Monday, May 13, 2013

My Frosh Year Roommate + Obama

It seems a freshman year roommate is either a great friend or a total fuck up. I like to think of mine as the most fucked up of the fuck ups. My college roommate was born in the south, but lived the last few years in the north. Actually, he lived in Boston during school breaks with his Harvard administrator mom, and spent the school year first at Exeter and later at a second private boarding academy after he and his brother were accused of a violent crime involving a foreign pre-frosh visiting Harvard, but money can buy people off. He just had to serve house arrest and not return to Exeter. He was bipolar and a basket case, and he was also triracial. I know he was definitely a sliver native American, or, more likely, descended from a slave of the Cherokee who escaped to live in Alabama who married black folks, but somehow a white guy got into the mix. It was all very confusing. I met a lot of characters at Cornell, but he was the strangest fucker I met.

"Stop walking around the room naked after you shower if I am in the room... yes, even when I am sleeping." - Me, fall semester

His actions didn't help. He lied about everything. All of his high school friends that visited would destroy the lies he had crafted to invent his new self for us freshmen (whom he was 2 year older than at 20). He did copious amounts of drugs and drank nonstop since he was wealthy and had no friends. We were worried he was suicidal so we wrote him letters about the great life he had there. He'd debate you on Jimmy Buffet, fire being alive, and the Beat generation. He'd stare into mirrors for minutes. Flick a lighter 100 times in a row. He had 30 body lotions and skin creams but still stunk up the floor. He had no pillow or sheets; he just slept in a sleeping bag. He did laundry once a month. He said he was 6 ft tall, yet 3 inches shorter than me, and I was 6 ft tall. He'd talk about leaving school to be a fisherman, but couldn't even swim. He'd say he was a computer science major, yet didn't own a computer and hadn't signed up for any comsci classes. He was the guy girls were creeped out by in our dorm, not modern creepy, but traditional, jar of ether to rape girls creepy. He had no friends but a frat extended a bid so he could be their one minority member for the next four years. He didn't know any Marvin Gaye songs. It was not his worst feature, but close.

"If he kills himself, I'll get straight As, right? He wouldn't kill me first then off himself, he's self destructive, not psychotic." - Me, spring semester

His worst bit was his identity. Being triracial, or biracial, or whatever, he'd pick an ethnicity and identify with it 100% for maybe 3 weeks. He rotated all 3 and never felt comfortable with any. My black acquaintance hated my roommate. As he said, "He pretends to be whatever to whomever for a pat on the head". Other black students I met felt the same about my roommate. Phony. No sense of himself. In one walk across campus, I could witness the following: he'd black up for black girls, but then downshift into Barry Manilow listening (really) cosmopolitan mixed kid for white girls scared of blacks, then change into black bro for the frat guys, then Indian poet mystic with a spirit animal for hippies. The thing is, it didn't work beyond your first meeting with him. How can you trust someone who isn't himself? What else is he lying about? Add in his bipolar behavior, and man how fucked up is that guy? Who he was constantly changed. It made the lying, the pipe dreams, the druggie escapism, and the rest of his tangible issues all fit. There was no core to him.

That is who I see when I see Obama. An insecure man wearing a mask, but the mask is always changing.

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