I’ve heard some people say that in college you learn stuff about yourself you never even considered. In my case that’s very true. When I arrived at my dorm room on my first day of college and met my new roommate; Sam, I felt I knew myself pretty well. The geeky guy with glasses who would probably never get further than second base with any girl, and desperately trying to get a spot of popularity by being clown of the class. I thought I knew the road laid out for me in the future; studying hard, getting a job and hopefully finding a girl, before I went insane from bottled up sexual need.
Sam and I clicked nicely and within a week we were best friends. We liked many of the same things but were also different enough to never make it boring. I was loud, rough and easy going. He was quiet, gentle and emotional. He could always crack me up with just a single word or a look at the right time. He was great that way. I was more of a practical joker, although I only ever tried to joke with him once. His reaction made it very clear that doing that again would mean an early death for me. Not that I needed it anyway. When we were together I always had a great time. Even if it was only doing homework together or our Friday ritual of shooting darts at the local sleesy pub and drinking weak beer.
We went through our first year without anything notable happening to any of us. We had fun, studied together during the week and got drunk on Fridays. After a summer break that was long and boring, we were both deliriously happy to be together again. I did notice he seemed a little more closed off towards me than the year before, but since he had told me before about his unbalanced family, I figured it must have been an awful summer at home. I felt my suspicion was confirmed when he started talking about finding an apartment for himself instead of the dorm during his next year, but I talked him out of it by assuring him that I couldn’t get past my exams without my study buddy. So we stayed in our tiny room and after yet another long summer, where he had spent half of it at my place, we entered our third year.
A few months into the year I started getting seriously worried about him. He seemed constantly down and nothing I said or did seemed to make it better. His grades were fine, so I could only assume it was something personal. He’d never had a date while I’d known him, and since I thought it might help if he got one, I started looking for a possible score for him. Not that I had been very lucky that way either, but at least I put in a good effort. This year I had been busy pursuing the school bimbo Janice. I have to confess I didn’t actually like the empty headed chick, but my dick had no such scruples and pointed to her like a compass needle every time she was nearby. Honestly I think I would have had a better chance of dating the president’s daughter than actually scoring with Janice, but with hormones storming through my brain, I put that fact aside.
My hopes were high for a big party in the dorm common room the coming Friday, and I did my best scouting for opportunities for Sam as well. It wasn’t easy, because I couldn’t figure out what his tastes might be. If I mentioned some girl to him and wanted his opinion, the best I could hope for was a shrug. He couldn’t have too much trouble getting a girl if he tried. He had that lean, dark, baby faced thing going for him. If he didn’t slouch he was almost as tall as I was and looked like some goth god with his jet black hair and dark eyes. For the first time it occurred to me that Sam might be gay. It wouldn’t matter to me, but it would explain a few things. But he was just as anti-informative about guys as he was about girls, so I gave up my quest for a date for him, until I could figure out exactly what he was into.
On the night of the party I was getting ready alone. Sam had for some reason forcibly denied coming along for the party and had slipped out early in the day before I could catch him and persuade him to go with me anyway. My mood was high though and my self esteem was climbing as well. I wasn’t too bad looking this evening I suppose. I still had waves of acne every once in a while and a tendency to get a minor tyre around the middle, but I had been swimming a lot to keep it down and my acne was mercifully absent at the moment. I had grown a last few inches since I started at college and my shoulders had broadened noticeably. My hair was still a muddy brown, but I’d managed to comb it down to a somewhat rugged look instead of the been-fucking-all-night kinda style I usually had no matter what I did to it. So all in all I thought I looked ok.
The party went well. Janice got drunk as a skunk and I swooped in to make my move. But then my wonderful plan failed. Drunk as she was, Janice had no trouble conveying to me that I would be selling snowballs in Hell before she would let me lay a finger on her curvy body. That was a rather hard setback, and I spent the rest of the night feeling sorry for myself and slowly getting fantastically drunk. Meanwhile Janice was busy claiming her rightful position as the football captain’s fuck toy and I then decided it was a totally lost case. It did absolutely nothing to elevate my mood.
When I finally wobbled into our room sometime early in the morning, Sam was there, sitting on his bed as usual. He was smiling and humming to himself while browsing the web on his laptop. In my drunken state I didn’t notice it at first, but after some cold water on my face it dawned on me how unusual the goofy smile was for him. I asked him about it, but only got his usual shrug as a response. Oh well. If he didn’t wanna talk, then fine. I usually did most of the talking between us anyway.
I crashed on my bed and woke up the next day with a magnificent hangover and a morning woody that could cut glass. My covers were crumbled at the bottom of the bed, and my shirt had spun around me endless times before coming to rest under my armpits. So there was absolutely nothing left to hide the tent in my boxers. No matter. I wasn’t shy normally and frankly, my head hurt too much for me to care.
The shirt kept pissing me off when I tried to unwind it and eventually I just ripped it over my head (with a moan of pain I might add) and threw it aggressively to the floor. It wasn’t until that moment I noticed I was being watched intently by Sam from his bed across the room. He was dressed and looked like he had been up for a while. At first I blushed a little about my hard-on, but then I shrugged it off and went to the bathroom. I could feel Sam’s eyes on me all the way through the room and I did wonder if I had something on my face or something. An inspection in the bathroom revealed nothing out of the ordinary, and after a shower and shave, I felt a little better.
When I came back to our room, there was a soda and some painkillers waiting for me on my nightstand. Sam never got hangovers no matter how much he drank, but he was very understanding about mine and often made this little gesture, for which I was very grateful. After pouring it down and putting on some fresh clothes I felt much more like myself and reflected a little about last night. I whined about my bad luck with Janice and Sam didn’t say much, as was his usual custom. But I could have sworn I saw him hurriedly adjust his face after smiling a few times. ‘Damn he must have had a great evening’ I thought. ‘I bet he got laid’. Lucky bastard. I confess I’m am awful whiner and I harped on about Janice for a while when suddenly Sam snapped at me, while I was halfway through a thorough description of the nice tits and ass I missed out on.
“Oh Christ, go jack off or something! Jeez…”
This was a pretty harsh outburst for Sam, who usually only shrugged or offered single word replies to my ranting. What the hell was up with him? He was grinning stupidly just a minute ago!
“What is up with you man? One minute you look like the cat who stole the cream and the next you act like someone died!”
He looked down and frowned at his keyboard.
“Sorry. Just got stuff on my mind.”
“Yeah, no shit. Wanna talk about it?”
He shook his head very fast.
“No! No dude, it’s fine. Just need some peace ok?”
He was slowly freaking me out more and more. His usual solution to bad mood was to go and drink it off at our hangout and slowly divulge whatever was on his mind during a long game of darts. His mood usually improved during the game, as he almost always won. So I suggested we did that later and was rewarded with his usual shrug. Oh well. I would just haul him off later, no matter what he said.
To my great shock however, he refused point blank when I attempted it after dinner. He usually gave some half assed protest and then went along anyway. Call me an ass, but I felt it was a good time to force him to go. Whatever was troubling him had to be bad and I would push him through the only thing I knew worked for him. Just the game of darts at least. Anything to cheer him up just a little. He was my best friend after all. So I started poking him. I’m good at poking.
“Why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you?”
“Oh fuck off.”
“Come on. Tell me!”
“What did you do last night?”
“None of your business.”
“Aw come on, don’t keep your mate out of the loop here! You got laid, didn’t you?!”
“Go fuck yourself.”
“I’m not going away until you tell me all about it.”
“That’ll never happen, so piss off!”
Hmmm. Tough cookie. But hey, I wasn’t a clown for nothing!
“Ok, I’ll make you a deal! Come with me to the Maiden’s Mug and beat my ass in darts. If you win, I’ll never pester you about it again. If I win, you’ll tell me everything. And i do mean e-ve-ry-thing!”
He shrugged. I cheered, grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the door. This was perfect. He would win and slowly tell me everything anyway. I didn’t care about winning or losing. It didn’t matter to me like it did to him. He hated losing. So of course he would put in his best efforts and I would just be good and sloppy and let him win. Not too obviously of course. He hated when people let him win even more than he hated losing.
So we got to the pub and got through a few watery beers and the first few rounds of darts. Still not a word from him. Hmmm. Maybe more beer was needed. As we approached the end of the game, I noticed to my horror, that despite my best efforts to lose, I was slowly getting ahead in points. Sam got more and more tight-lipped through the game and I saw no way of botching my throws without being too obvious about it. Our last beers were ignored as we both concentrated as if it was a matter of life and death. When the last darts were thrown, I won by two points. Two lousy points. I tried to save the situation.
“Look man, you don’t have to tell me anything if you don’t want to…”
“Yes I do. We made a deal.”
“No we didn’t, I made you come here…”
“Shut up asshole, you know me too well for that shit. I agreed to come here and you know it.”
Now he was really freaking me out. He looked close to tears. He glanced around the pub at the sleepy old farts and frowned.
“We can’t talk here.”
I had to agree with him there and grabbed our coats with more than a little apprehension about what he was about to tell me. It looked bad.
We were in no hurry to get back to the dorm and made our way slowly across the park we usually cut through. The sound of traffic was becoming distant and the dry autumn leaves whispered around us in lazy circles as the wind toyed with them. It wasn’t too cold, so when Sam sat down on one of the park benches I didn’t object. For once it was his turn to talk and mine to listen. For several minutes we just sat there in stony silence. I didn’t push him. I almost wished he never got the nerve to tell me anything. I wasn’t good at dealing with personal stuff. Not even my own. He cleared his throat and we both sat stiff as boards until he finally talked.
“Look… I… God this is hard.”
I just sat there. What else could I do?
“When you went to the party last night, I went down here and just walked around for a while. But it was fucking cold, so I went back when I was sure you’d be gone.”
He looked at his toes like they were the most interesting thing on the whole damn planet.
“I knew you were gonna go for Janice and when I got back, I couldn’t help but go and see how you did. I slipped in and sat in the corner. I saw her ditch you and eat Marcus for dinner. I saw you get drunk and then I went back to our room.”
I was lost now. What the hell was he talking about?
“I… I’m… glad she ditched you.”
I couldn’t help but reply.
“What the hell? Why?!”
He looked and sounded like he was about to cry. His voice trembled.
“Because…I… I can’t…”
I small sob escaped him and now I felt really awkward. But he was my friend and I’d stick it out with him if he needed it. No matter how weird it was.
“What? Tell me.”
He looked up at the cloudy sky and blinked furiously. He then shook his head and looked at his shoes again. The nearby streetlamp illuminated a tear as it made it’s way down his smooth cheek. I really wanted to hear the rest, now that I knew it concerned me somehow. I just didn’t know how to proceed. But as usual, I just blurted out something, because I’m an idiot.