I'd just finished placing a poster above my bed when my roommate, Dave, returned from the communal bathroom.
"What does that say?" He opened the curtains farther to let in more light and squinted his eyes. 'Thank goodness I was never sent to school. It would have rubbed off some of the originality.' Huh." Davy furrowed his brow and turned toward me. "Did Beatrix Potter really say that? The Beatrix Potter who wrote all those kids' stories?"
"Sure did. The minute I saw that quote, I knew it was for me. Homeschooled for 12 years and proud of it." I puffed out my chest like a rooster.
"Twelve years? Seriously? Wow. Where I come from, we don't see that too often. Except with the families that live in the country and have 13 children or something like that." Davy ignored my chest puffing and went about throwing clothes into his dresser drawers.
"Well, I'm not from the country and I only have one brother. I guess you've already learned something, and classes haven't even started." I felt a smirk cross my face and I cocked my head, something I'd always done to my brother when I teased him.
Davy didn't appear to notice. "So true, Daniel, so true," he said as he hung some clothes in his infinitesimally small closet. I crossed the room to place a few textbooks on the less-than-sturdy wooden shelves and looked around the already-cramped room. With its tiny size, the space had the capacity to quickly become a cesspool if we weren't careful. I wondered how messy this Dave character would be.
"I gotta tell you, Dave, I'm glad you sent me a letter beforehand." I waved my hand at the electronics that littered the dorm room. "We'd have had double of this junk, and nowhere to put it."
He nodded his head. "It was my mom's idea, actually. My sister's roommate did the same thing three years ago. I thought it would make me look like a sissy, but in the end, she was right."
I found myself nodding my head. "It saved us a lot of time…"
"Yeah, and we don't have to drag anything back home. I guess I should thank her when I talk to her next."
I saw Dave write something on a list and wondered if he’d written, Call mom and thank her. What sort of person needed to be reminded to call his mom? "Speaking of dragging, that's me. What time is the dining hall open? I'm starving. What about you?" I rubbed my hand against my stomach. Sometimes I got so hungry, I thought I must have a tapeworm.
Dave glanced at the silver watch on his wrist and shook it. "Yeah, it should be open by now, even though it's on the early side. Probably something nasty for dinner, but we're gonna have to eat eventually. Might as well go now."
"Who knows? Maybe we'll luck out and it'll be spaghetti and meatball night. Or tacos." I'd probably be sticking with cold cereal, but I told myself I'd at least try some of the cafeteria food at some point. I had to last all year, after all, and I wasn't sure that Raisin Bran and milk would fit the bill for the next nine months.
"Fat chance." Dave said.
We turned off the lights in the room and pulled the door closed. Our dorm door had a chalkboard on it, and I quickly sketched a Welcome sign on the door, above the drawing of Luke Skywalker that Dave had added that afternoon. I made a mental note to ask about his fascination with all things Star Wars. Whether or not he knew it, I'd caught a glimpse of his sketch pad and was impressed by several likenesses of Han Solo and Chewbacca.
"I don't even know where the dining hall is, Dave. Do you?" Heck, I'd never even been inside a real school before attending the very small community college back home, except for a few instances of piano recitals and plays I attended with my family. Despite my certain belief that I'd lacked for nothing during my homeschooling years, I wasn't too arrogant to admit that I could learn a few things here at Michigan.
"Yep, this way. I took a tour earlier this afternoon."
Dave and I meandered down the hall, past the rows of girls' rooms and the bathrooms. The back hallway seemed to lead to the dining hall, because Dave took me in that direction. At the bottom of the steps, he pulled up short.
"Dude, what the—?" I avoided slamming into Dave's back by throwing my hand up against the tile of the wall.
I craned my neck to see what had stopped Dave, and glimpsed a girl. Figures, I thought. I'd already caught sight of a few freshman guys with their tongues hanging out. I refused to be that guy, no matter how many cute girls there were here. But Dave must have known the girl, because he didn't just let her pass. I couldn't see who it was until she stepped out of the shadows.
"Cecil," Davy started, "This is Daniel Cahill, my roommate." I looked at the girl standing in front of me and had to stop myself from sputtering. It's not that she was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen, but something in her wide hazel eyes, or the way she held herself or maybe it was the slight bend in her smile, maybe even the way she played with the ends of her hair. I don't know. But I was suddenly glad that Dave had stopped for her. All I had to do was say hello. And I managed to do so, but not without a shaky breath and tipping my hat to her.
I made sure that my tongue wasn’t falling out of my mouth. Apparently, I was going to be that guy.