In my sophomore days at Auburn University I began to write the typical useless papers which come with second-year literature and history courses. Since I didn't own a computer, I used the Macintosh lab in Parker Hall to write my papers, since that lab had a laser printer and the print quality was very good. The Auburn computer labs around this time (1994) were filled with a fair amount of people mudding or talking on IRC. Though I would never actually speak to him, I would get to know one of the lab denizens, Phil, pretty well.

One week, after my third or fourth night in the lab, I noticed that there was this greasy haired guy a couple rows in front of me who I thought had been there the night before. He had four telnet windows open from what I could see, neatly filling his monitor in evenly-spaced quadrants. I gantered for a closer look and saw that he was playing four different muds at the same time (quite a feat). I smiled to myself, amused, and went back to my paper.

The next night I came in to print my paper, and I saw that this he was still there in the lab, at the same computer he had been at the night before, wearing the same clothes as before, with the same four telnet windows as before. That was when I noticed the smell. The lightbulb went off, and I understood why his hair was so greasy. The smell was overpowering. You wouldn't think a human being could stink up a computer lab that big, but somehow, he managed.

Over the next three or four months I was in and out of the lab writing various other papers. I would be in the lab for three or four nights in a row, and he would be there, at the same computer, with four telnet windows open, smelling up the place with his big fat greasy head. He rarely seemed to change clothes, and other users tended to sit as far away from him as possible. I noticed that he would get up every once and a while to go to the restroom across the hall, and to make trips to the snack machine. I have no idea what he did when he ran out of change. I started coming through in the mornings to read email and he was usually there, asleep at a terminal.

At some point during the next quarter, this guy disappeared, never to be seen again. About a year later I was telling some new friends of mine about this guy, and they knew about him. Apparently a lot of people did. Phil was a legend at Auburn (and apparently on a lot of muds too, with his high level characters). Apparently he came to school, got addicted to muds, started playing 24/7 .. his parents started having trouble finding him, could never reach him at his dorm or through any friends, and so finally they filed a missing person report with the police. I imagine they found him and sent him to therapy.

... Not before the made him take a bath though ...

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