“What’s up dude, sorry I’m late. Thanks for waiting by the way.”
“No worries homes. Let’s light this mother up!”
Jay stood panting. His hands on his knees, he watched Anuj light the blunt, breathing in the sweet aroma of the tobacco mixed with the cloying yet attractively familiar scent of the pot. “Damn dude, how fat did you roll that?!”
“Let’s just say that many trees were harmed in the making of this production,” Anuj deadpanned as he handed the brown stick-like object to Jay.
“You know what they say, dontcha? Weed is evil, it must be burned!” Jay laughed at his own joke, causing Anuj to choke on the smoke he had been trying to hold in.
“Goddammit man, you know you’re not supposed to crack any good ones while we’re still toking!” Anuj coughed out in between dry heaves.
“Damn, my bad man – I assumed you already knew that one.”
“It’s straight, this shit is just too dank though! “ Anuj bent over, half laughing at his own joke and slapping at his own knee, and half coughing up what Jay thought might be a lung, at the very least.
“Haha, yeah man – this shit is LOUD.” He projected the last word, and immediately winced as he heard the sound of his voice blot out everything else for what was probably just a fraction of a second, but felt like a million of them. Why did he always have to be so damn enthusiastic?
“Yeah nig, this shit is the shit.” Jay laughed at that one. He dapped Anuj, still chuckling as he did so. Anuj grinned at him, winked, and whipped out a cigarette.
This afternoon was going to be alright. Luckily, his fuckup earlier hadn’t created any lasting problems. Jay had no problem with getting his shit done; he just needed to do it his way. And a lot of the time doing it his way meant procrastinating, getting as high as humanly possible, and then doing his work on the comedown. He had it down to something of a science. He was both impressed and concerned by his comfortable relationship with pot. He shrugged, mostly to himself, but Anuj caught the little jump of Jay’s shoulders.
“What’s up bro?” He looked genuinely interested in knowing. He probably was. Anuj was always looking out for Jay, even though Jay was the older of the two. He was always surprised by how deceptively mature his buddy was. They weren’t brothers in the literal sense, but they might as well have been. Ever since they’d been introduced by a mutual friend, there’d been a bond. Anuj adopted Jay as part of his newly forming college family, and Jay treated Anuj like the little brother he’d never had.
Jay had repeatedly marveled at his good luck. Anuj was his second great find of the year. And he happened to be brown too, just like Shawn, his first find. He usually didn’t gel with Indians. Came with too much drama. Too many expectations. Too much studying. Jay realized, not for the first time that day, that he was kind of a racist prick. Ah well, makes me a real American in a way hehe.
“You good, dude? Yo bro?” Jay was snapped back to reality, once again not for the first time that day, and once again he was greeted by the sight of Anuj’s concerned face. SHIT. For the love of Christ, he needed to stop daydreaming. He was starting to feel like JD from Scrubs. Not a self comparison he ever wanted to have to make. Daydreaming, done.
“Yeah man, sorry. It’s been a long day and that was a hell of a blunt.” Jay grinned proudly at Anuj. “You’ve taught yourself without any help! And quick as hell too!” Jay looked at his adopted brother and thought about how lucky he was to have this dude and Shawn in his life. Christ, he was getting all weird again. That was probably just the bud talking. He hoped so. “We should go get something to eat man.”
“Yeah dude, that’s straight. You down for Angie’s?” The name was the result of the rebranding of the dining hall that the administration had been conducting. Run by Angel Food Dining, the administration had come to the conclusion that the best way to improve the dining hall was to rename it in an effort to give the facility a homier feel. Who cares about the food or the actual place when it has a kickass name right? Jay really hoped that shit like this wasn’t the reason for the insanely high tuition his family was paying. And by family, he meant his parents. He couldn’t afford to pay for shit. But at least he knew it. Some of the kids at school thought that just because mommy and daddy were rich so were they. But in all fairness, those parents did intend to transfer that kind of wealth to their children, and already did so in the form of large bank accounts. The kids actually weren’t assholes about it though. Jay had known kids in high school with none of what these students had, and they’d been complete pricks about it. These kids were cool for the most part. Jay had learned to appreciate it rather than being jealous.
Jay realized that once again he’d been spacing out. He kicked himself mentally. He was already narcissistic, he didn’t need to tack on daydreaming to the infinite list of things to work on.
Jay liked that about Anuj. He’d been concerned, Jay had told him he was tired, and Anuj was happy to let them share an amicable silence. That was friendship in Jay’s book.
They shared the blunt back and forth between them in continued silence until it was just a tiny burning brown ember. Anuj tossed it to the ground and ground it in the earth with his sneaker. “It’s out bro. Wanna get our food to go and head back home?”
“Yeah dude, I have a presentation at five. I wanna snag a beer before I get ready for that shitshow.”
“Dude, should you do that? Are you trying to get crossed before you present? I don’t know if that’s smart, man”. Once again, Anuj was being the voice of reason. Jay was pissed at himself again. It shouldn’t have to be his friend’s job to make sure he didn’t do anything stupid. He appreciated it, but hated that it wasn’t out of line. He needed to take a look at his life at some point. Maybe next year.
“Nah dude, it’s just a beer. Something to get me focused before I’m forced to face my punishment for being a good student for once in my life.” He winked at Anuj and looked at him in what he really hoped was an assuring face. One of these days he needed to stand in front of a mirror and take a look at the numerous expressions that probably looked nothing like what he imagined. Dammit. Narcissistic daydream. This could be bad if it persisted.
Jay stared at the ground. He glanced up at the none too enticing blackboard and then immediately back down to his shoes. He’d never realized just how interesting shoelaces were. The texture, the curves, the length, the color the… he was interrupted from his reverie by the tapping of keys next to him. He turned to look at his neighbor, wondering what could possibly possess Ray to take notes on this lecture. Yes, credits are bad and debits are good, got it. How much more is there to know? Jay wiggled his phone out of his pocket, trying to surreptitiously check his texts without- “Mr. Williams, can I help you with something?” – THAT.
Jay looked up, this time actually bothering to look long enough to see what had just transpired at the front of the lecture hall. Shit. One hundred and thirty seven students and this old bat had still managed to catch him checking his phone. All for what, a lousy text from his mother? Jay met eyes with his professor, knowing what was coming next. “I’m sorry if accounting isn’t enough fun for you Jay, but please save chat snapping, or whatever you call it, for your numerous hours spent out of the classroom. Otherwise I’ll be forced to ban all electronics during lecture.”
Double shit. It happened at least once a week. Some less than sneaky student would get caught checking their phone during lecture and get some sort of public shaming, but this was the first time that she had threatened to actually ban electronics. If he was the guy that got laptops banned from class… Well needless to say he wouldn’t be getting any bids anytime soon. Not to mention that he’d have to actually pay attention in class. Triple shit.
“Sorry ma’am. My grandmother was in the hospital and wasn’t doing too well. My mother texted me and I thought it might be important.” Technically speaking, none of what Jay had said was false. His grandmother had been in the hospital, and his mother had texted him. However, Jay deigned to mention that his grandmother had already passed away – before he was born – and that he was checking for texts from Julie, not his mother. Jay could almost feel the change in air temperature as Professor Banks went from frigid bitch to warm and matronly.
“Oh my gosh, Jay I’m so sorry, do you need to leave class early?”
“Uhhh, yes, thank you.” Jay did his best to feign pre-cry sniffling, but instead ended up looking like he had just snorted coke. He hurriedly shoved his laptop into his bag, thankful that she hadn’t questioned his story.
“Oh, and Jay?”
“Yes ma’am?” He had almost made it to the door. The entire class was now watching with great interest.
“Please feel free to stop by my office if you need to talk about it.”
What was the word for four times something… Oh yeah, quadruple. Quadruple shit. The only thing worse than her being all up in his face was her being concerned about him. The last thing he needed was a professor keeping any sort of tabs on him. But at least this public humiliation might result in some sympathy hookups from the girls in class. Jay internally shook his head. Who was he kidding, grandparents died all the time. None of these kids gave a shit about his half-fictitious sick grandmother. As far as they were concerned, he was just that asshole that almost lost them their laptop privileges.
He reached his hand out to the doorknob without even turning to look at it. “Thank you very much professor, I think I’ll be okay, but I appreciate it.” Jay tried his best to flash her what he hoped was a winning smile, but he was fairly sure he just looked concussed.
He quickly exited the classroom, wincing at the labored squeak of the door as it inched close. It shut with a gentle thump, just loud enough that Jay almost didn’t hear Allie calling his name. “Jay, JAY!”
“Oh hey, what’s up?” Jay wondered why Allie was talking to him. She usually didn’t say shit to him without one of their mutual friends being present, and even then, he could barely get a hello and goodbye from her.
“Did you do the marketing case?” Ah. Mystery solved.
“Yeah, I’ll shoot it over to you when I get home.”
“Oh my gawd, thanks! But actually, that’s not why I wanted to talk to you.”
“I’m sure it isn’t” Jay thought wryly as he glanced at his watch. It was almost three. Almost blunt time.
“Yeah, I was actually wondering what you’re doing next Friday.”
Typical Delta. Ask for a favor and then just- “Wait, what?”
“Next Friday”, she repeated. “Are you busy?”
“Uh, I’m not sure. Why?” This was unexpected. Usually after she bummed the homework off him, Allie would make some sort of inane comment about the weather, let the conversation peter out, and leave. It took all of Jay’s concentration to keep paying attention to Allie. It was exactly three. He should be on his way to the rocks with Anuj right now, getting ready for their afternoon blunt.
“So yeah, if you’re free, I thought you might like to go to formal.” Jay was shaken out of yet another daydream. Goddamn, he really needed to quit zoning out like that.
“I’m not in Delta…” he said, still half-thinking about Anuj and their blunt. He wondered if Anuj would wait for him.
“Of course you’re not silly!” He hated it when girls called him silly. “That’s why I’m inviting you!” It was 3:02. This had gone on long enough. Time to brush aside his thoughts of Anuj and their joint venture.
“If you don’t want to go, you could just say so instead of just standing there. There are plenty of GDIs who would kill to go to this formal.” Jay noted that she hadn’t said “with me”.
“Huh, sorry, I was just thinking of something. My bad. I have to ask though, why are you asking me instead of an Alpha or something?”
“I thought it might be a good time if we both went.” Both went. Not “both went together”, just “both went”. As if they both just happened to go to the same event at the same time. She was being very careful not to make it sound like a date. Jay was intrigued.
“Together?” If she was going to ask him for a favor and then draw out the interaction, he figured he might as well have some fun with it.
“I mean, yeah, we’d go together, but just as friends, obviously.”
“Obviously.” Jay’s mind was working overtime. Being invited as a fuckbuddy he could have gotten. Or even out of pity. But this was different. She clearly wanted him to go, though she wasn’t being too clear as to why. He checked his watch again. 3:05. Anuj was probably wondering where the fuck he was. He really needed to wrap this up.
He chuckled inwardly, remembering how less than year ago he would have gladly lopped off his left nut for a chance to even hang out with Allie, let alone go to a formal with her.
“Why do you want me to go?” Nothing like a little awkward questioning to move things along.
“I heard you’re fun, and like I said, I think we’d both have fun if we went.” Jay had to forcibly suppress the urge to check his watch.
“Lots of guys are fun. What’s the deal? Just level with me.”
“Okay look, I don’t know anyone who sells, and I thought if we go together we could smoke before….” You had to hand it to her. If you’re going to go big, you might as well go gargantuan, Jay thought. Not only had she just asked to bum homework off him, but she wanted him to drop fifty bucks on a ticket to an event that he’d have to dress up for, that he would attend with a girl who he’d then have to smoke out, and on top of all of it he wouldn’t even get lucky.
Fuck it. He checked his watch – 3:07. If he hauled ass outside he might still be able to get a couple hits off the roach.
“Look, I’m not a dealer, I’m not a dispensary, and I’m not a sugar daddy. I don’t smoke girls out just because they’re pretty, and I don’t like it when people aren’t up front with me. Thanks, but I’m good.” He turned around and briskly strode down the long hallway, past the flags of various countries, until he reached the double doors. He pushed through them purposefully, like a man on mission, which in all fairness, he kind of was.
“Okay, she can’t see me anymore.” He took off running towards the campus’s main gates, praying that Anuj had decided to wait for him.
Every time I leave the house, I dress like today’s the day I’ll meet the one
The sun hits my page
Sheds no light on my words
It glows with approval
But its meaning is empty
The breeze flows through
Wipes away the fatigue
Glistening on my neck
Only to be pushed away
This pristine white
Marred only by
Of my pen
This unfinished thought
Waiting to be heard
The last of its kind
The only one I have left
A daydream like quality
A lost time
Was not recorded
When math disintegrates
And all semblance of order with it
To what do we resort
To re-establish the world
Chaos is terrifying
Yet gorgeous in its way
But to say that it is
Or isn’t anything
Would be wrong regardless
You cannot classify something
You know not
There is too much and too little
The infiniteness of its
Or lack thereof
Is far too great
And too simple
If it was all a dream
Tell me how I never went to sleep
Never closed my eyes
Never even blinked
Thought people saw through me
And damn it felt so lonely
Didn’t know they’d hold me
Didn’t know they were holding
Always looking down and I never glanced up
Never saw the people who were keeping me up
Never saw the angels who were holding me afloat
Only the demons trying to sink my boat
My friends gave me a lighthouse
A safe haven of sorts
They dived in and pulled me out
They brought me back, safely to port
This ship is leaking
Yet the crew stays
Fixing it, one at a time
I told her I loved her
She said I was lying
What was worse
The pain or the crying
Not on my part
But hers for some reason
She viewed honesty
As interpersonal treason
She loved and hated me
All at one time
She feared and needed me
She wasn’t, but was mine
Don’t let anyone tell you
Your struggle isn’t real
Don’t let others’ imaginations
Break your reality