Dawn of the Red Age

Part One: Approach To the Inmost Cave
“In the days of my youth I was told what it means to be a man.” -Led Zeppelin

Taking my picture during orientation at Umass Amherst I donned the same crooked grin that was my trademark throughout high school. Little did I know I would be in for an adventure of another caliber. My small town world world view was about to be blown wide open by the influences of a spiritual and psychological Mecca in the form of a beautiful, sprawling campus. Attending Quabbin Regional, I maintained a 3.8 GPA, was affiliated with the Honors Society, Blue and Gold Key Society, and earned the President’s Award for Academic Excellence. I felt like the future was wide open for what I could do with a degree from Umass’ business management school, Isenberg, of sterling reputation comparable to that of Boston University.

There were times of light and times of darkness, but I would not trade my five years living in Amherst for anything. They made me who I am today, and forged friendships that I am sure will last a lifetime. The happiest and the saddest of my days thus far were spent there, at a time when life seemed so vibrant and every experience was fresh and exciting. One’s early twenties are the best times to satisfy all the crazed wanderlust and other types of lust, as well as donning new lifestyles and practices. It was a journey to find what mattered most to me, and though it was often elusive, I came out with a clearer perspective on the man that I should be. UMass Amherst was a perfect place to meet people I never would have, exposing myself to new cultures and perspectives. This story is one of searching for truth: the odyssey of losing and finding myself but not necessarily in that order.

Though I applied to Isenberg School of Management, I did not start classes as a face in the crowd of their self-righteous masses. My calculus scores were a bit weak in high school, and even though my overall GPA was much higher than one peer in particular: ZB, it was this specific course that denied me entry to the hallowed halls of Isenberg. ZB was so talented at calculus that he did not even have to do homework all year. One reason for this may have been that he played World of Warcraft with our teacher, fulfilling the vital role of a geared up Holy talent Paladin healer. Nevertheless I chased that rabbit, seeking a way to enter Isenberg somehow, a search that would eventually come to fruition.

Off the rip it was a blow to my ego, being relegated to attend my safety school, UMass Amherst, with many of my Quabbin Regional High classmates (who I had been banking on escaping from.) Now I could not even pursue my intended major. I was only interested in studying Business Management because in a book somewhere I saw that management majors had one of the highest average salaries first year out of school at around $60,000. In my experience this turned out to be far below the mark. Whether that is due to the book in question being written before the recession or just optimistically skewed I will never know. Choosing my major based on this notion may sound greedy, and it was. Being forcibly assigned to Economics after entry to Isenberg was denied, I reasoned that in 2008, with the financial crisis just digging in, the United States would need all of the economic theorists it could get to pull itself out of the recession.

However, I found the predominant truth within economics is that you can’t really predict what will happen and that it is generally best just to let it run its course. However, most of my professors rejected this golden rule of economics by saying government spending and welfare programs benefited more people in the long run than allowing corporations free reign. These were theoretical battles of classical vs economics as a social science, which I enjoyed, and my micro-economics teacher, Gerald Friedman was quite a character. He definitely supported a social sciences approach and was an eccentric free spirit, complete with an impressive Jewfro. I can still see him waltzing barefoot up and down the aisles in the auditorium packed with 500 students, tossing chocolates at us for even attempting to answer questions. Charts comparing the production of pot under different conditions (yes, he used marijuana as an example) flitted before my eyes. Despite all of these pleasant conditions to my early education at UMass, I did not find myself overly dedicated to my studies.

Professor Friedman knew what he was doing by appealing to our base desires in the form of chocolate and even a marijuana theme because it seemed the entire campus was consumed with Reefer Madness. I know, for my own part, I ignited the buds of many a plant while at UMass and that first year was a record-setter. In high school I perused very much of the green herb, rarely before school, only afterward to unwind, and never by myself, only with friends. In college however, I found myself smoking before class quite often and regretting it only if I made a bad impression upon my professor or any girls I may have been attempting to flirt with that day. I was still equally talented at taking impeccable notes while sufficiently toasted, as writing was, and still is, my strongest suit.

It was while burning these buds that I met some of my closest friends. More specifically, I was engaged in hookah smoking all day, almost every day my first few months at UMass. Sitting at a picnic bench outside of Sylvan (the most removed dorm area and the most ingrained in a woodland setting on a hill overlooking the campus.) It was here that I sat beneath leafy oak boughs blue eyes peeking beneath an ample red afro that was my trademark through high school, promoting incredibly original nicknames our of friendliness such as Fro, and some out of spite: Ronald McDonald and Big Red. My fro had taken a shearing in comparison to my middle school days where it ran free as a clown’s wig, nearly two feet in diameter. Even in its relatively shorn state it lofted shortly above my eyes in bright orange lamb’s wool fashion, covering my head like a fluffy, often disheveled helmet.

As I puffed and wondered what this year at UMass would bring me, a boisterous character dressed humbly in an oversized gray hoodie and skullcap over long black hair came and sat across from me, while puffing on a cigarette.

His first words came as a godsend,“Yo, uh, wanna burn?”

To which I could only respond, “Why yes, are you Holden?”

And he said, “Shword.” (Which meant he was indeed holding.)

He pulled out a tiny baggie and a small glass bowl and packed it up right in front of the dorm where a Resident Director or Police officer were expected to appear at any moment. Yet he did this without fear, a practice that I would continue across campus throughout my UMass career. From this moment on, from this one taste of sweet chiba, it seemed I was forever indebted to this fellow who would become known to me as Hilltops. I would spend the rest of my freshman year smoking this fellow up on a dub ($20 bag) every day or slice (3.5 grams) every two days. We smoked that day under the oaks and enjoyed the hookah while he double-puffed on both the hookah hose and his ever-nearing-depletion supply of Newports.

As we spoke I learned that he was a sophomore Astro-physics major from Long Island, and a staunch Giants fan, of which we had a major disagreement. He had absolutely zero respect for the Patriots which I could not fathom. Despite this we became fast friends and smoked together practically whenever we were both out of classes, all day, every day. Countless hours I spent in his room, watching him play Grand Theft Auto San Andreas or Gran Turismo 2 or merely enjoying the entertainment offered by Comedy Central. We were in a strange new place, desperate to find friends and belonging. He was himself mourning the loss of his girlfriend who he bragged was taught to play bass by Steve Harris, the bass player from Iron Maiden. He was a worthy compatriot as I suffered from a similar situation, my girlfriend who attended Salem State on the other side of MA split with me three weeks into freshman year. Because I’m a melodramatic fool I allowed what could have been a fortuitous parting to crush my confidence for the first three years of college. Hilltops was my bro, who was always there for me, and always down to burn.

Hanging out at the picnic table in front of Sylvan I met up with some of Hilltops’ friends from his freshman year in Southwest. A suave fellow with wavy light brown hair and tanned complexion strolled up to the picnic table with a bulky lime green backpack on his shoulders. This free spirit, vegetarian and sometimes ladies man was Ra, radiating positivity and confidence like the sun. Every day he wore tank tops and board shorts, generally carrying a slack line to string between trees and practice walking on a tight rope. This became one of our favorite pastimes, imbibing cheap pilsners and toking on herb until the process of balancing on a rope, let alone duelling (balancing and even hopping on a rope at the same time as another person) was daunting but nonetheless exhilarating. Ra suggested we add some weed to the hookah’s tobacco mix and soon we were smoking “zookah,” using their code word for marijuana: Z. This had the effect of completely stoning the user, combining the hookah numbing effect with THC’s euphoria. It had the total effect of melting off stress accrued from a day spent in classrooms.

Next to join us at the picnic table was Eagle, Ra’s close companion and as I would discover, his roommate in what would become to us the legendary dorm 807 F (F is for Fresh.) Eagle was the most straight-laced of the bunch (abstaining from any and all trippiness and most weed), and as I would later find out, the only one to recognize himself as a conservative Republican. He was an intelligent, perpetually calm and level-headed mechanical engineer and stellar guitar player with a gold-painted Les Paul that I could barely believe. Eagle had a picture in 807F of him and a stunningly beautiful blonde girl whose features were somewhat similar to his own. I asked if that was his sister to which he laughed and responded, “No, Moral, that’s my girlfriend!” We all had a good laugh at that, and the 807F crew continued calling me Moral. It wasn’t until two months into freshman year that I corrected them with the true pronunciation: “Morale.” To which Eagle responded, how could you think so little of yourself that you didn’t correct us on the pronunciation of your name? To which I had very little to say in reply. I was shattered by the break-up with my highschool sweetheart and found it difficult to talk to girls at school, let alone entertain the notion of hooking up with them. For these reasons my self-esteem and happiness were indeed at an all-time low, but hanging out in 807 Fresh with these compadres guided me from the darkness of my own mind to the light of friendship, if not intoxication.

The third to come that day was Ignatius, a blonde Irishman who generally wore cool tones: greens and blues and the second vegetarian in the group. I found a kindred spirit with this sometimes melancholic loner. He was sensitive and respectful, if not timid toward women, as I was. The reason for this, I would discover, is that he was a virgin, as was I. We both lost our v-cards to different girls around the same time and confided in each other the entire time so it was a great bonding experience as we shared our approach to the inmost cave. He was a fellow with a heart of gold and had, as I would find out, very similar musical tastes to mine: those being the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, Taking Back Sunday and AFI. He also turned me on to Brand New, and we spent many hours blazing, driving about town and hiking, listen to Jesse Lacey’s sweet soulful voice and ever-provocative lyrics. Later in college we lived together and explored the waterfalls and swimming holes of the Berkshires with our blonde bombshell girlfriends at our sides. Ignatius was another who was always there for me, always down to hang out, sharing a room with an anti-social Indian blob named Abbey Shack who was hopelessly obsessed with Star Wars and video games as one might imagine.

Lastly, came a sauntering fellow in cargo shorts and Tevas sandals named B-Felon. He was a loud, often abrasive character with long blonde hair, glasses and cheerful blue eyes. He was incredibly creative and energetic, as he took whatever opportunity he could get to tickle the ivories of his keyboard or the Music Department’s piano, strum a guitar or sing and write songs. He also had great taste in music that he imparted to me: Panda Bear, Sun-Ra, Parliament Funkadelic, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker among many others. His ability to inspire profound, as he formed a band out of the zookah-smoking assembly earlier mentioned, which was affectionately dubbed the Infinite Beaver (so named for that was the intended result of our musicianship.) We were destined to perform at Battle of the Bands, the qualifier for playing at Extravaganja (an annual pot festival on Amherst Common.)

We played our one official performance at Mercy House, a Catholic Church near campus that has since revoked all such student rock shows (perhaps because of our pagan ritual on stage.) Our performance was far more theatrical than it was musical. It was, in simplest terms, a reenactment of Ragnarok. Our dress was extremely eclectic, we resembled, and sounded like, a band of insane gypsies. Leading the way to the stage was our friend and resident Norse culture expert, Goor, wearing black clothes and carrying a real steel longsword. He was meant to represent Odin, and certainly looked like a Viking with his towering height, broad shoulders and long flowing blonde hair.

He was followed by a man in feathery black raven wings complete with large-beaked grotesque raven’s mask. Flapping as he went. Ignatius and I came in town, laying the groundwork on stage with a low series of humming noises. I was wrapped in an ornate tapestry worn as a toga with a fiery orange tapestry wound about my head like a head dress. Ignatius had the cool blues and greens covered in his color spectrum of tapestry garments. As such we were supposed to represent different elemental wolves of Odin’s Court, supplying the bass for the ensuing ensemble. Skeptical punk-rockers and red-eyed patrons considered us from the throng of the audience, seated in pews for our “religious” performance.

Eagle came out strumming his classical guitar languidly, in a semblance of rhythm to the growing confusion. Then came Ra prancing nimbly through the audience and playing a melodica like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Lastly was B-Felon, hammering away with a thunder maker spring drum as he swung it through the air and stirred the rising chaos. The sound grew and grew into a cataclysmic cacophony. We were vaguely instructed to keep the rhythms congruent, humming and building in dynamic until the moment of truth dawned. The raven, in Norse mythology, was Odin’s watchful observer, reporting to him all that he needed to know to rule the realm. In the course of our performance, the watchful raven was tempted by a piece of pizza which he unceremoniously stuffed into his over-sized beak face. This distraction allowed an assassin to take up Odin’s sword and deliver a slow motion slash across Odin’s throat, felling the god of all and silencing his court.

Out from that calm before the storm, moment of ultimate shock and horror came an explosion of noise and gyrations. This eventually culminated into a blues number as we stood in reverence over our fallen deity. We sang, in the deep, rich and somber tones of a bellowing blues tune: “Oh, what a way to start the day-e-ay-e-ayyy, oh what a way to start the day…” Repeating at least three times to dramatic effect as the glazed eyes of our audience looked on in awe. Then we departed the stage to uproarious applause. Those people had no way to prepare themselves for that performance, and it was inexplicably glorious, as was the feeling we received and the celebrations afterwards. We did not win first place at Battle of the Bands but we did win a spot to perform at Extravaganja just for the novelty and sheer peculiarity of our band’s performance.

Unfortunately we all got way to high to ascend the stage at Extravaganja and would not have had any idea what to do on stage this time around so perhaps it was for the best. We stood conspiring outside of an Amherst college building near the town common, scrambling to come up with ideas when we were due on stage in minutes. Having accomplished very little to nothing in terms of a plan, we began weaving through the pot-smoking crowd, decked out as we were in tapestries and playing our gypsy instruments. Once we reached the stage we saw that a classic rock band was plugging in and preparing to perform. They kindly told us to fuck off, as we missed our fifteen minute window on stage and consequently, our fifteen minutes of fame was done.

Through my connections I became quite the middleman, able to provide for my friends upstairs in 807 Fresh the finest chiba. I was not the stingy sort of middleman so I would not charge them any extra, ever, because they were my friends. Spending time with these cherished compadres was all the incentive I needed to provide for them, scrape high and low for green from oft-times nefarious sources. One such nefarious source was the Iguana King, the only dealer in all of Sylvan who provided the fabled sativa Citrusss Iguana, so pronounced by him because of his sssinissster lisssp. A tall, pale, freckled Irish fellow, he was truly reclusive, with a revolving door of caliente chicas. He even sat down with me and Hilltops one day to a bowl and some beers while we played his PS3. To our eyes that sleek black tower might as well have been the daunting monolith possessing untold technologies from 2001: A Space Odyssey. This was in my eyes the ultimate ultimate (a phrase used to describe Jiggly Wrigley, a brunette hottie with Double G breasts splayed across her chest in the classic film Windy City Heat directed by Bobcat Goldthwaite.) It was the height of college experiences I had yet observed: ruling the dorms with weed sales, sitting pretty on a next gen video game console, with random hotties lined up outside the door, bringing to mind the tune “I Love College” by Asher Roth.

I never found myself dealing weed for profit either, only ever to supply my homies and feed their minds if you will. Most often I was the man putting up the money and smoking up the masses and I did not mind. It was my way of paying my trust fund forward to those less fortunate, a mind-feeding program for the nugless. When I was merely a middleman, I was almost always in a position to benefit from this transaction but only because I would soon assist in their consumption of said materials. I am of the opinion that this does not, however, detract from the compassion with which I chose to implement my initiative and drug-dealer networking abilities to benefit my friends’ mental elevations.

In my courses I took college writing because it was required, which I would have tested out of if I had been able to take the AP English test. Sadly, my grandmother died and her funeral was on the day I was scheduled to take the test and I had no opportunity for make-ups. Thus I had to take college writing with freshmen who were terrible writers, and with a condescending professor who I enjoyed trolling. My essay arguments were increasingly outlandish and challenging for the professor to see eye to eye with as the semester wore on. In one essay I even compared the plight of Mexicans in America to wolves being hunted on the frontier by militant farmers.

Hanging out with Hilltops every day, naturally I got to know his roommate and suitemates as well. His roommate was called Mobes and he was a tall, laid-back black man from Norwood who seemed to have all the luck in the world with the ladies. I was instantly jealous of his ability to gain the attention of females with seemingly minimal effort. He schooled me in the ways of the game and taught me that each man has to develop his own style of appealing to women, and to use what works for you. Generally the golden rules were as Kanye says: “when you try hard, you die hard” and “less is more.” For Mobes, he was the nice, occasionally funny guy who smiled a lot and just ried to look good, playing everything smooth, staying aloof and positive at all times. A big part of this was acting like you did not care. These aspects I took upon myself and although he said that I should not try to replicate his style I feel like I have, and to great effect in my own personal opinion. I discovered that it was a man’s job to assure a woman, to make her feel as if everything was alright and to never complain, talk too much about yourself or become nervous or worry about anything. For me I had to fake it till I made it.

I applied the training wheels, which was for me to get insanely stoned and then talk to lots of hot girls. Best case scenario they were as high or higher than me (which I accomplished by smoking them up) so we were both more comfortable around each other. With sedated my sensors it was much easier to placate fears, but also more challenging to continue coming up with interesting topics of discussion. This increased my tolerance as well as my ability to remain charming in extenuating circumstances (on varying levels of intoxication.) During this freshman year I hardly ever drank, only ever smoked. I weighed the pros and cons of drinking and smoking and it was a no-brainer. The act of smoking itself did not cause you to gain weight or lose brain cells, whereas drinking did. Also smoking made you more cautious, and drinking made you less cautious, and more likely to make bad decisions. For this reason I abstained from partying throughout my college career, urges which I later indulged in during senior and super senior year.

Another mentor for my game was Boris Da Blade, a short Dominican extrovert from Lynn who was loud and intrusive at times but always entertaining and always had a laugh or at least a grin on his face. He shared a love of video games with me, and also a love of pot. It was his dream to become a lawyer and he certainly loved to argue so I could not deny his passion for the art. He had a bubbler named Gator after Will Ferrell’s pimp character in The Other Guys that was shaped like a large glass phallus, a favorite among us potsmokers who hung out in that suite: Boris, Hilltops, Mobes and I. Boris taught me the concept of “thirst” which came in handy especially when I was courting my next girlfriend (that would not come about until junior year when I actually lived with Boris and Mobes.) Thirst was key to playing the game, the same way that silence is key to playing jazz. The space between each note creates the music, and makes all the difference. The idea of attraction that grows in one’s mind from desiring a response is more powerful than actually receiving it. What you say is less important than how you say it.

It was with Boris and Mobes that I first played basketball in college. My dad was a great shot and actually played in college at Windsor, a small school admittedly, but I was convinced there was some hereditary skill that he passed along to me. For this reason, ever since I embarassed myself in front of Boris and Mobes, playing ball blazed out of my gourd, I determined to become a baller. I ended up balling with ZB and others from Quabbin as well and college became for me, a redemption song of basketball. There were times in senior year when I was a lock-down defender, rim protector, tenacious rebounder and lights out three-point shooter. That was a time when I felt I had very little to live for other than basketball and listened daily to Kanye West’s Cruel Summer album, particularly the song New God Flow. My favorite line being: “Went from most hated to the champion god flow, guess thats a feeling only me and Lebron know.”

Hanging out with Mobes in the room he shared with Hilltops brought the opportunity to hone my game by spending time with Vet, a beautiful petite blond girl with bright blue eyes and a perpetual smile who I crushed on pretty hard. She came most often with her friend Sassie who had I believe was interested in me. Sassie was very outgoing and rambunctious and extremely well-endowed, never afraid to let it all hang out. Both these girls loved smoking and were very friendly and easy to hang out with and talk to. Boris said I should be a little bit of a dick to girls so they would appreciate your good graces more. They wanted a man and they certainly did not want you to act like a bitch. So I took this to mean that I should shoot down certain things that Vet would say and try to prove her wrong. It was then that the popular belief that you can never win an argument with a woman was affirmed in my mind. In truth, I was only supposed to tease them a little, call them out gently, not in a hurtful way.

This I learned over time and there were opportunities for me I feel, even after Mobes made out with Vet one drunken night. At the gym the next day he said he would not be able to move forward with her because she was not interested in him in that way. He claimed it was because she was a good little rich girl and she could not see herself with a black man. It was at this moment that I realized that he was at a disadvantage because there were some white girls who simply would not be with a black man. I will never know if this was necessarily the case with Vet, but it was true of some girls, that is for sure. Mobes graciously said I should take my shot with Vet because his time had passed. I foolishly refused to go for it because I believed I did not have a chance. To this day I regret that and follow in the words of Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

My opportunities continued as I hung out on a towel with Vet and Sassie and a number of other females, drinking “Rum in the Sun” as they termed it, instead of going to class. On a sun-drenched grassy hill overlooking campus, watching the less-fortunate students of UMass trudge to class and back while we drank from incognito containers was incredibly gratifying. This was the payout of my high school career, sheltered and prudish, bound in book studies and the expectation of straight A’s. Now, my grades were slipping but I did not seem to care because I was living the life I had always dreamed of. I hit the gym twice a day in the same clothes I went to class in, not giving a fuck about the reaction on girl’s faces. Imagine walking back from the gym to my dorm wearing khaki pants and a button-up, all of which absolutely drenched in sweat and clinging to my legs and chest. It was a sight indeed.

The progress was immensely rewarding. Throughout my entire life I was never able to do even one pull-up. After a few sessions at the gym I was able to do 5 then 10 then up to 20 at my peak a couple years later. I shed weight like crazy, finally made good eating decisions because my friends Ra and Ignatius were vegetarians and judged me for eating meat. I ate spinach, whole wheat pasta, grapes, oranges, eggs and chicken breast as well as lots of chocolate milk and water. One day when I went up to 807 Fresh, Ra’s stunning, charming and wonderful girlfriend Talia remarked at my bulging biceps, “Damn, Morrall, you’re getting jacked!”

And I could only respond with “yeahhhh….” That felt really good. So I kept doing it. I was 240 when I left high school and after freshman year I was 200. I lost 40 lbs freshman year where the stereotype is for freshman to gain 15 I was +55 on that mark. I was finally assuming the shape I had always wanted and was becoming more desirable to women. This made it much more easier to talk to them and set my mind at ease quite literally because i was an adrenaline junkie, the endorphins were constantly pumping. I missed my opportunity to hook up with pale, voluptuous Sassie freshman year and she even brought a dude to my suite to make me jealous while we were playing Beirut. She was not the only female attention I received however. Dominating the ultimate frisbee field in Northeast’s grassy quad flanked with cherry blossom trees, I accrued the gaze of a fit and tan cute-as-a-button outgoing blonde Aussie. She was perpetually followed by some seemingly friend-zoned bloke so I didn’t make any moves because I wasn’t certain about their relationship. However as I gloated over my frisbee victories one day amongst the compadres sitting around a table in the dining common, the blonde Aussie came up behind me and blew gently on the back of sweaty neck as she passed. I could only look on in amazement as the beautiful angel flitted away chuckling and lilting those blue eyes back at me alongside the friend-zoned bloke.

Most nights we played Beirut in my suitemate Beedro’s room which was right next door to my room. We made it very clear that the game was known as “Beirut” and not “Beerpong” (Beerpong is with paddles.) Also, real beer must be in the cups at all times and not water. It was in Beedro’s room that I spent much of my time freshman year and with his girlfriend Bloom that I would spend much of my future college career. They affectionately dubbed me “Milk Dud” because I was pale and often unassuming that first year. Beedro was a very laid-back pot-smoking dude but he was also in the Air National Guard so he had to go to an airbase in Westfield once a month for drills and to repair fighter jets. He was once a huge hippie, with hair down to his waist, coarse dark hair and olive Greek complexion somewhat resembling Jesus. He had quite the collection of glassware, an entire cabinet of exotic and outlandish pieces in fact. Bongs that were one to two feet high as well as bowls and bubbles of all colors, shapes and sizes including Vertical Takeoff which resembled a harrier jet with its twin engines (two bowls and two carbs) and required two people to light.

Beedro’s girlfriend, Bloom, was a friendly and unapologetic girl who was a bit of a tomboy at times. She literally lived in Beedro’s room, never going back to her dorm in central but staying every night on his futon with him. She was probably the most relatable, and easiest to talk to female I had found in life thus far, definitely considered one of the guys. For as long as I have known Beedro and Bloom they have been together, inseparable. She was incredibly proud of Beedro because he was in the military and just because he was the man in general. He did have an unspoken confidence about him as well as an incredible amount of practical and mechanical knowledge to back it up. Many hours were spent blazing in that room just next door to my own, in a chamber of blankets on a futon. Beedro, Bloom, Hilltops and I scrawled many pictures in highlighter under the black lights in that chamber, artistic visions that appeared to us out of the haze of our pot-filled minds.

Beedro had a roommate was notoriously fun to make fun of. Imagine an uglier, cornier, redneck, white-trash Shia Lebeouf and divide it by half. This kid, Sandford, was constantly trying too hard to impress people and be funny, of which, to my knowledge he never accomplished either. At times you couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. He neglected to smoke with us, of which we were glad because we could not stand his presence. He took the top bunk above where Beedro’s futon was and sometimes hooked up with chicks. Bloom would rip on me because Sandford was getting action but I remained a virign. It was perplexing to me as well, how he would hook up with some attractive girls and I couldn’t even find one girl who was even moderately attractive. It was all about my confidence I learned, and even though Sandford had very much misplaced confidence it was confidence nonetheless and it served him well.

Towards the end of the year, Bloom and Beedro finally revealed to me the way into Isenberg. I would accrue the reputation of that school on my degree and resume, without the required GPA. Bloom and Beedro had inside information being in the Resource Economics major, which was to be phased automatically into Isenberg next year. Resource Economics was similar to my major of Economics but you had to choose a focus, one of four, and I chose managerial. This meant that my studies would be more centered on managing labor and capitol than pure economic theory. Because I could freely switch my major from Economics to Resource Economics before being phased into Isenberg the next year, I bypassed the GPA requirement of 3.5 (I had 2.5.) I would effectively be sneaking in through the back door of Isengard(berg) by transferring into their major.

So the decision was made: Beedro and Bloom had given me the foolproof plan of sneaking into Isenberg without having to have any of the credentials and by next year I was in. It was at this time toward the end of freshman year that I had to decide where I wanted to live sophomore year. My roommate in Sylvan was a “friend” from high school, in truth he was more of an acquaintance. We had never hung out in high school and I learned, for good reason. He had night terrors apparently, wore diapers to bed because he shat himself in his sleep, had a problem of grinding his teeth, and groaning in his sleep. This, combined with him being anti-social, a straight-edge prude and extremely awkward made my freshman roommate experience less than ideal. Fortunately he spent much of his time sleeping in his cousin’s dorm room so I had the room to myself, to play late night World of Warcraft, read and go to town on myself. I don’t mean to brag but I leveled a human rogue from 1 to 80 in less than three weeks, playing basically all night long every night. Sylvan was great, I met a bunch of chill pot-smoking hippies, but it was removed and viewed as the “reject, loner” dorm, sometimes termed Suicide Sylvan. I wanted to meet more attractive girls and have more of a “central” location so it was a no-brainer: sophomore year I lived in Central, in a dorm of my own middle namesake, which was my mother’s maiden name: Baker.

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