The adventures of a New Jersey college professor with very strange friends, colleagues, and family members.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Soup Is Good Food


Two weeks after Derek the Bridge Dumper took a header off of the Route 18 overpass onto oncoming traffic, Greg began to get lonely and asked a fellow named Matt to move in with him until Derek got out of the hospital.

Matt was an interesting guy. First of all, he had Marftan’s Syndrome (which is what Abraham Lincoln had) and was six foot five inches tall. He loomed over everything and everyone, and Greg affectionately (or otherwise) called him “Lurch.” Matt’s other claim to fame was that he was, apparently, the soul heir to the Lipton’s Soup Company, and one day he would inherit millions of dollars.

Matt was a Chemistry major, and one of the few genuine geniuses I’ve ever met. We all liked him, but we couldn’t understand two-thirds of what he said. Still, he seemed to cheer up Greg, so we all accepted him.

My dealings with Matt were only Greg-related, much as they had been with Derek. I was very surprised when he called me at home one night, because I didn’t even know he had my number.

“Hello,” he said pleasantly. “Greg gave me your number, I hope you don’t mind.”

“Er…no,” I said, wondering if I did or not.

“I was just wondering…would you like to go to dinner on Friday, perhaps see a movie, and have some polite conversation?” (As opposed to rude conversation, I assumed).

“Has Greg done something?” I asked, nervously.

“Well, you could say that it’s Greg-related,” said Matt.

“Well, Friday is when I have forensics,” I said, “but I can meet you for pizza or something in the Student Center.”

He agreed that that would be fine, and that’s what we did. For the entire dinner, I kept asking, “so what has Greg done, exactly?” but Matt didn’t seem to want to tell me about that. Instead, he went on and on about how he was trying to isolate a protein that would somehow revolutionize the soup industry.

When the whole thing was mercifully over, Matt and I walked outside and he looked down at me and said, “to be perfectly honest with you, Greg suggested that I do this, which is why I said it concerned him. Would you…would you like to go out with me?”

Oh, balls. The trouble was, I didn’t. At all. I simply didn’t like him “that way.” I could barely follow his conversation, how would I have a relationship with him? And, I proceeded to look this nice guy right in the eyes and lie to him.

I told him I was interested in someone else, and that all of my energy was focused there, but I really thanked him for asking me, and wished him well. I made sure he was okay before he left me—I’d have opened a vein if he also jumped off a bridge.

A few weeks later, Matt suddenly started showing up with an incredibly unattractive, dumpy girl named Betsy, with whom he claimed he was madly in love. I didn’t understand it, but was happy for him. A week after that, he announced that he was bisexual. We then started seeing him strolling the campus with both the hideous Betsy and a strange, blonde, scruffy man, holding hands with both of them.

By the end of the term, Matt had moved out of the dorm and into an apartment with both of them, where they shared a king-sized bed and lived happily as a threesome. It was astounding.

Two months later, I was in my living room and the phone rang. It was Greg. “Turn on CBS!” He yelled. “Right now!”

I turned on the TV and was astonished to see Matt, Betsy, and the unnamed man on The Montel Williams Show. The theme of the show was “Threesomes That Work.” And all three of them chatted with Montel about how happy they were, and that they all adored each other.

“Wow,” said Greg, amazed. “Just think…that could have been you.

Next time: We wrap up our series of interesting men by discussing Dan, a guy who had a really creative use for latex.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Three Men and a Frightened Lady

This is going to be another three-parter, folks. I want to be able to get the ambiance of all the stories right.

But first, some exposition:

I didn’t date in college. At all. For four years, I managed to convince myself that this was all right; that I was “too wrapped up in my work” and “developing my writing” to bother with the frivolities of having a boyfriend. I fooled myself (and others) pretty well for four years.

There were, in fact, only three men in college that asked me out; and there was something hideously wrong with every one of them.

Keep in mind that this all happened second semester senior year—I was coming dangerously close to graduating without ever having had a date. But then fate (or something) stepped in and brought me three completely bizarre men whose clutches I barely escaped. Let's begin:


First, there was Derek. Derek and I had a class together in Arthurian Romance. His roommate, Greg, was a good friend of mine. My dealings with Derek were always brief: “Hi, is Greg here?” and “Tell Greg to call me,” and “I’m borrowing Greg’s Anthropology book.”

Derek was heavily into Roll Playing Games and insisted that everyone call him “The Grand Vizier” (no, I don’t know what that means). He was kind of pale and sickly-looking, though he had always been polite to me. He was a tall, rambling guy whose clothes never seemed to fit him, and he wore thick glasses that he always polished on his shirt. He was a Criminology major, and I fight it frightening that he's somewhere out there fighting crime.

One day after Arthurian Romance, Derek approached me and nervously asked me to go to the Student Center for dinner. He said he wanted to “discuss the final.” Because I was completely academic-minded in college, it didn’t dawn on me that he was actually asking me for a date; I just wasn't "tuned in" to that vibe because I had stopped looking for it long ago. In any case, because I had a club meeting that night, I said no, and Derek walked away, dejected. I honestly thought that would be the end of it.

Later that night, Greg called me and in a disgusted tone blurted out; “Derek threw his synthesizer down the stairs.” He sounded more annoyed than anything else.

“Um…why?” I asked, confused as to why Greg was even telling me this.

“Oh, he was upset that his date didn’t go well,” said Greg. “He mentioned something about asking someone to dinner and being rejected. He went totally off the wall about it.”

I stared at the phone in horror. Could I have caused this? Or did Derek ask someone else out that day as well? I got very nervous. “Let me know what happens,” I said.

Two hours later, Greg called a second time. This time he said, matter-of-factly, “Derek jumped off a bridge.”

Mortified, I asked for details. Apparently, after a total meltdown in the dorm, he began running in the halls and screaming, “I’m never going to get a girlfriend! I can't take this anymore! I don't want to live!”. He then disappeared into the night and headed for the Route 18 overpass, which went over a major highway and a river. He chose to dive off the highway-end, and as a result landed on top of a car coming out from under the bridge. Derek’s legs were crushed, and both he and the driver of the car wound up in the hospital. Miraculously, no one was killed.

The scariest part about all of this was going to visit Derek in the hospital, with Greg and the rest of my friends from the dorm. I was convinced that he would take one look at me and start throwing cups at me, screaming for me to get out.

But miraculously, that didn’t happen. Weirdly, Derek never seemed to blame me for any part of it. He returned to school on crutches, claiming he had “found Jesus” in the hospital.

Coming soon (very soon, I promise): The story of me, the Lipton’s soup heir, and Montel Williams.