I entered a short story contest.
Even though this is presented as fiction, every detail is true to the best of my memory.
Without further ado.
Total goofiness is greater than the sum of its parts. If the following events had happened on four different days, this story might not even be worth telling. Foolishness was in the air on this autumn Thursday. There was no escaping it.
I was a college student, and the first week of school was 60% in the bag. I had use of my mom’s car on this day, which was a refreshing reprieve from the convoluted public transit arrangement that I was normally subject to. This would allow me the time to actually make myself a proper breakfast. I had recently learned how to make bacon and eggs, and did so whenever I felt like I had some extra time in the morning. College was still very fresh and new for all first year students. Not only were we trying to make sense of our schedules, buying the right textbooks, and locating our classrooms in the myriad of buildings on campus, but there was also a sense of youthful optimism and general excitement surrounding the prospect of sharing space with the vast number of attractive females. It was to be a good time in our lives, and this was just the beginning. Was it these factors that affected our behaviour on this day?
Thursday was different from the rest of the days from a scheduling perspective in that it featured a common lunch break for everybody in the entire school. Honestly, I never liked this arrangement because from noon to 1 p.m., all students and faculty had one hour to purchase food if they hadn’t packed a lunch, and find a place to sit and eat, which was hard enough the rest of the week. It would take 45 minutes just to get food sometimes. Leaving class for this common break, I remember walking through the hallway of the ‘business building’, which was absolutely bumper to bumper with people trying to make their way to either the cafeteria or the student pub. The signage for the different rooms hung from the ceiling on small chains. While we moved slowly through this hallway, there was a student who was clearly filled with that annoying cocktail of testosterone, confidence and bad judgement, and was slapping these signs as he walked past, causing them to dangerously flap back and forth. I quietly judged his behaviour as I moved past. After all, this wasn’t high school anymore, right? Suddenly there was a snap and a yell, followed by a smattering of applause. This idiot actually knocked one of the signs down, and the chain managed to hit him in the face on the way. Perfect! In almost all other life scenarios, some innocent bystander gets hit with the sign, but on this day, justice was served. As the crowd swept me even further away, I noticed that he was getting lectured from a faculty member. What an idiot! I couldn’t wait to find my friends and tell them.
The one benefit to the common lunch break was that I was able to meet with friends that were in another program, who normally didn’t have a break at the same time. We had arranged to meet in the student pub. Looking back, I’m not sure that it’s such a great idea to have a pub inside of a college or university, which serves alcohol to students in the middle of the day. We were of legal drinking age, and surrounded by people with dumb ideas. My only saving grace was that I simply couldn’t afford to drink that much, so my days of sitting around in the pub, and getting smashed were a lot fewer than they could have been. When else could one possibly say that a lack of funds came in handy? Remembering I had my mom’s car, I stayed sober over this lunch break, and returned to the business building for a math class in the afternoon.
In math class, our teacher was using the overhead projector, which is always a great way to put me to sleep. The thing keeping me awake was a student on the other side of the class who JUST WOULDN’T SHUT UP. I’m no angel, but I don’t like to interrupt people when they’re talking, especially when they’re talking in front of a room full of people. I felt badly for the teacher, who kept requesting silence from the class, and wasn’t even singling this obnoxious guy out. I had spotted this disruptive student in the pub an hour earlier, and it seemed pretty obvious to me that he had consumed a fair bit of alcohol during the lunch break. Finally, the disruptions had proven too much. The teacher confronted the student and asked him to leave. The following reaction surprised me a little, because this loudmouth didn’t seem to want to be there or learn math, but when asked to leave, he refused. The teacher paused, considered, and decided to let him stay under the condition that he would be quiet. They agreed, and the lesson continued. Not a minute later, the student began chatting again, and the teacher immediately called security. The student shot up out of his seat and started screaming at the teacher. I do mean screaming! This profanity was unprecedented in the history of student/teacher interactions I had witnessed. Suggestions of what to do with certain body parts, F-bombs, derogatory references to family members….. It went on and on until security arrived. What made this outburst particularly riveting was the amount of anger this guy expressed in reaction to being told to be quiet. It seemed unprovoked otherwise. This was just our second class, so the guy couldn’t have hated the teacher yet. Maybe it was due to a liquid lunch, but how drunk could he have possibly gotten in the two hours that the pub was serving alcohol before this class began? Finally, security arrived, and this guy got in some parting shots before being whisked out of the door. We all looked at each other to see if anyone else was completely freaked out by this outburst. The teacher shrugged and got back into his lesson, trying to downplay the ambush. I was personally feeling a mix of appalled and stoked. Was the college experience going to continue to be this interesting?
After that class, my day was done, and I met up with a friend who I had offered to drive home. I couldn’t wait to tell him about my misadventures today, or rather the misadventures of others that I just happened to witness at close proximity. I finished telling my story as we approached the off-ramp of the highway. Just as we got to the stop light to make a right, a song that I loved came on the radio, and I turned the speakers up so I could do a little car dancing. Well into my rhythmic head-bobbing, shoulder-grooving, and whatever else, I looked to the left to see an attractive girl in the car beside us smiling. I was so embarrassed. I turned my head forward, and stilled. My face felt all shades of red. Was I the third idiot of the day? Isn’t there a rule about things happening in threes? I tried to explain to my buddy that she was ‘laughing with me’, but he assured me that she was ‘laughing at me’. I moved forward as traffic in front of me started to make their right hand turns. Shortly after I moved ahead of the girl who had witnessed my ‘Thursday Dance of Madness’, I heard a screech and a crash. Oh no! I looked back. It was the girl. She had been watching me, and when she saw that I started moving forward, she too took her foot off the break and crashed into the car in front of her. Her lane was going straight and the light was still red. Could it be? A pretty girl was so focused on checking me out that she crashed her car??? It was only a small fender bender to be sure, but I felt bad. Not bad enough that my buddy and I didn’t start giggling when we figured out what happened. I wanted to go back, but the off-ramp prevented that. I couldn’t just stop my car from where I was. Besides, what was I going to say? Should I have apologized for distracting her? That would have been presumptuous and wouldn’t have helped her cause any. She was in a stopped position before she got into the collision, so she wouldn’t have been hurt. I hope.
I dropped off my friend and headed home. What a crazy day. I couldn’t ever recall such random acts of goofiness all happening at once. I had a huge smile on my face as I got home, thinking about how this college life was going to provide endless days of entertainment. As I entered, I noticed that the house felt really warm. I went into the living room to have a look at the thermostat. Had my sister turned it way up again? The temperature displayed confirmed that it was really warm inside, but the settings didn’t look like they had been tampered with. It had been pretty sunny all day, but enough to make it this hot? I headed to the kitchen to get a snack, and when I turned the corner, I glimpsed a shock of orange to my left. The electric element for the stove was turned on high since this morning, by me. My heart jumped. I calmly walked over and turned off the element, and removed the (warm) towel hanging from the oven door. Wow!
Did I not just spend the better part of my day witnessing 3 people make complete fools of themselves, and was happy about the way in which I was entertained? Meanwhile I was doing everything in my power to burn my parents’ house to the ground? It seems so. I cracked a couple of windows open, and hoped the breeze would come in before my family did. I managed to get the temperature of the house down a few degrees before anybody else arrived home. In order for me to continue to enjoy certain privileges in my parents’ household, it would be wise if this story went untold.