Freshman Year, 2001: Part five
“Nate, how was your summer? I’m sad we didn’t hang out, but there’s always time to make up for that,” she patted my thigh, “What courses are you taking? I’m taking the greatest courses but they’re all so big, I feel so little. But not now, right now I feel big.”
I smiled and gestured at her stomach, “You don’t look too big.”
“Not like you,” she said as she patted my stomach, “You fatty. Are you still eating raw eggs? Hey, what’s your name again?” She was talking to Allen.
“Allen,” he said.
“Allen, what are you majoring in? I’m majoring in Spanish but I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it or get a different major or get a different major and keep it. Do you think you might double major? I’m worried that it might just be too much work to...”
The conversation went on like this for a while. Heather asked engaging questions and then she’d keep talking, which was fine by me as the malt liquor began to maltify my senses. She was wearing a beige tank top and navy blue skirt. Her skin glowed. Her endless talking was melodic. And as I waded through the first forty of my life I began to really appreciate forties.
“Forties are fucking awesome.” I declared.
“Well, what snapped you out of that coma?” Heather asked.
“Forties are just really awesome, have you had a forty before?”
“I had one just twenty minutes ago. And now I have one again.” She smiled.
“No. I know that, but I mean have you had one before that?”
She slowly raised her finger and dabbed my nose with it, her hand lingering, and said, “No.” It was her funky hand, I went cross-eyed for a second, she darted her hand away and smiled, “I can’t believe how quickly you’re drinking that. You’re almost done and it’s been like only twenty minutes.”
“You’re drunk,” I said, “you’ve got no idea what time it is.”
“You’re drunk,” she said, “You little lush.”
“I’m not a lush. I’m just enjoying the alcohol. Hey, Allen am I a lush or am I just enjoying the alcohol?”
He looked at me calmly and said quietly, “You are what you want to be. This is America.”
I really liked Allen.
“Allen,” I said, “I really like you.” I put my arm around his shoulder and jostled him. “And I think you’re okay too,” I said to Heather, “for a girl.”
She playful frowned. She sang in a nasal tone, “Anything you can do, I can do beeeetttteeerr.”
“That’s not true,” I said.
“Name something,” she said.
“Anything that’s not Hockey,” she said.
“Okay, lifting weights,” I said.
“Anything that’s not Hockey or lifting weights,” she said.
“Well, I guess I can think of one thing. But I won’t say it.”
“Why won’t you say it?” She smiled.
“‘Cause then you’d win the argument.”
“You’re such a silly boy,” she said.
“I need another forty,” I said.
Heather and I got up from the couch and walked to the fridge and picked up another forty for myself and went back to the couch and sat down.
Our knees were touching. I smelled something.
“Is that pot smoke?” I asked.
“No,” she said, “those guys over there smoking pot aren’t really smoking pot.”
There was a small pack of ratty looking guys in the corner of the room passing around a glass pipe. They’d hunch over it, light it, suck in as the pot in the middle would burn like embers, and then they’d stop, full of smoke, pass the pipe, and release a slowly rolling sideways smoke stream.
“You think they’ll make it through college?” I asked her.
“I don’t see why not.” She said.
“Because they’re potheads,” I said. “ They burn out any strength to do anything. That’s why their hair’s so long and ratty. They don’t have the power to cut it.”
“Nate, don’t be an ass.”
“I’m not being an ass. I’m stating the facts. Pot kills motivational cells in your brain.”
“You used to say the same thing about beer and now you’re drunk,” she said.
“I’m not drunk,” I said, “if I were drunk I wouldn’t just be sitting here talking.”
“Well what would you be...”
“Plus, I was a junior in high school when I said that about beer...” I said.
“Well, now you’re a freshman in college...”
“Well, pot’s different than beer. I’m not going to end up with hair down to my ass ‘cause I’m too lazy to cut it,” I said.
“Why did your hair used to be so long then?” she asked.
“It wasn’t that long, and I let it get that long ‘cause I liked the way it looked.”
“So did I,” she said. “You looked like He-man. But I like your hair short too.”
Her drunkeness was less bubbly now. It was mellowing, it seemed. I, on the other hand, was on my way up. Digging fast into my second forty.
“I can’t believe you’re condoning pot use. You’re the religious one, too,” I said. “Jesus wouldn’t condone pot.”
“I’m not into Jesus as much anymore,” she said.
“Then why do you still wear the cross?”
“I don’t wear it anymore,” she said.
“I think that’s a good thing. The cross doesn’t deserve a mantle piece on your chest.”
“Seriously though,” I asked, “why’d you stop wearing the cross?”
“Just not so much into Jesus, anymore.”
“That’s a good thing. I’d always worry, well not always, but lots of times I’d worry when I’d say things that you were judging me from the eyes of Jesus. Or sometimes I’d get bad vibes about how you felt about doing stuff. And then I’d feel weird about your parents when I’d pull up in a minivan and walk into your house and see crosses around and look at your Dad’s big crazy eyes and he’d ask me questions about school. And I always thought you were too smart and too hot to be a church girl. ‘Cause church is a waste of good, young, hot bodies.”
It was nice being drunk. I kept leaning towards her face as I spoke, taking in the close details of her face, and her eyes, her smooth skin in the dim light. I wasn’t thinking about her hand. I didn’t know where Allen went. I didn’t hear the music, it was just something that made me talk louder. My mouth ran wildly, innocently honest, and it felt good. And I noticed again that our knees were touching.
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