The Stupidest Roommate I ever Had
What follows is an edited version of an e-mail I sent to an online suitor who asked me to tell him a story about "The stupidest pet you ever had or something equally as dorky."1
When I was a Junior in college I enrolled at a branch of Texas A&M near my hometown. The reputation of this university was that a lot of farmers kids went there and so I anticipated having a cowboy for a roommate. To be more accurate, I dreaded having a cowboy for a roommate. When the day finally rolled around for me to move into the dorms, fate handed me a cowboy - of sorts - to share my dorm room with. He was a freshman student from another nearby Texas town and his name was Brett. Brett and Brent are phonetically very similar, even more so when spoken with a lazy west Texas drawl. After only a few hours together, we realized that going by our first names was going to be impractical so for the entire school year we had to be called by our last names, as though we were in the armed forces. Complicating the name equation even further, another guy named Brett moved in across the hall from us in the second semester!1.1
There was so much about Brett that annoyed me. He was rife with character flaws, learning difficulties, and behavior problems. He was also a committed pot smoker. I think he smoked more pot during his freshman year of college than the entire island of Jamaica!1.2 I don't think he spent a single week sober! I would often come home from class or from work to find a towel stuffed under my door and a fan at full speed pointed at an open window in an effort to vent pot smoke out of the room.2 As stoners do, Brett quickly acquired a group of unsavory stoner friends. His friends had cooler roommates, better stereo equipment, or more black lights so he spent a great deal of time with them but only as long as their supply of weed lasted.
Brett's drug lifestyle and the friends he acquired through it lead to a number of incidents throughout the year. For months on end the only illumination in our dorm room was supplied by high-wattage black light bulbs installed in the ceiling. When I needed to sit at my desk and read, Brett objected to my white fluorescent reading light since it ruined the coolness of having black lights. The worst, though, happened one day as I returned to my room after classes. One of the other guys in my wing took me aside before I went into my room and told me a shocking secret. I was told that Brett, one of his stoner friends, and two girls had been in the room for a period of time while I was out. I was warned that two strangers had most likely just fucked in my bed. The room was empty then so I was able to investigate this disgusting allegation. After moving the top sheet aside, I was able to easily spot several black pubic hairs in my bed. I ended my investigation there since I have light brown hair - all of it, in fact, is light brown. Revolted, I stripped the bed and put on fresh sheets and pillowcases.3
Brett, as I mentioned, fancied himself a cowboy. His grandfather owned a ranch or a farm of some sort and he had spent some time around real cowboys. Rather than absorbing any of the positive aspects of life as a ranch hand, Brett easily took on many negative aspects of this iconic profession. He drank to excess, even when already stoned. Using a bale of hay, he practiced lassoing cattle in the courtyard of our dorm for hours on end, sometimes lassoing his unsuspecting roommate who was walking by. He spoke in an exaggerated Texas drawl and apparently took much pleasure in doing so.
Third, Brett was stupid. Language fails to convey how low I rank his intelligence but I love
making up using metaphors in an attempt to express my disdain for him. He was as dumb as a bag of hair. He was dumber and less useful than a rock. A single-celled amoeba could outwit him at a game of tic-tac-toe. The fact that he was allowed to enroll in college or graduate from high school astonishes me to this day.3.1 I don't know if he progressed on to be a sophomore in college but I highly doubt it. He had scored so low on his college entrance exams that most of his classes that first year were remedial and didn't count towards graduation. The few times I had the time and patience to help him with assignments or tests I found myself shocked by his ignorance and lack of mental faculty. Added to his innate inability to learn, he was killing brain cells by legions with THC and alcohol!
Finally, Brett was rampantly homophobic and fond of sharing his views on homosexuality. Many nights after the lights had gone out and he and I were lying in silence about to fall asleep, Brett would call out to me: "Brent, you know what? I hate faggots." "Yeah, Brett?" my answer would be. "Yep," he would continue, "if I ever found me a faggot, I reckon I'd kill him. I really hate faggots." I would lie there in the dark with a sly grin on my face as I fell asleep. He had no clue. I hated him for his ignorance and his attitude. I would engage myself in elaborate fantasies involving Brett meeting a terrible fate at the hands of an angry prison mob. This practice, however unsavory it may be to admit, may be the reason I allowed the poor boy to live.
That same year, in the second semester, our university got it's first GLBT student group. A front-page story in the school newspaper announced this groundbreaking development. I can remember coming back to the dorm one day to find almost everyone in our wing crammed into the room across the hall from mine. One of my neighbors had read the article aloud and the group was discussing it. It was a loud, bawdy, testosterone-saturated display of male aggression and blind homophobia. I can't remember exactly what any of the guys said that day but none of them were in favor of the GLBT group or gay people in general. The conversation quickly turned to plans for violence, vigilante style. I was able to excuse myself from the discussion in order to go to work. The memory of that day has stuck with me and I'll probably carry it to my grave. Maybe the kind of intolerance I experienced that year in school is one of the reasons I'm so happy to be in Austin now. The "deep closet" frame of mind I had to adopt during that period of my life is certainly one of the reasons I insist on being so out now.
It was during that year of college that I met my first (and so-far worst4) boyfriend, Tom. I spent many nights in Tom's room in another dorm building since he didn't have a roommate. On the very few occasions that Tom came to my dorm, I was warned by my neighbors that he might be gay after he left. "You know," they would caution me "sometimes you can tell when a guy's gay. You'd better watch your back, he might try something' with you." The absurdity of the situation still makes me smile.
Now that I've covered the major aspects of Brett's stupidity, here are a few anecdotes that will further drive home the point.
At one point in time Brett had a stray dog, a scorpion, a tarantula, and his skanky girlfriend living with us in our room. The tarantula and scorpion were no trouble, confined to glass bottles and slowly starving to death. The skanky girlfriend I tried to make as much peace with as possible and tolerate out of Christian kindness. She was only there in the evening and her visit with us only lasted a week. At the dog, however, I drew the line. I made him set the mutt free immediately or take it to the pound. He set the dog free and it ran off, probably to the same home from which it had wandered a few days earlier.
Being from a family that owns cattle, Brett had access to veterinarian drugs. One day I came in from class to find Brett filling an insulin syringe from a filthy bottle of liquid B12 that he kept in his toolbox. He had not checked the expiration date on the bottle and it was expired. He didn't have any rubbing alcohol to swab the filthy rubber membrane of the bottle or his arm. He insisted that the membrane was clean since it had been protected by a strip of duct tape. Finally, he was planning to intravenously inject himself with this questionable liquid B12. I spent 10 minutes trying to convince him to not inject himself or at least to consider an intramuscular injection method which is what the drug was intended for. He insisted he knew what he was doing and furthermore told me that the football team at his high school had been doing the same thing under the supervision of a coach. Brett was convinced that this filthy, expired bottle of B12 was a steroid of some sort and would make him stronger or bigger. In the end, Brett either took my advice or ended up chickening out and not plunging that syringe into a vein.
Brett bragged on more than one occasion that he had sex with his girlfriend while driving his truck. Sometimes he reported exceeding the speed limit and being drunk or stoned at the time. His girlfriend was small and agile in a cheerleader-turned-crack-whore way so I'm sure it was physically possible for her to sit in his lap while he was at the wheel. Although I can't be certain, it seems reasonable that said intercourse was probably without proper protection. His girlfriend was on Norplant, a long lasting birth control drug, and so there was no reason for him to use condoms. Brett was one of two sexually active guys I lived with that year who could never be convinced to wear condoms despite knowledge of all the terrible things that could happen.
1 I spent many years in the late 90's and early 00's looking for my soulmate through online dating. It eventually worked out, by the way, when I met my current boyfriend via a dating website.
1.1 The other Brett was a nicer and rather attractive young man. I doubtlessly had a crush on him. He had an annoying quirk of complaining about not being able to sleep after using smokeless tobacco and drinking Dr. Pepper late into the night.
1.2 This poorly rendered bit of hyperbole looks really bad to me now but I don't feel I can change it since I distinctly remember being proud of this turn of phrase when this post was initially written.
2 These dorms, in hot as hell west Texas, did not have air conditioning! They did have heat, however, which was supplied via an archaic boiler and radiator system.
3 Here's an image of the door to this fateful room. Brett and I were both responsible for the shit stuck to the door.
3.1 More to the point, the fact that he graduated from high school is but one indication of what's wrong with the Texas public school system.
4 Yes, even today, Tom is still the worst I've ever had.
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