Lost Journal: Cleanliness is Next to Nuttiness

Journal entry: February 23, 1988 (age 18) — Cleanliness

Earlier tonight, I was sitting in my SUNY Oswego dorm room, reading my Introduction to Meteorology textbook.  But I wasn’t merely sitting.  Through extensive trial and error, I have come up with the perfect studying position.  At the head of my twin bed, I lean back against the wall, cushioned by one of those “husband” pillows with the two jutting extensions for one’s arms.  A regular bed pillow is tucked under the crook of my knees; my thighs creating a surface on which to place another pillow.  On top of that pillow sits whatever text or notebook I am reading.  A blanket is then draped over the whole arrangement (but under the book).  Before I even start this elaborate positioning, I am always careful to place a soda and the phone on the milk crate next to my bed. That way I can maintain my study stance for several hours at a non-stretch.

Tonight, I had just completed this delicate arrangement when my roommate, Danny Walker, entered from the hallway.  I said “Hey, man,” but Danny didn’t respond.  Instead, he just looked at me in my hard-won cocoon of comfort, and gave a wry smile.  He casually walked over to my dresser, and moved my alarm clock about 6 inches to the left.  Then he left the room.

As the door closed, I started to read the first page of the assigned chapter on barometric isobars.  After re-reading the initial paragraph about four times, I started fidgeting.  I stared an uncomprehending stare at Figure 8.1 on the page, and then looked up toward the dresser.  Frowning, I shifted the book on my lap and bore my eyes into that pesky first paragraph with renewed determination.  As my eyes glazed over yet again, I leaned my head back and let out something between a sigh and a growl.  With unnecessary violence, I tossed the heavy text on the floor, threw off the blanket and pillows, and stomped across the room.

I was just returning the alarm clock to its allotted space on my dresser top when Danny re-entered.  Now he was laughing.  “I knew you couldn’t take it!”  I gave him a shove, and told him what verbing nouns he was.  But I was smiling, too, by the time I sat back down.  Danny motioned toward the dresser again, his face locked in mock shock.  But he didn’t want to REALLY set me off.  As our freshman year has progressed, we’ve actually become best friends.

Later, we propped our nightly Domino’s pizza on a trash can between our two chairs and watched Late Night with David Letterman.  During a man-on-the-street interview by Larry “Bud” Melman, I asked Danny when he had figured out that I would be bothered by something as stupid as moving items on my dresser.  He said it was somewhere between my explanation of how borrowed CDs were to be alphabetically and chronologically reintegrated into my collection and his psychology professor’s lecture on Freud’s theory of arrested development.

“Shut up,” I said, as I disassembled the empty pizza carton, folded it precisely in half, and stowed it in the trash can, perpendicular to the floor.

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