I'll bet all you graduating seniors out there think you've learned a lot in high school. You've faced many challenges and will face many more in college. Of those none will be as trying as those of you unlucky enough to have that roommate from hell, that unbathed nebulous mass of humanity that all the women of your dorm will instinctively avoid like the plague.
Most of you have already filled out some kind of card, your personality checklist evaluator, so that you may be paired with a like minded individual. Whoever reads those things (closet sadists engaging in inhuman experiments?), must toss them right out the window.
If you checked the box for "I am a gentle soul who goes to bed by nine so as not to disrupt my delicate routine," you have probably been paired with "I am an obnoxious extrovert, a nosey individual with no awareness of others' personal space." If you checked "I love country music" your roommate will no doubt be a death metal head banger. The best line of defense may be to check all the things that you are not, then you may wind up with someone just like you. But would that be any real fun?
My roommate was a backwoods Christian zealot from Arkansas who legend has it spoke in tongues at his local place of worship. That boy kept me up every night talking about a girl from our dorm he was so obviously obsessed with but would not grant his mind that level of self awareness, always reaffirming his commitment to a girlfriend back in good ol' Arkansas. For awhile I thought the girlfriend back home was a hoax maintained by a single photo of him with some girl at a high school dance that he showed off every chance he got. For all I knew that was his sister or a sympathetic classmate who suffered though one dance and a photo op to become immortalized as his steady mate. The dorm girl had the dance girl beat in the looks department for sure ( and don't tell me all that mess about beauty being on the inside, we all know the awful truth). What my roommate did not realize was that he could never get a date with that girl and thus told himself (and me) every night that his girlfriend back home was better in every way. He would say something like "She's pretty, but not as pretty as my girl," as if to convince himself. Eventually he got the message after his shameless attempts to hug this poor object of obsession were ill received.
Added to this was the time he almost assaulted me because I used one of his paper cups, in fact his only paper cup. I thought those things came in large packs but apparently this particular cup was irreplaceable. My pleas that I could provide him with an army of Styrofoam cups from Dollar General were only met with anger and a temper that was about to lose itself it I did not leave the room.
My good friend Scot had his own troubles down the hall with his sloth-like roommate. All the guy did was obsess over the Star Wars movies and order pizza. He ordered so much Papa John's pizza he must have sweated garlic butter and cheese. The room was filled with life size cardboard standees of Star Wars creations like Chewbacca and Han Solo. To all you Lucas fans: There is more to film history than the Star Wars franchise! Among other assorted characters we had in the dorm were alcoholics, individuals with a sexual identity crisis, acid trip streakers, goth kids, punk rockers, head-bangers and those residents given to extreme vandalism of the "Jackass" show variety.
While these people and incidents were scary at the time, I can now chalk it up to experience. You and your roomy are about to get first-hand experiences in how to deal with conflict, confrontation, and come up with resolutions.
You will meet many fascinating people from other nations and social backgrounds. At first you may clash, but the people you meet will better prepare you to deal with your fellow man once you get out into the real world and get your first job.
So enjoy your summer off and be prepared this fall for the other side of the higher learning experience. And speaking about other sad but true events, never leave a candle burning in your room.
Zach Porter is a photographer for the News Daily and can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 248 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.