tremble clef

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Ocean Blue, "Drifting, Falling" (1989)

I've only had two sets of roommates in my entire life. (That may explain why I'm so unsocialized, but let's not digress so soon.)

About ten years ago, I lived in a house with two people, but the first roommate is from before that, when I was in my first year at college. I shared a shoebox of a dorm room with a guy who I'll call Ross, mostly because that's his name. He was a perfectly nice person; his family was pretty well-to-do, and would send him these care packages that he was always ready to generously share with me. Well, not the Lord & Taylor sweaters, which I wouldn't have wanted to inhabit anyway (Him: "Look at this blue sweater my mom sent." Me: "Nice." Me [to myself]: "Even if it looks exactly like the other twelve you have."). But I was happy to tuck into the huge bucket of caramel popcorn that came with. Hilariously, so were the squirrels on campus; one day we both came home to find popcorn just strewn all over the floor, and the window ajar. I hope the damned creatures' little fingers remained sticky throughout the rest of their natural lives.

Our relationship did get off on the wrong foot. I arrived at the dorm room before he did, and picked the bottom bunk bed. He was off on one of those adventure orientation activities. About two days' after my arrival, I was awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of someone coming into the room. I was too jetlagged and groggy to be startled; maybe I knew that Ross was getting back from his adventure then anyway. Sleepily I said "hi," and may have even tried sitting up in bed. But Ross whispered to me to go back to sleep, and I dutifully tried as he stumbled around and climbed into the top bunk. At which point I suddenly was overcomed by a horrible, gawdawful stench. Bad eggs mixed in with shavings of fish innards, or something. "Wha -," I mumbled only half-consciously, "what is that smell?" There was a moment of silence, before Ross confessed, in an embarrassed whisper, that he had an ingrown toenail. I was of course instantly mortified to have brought it up.

I don't think that problem ever went away.

Ultimately Ross and I didn't have that much in common, aside from our mutual pretense, after that night, that why, no, the room really doesn't smell like feet. I don't think he knew how to talk to this strange kid from this faraway country who was just beginning to learn the ways of these crazy Americans. He was seventeen. Music didn't draw us that much closer, but at least it didn't drive us apart either. His record collection was fairly typical of a college kid's: lots of American indie, with some nods to English pop. And The Smiths, so obviously it wasn't dire. At least he never made fun of my tastes (not to my face anyway), and, for some reason, when we went our separate ways at the end of that year, he gave me his 12" of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle." (Thanks, Ross!) I was introduced to some stuff through him -- like The Washington Squares, I think -- which is not to say that any of them became my interests. I associate this lovely indie pop song, which I still enjoy, with him, though: "Drifting, Falling," from The Ocean Blue. That was a Ross CD I used to play. To this day the saxophone riff, madeleine-like, still transports me to that in so many ways formative year.

2 Comments:

  • Hee about the feet. Are you sure there wasn't just a well-endowed little person in his closet?

    By Anonymous esque, at 8:45 PM  

  • Wait...a little person that ate all the popcorn, or who smelled like feet?

    By Blogger Brittle, at 4:45 PM  

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