August 28, 2013
Man’s Best College Roommate
The Mankato State Reporter insisted that all columnists have a line-drawing portrait placed at the
top of each piece, so I had Gary work up this one for me, and used it for
I lived with Bud for the 1977-78 academic year in a three-story house we
shared with seven other blokes. He was in many respects your standard-issue
college roommate: ambled around naked all the time, survived on abominable
food, never went to class, slept whenever and wherever he felt like it,
suffered brain damage, was known to vomit and defecate on the carpet from
time to time, and during parties had an unfortunate tendency to try to
shove his face between the legs of female guests. You know the type.
Bud lived long enough to see the Reagan Administration, but, as was the case with so many other Americans, the era harshed his mellow and turned him mean, and he never got a grip on himself thereafter. He started snapping at people at the slightest provocation, and this propensity led to his early demise. Unseemly end notwithstanding, Bud is still sorely missed.
It was Tim who introduced us to Bud. Tim had a notoriously hot and randy girlfriend in those days but lacked a simpatico companion with whom to share quiet time, someone on his own wavelength, so he went to the pound one day and found Bud and yanked him off death row.
It was not known how Bud had gotten himself into that predicament, but
his slobbery, agreeable nature suggested a victimless crime. His breeding
was likewise unknowable. To say that Bud was of dubious ancestry was no
more an insult to him than to call him a son of a bitch. My best guess
was equal parts pointer, beagle, and dumbass. His coat was short and the
color of dialysis-cleaned urine, his balls (despite his best efforts to
cleanse them) disturbingly black, his brain--as noted above--damaged.
This was most evident in his faulty gyroscope. Whenever he came into the
living room, he would scan for friendly faces and, finding one, happily
lope toward it, only to veer a few degrees off to his right and coldcock
himself on the edge of the coffee table. You would think he could have
adjusted for the problem over time, but no, not our Bud.
More alarming to us, his roommates, was his resistance to toilet training, though, to be fair, this may not have been entirely his fault. He was at the mercy of cold-hearted stoners who were apt to shrug off his let’s-go-for-a-walk signals on the rationale that “He’s Tim’s dog, not mine.” After all, it takes a village.
Three of us came home from the supermarket one day to find a quite prodigious
pile of shit in the living room. We had been gone quite a while, and it
was a very fresh shit--the kind you smelled well before you turned the
corner and IDed it--so Bud could have been forgiven for thinking, snidely,
“Oh, sure, NOW you guys show up,” but Bud’s pure soul could abide no sarcasm.
Not so, alas, his supposedly more evolved housemates.
“Oh, look” I drawled. “It seems that someone has taken a shit on our carpet.” Bud was betrayed by his trembling snout, which protruded from behind the sofa. He was operating on the precept that, since he could not see us, we could not see him. “Gary,” I inquired, “did you shit on the carpet?
“No, Josh, I didn’t.”
“Hoppy, did you shit on the carpet?”
“It wasn’t me, Josh.”
“Well, I certainly didn’t shit on the carpet.”
(At this point, Bud’s body language cried out: “Oh, just end the charade, for God’s sake. Kill me now! I can’t take it any longer!”)
“Hmm… It’s a mystery… Now I that think on it, Bud’s probably been here
this whole while. I wonder if he might know who snuck in here and shit on our carpet.”
History demands that a description of the shit itself be included in this discourse, for this was no ordinary mound of dogshit. In stark contrast to the personality he had exhibited up to that point and would revert to forever afterward, Bud took no half measures on this shit. No, nothing willy-nilly or jerry-rigged about this shit. Once he had made up his mind to shit in the house, he had steeled himself with cliches along the lines of “If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”
In terms of location, for example, he chose the very middle of the room. And it was not the “living room” proper, as I noted above for shorthand, but rather a completely unfurnished room just off the living room, wherein the shit could reign, however temporarily, as the heftiest item therein.
And--presuming here that the reader has not yet wearied of details about
this exceptional presentation of dogshit--it was perfectly round in shape,
and downright Cinnabon-esque in its sworlish design. One could imagine
Bud in mid-creation, realizing that he had a Work for the Ages in progress,
straining his loins and peering over his shoulder to ensure that the last
few inches flopped down just so, and then stepping back to admire his work
for a few seconds before hearing the car door slam. The spell abruptly
broken, he knew he was in trouble and bolted behind the sofa.
“Oh, Bud!” I said, “There you are! Just the man we wanted to see! Could you step out here, please?” And to his credit, Bud teetered forth in that diagonal way of his to accept his fate.
Despite the hundreds of one-on-one hours Bud and I spent belly-rubbing,
face-licking, mutual-fart-appreciating, and dissecting episodes of Hee-Haw, he was, first and finally, “Tim’s dog,” and when our hold on the too-good-to-be-true
three-story house with its lush, golden, copiously shat-upon carpeting
slipped away early in 1978, we were parted forever. Bud seemed distraught
at the time, but, knowing him as I did by then, he might just have needed
to shit again.
The peripatetic nature of postgraduate life ultimately separated Tim (really, a decent master, it should be noted) from Bud as well, so that Bud spent his final years with Tim’s parents in Iowa. About his demise, I heard nothing until years after the fact. After my coming to Japan, I felt justified in snubbing him, as he never wrote to me. I look forward to seeing him again one day in a coffee table-free paradise, and assuring him that America rebounded during the Clinton years, a Golden Age for genital sniffing.
Bud left no genetic heirs, so far as we know--the lives of ex-cons are
by definition sketchy--but his spirit lives on every year at MTV’s Video
Music Awards, where one artist or another always manages to take a huge
dump in public.