Throughout my adolescence, I accumulated a distinct picture of the “true” college experience. My cousin, who played football at an Ivy League school, taught me that college girls were “easy and loose for an ear and a masseuse.” In Junior high, my best friend’s brother, who attended a state school in the south, told me that he had two girlfriends at the same time. I remember idolizing him – for at the time, I don’t think there were even two girls in my eighth grade class who knew my name.
Seeped in teen angst and sexual frustration, my high school years dragged forward. Meanwhile, the prospects of college continued to grow ever more promising.
“Join a fraternity,” my Junior Varsity basketball coach told me in tenth grade, “and you will never be unpopular again.”
“I disagree,” my Varsity basketball coach told me a year later. “You need to get into a fight with a frat guy in his own house. If you win, you will be a legend.” And this sounded pretty damn good considering that the closest I had ever come to being a “legend,” is when I played the video game “Legend of Zelda.”
Even my dad, who spent a lifetime sporting a lazy eye and Austin Powers glasses, became a stud in college.
“It’ll be OK,” he told me sympathetically after my “sure thing” for the prom, a girl who was openly referred to as “messy Jessie” by my high school class, turned me down. “I didn’t have a girlfriend in high school either Andrew, but then in college, things got better.”
“Really?” I answered, beckoning him to continue.
“Absolutely,” he answered, “In the first month of my freshman year, I lost my virginity to my English professor.”
Despite the seeming ridiculousness of viewing college through such a narrow and unsubstantiated scope, society seemed to support my outlook. TV shows like “Boy Meets World” and “Undeclared,” portrayed college as a glorious adventure that was accessible to anyone, while movies like “American Pie 2,” and “The Rules of Attraction,” made my fantasies of hooking up with many college girls seem like a foregone conclusion. It was understandable that by the time I finally stepped into my freshman dormitory, my expectations for the next four years were rather grand.
Based on my first week at the University of Rochester, it seemed as though these “expectations” would inevitably manifest themselves into reality. During my RA’s introductory speech to my freshman hall, he emphasized the following point: “There is to be no sex in the laundry room,” which seemed to carry the implication that there was a precedent for sex taking place in the laundry room. As he was saying this, I noticed that a girl to my right was looking in my direction, and when I turned my head towards her, she winked at me. “Sweet,” I thought to myself, “She wants to have laundry room sex with me.” Things only got better that weekend during my first ever sojourn to a fraternity – a Friday night Toga party. There, I met a 6 foot 4, 270 pound fraternity brother named “Jaws,” who would take bites out of unopened cans of beer and then pour its contents into his mouth.
But after that magical first week, the faade of uninhibited escapades was brushed aside to reveal a lifestyle of painstaking routine. I would soon find out that the beautiful girl from the aforementioned tale didn’t wink at me at all-she just had a tic. And, the closest I ever came to having sex in the laundry room was when I watched “Sex In The City,” as I was doing my laundry. Even Jaws, the man who I believed to be the epitome of college debauchery, would soon be accepted into medical school aided largely by his 3.95 GPA. And in the years that followed, I neither experienced the emotional strife of a love triangle, nor felt the exhilaration of being in a fight. A crowd of people wouldn’t gather around me to chant my name – I never gave them a reason to. It was this realization that led me to the front steps of the fraternity holding the final big party of the year. It had been three years since I last found myself on the Frat Quad, but while my goal then was to find girls, on this night my purpose was entirely different – to become a legend.
Marching through the hoard of drunk freshmen waiting for entrance into the fraternity, I approached the doorman and shouted, “You gonna open the door or do I have to open it myself?”
“Steve?” the doorman answered apprehensively. “Is that you?” He squinted his eyes for a moment and then a smile came over his face. Grabbing me by the shoulders and pushing me through the door, he continued, “I can’t believe you came!”
Shocked at the good fortune of my mistaken identity, I could only muster a nod before I turned to face the ongoing party. I scanned the room, looking for the biggest and toughest looking guy, and finally, I saw him by the keg of beer. Picking up an empty cup from the floor, I began walking in his direction and upon approaching him, drove my shoulder forcefully into his chest. I let myself drop the cup I was holding and looked up at him.
“See what you made me do?” I began angrily. “Now pour me another beer!” The guy looked down at me for a few moments in disbelief before he finally said,
“I’m really sorry about that.” He then grabbed his beer from the table and held it out in my direction. “Here,” he told me, “have mine.”
At that moment, I knew I would never bring myself to start a fight with anyone let alone win it. Crestfallen, I lowered my head and walked toward the exit. Suddenly, two hands grabbed my shoulders and spun me around violently. I oriented myself just in time to see a fist heading for the side of my head. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor and a muscular guy with bleached blond hair was standing over me.
“Steve,” he yelled. “That was for sleeping with my girlfriend.”
“You got it all wrong,” I answered, picking myself up from the floor, “I’m not?.” Cutting me off was a large crowd, which had now gathered around us chanting “fight.” The muscular guy grabbed me by the collar and threw me to the ground. Behind me, I noticed a guy who looked similar to myself, trying to sneak out through the front door.
“Hey!” I cried, pointing at him, “It’s you!” Then, someone behind me turned toward the guy at the door and yelled,
“Andrew Schwartz? Is that you?” The guy suddenly stopped in his tracks and slowly began to turn around.
“You’re Andrew Schwartz?” another voice shouted out from the crowd. “I stole your student ID freshman year and used 50 dollars of your declining.” Suddenly, another student emerged from the front of the crowd and screamed, “Andrew tutored me in Math 141 and I got a C+ !” Then from the back of the room, a girl’s voice rang out; “Andrew folded my laundry after I left it in the dryer for too long!”
And with that, the crowd began to chant, “Andrew” over and over. Laying on the floor, I watched some guy named Steve steal my moment of glory and bowed my head in resignation. “I guess I became a legend after all,” I mumbled to myself quietly, as my heart filled with despair.
Schwartz is a Take Five Scholar.