It was about a year later, and the mystery of What Alan Said lived on. I didn't think too much about it. I was twenty years old and the world was my oyster. I went to class maybe two hours a day, did approximately twenty minutes of homework, watched my soap, and took long afternoon naps. I ate in the dining hall and someone cleaned the bathroom for us. Yes, it was good, though not particularly exciting, to be an undergraduate. On the weekends, in an effort to quash the boredom, I drove down to College Park to see my friends, as was my habit.
I met Mike in the fall at a party at Alan's house. Mike shared a room and the other half of a bunk bed with Justin, who I had known since elementary school. We had gone to 4-H camp together, played clarinet together in the school band; you could say we went way back. Mike and I hit it off right away, and soon I found myself driving down almost every weekend to see him.
One night several weeks later we were at a party at his friend's house. As soon as we walked in, some girl ran up to him and squealed, ignoring me and gushing and cooing over how good his new haircut looked, and dragging him off by the arm to see what she had done with her bedroom. I felt myself become prune-faced, and went to talk to Alan, who was the only other person I knew there. "So, you're seeing Mike, huh?" he said.
"Yup," I said.
"I hear he's a big perv," he said.
"Wait, what? What's that supposed to mean?"
"I don't know, just that he's apparently a big perv, I guess."
"But, what do you mean? Where'd you hear that?"
"I don't know, someone told me."
"But who? Who told you that???"
"I don't know, I don't remember."
"But...what do you mean? You can't just say something like that and then say you can't remember!!"
"Hey, look, just forget I said anything."
"But! No! I can't just forget!...Tell me!"
"No, look, I'm sorry I said anything. I'm sure he's a nice guy. Just forget it."
But I didn't forget it. How could I? From then on I was always on the lookout for signs of potential perviness. If only Alan had given me some kind of clue of what to look for...But as far as I could tell he seemed pretty normal to me. Although when we were together, he did really seem to want me to touch his penis. Was that perverted? I wasn't sure. Although even in my state of near-complete sexual inexperience, I was still fairly certain that that was more of a normal guy thing than a perverted guy thing. And so I tried to forget about it. Soon after that, however, I found myself losing interest in him. For completely unrelated reasons, I was sure. Although, really, when I tried to figure out what those reasons were, I came up empty every time. I couldn't explain why, but I just didn't enjoy being around him anymore. In fact, when I was around him now I felt a little...creeped out. The one thing I knew was I had to get rid of this guy, and fast. But how?
Since I was already planning on going to Alan's Halloween party, and Mike was also going with his friends, it seemed that I would have to go with him. I didn't have a choice. He was really excited about his Halloween costume, but he refused to tell me anything about it, wanting to keep it a secret until the big night. "Just as long as it doesn't involve one of those gross rubber masks," I told Talia. "I hate those things. There's something so creepy about people who wear them. It freaks me out." He came with his friends to pick Talia and I up at her house. The doorbell rang, and I peered through the peephole and groaned. "Wow...Look at you..." I murmured half-heartedly as I opened the door. It was worse than I had imagined. Not only was he wearing a gross rubber mad scientist mask, but there was a second gross rubber head growing out of the first one. And he was wearing gross rubber gloves. Lovely.
At the party I drank too much punch, and was inoordinately relieved when he said he was leaving to go to his other party. He invited me to come along, but I declined, saying I'd rather stay and hang out with my friends. He told me the address of the other party, which I promptly forgot, and encouraged me to stop by later, if I wanted. I sent him off with a kiss, and then tracked down the dork I'd had my eye on earlier, wearing suspenders, glasses held together with white tape, and a beanie. After several increasingly drunken games of ping-pong, the dork and I somehow ended up making out on the floor underneath the ping-pong table, where we spent the rest of the night after passing out cold. I was...kind of a jerk. Ok, granted. But in my mind Mike and I were already history. I just had to figure out how to let him know.
Back at school I bemoaned the difficulty of the situation, and of my life in general, all Woe is me! to my friend Alan over an im conversation. I couldn't just stop calling Mike, I explained, as things had gone on too long for that. But I didn't want to drive all the way down there just to break up with him, either. Should I tell him on the phone? God, how awkward. The problem was, I explained, I didn't really want to break up with him at all. I just wanted it to be over.
You could just tell Justin, Alan said. Have him break up with Mike for you.
Yeah, that's a brilliant idea Al, I said. Say, 'Hey Justin, I don't want to date your roommate anymore. Could you let him know?'
I'll do it for you, he said. I'll send Justin an e-mail.
Yeah, that's exactly what I want you to do, Alan, I typed, in what I assumed was a sarcastic manner. Can you imagine?
But I didn't have to imagine. Several days later I received an e-mail from Justin himself, saying, I just got an e-mail from Alan saying you want to break up with Mike. I feel really uncomfortable about this, and I don't think I should be in the middle of this situation. If you don't want to see Mike anymore I think you need to tell him yourself. And you should really do it in person.
Oh, lord. No, this wasn't happening. I didn't just get this e-mail from Justin...Justin, whose mom was my 4-H leader, and whose brother was my first slow dance...and now he thought that I asked Alan to ask him to break up with Mike for me! I wanted to die. No, I wanted to die, but first I wanted to kill Alan.
In any case, that humiliation did give me the impetus to finally break up with Mike. And I did it over the phone. And for a while things were good, or at least until I met another Mike at another party in College Park. But that's a story for another day.
But to review this tangled web in which I, the boys I have dated, and my friend Alan all became intertwined:
1) Make out with boy, go on amazing date with boy, Alan may or may not say something unflattering to boy about me, boy never calls again.
2) Meet boy, date boy, Alan calls boy a perv, get creeped out by boy, Alan takes it upon himself to break up with boy for me through boy's roommate (also known as break-up by proxy, also known as two people too many).
So, my friend Alan: bumbling well-wisher or evil genius? Will the world ever know for sure?