Every day on my way to work, I drive by the Oglethorpe House in the historic district of Savannah. The Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) converted the former motel into a co-ed residence hall for upperclassmen, graduate and transfer students and it always reminds me of where one of my most comical yet humbling college experiences took place.
At the beginning of my junior year, I started dating a guy from one of my classes. We met when he noticed I actually had the book for the class ridiculous, right? Later, I would learn he stopped purchasing books after his freshman year and this was how he met the majority of the girls he dated. So, let’s call him Detroit Red (DR).
DR was tall and sinewy with amber skin; funny and easy-going. He always smelled of cologne with light notes of marijuana and had more hooded sweatshirts than anyone I ever knew. He remembered my favorite ice cream flavor on my birthday and as it turned out he didn’t need books for his classes to achieve good grades. We didn’t have any issues or drama until the night we did.
One Saturday night, I was hanging out with my fiery friend, Butterfly. I can not recall what we did but, I knew it included a shot or two chased with gut-busting laughter. Butterfly had the complexion of latte and was flawlessly beautiful. She was the best cook I knew in college, fierce yet inexplicably the most easily frightened of all of my friends. If Butterfly ever starred in a horror movie the name of it would be, Grab Your Weapon and RUN! She did and still does have the ability to make me laugh like no other, frequently to the point of tears and stomach cramps.
But back to the story…
At the end of the night, I asked her if we could make a quick stop at Detroit Red’s apartment. He recently moved closer to campus so, it made sense to drop by since we were close, right?
Disclaimer: I went to college in the early ’90s and no one I knew had a cell phone, so there was no calling ahead.
Butterfly agreed to stop. The plan was for me to run up to say hello since my apartment was on the opposite side of town. Harmless enough, right?
Let me set the scene for you…
Detroit Red’s apartment complex was a converted motel, kinda like the Oglethorpe House but on a much smaller and cheaper scale. He and his roommate lived in one of the middle apartments on the second floor but, the steps to the second level were on the side of the building.
I got out of the car, walked to the side of the building, headed up the stairs and continued around the corner to DR’s place. I knocked on the door, his roommate peeked out of the window and opened the door a sliver so I could only see half of his face.
Me (a little confused): Hey, Roommate. Is Detroit Red home?
Roommate: Hey, Slim (back in my off-campus living days, I actually WAS slim and in shape). Naw. He isn’t.
Me: What’s up with you? You alright?
Roommate: Yeah, I’m good.
Me: Okay. Just tell DR I stopped by.
Roommate: Alright, girl.
He closed the door and I headed to the stairs (again they were located around the corner). I walked down the stairs to find Butterfly trying to get my attention and yelling at me from the car. I hurried toward her to find out what was wrong. Butterfly reported that while I was coming down the steps, A GIRL opened Detroit Red’s door and looked to see where I had gone. Now, for all Butterfly knew she could have been Roommate’s girlfriend, however, that never crossed either one of our minds.
I only reacted. I knew there was a reason he barely opened the door…
Without a second thought, I dashed back up the stairs taking two at a time (man, I was in shape!) and ran down to Detroit Red’s door. I banged on the door hard with my fist like I owned the place and I was looking for my very late rent payment. Roommate, who at this point was doing his best to keep DR from having to deal with “a situation”, opened the door to a crack AGAIN but this time I KICKED THE DOOR OPEN.
No one saw that coming…not even me!
I stormed into the room as Detroit Red (clothed) jumped to his feet from his bed on the far side of the room near the restroom. He walked toward me with his hands in the “calm down” position and followed me around the approximate 325 square foot room.
The girl, let’s call her California, immediately started screaming at Detroit Red, shouting all the questions you ask when you find out you aren’t the only girl your guy is “dating”. But instead of letting him respond, I loudly hijacked the conversation answering all her questions with venom. I headed to his dresser and started grabbing all the things I bought DR (which obviously wasn’t that much, I was a Broke College Student).
I was so focused on yelling and running around like a lunatic grabbing things that I hadn’t really looked at California. When I actually got a chance to see what this girl looked like I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Lord! Wait a minute? Is this really happening?
I turned to DR and said, “C’mon, really? Ugh”. And slammed the door as I left.
Monday rolled around and I headed to my 9 AM class which was located in the library. In this particular class, we had to sit in alphabetical order. Guess who had been sitting behind me the ENTIRE semester? California! I think I threw up in my mouth when I saw her in the daylight. I had never noticed her before but, I couldn’t ignore her now. The entire class I could feel her saucer-like eyes on the back of my head as I tried my best to concentrate. After 50 agonizing minutes, the class was finally over. Only 600 more minutes of this class in the semester…I could hardly contain my excitement.
I gathered my backpack, applied a fresh coat of Carmex and lip gloss, and got up to leave. Of course, California was waiting for me outside of the classroom. Fun.
California: We need to talk.
Me (my attitude was SO off the charts at this time): About what? I said all I needed to say on Saturday night.
California: How long have you been seeing him? Have you talked to him?
Me: Since the beginning of last semester. He called me a bunch of times yesterday. He never mentioned you…ever.
California: He called me too. But he lies so much. What did he say?
Me: That he was sorry and it was a mistake.
California (cutting her gigantic eyes at me): Well, he told me he wanted to be with me.
Me: That’s nice. I have another class.
And I walked away.
Later that night, Detroit Red called as usual. Still fuming, I decided I wasn’t about to LOSE to this girl. At this point, it was ALL about my ego. In my mind, I was the better choice. Plain and simple. The fact that DR was without question playing me, carried zero weight.
Me: Listen, California and I talked today. Did you know we are in the same 9 AM? Now, I have to see her every Monday, Wednesday, AND Friday until the end of the semester. I’m not dating you if you are seeing her, so choose, me or her?
Detroit Red: I choose her.
What the…? Huh? Dazed and stuck on stupid, I asked again.
Me: Did you hear me? I said… me or her?
Detroit Red: I heard you. I PICK HER!
The room started spinning and I thought I was going to pass out. My heart was beating in my throat. Did he just say he picked her over me? Seriously? With nothing left for me to say, I hung up the phone, defeated and embarrassed.
I remember laying on the floor in my room of the apartment I shared with another girl and calling my mom to update her on the situation. And then I got up. I liked DR and my ego was bruised but, that was it, no love lost. So, I showered, put on my pajamas, and took a seat at the small desk in my room to study.
What I learned from that experience:
- I was the side chick and didn’t know it.
- Make your own decisions, don’t allow someone else to control your destiny.
- If you ask a question, be prepared for the answer.
- Think with your head and not your pride.
Obviously, I survived. Sure, every time I saw Roommate he would laugh and remind me of the time I slammed their door so hard I shook the entire second floor and sure I survived one of California’s friends trying to run me over with her car… but, it could have been worse.
She could have been in two of my classes, instead of one!