I've Always Been This Awkward - Two


This one summer in college I didn't really want to go away from Santa Cruz (because it was Santa Cruz and it ruled) so I applied for and was hired to work with the campus Conference Office. You know, it's a revenue thing for the school, they rent the unused spaces like dorms and apartments and classrooms and such. They have groups come out to the beauty of the campus and they offer expensive catering, blah blah blah. Money is money, I suppose. Overhead counts. I guess it kept my overall tuition affordable in the end, however.

Part of the gig though, and this is important, was not only did we get paid, we got a free room. You would be placed in an apartment or dorm or whatever. So you could work all day, do your "stuff" all night, and roll out of bed to "work," and live in Santa Cruz all summer. A summer job with free room and sometimes free food (conference leftovers) was incredible. Like the burned-out kids at my child's summer camp who look fairly rough in the morning, we must have looked absolutely dead to our campus guests.

Anyway, I learned that I got the job and soon it came time to learn where we got to live; which part of campus, type of accommodation, and who we'd be near. Socially, this mattered quite a bit. You know.

Bittersweet, I was assigned to a sweet part of campus, up in the redwoods, to a pretty new apartment in fact. But to a double room. Egads! I hadn't had a roommate at that point for a long while and those situations were by choice or convenience, not some arbitrary assignment for some job thing. Besides, I that point. You know, "active." Sexually active. I was a man! Funny thing is, that summer I was actually accused of being a "player" by my supervisor before the word "player" hit the popular and mainstream vocabulary. This was like 1989 or something. I wasn't no player (but, like I've mentioned, my branding was strong). Maybe my supervisor Hilary accused me of that because she felt that I constantly hit on her. Maybe. She loved it, too. Had I been a real player, there'd be more of a story about Hilary too. But, I never even kissed her.

My previous two roommates had been wicked genius Matt R. in Cupertino, and before that Kathy K. in Hayward. Matt and I planned that shit the year before. And we had schemes and ideas. We ran scams and we tweaked situations. We freaked out Dean so bad he moved back to Colorado. We got yelled at. We laughed and drank very bad beer. We had a hot tub.

I was just really, really lucky with Kathy. The best part of roomming with Kathy for that year was, of course, the rumors. Everybody asked if we, you know, "slid over" to each other's beds during the course of the long, cold east bay evenings. We didn't, but we had a pact to never divulge whether we did or not. I think our stock answer was something like, "C'mon? What do you think?" Thinking back, that pact in and of itself was kind of hot. Our little secret. I really should have worked the charisma on Kathy though. She was pretty hot. But I was young and a bit inexperienced with the ways of real-life, grown-up women. I lived with her and it was very What was I thinking? Oh yeah, I had a long-term, long-distance girlfriend at the time and that was a factor too. What was I thinking? Had I been a "player" this would have been a very different story. I did see her naked a couple of times. Boobs!

Anyway, so I was assigned a double room for my Conference Office job and, frankly, I found that to be petulantly unacceptable. I figured that if I complained about it I could risk having the job at all and all my summer plans would fall into the toilet and I'd be homeless and addicted to heroin and dead by 25. I needed the gig. So, I concocted a plan. I would lie.

My lie to get out of living in a double room was centered on--as all good lies are--the irrefutable
story. What would get one out of living in a double room for a summer? It had to be medical because religion could be too complicated. It had to be a private medical matter that required privacy. But I didn't look sick. It had to be weird.

Somehow I figured it out. I cannot remember how I came up with such a beautiful plan without the use of Google and the Interwebs. Did I go to the library? Like I said, it was 1989. There wasn't a Google or a viable Interwebs. Somehow I found some reference to "somnambulism" somewhere. I didn't have the sleepwalking type but the, get this, screaming in my sleep type. Oh, I've had it forever.

I had a heart-to-heart talk with Diane the staff coordinator about "an issue of concern to me and my potential apartment mates.... Uh, I scream in my sleep." That was a really fucking overly concerned and sincere conversation. I explained it like a pro though. Needless to say, I ended up in my very own wing of an apartment. I even considered the occasional scream to keep the story solid, but I never had to to do that.

That was a good summer. One of many. That was a great lie. One of many.

I worked Conference Office for the two following summers. By the end of my third year Diane and I had become quite chummy (even though she played the new Bobby McFerrin song Don't Worry Be Happy for me - really, she thought I'd like that? How sweet). Drunkenly, I fessed up to the somnambulism ruse. She was all, "I thought so!" She thought it was genius and told me some of her favorite all time lies, the best and most versatile being, "I had to wait for the sofa to be delivered."

Summer jobs are all about lying.

I've Always Been This Awkward