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.


Joe said...

So that was your introduction to BYU? No wonder you have issues with Utah County.

Kara said...

My mother may have and always shout during BYU games, and even attended there in her day, but it was SOOO not for me! Billy would be the reason why I didn't ever consider going there.
So when is the next roommate being discussed?

Janelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.