All Because of Algernon

October 18, 1999  Monday

On Sunday, October 10th, we were visited on Calhoun by a few hundred bats.  At first, in the afternoon, I thought they were just birds–lots of noisy, screeching birds going crazy in our trees in the backyard.  Until night came.  We first found out they were bats when Camille told us harshly, in her Eastern Europeanish accent none of us can place, that they had attacked her (so they fight on the side of good).  Later, Collinsville and I decided to try t0 sneak past them and get some food at nearby Lincoln Hall, but we barely got down the back steps before we were ambushed with the a loud swarming noise and I heard Collinsville yell, “Go for the door!”  I half expected a few dozen bats to be attached to Collinsville, but we got in the house safely.  While biding our time and waiting the blood-suckers out, we were further entertained Camille and her wit and wisdom.

All of the above would would be just a blip of nothing if it was not a good intro into this entry.  The bats only stayed a night and were gone by Monday morning (Camille, sadly, remains…)  On Tuesday night Tom and I were in the living room launching trash into our receptacle in the middle of the room while VH1 played in the corner when we heard a strange shreiking sound, like what an exotic South American bird might make.  We went to investigate, now believing some kind of zoo had just all of its animals and had found their way to us. Amdor came out of the room off of the living room and asked us, curious, “Tom, Will, what are you guys up to now?”  so we of course we told him there was a monkey in one of our trees, and we were going to keep it as a pet.  The monkey story actually did’t take a lot of convincing, and Amdor helped us search the branches for the elusive primate for a while.

Not much time had gone by when screams started to come from 714 Calhoun just next door.  Thinking that it could be anything from a sloth to an alligator, we sent Amdor to find out what it was all about.  It turned out the girls had a rodent running throughout the house and we valiantly looked for it until we less valiantly gave up.  Taran, Jackie, and Michelle were at home, as well as another girl I didn’t know.  After the mouse laughed off our attempts for an hour or so, we quit and went out to 714’s front porch.  For some reason, at two o’clock in the morning with two exams the next day, I found myself raking leaves and then jumping in them with everyone else.  Then we returned to the porch and the No-Name girl handed me a leaf that had been next to her, laying on the ledge.  I was in the motion of tossing it to the ground after a second or two of looking at it, we she asked, kind of hurt, if that was really what I was going to do.  So I didn’t.

Later the party moved to our own porch where Tom, Amdor, me, Taran, Jackie, and No-Name watched the occasional car cruise past.  No-Name sat on the porch ledge and at one point began to ask me questions about myself when the others had gone in the house.  Later still she tried to tie my shoes together.  I used to do that kind of thing too, I remembered.  Even later still we were all doing the porch thing again, and I was nearly ready to pass out, so I excused myself and was about to go in.  After telling everyone else goodbye, I told No-Name it was good to meet her, but she replied we had met before.  I don’t remember that, though.

From what I got that night she is a senior RA for Wetzel 5 (her third year of that) and of course an Alpha Sigma Alpha, as well as being from Rockford with Taran.  It did seem odd, though, that she was spending the night at 714 on a cot and I remember hearing something about pepper spray and mace.  Yet she seemed very appealing.  Not sure if it was just a fluke, casual flirting, or premature cataracts, I wanted to see what would happen in the next few days.

Wednesday night I didn’t have my night class, so I was at home when Taran, Kim, and No-Name came by about eight. Collinsville told me afterwards it was very evident No-Name likes me, as well as getting his ready approval on her.  Everything seemed to be lining up and going smoothly.

I had wanted to go to a stop-light party at the Pace, but Amdor, Collinsville, Tom and I ended up going to the Ritz.  There were the usual people there: Pikes and more Pikes that they rest of my group stayed with.  Wandering by myself through the chattering, laughing crowd, I came upon a few Alpha Sigs, and one of them told me that one sister in particular wanted to take me to their fall formal.  “Really?”  I asked, brightening, ready to finally learn the pretty blonde girl’s name. “So, would you like to go with Kim?”  the sorority sisters leaned into my ear and said over the noise, asking about their approaching dance on November 6th.  Wait– I didn’t think “Kim” was the mystery girl’s name. It wasn’t.

Tom and I had known about Fall Formal for a while, and it was pretty much guaranteed that Tom and I would going to it one way or the other.  Now, I have known this Kim, or I should say really known of her, for about a month.  It had become quite plain that Kim was very interested in me, because I heard about it all the time.  How I should call Kim, or how I should do something with Kim, and so-forth and so-on.  There’s really nothing wrong with the girl, but I also asked myself how I can possibly go to a dance with someone like this, who will assuredly take in the wrong way.  I can’t even think of her as more than a acquaintance.  So, of course, by the end of the night, she came over to me and asked me to Fall Formal.

Now, I had to think of the politics of this carefully (warning, this gets stringy and silly).  I have to keep in the good standing with the Alpha Sigs, so can have a chance with No-Name, yet how then I can go with another Alpha Sig, Kim?  Yet if I do not, I will be in “bad standing” (and Collinsville and Tom call it). Okay, so it’s really not all that complicated as all of that, yet it does have to handled carefully.  I gave Kim what amounted to a “no comment.”

After the Ritz, Collinsville and I walked home through the dark streets of Macomb, passing through the uptown park and crossing into the quieter, street-lamp lined residential sections.  We discussed all of this, and we could find no real answer.  Later on Tom and I went next door to 714 and re-enacted the previous night.  Kim did come by 714; I really didn’t talk to her.  Finally I caught No-Name’s name, which is Haley, but I don’t know if that’s the right spelling, but that’s how I’ll spell it here.

As a quick side-note from the theme of this entry, my Geology lab took a trip to the Lamoine River behind Thompson and listened to the old guy drawl on about, oh, I don’t remember.  I like the class and the subject, but the instructor is unpopular, like a dull grandfather that never finishes his story.  We should have stoned him to death and buried him in the middle of nowhere when we had the chance.  Oh well.

Thursday night was Yell Like Hell and I hadn’t planned on going until Tom dragged me to it.  It wasn’t too bad and we were about to go back to Calhoun when Taran came by and we talked for a bit.  Then Michelle made an appearance, and asked me if I had asked Kim yet.

Now, you must understand something.  In my head at the moment was everything I had been thinking for the last day.  We have Girl A, who is pretty cool and I guess it’s clear she likes me, which is just a pretty good deal, but uh-oh!–here comes a wrinkle in the plan, in the form of an elbowing Girl B.  Girl B is not ugly, or mean, or has a contagious disease. She is just, well, like vanilla ice cream.  To me, bland and unappealing.  Now comes the fun, people!  Even though she has ASKED me, that is not the way it works when that happy little moment occurs.  “ASK” may be substituted at any time for “TELL,” and you have no way out of it without looking like a jerk.  Jerk equals the Alpha Sigs having a lowered opinion of me because I would have “screwed over a sister” (not my words, of course), and that doesn’t help me with another Alpha Sig, namely Haley.  So, basically, this second girl that couldn’t just get the hint that I don’t care for her if I smacked her with a cold salmon, is blocking my way at the most inopportune of times–when the rest of my semester has been quiet–to someone that I finally might (hold breath) actually find appealing.  Lesson over, class dismissed.

Like I said, all of this had been boiling over in my head for twenty-four hours and the odd unfairness has begun to get to me.  So when Michelle asked her fairly innocent question, well, I didn’t handle it too smoothly.  I answered “No,” in which doing so I am breaking some kind of unwritten credo.  She asked why not, and what came from me was that Kim would think it is more than it is (which is the truth).  And anyway, wouldn’t I be doing her a favor by not giving her false expectations?  Michelle responded, in raised voice and getting close, looking right at me, that Kim just wants to go as friends (a big ol’ fat lie) and that’s it.  And that was how that conversation ended, more or less.

So then I was stuck.  Drawing on the advice of my trusted advisors, (“You fucked up big time, Will,” Tom and Collinsville would soon agree) I really then had only one option left, to save “face” (I hate those kind of words).  I had to accept Kim’s invitation.  I didn’t stay too long at the Pace that night and walked home by myself.  I walked up to the 714 house, and told Wendy who answered the door I would be happy (@#!%*) to take Kim to formal.  So she gave me Kim’s number, and told me I could tell her myself.  Sure, Wendy, add injury to insult…  At the same time I was at the door all of the 714ers were just about  to head out to the Pace, including Haley.  I said hi to them all, and when taking her hand gave it a soft squeeze.  As I laid in my bed that night, I rationalized everything was no worse for wear and anything could still happen.  Just now I had an extra bump to get over.  Tom called Kim on Friday as we both stood in the dining room, telling her it was me, and said in a kind, energetic voice i just couldn’t pull off, said it would be “an honor” if I would take her.

Both Collinsville and Tom went back to their hometowns Friday to break up with their girlfriends, Erika and Renee respectively, so I was left with Amdor.  The girls from last Friday came by again, and they stayed a few hours.  Amdor then left for the bars.  At about two in the morning there was a knock at the door.  It was Young Jen, being lightly propped up by a guy I didn’t know.  She was very distraught, so we took a seat in the lving room so she could talk about everything that had been going in her first two months of college.  Young Jen is a nice girl that I had met over at Chase’s house a few weeks prior, and I really wanted to help her, so we talked for about two hours total as I also walked her back to Wetzel hall.  I don’t think she has gotten out of the high school state of mind and says she is having a hard time so far.  She talked about how many people have screwed her over, and I would probably do the same (huh?), so I wanted her show she can begin to trust people here.  I have always been able to.  As an interesting side note, she happens to live on Wetzel 5, Haley’s floor.  Young Jen did fill me on what she knew about it, which is that some guy had been stocking her and had supposedly cornered her in Wetzel, so she had moved over to 714 with her sisters and no one, including Young Jen, knew where she now is.  Young Jen also said that Haley would not be returning as an RA.

Saturday went by and that night Tom and I went to the Pace with Karl and Swalski, my old pledge-master.  All of the Alpha Sigs were there–including Kim–except the one I wanted to see.  Needless to say, I wasn’t having the best of times as Tom repeatedly tired to get me to dance with “Just Friends” Kim (which I will get him back for).  I walked home alone for the second time in three days and went to sleep on the couch.  Tom and Amdor eventually got home, but later when I heard Taran and Just Friends Kim’s voice coming up to our door I quickly retired to my room off the dining room.  It is amazing that just as I have not seen Haley in a few days I am seeing an alarming increase of Kim.

Sunday Collinsville returned and had not broken up with Erika after all (neither Tom or I would take that bet), which we both think Collinsville is absolutely crazy for even thinking about when it comes to quick, funny, beautiful Erika.  But he must have his own reasons.  At the same time Tom was celebrating his new freedom from Renee by doing some future plotting.  Amdor, for his, part, yelled off and on through the night about the travesty of Pikes not winning Homecoming, saying, “It’s just not right!  The Pikes put in their blood, sweat and tears!  Their sweat!”

I might be a funk, but that just happens sometimes, and I actually enjoy stewing in the occasional brief funk.  No Alpha Sigs sighting all day, and I have come to believe Haley has moved somewhere else or went back home for the weekend.  For the moment I’m just happy to get most of my pledge money back from the Pikes, and am looking forward to perhaps another night out with my guys.
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