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This was once a long rambling story about "Karen" with way too much information. Long story short, I could never figure out if we were dating or friends.

Years later my friends drug me to a rather boring Halloween party. When we arrived I immediately found the hostess of the party to be strangely familiar. After a few minutes I placed her, she was Karen's older sister, I hadn't seen her in probably 8 years.

Sure enough, Karen herself showed up soon after I did. She was with her new fiance. I said hello, she said hello, and as I walked away I heard him ask her "Paige? Is that Paige, like your first boyfriend Paige?". I just barely heard her say "Yeah, shut up". I am glad my back was turned, I didn't want her to see the smile on my face. Those two little lines finally brought another subplot from my life to a nice happy ending, and cleared up every bit of confusion I ever had about her.

Karen married that guy a few years later, her parents invited me to the wedding, but I did not attend. Every once in a while I'll see her in a restaurant, she will pretend she doesn't notice me, and I'll pretend not to notice her, as there isn't anything left for us to do.

Ah, to have the day off and to go see a movie. There’s nothing quite like it, especially if you take a lady friend along to keep you company.

The movies are less enjoyable these days… sigh. It’s those stupid commercials that they put in before the show… And now they play them before the lights go down too. This is the death of the romantic date. I find it hard to carry on a conversation with that idiot noise coming from in front of us. Is this how people with televisions live?

“Honey, could you…”

“Could I… What?”

“Uh… wait a minute…”

Fuck that noise. I could be staring into the crystal blue eyes of a beautiful woman or I can watch Antigone … What-ever-the-band-is-called whore themselves out to make a buck.

So, the lights go down and there is this… Coca-cola commercial. A girl about my age is sitting on a bench and she opens a bottle (or can) of Coke. Little bubbles fill the screen and some sort of bastard hip-hop swells in the theater and she starts dancing. She dances through a myriad of scenes where everyone is happy and dancing along to the music.

The girl I’m with taps me on the shoulder.

“That’s not a commercial for Coke, they’re advertising mushrooms!”

Uncontrollable laughter from my end. Good Lord, she’s right.

    1. Bubbles. Obviously a hallucinatory effect.

2. Everybody’s happy. Last time I did mushrooms, I smiled and giggled a lot.

So I am to infer that Coca-cola would like me to believe that their product produces the same effects as mushrooms. Ha! If only. Mushrooms are hard to get.

Alas. it is a dirty lie these Coke-fiends propagate.

"It's... uh... about four miles to Chicago, I've got a full cup of coffee, half an essay, it's September, and I'm already wearing a parka. Hit it."

Or: How I learned to stop partying and love the nerd.

Or: Adventures of a Wayward College Kid.

Yep, it's true. I am a brand new freshman at the good old University of Chicago. That's the UofC, to us reg'lars. And it's not really that old. In fact, just last week the dean was discovered at midnight, elmer's in hand, gluing ivy to the walls of some of the buildings on the north side of campus. This is the college that was intentionally made out of really bad bricks, just so that it would get old faster. Think something along the lines of those pre-abused jeans that they sell at the mall. Don't want to rip jeans yourself? Let third-world orphan sweatshop children rip them for you!

I was kidding about the essay (finished it about five minutes ago), but I actually do have Calc. in half an hour. And then I might just drop by the local cafe for a piping hot cup of elitism, with a side of synthesized superiority (the animal-friendly alternative!). The name of said cafe? "Intelligenzia."

(Not to belabor the point, but rumor has it that they don't speak in full sentences there. Instead, they function on such a high level they they only use a top-secret genius code.

P1: Emerson...

P2: Leaves of Grass?

P1 {shakes head}: Oedipus Rex, Freud... Nietzsche!

Amazing.)

So, ok, a little bit about social skills at UChicago. I met this kid at a frat party (how many great stories start off that way? Oh, right. None. Sorry.), name of Detrick. We're introduced, but it's one of those lame, 'don't really have anything to say to each other' introductions that consists of:

"Hey."

"Um, hey."

"So, you a freshman?"

"Yeah, heh. Wild time, huh?"

"What?"

"Uh.. I said it's a wild time."

"Ok."

"Yeah." (You utter bastard! Did you note the worldly smile? That half-bored look? I practiced that for an hour, and you're staring at the weird blue punch they're trying to pass off as a tasty beverage.)

"Well, I'll see you around some time."

"Mmm."

Ahhh, that's right, in our daylogs we don't sugarcoat it. We give it to you straight. Every awkward, painful, 'why the hell didn't this bullshit stay in high school where it belongs' moment of it.

Anyway, a few nights later I come back to my room and find a note on my door. "Ashley, follow the arrows." I look for arrows. And lo and behold, there they are! Drawn on about five thousand pieces of tape, leading away from my room and down the hallway. I follow, picking up three curious onlookers on my way. Where do the mysterious arrows lead? To a ventilation shaft, where a piece of paper has been carefully placed.

Inside, the words "Hey Ashley! You hungry? Have a snack!", alongside two pretzels. Pretzels soaked in pure date-rape, according to my rapt audience. By this time it consists of five girls and Jake, all following me down the hall.

The end? Not yet. After the pretzel incident, the arrows led us to the stairs. Up two floors, and then they spiraled around the doorknob to the sixth floor. There was really only one thing to do. I opened the door, waited patiently while half of the people from my floor filed in after me, and then looked around for more arrows. The hallway decorations (which I think are required to be in equal parts lame and acid-trippy) were lego-themed, and tucked behind one yellow paper lego hand was an envelope with the name Detrick on it.

All eleven of us were suitably intrigued when the envelope turned out to be empty. But there was a room number written underneath the name, and so we all turned and looked down the hall just in time to see someone sprint away, top speed, and disappear around the corner. I suppose it's understandable, though. By that point the fifteen of us were kind of a force to be reckoned with.

We tracked him down a few minutes later, and he and I went through a rough reenactment of our earlier conversation. Only with a surprise ending; he revealed what was going to go in the letter, had we been just a little slower following the arrows. Now, why he felt compelled to set this up at eight at night, I just couldn't tell you.

His plan, as far as I could make out, was to call some girl that I knew in high school, ask her my favorite song (which, given that it would be by either Green Day or Andrew Lloyd Webber, would have been entertaining), and then write out the lyrics and leave it for me to find.

BUT HE DIDN'T FINISH. How humiliating! An 8 PM stalker who runs out of time, and comes face to face with not only the stalk-ee, but with half of Bishop House as well.

It was the second day, and, really... what the hell? There is just no way of expressing the confusion I felt.

Alright, well, it's time for calculus class, and then I'm off to mainline some school spirit with my fellow UofCers. Apparently a certain special E2er wants to do a little vicarious living (something, I suspect, along the lines of "Whoa. Your entire room is smaller than the trashcan I keep my cleaning supplies in"), so I'll probably post a few more random stories. Just as soon as I finish that essay.

The funniest thing of all? Despite the nearly school-wide superiority complex, the really remarkably cold weather (and my roommate's air conditioning is ALWAYS ON), and the way the ivy keeps coming unglued and falling on people, I am completely and utterly in love with this place.

Besides, Chicago has some kick-ass pizza.

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