Colledge: Part One

I drove up the steadily increasing incline of the freeway with the sound of “My Grandfather’s Clock” coming through my car speakers and teaching my children about the inevitability of mortality. My wife’s sleeping head slowly bounced off of the front of her neck while she enjoyed a much needed rest from the weekly perils of motherhood. I pulled up over the summit of the road as it wound around the corner of the Wasatch Mountains affectionately known as the “Point of the Mountain”. This geographic landmark serves to separate the suburban sprawl of the valley I was exiting and the eerie dystopia of the valley I was entering. A flood of memories lapped up onto the shores of my brain along with the sickening feeling in my gut whenever I looked out over this place they ironically call “Happy Valley.” So many horrible, horrible events took place in this land that I can’t help but let my emotions overcome me. Cue haunting drumbeat and slow-pan zoom of my aged, watery eyes.

Part One: Vegas Billy

I had previously crossed into that valley with my sparse earthly possessions in tow in my father’s truck as a much younger and exuberent teenager looking to make his way into the world. I was on my way to attend my freshman year at Brigham Young University, the jewel of Happy Valley, located in Provo, Utah. I had accepted the offer extended to me by the University for many reasons, not the least of which involved the sense of honor and tradition that I felt was due to my family who were all Cougar alumni. Far be it for me to be the black sheep of the family. It also helped that I would have required roughly 150 times more from my hourly wage as a grocery store dairy boy to afford a credit hour from NYU and the average on-campus temperature at Arizona State was in the upper 130s. So, I wrote an acceptance letter full of flowery prose to the good people at admissions who have large recycling receptacles next to their desks for letters like mine, and made my way to the dorms under the ominous shadow of the Y.

I arrived to my closet-sized dorm room only to find my assigned roommate eating shrimp ramen and listening to Usher at an exceptionally high volume. I had to have an assigned roommate because all of my friends had decided to go to other learning institutions, leaving me alone in this strange new world. I had to be assigned Billy because of some vendetta that fate has against me. Billy was a tall, tan, well-built, square-jawed douchebag from Las Vegas, Nevada. Luckily, I had been forewarned of his massive personality when he called me prior to our summer sojourn together.

He said that he got my number by “asking around” once he found my name on the orientation information that he was mailed. He then spoke to me over the phone about what his intentions were in coming to BYU. “I hear that the whole place is crawling with smokin’ hot chicks just waiting for a man to marry, you know what I’m saying bra?” He divulged to me that he was excited about the opportunity to meet new people since he had literally dated every single girl in Las Vegas. “Literally, dude. Seriously. Well, not like the old ones, but every Mormon chick and most other chicks in Vegas, I’ve dated ‘em. I need somethin’ new, you know. I’m so stoked.”

Seeing him with his hairy sandaled feet on my desk, empty save for his massive stereo speaker and previously downed Cup O’Noodles, made me anything but stoked. He came up to me as I stood in the doorway, hunched over with the burden of my scholastic needs, and gave me a bro hug that squished the side of my face between his pectorals and which ended after a couple of full-fist punches to my back similar to what an angry chiropractor might employ. The sight of my parents did not dissuade him from continuing to dance to the music as the ramen slid down his throat. “This is going to be awesome man! I already got us hooked up with dates tonight. Sweet, dude. Sweet.”

Food staple of the common North American Billy

We got my things set up in the room while Billy watched. When I asked him to turn down the music for a minute while I talked with my parents, he responded “No problem, bra. Imma just go take a quick shower.” My parents left me alone, so very alone, in the room while I waited for Billy, whom I discovered soon after had quite the proclivity for lounging around either fully or mostly nude. I asked him to please put on some underwear and immediately afterwards added the plea that the underwear not be of a mesh fabric. “What’s a-matter, you gay or something’?“ “Well…no…it’s just…“ “I’m just messing with you bra, yeah, I’ll go throw on my workout shorts.” I tried to explain to him that I had a girlfriend and so I could not attend the little soirée that he had planned for the both of us, but he acted as if I was speaking another language. “Is your girlfriend here?” “Well, no,” I responded. “Then dude, it’s party time!” he shouted as he slapped me with unnecessary force on the kneecap and, shoving a tootsie roll pop into his mouth, made his dancing exit out of the room.

It seemed to always be an uncomfortable party when Billy was around. I spent all hours not necessary for sleep huddled in the most remote section of the library. When I would come staggering home after long days of study, my room would be filled with either a bunch of dudes trying to figure out how to pull pranks on the floor below us or a hefty amount of guys and girls dancing to loud music like something out of a Lil’ Wayne music video. This was BYU, mind you. I will further expound on its conservative idealism later on, but this is the place where having a girl inside of your dorm room outside of the prescribed 15 minutes of “mingle” time a day is grounds for expulsion, excommunication, and (it is rumored) execution. Billy always seemed to pull it off though.

After all, he wasn’t really even a student at BYU. He was accepted in a special program that introduced graduating Mormon youth who were not able to get into the private, church-owned University a chance to get a taste of what it is like. I had no idea what the purpose was for this program other than to make those students, like myself, who were actually admitted to the University, develop an increased level of pomposity and an attitude of entitlement. A quick study of many BYU graduates should quickly prove these results.

Billy’s true character shone through one day when he used me to help him ditch a date that he had planned. The previous night, he flopped off of the ladder and onto his stilted bed as he told me that he met a girl at the Food Court. “She was pretty hot, well kind of hot, but guess what Cammie (my blood still curdles at the mere typing of that moniker) you’ll never believe it. She’s handicapped, like in a wheelchair, like crippled! So, I tried to act like it was all just totally cool, ya know. So I told her that we would spend the day together doing stuff, but I already am going to see a girl for lunch and a different one for dinner. So, man, I need you to do a solid for me and tell her I got sick or something or that I am at my Uncle’s house in Alpine. I know you got my back dude. G’night!”

I wasn’t able to speak a single word, mostly from the shock of it all. I went out running the next morning to think about just what exactly to do. When I got back to the apartment, Billy was already gone. Soon afterwards, our dorm phone rang and I went downstairs to face what felt like the plot of a bad Woody Allen movie. She was hot and, yes, she was in a wheelchair. I lied and told her that Billy had to go to his Uncle’s house. We sat down, well, I should say that I sat down as well, and we talked for a bit. I decided to spend whatever part of the day I could with her before I had to leave for work. We had lunch at the Cougareat, wandered our way through campus, and shared stories about how much we hated being at BYU. We played a little wheelchair basketball in the afternoon before affectionately parting ways. Though it was under the worst of circumstances and I actually had a girlfriend at the time, it was still an incredibly satisfying date and I couldn’t help but pity Billy for what he was truly missing out on.

After the summer semester ended, he would return to a community college in Las Vegas, one college credit richer for the experience. Though I can’t substantiate any of it, I heard some incredible rumors about his life after our term together. He went on an LDS mission where he was promptly expelled after being arrested for shoplifting. He was flown home, but quickly drove back to his mission area where he continued to pretend that he was a missionary. In this role, he happened to seduce a young woman (or “flirt to convert” as we called it) so that she was baptized and then confirmed with an unexpected pregnancy, both performed by Elder Billy. Today, he remains on the lam from the police and the townsfolk alike. Though I can’t confirm that any of this is true, it sounds about right.

If God ever, just for the sake of having a good story to tell, created two people of the same age who were exact opposites of each other, it would be me and Billy. He was good-looking, outgoing, conceited, and blissfully idiotic. He liked to talk about cars and chicks and he smelled like skinny jeans at Ambercrombie and Fitch. He craved social situations as much as I craved the need to be alone. However, I never met someone who so readily took me in and treated me like I was one of his dudes that he had always known. I was made his instant wingman, albeit a reluctant one. He never seemed to judge me despite the judgments I poured out on him. In truth, he taught me a lot of things about life and I guess I am kind of indebted to him.

Still, he was the douchiest of douchebags.

I found this picture of Billy from Las Vegas in my old school notes. He was always blinking in these candid photos.

Welcome to the New Bag Stranded

Hi there. If you are a regular around these parts, you may have noticed a couple of changes to the ol'Bag Stranded.

First of all, because of the comments I received from several readers and their optometrists, you are now no longer going to be subjected to reading gray text on a black background. I, personally, was a fan of the occasional seizures that it induced, but I have to keep your best interests in mind.

You'll notice that the header is no longer the tired old picture of my dusty living room blinds. This, now, is the official Bag Stranded logo, and by official, I mean that I actually spent money on it. Hard earned money. And it ain't like this little blog thing is paying the mortgage. I just want to let you know the level of commitment that I have to embarrassing myself for your amusement.

This logo will be featured on some new products coming out soon including t-shirts, mugs, and stationary. Of course, I might need to sell a kidney to get those products available, but I'll see what I can do.

I will most likely still be tinkering around with the look of the website for a little bit, so bear with me. As far as new articles, those should be forthcoming too. Of course, you could always send me your own humorous tales at And again, if the recollections involve me in anyway, you get extra consideration. Even if I don't know you, perhaps you could write a recollection of what Bag Stranded has done to change your life. Or imagine meeting me in person and how much I would make you laugh. Perhaps a candlelit seafood dinner would be involved. Perhaps some slow-dancing to jazz standards. Whatever. Go for broke.

So thanks again for reading. Let me know what you think by either writing a comment down below or sending me an e-mail (via And remember, wherever you are in the world, Bag Stranded loves you. No matter what you've done.

A League of My Own

At the end of last week, I found myself sitting at the computer, anxiously awaiting the outcome of certain events that will take place this week that are of the utmost importance to me. These events will either enshrine my name in the annals of history or it will doom my name to be laughed at, mocked, ridiculed, soiled, and violated behind a Denny’s. I take a deep breath and before I can exhale, Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox has given up seven runs in two innings before being pegged in the kneecap by a ground ball.

I can not say the words that came to my lips at that time as my mother informed me that she is monitoring my level of cursing on this blog, but I will reveal that it had something to do with either animal waste material or copulation. Both, actually. The reason that I was so upset did not necessarily stem from the fact that I am an ardent Red Sox fan, which I am. It stemmed from the fact that Lester represented the flickering hope that I had left to move my fantasy baseball team, the Mantooth Saints, from a dismal third place to a respectable, modest second place. And there he was, writhing on the pitchers mound, not even caring what he was doing to me, his rightful owner.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the world of fantasy sports, I am equal parts disappointed and envious. If there are two things that men love more than anything in the universe, they would be their fantasies and their sports. Fantasy sports are a way to take the convoluted, illogical, debauched, and often illegal in several counties fantasies of men and channel them into a healthy computerized sports statistics forum. Managers in these leagues pick the players that they think will perform the best during the season and then earn points for the feats that these athletes perform. At the end of the season, those points could equate to a large sum of cash or a hastily made sculpture of prophylactics tied to a 5th grade soccer “participation” trophy. The best part of fantasy sports is that they allow you to take part in the thrill of athletic competition without ever having to use a treadmill or restrain from hollowing out a Twinkie to use as a bun for your bratwurst.

At the beginning of the baseball season in April, I was asked to join a fantasy baseball league. I had never participated in anything like this before, but I thought that it could liven up my days at work and become a welcome change of pace to compulsively taking personality tests on Facebook. When I participated in the draft, I was slightly disappointed to not find my top picks of Jose Canseco and Bo Jackson anywhere on the list of available players. I quickly learned the ins and outs of the game and I now have a widget on my homepage that sends me real-time updates on the status of Chipper Jones’ ankle.

Current Status: mildly fractured

When I was younger, I participated in an entirely different kind of fantasy sport. You see, much like today, I didn’t have many friends. Because of my rampant antisocialism (and that has nothing to do with Health Care reform) I intentionally alienated myself from the friends that I did have. So, I was forced to entertain myself. Using nothing but a pad of a paper and a five dollar Nerf basketball hoop, I created an intricate league of basketball players, drafted from the full set of Topps basketball cards I had collected. I formed them into rosters and then had full seasons where they would play against each other. I would play the role of every single player in the league. I would pass the ball off of the walls of my bedroom, scoot my toe back from the 3-point line represented by my She-Ra figurine, perform a slow-motion slam dunk for the highlight reel, and play out an entire game. After each score, I pulled the pencil out from behind my ear and tabulated all of the statistical results of the previous play. I had mock interviews with sports broadcasters where I claimed that the other team was full of “real fighters” and praised the efforts of my fellow teammates Muggsy Bogues and Christian Laettner.

My parents were admissive of this activity, which at its most innocent involved a child exercising enthusiasm for sports and at its most damaging was a child with a severe obsessive compulsion crying out for help. I went through several Nerf hoops during a season and so I eventually just used some masking tape to show where the imaginary hoop would be. When the NFL season started, I created another fantasy league which proved even more difficult and involved even more copious notation. This meant that I loved it even more. Eventually puberty hit and I abandoned my imaginary pursuits in favor of the much more practical and realistic pursuits of playing Mist on the computer and writing poetry to girls who were stuck being my Biology lab partners. The archives of these imagined sporting events were recently exhumed from the closet of my old bedroom. As I rifled through the loose sheets with hundreds of hash marks, I was transplanted back to the glory days. Oh the 1991 Timberwolves, you will always be legend to me.

And today the fantasizing still continues, only in an arguably more adult setting. Now that the baseball season is days from completion and I am languishing in third place, my efforts have been refocused towards the new NFL season. On Monday night, I found myself simultaneously praying for the Cowboys offense to fail miserably and for the Cowboys defense to intercept every single pass. Usually, the only attention I pay to the Dallas franchise is how Jerry Jones maintains the waxy quality of his skin folds. I cheered at home, by myself (still, no friends and a wife who is very unsupportive of my fantasy pursuits) when the running back for the Cowboys tweaked his knee and left the game. This ensured the victory of my team, the Rich Mahoganies, over my opponent and slightly made up for the very similar injury dealt to a certain Red Sox player a few days previous.

Now I sit comfortably at the top of my football league’s standings, proud of the accomplishments that my team has made in the past few weeks. Actually, I am glad that I have accomplished anything in these past few weeks. I am reliving the days of my childhood where my only worries were imagining blocking a shot from myself in my old bedroom with the dents in the walls and the now creaky floorboards. This is my world of sports, and I am vicariously living out all of my dreams of becoming a multi-sport athlete through this data-compiling game on the internet. I rule. And just wait until week seven when I bring Bo Jackson into my line up.

Bo knows. And can sympathize.