okay being roommates after all. At the end of the year Wendy's mom came and packed her back up, and when we scraped the ball of red wax off the ceiling I bawled. For some reason this made Wendy uncomfortable, and after a sweaty hug she got in the car and drove away. I turned to cry on my boyfriend's shoulder, but the fucker gave me some excuse about having to study for his last final.
The last time I saw Wendy I had brought a different boyfriend up to visit her in Westport. She took us sailing, and he stared in awe at her ass the entire time. She got married and had a baby a good ten years before I did, and then I left New York and we lost touch, but I still have fond memories of my boyfriend and her ass before I went below and passed out in a dramamine fog.
I'm not sure my alumni magazine will publish this, but I'm going to send it to them as is, and maybe I'll be one of the few, the lucky, the Madras-clad! My memories glimmering at people who don't give a shit, gathering dust on Stickley nightstands all summer long.