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JWR 3.39 - Pez Llama
Do you believe?
We used to go to the Jewel-Osco in Kenosha and buy little bags of plastic toys: farm animals, dinosaurs, soldiers and Indians and then we’d go back to Parkside and would put them all over the place. We’d stick them in the building where mortar between bricks allowed. We’d put them all over the library: on the spines of books, on top of shelves, on fluorescent light ballasts, on computer monitors, on stairway railings. We’d put them inside fire extinguisher boxes. We’d put them on top of exit signs. We’d put them on the toilet tanks in bathrooms. Toward the end we’d put them in more and more inconspicuous areas hoping that they’d still be there in a week or five years. The funny part is there was only one that stayed in any place for very long. I kept a green Indian with a broken spear in the ashtray of my Civic for more than three years. The idea was, I think, to leave an impact. If someone found it, maybe they’d wonder who put it there and why. I know we didn’t accomplish anything other than a diversion for some of our time.
Michelle, George, Tim (whose name I couldn’t recall for a long time) and I were the Pez Llamas. I don’t know where the name came from or what it meant (or it may be more correct to say I don't remember), but it sure was fun for a while, the weirdest bunch of people I ever hung out with. We were all English majors and after graduation, I never saw any of them again. Maybe I saw George once since, maybe, who was in his mid-thirties, working on his third degree and had a major thing for Gwyneth Paltrow. He and I would sit and watch the aquarium from time to time, the aquarium being the stairwells in the library that were framed in glass and looked out over the Main Place, which was an area near the campus book store and Hart Hat (Hard-On) Cafe with a bunch of circular tables. Some people think I’m bad, but George was a sick pervert. Naturally, I liked him if only because he’d say things nobody else would, with the limited exception of me.
I look back and see mostly drama. And I hate drama. There were always problems between Michelle and Jessica who was another English major and friend, almost a Pez Llama-er. I remember clearly and constantly wondering if the problems they had with each other and discussions about their problems with each other I was privy to were real or staged because they sounded a lot like something you’d hear on bad TV. I’d watch them argue, back and forth, and would wish they’d kiss, just once. Michelle wasn’t pretty, she had a round face, like Roseanne’s, I guess. Jessica and I went to high school together, she was a year older and I had her in a class, sat directly behind her, in fact. I used to tease her in college that she thought she was cooler than me in high school and never talked to me. Michelle was married and Jessica had a boyfriend, so I wasn’t really serious about wanting them to kiss, but I thought it would be interesting.
Interesting like the time all the organizations on campus set up booths in the Main Place and some genius assigned GLO (The Gay and Lesbian Organization, although I though that the word “gay” also pertained to lesbians, so they could have just dropped the “L” from the acronym and just been GO. I knew a lesbian in GLO who wore great shirts like the one that said “Nobody knows I’m a lesbian” which I thought was pretty funny. She wore HUGE pants and wore her hair in several large spikes and, well, kinda smelled. But she was interesting to talk to and I found a bit of kinship when we’d, swear to god, check out the same girls), anyway, the GLO table was right next to the Campus Christians (I don’t think that’s really what they were called). I remember the Christians looked shell-shocked by the whole situation.
One of the Christians was a girl named Britta, like the water filter. She was in my Marriage and Family class along with her boyfriend, who was a poster child for the Nazis. I mean, he just looked like a byproduct of the Third Reich with his blue eyes and straight blond hair combed just so. But they did look awfully cute with their matching WWJD bracelets, black with white lettering. Britta was quintessentially cute with a face that looked like she had a piece of slightly sour candy in her mouth, and her shyness and alleged purity made her even cuter.
Crazy Julie, I didn’t really know her until one day I was going to leave Parkside, but I saw her through the aquarium, so I decided to say goodbye. I went in the library and found her (I did that many times--seen someone through the aquarium and then gone in to talk to them) but I ended up staying for three hours as she talked and talked. She completely opened up. Most of what she told me I don’t remember, but it was this totally private stuff that was sad and scary and freaky. I remember thinking how she had been through so much horrible shit and I simply hadn’t. The thing that really sticks out in my memory is when she told me she saw the Holy Ghost in me. I didn’t know what to say, wouldn’t know what to say now. Although I doubt she’d find a reason to say it these days.
Crazy Julie, who was married, started banging one of our professors, who was married. Luckily it happened near then end of my college career so I didn’t have to hear an awful lot about it from the Pez Llamas. Julie was also at the end of her college career which stretched a dozen years. She used to joke that she had carpal tunnel and TMJ so when she couldn’t have sex with her husband, she couldn’t use her hand or mouth either. I’m not telling that right because I don’t remember the excuse for not being able to have good old fashioned sex. I do know they had a table in their basement that was modified for boning. Married couples are cute.
I really liked college. I look back and still like it, but I know I’m done for good. There’s no way I could go back. That point is over. Because I know now what I now know, I wouldn’t be able to go back and deal with what I thought was acceptable then because it was acceptable at the time. I don’t know exactly what I mean, but...but.
I fell in love three times in one day there, at Parkside. I don’t want to go into it.
If I can go through every phase of my life and manage to keep one friend from each, I will feel like I succeeded at something.
I was at Sam’s Club today and saw someone I recognized who worked there. I smiled at her and waved, about to say something to her, but realized the look on her face said, “I don’t know who you are.” What she actually said was, “Hi.” But she didn’t know who I was. I let it go, confused as I was, until it dawned on me that the girl I saw was the sister of the girl I thought it was. That family, all the kids look so alike. Even the boy closely resembles the rest of his siblings. Then I really felt stupid and considered finding her and telling her what was going on. But I didn’t because if you ignore things, they often go away.
There was a girl from college named Kristy and the reason I bring her up is simply because she and I hated each other at first, but we kind of got used to seeing each other, and very nearly became friends. One day I was coming out of the library and she was coming in. I had checked out some books on courtship for a research paper I was doing on Shakespeare’s epic poem “Venus and Adonis.” At the time I found the only way I could write an effective research paper was to think up an unorthodox thesis that would keep me interested enough to write a paper on it. The unfortunate part was I’d often use my own imagination and conjecture to support the thesis rather than actually research and use other sources already written down. But how else is a new thesis supposed to get going except by some, dare I say, genius coming up with it? So, for the “V&A” paper I was doing it right and had a few books in my hands when she saw me and asked what was up. About this time I liked her because of her beautiful pale blue eyes, long curly hair, and no-nonsense round-framed glasses. I told her I was checking out some books on courtship because I just found out I wasn’t doing it right. I don’t remember what she said to that, but I though that was the most adorable thing I have ever said. I still think it may be--downright charming I was. She moved back home to Platteville after that semester, or maybe the semester after, to finish school.
I was sad to see her go. It brought to mind the whole thing about not seizing the day. Not grabbing for that brass ring, a symbolic gesture brought to life in one of the final chapters of The Catcher in the Rye. Simply letting opportunity pass by. But there was really nothing I could do about it.
Now I’m rambling, but then again, these are Ramblings.
Copyright © 2003 John Lemut