There are times in your life when you think you are pretty clever and others where you realize you don't have a clue. As a college freshman in 1983 I bounced back and forth between thinking I knew all the answers and realizing I was treading water in a tidal pool without any arms.

The way the dormitories were set up at my first college placed twelve students in a "suite." Two lucky upperclassmen got their own private single rooms and the rest of us had "doubles," which meant we got roommates. In reality I had the biggest single on campus. My roommate was on the basketball team and somehow missed out on getting into the jock dorms. He was my roommate in name only. He preferred to sleep on the floor at the jock dorm and kept most of his belongings there. He showed up from time to time to get fresh clothes or some other trinkets he kept in our room, but for the most part I flew solo.

The other benefit to my dorm room that year was that my window was directly across from the suiteroom of the girls suite across the hall. The suiteroom, which was basically the main living area of the suite, was always filled with giggling, half-dressed co-eds. Looking back, I should have appreciated my bounty more than I did.

In that suite was a girl I had a yearning for. Her name was Judy. She had moved across the hall at the beginning of the second semester. She was frequently in their suiteroom and I often watched her with the lights in my room off like a creepy young freak. The reason she spent so much time in the suiteroom was because it had a large color television in it and she liked to watch television. When I inquired about her interests, the other girls across the hall told me she liked detective shows. She watched things like Magnum, P.I. and read mystery novels. Whenever I watched her in front of the television, she fascinated me. Sometimes she was alone and sometimes the other girls joined her. She was always intensely involved, staring at the television with a bowl of popcorn on her lap and her legs tucked up under her on their suiteroom sofa.

Nice girls not one with a defect,
cellophane shrink-wrapped, so correct.
Red dogs under illegal legs.
She looks so good that he gets down and begs.
She is watching the detectives.
"ooh, he's so cute!"
She is watching the detectives
when they shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot.
They beat him up until the teardrops start,
but he can't be wounded 'cause he's got no heart.

It was the week of midterms and on Friday I had three of them, all before noon. I've never been much for functioning in the morning. I've never really done homework. I've never actually figured out how to do this thing the kids call "studying." Regardless, I aced all three midterms and it was time to celebrate. In those days I had an obsession with Cruzan rum and had this pitiful scheme to transfer to the College of the Virgin Islands for my sophomore year. The mind of a young person is a perverse and confusing place.

I cracked open a new bottle of Cruzan rum and made several large containers of rum punch, mixing my rum with Hawaiian Punch and ginger ale. Binge drinking is not a new thing, no matter what the newscasters try to tell you. I started drinking at 12:30 on that Friday afternoon and it would be three hours before anyone joined me. My suitemates and the girls across the hall managed to have afternoon midterms. The first person to join my in my post midterm drinking spree was Judy's roommate, a chain smoking redhead named Sally who was obsessed with John Cougar (at a time when he still went by that name). She was known to entertain many gentlemen callers and had acquired the label of "floor slut." And so, there I was, a shy eighteen year old virgin playing drinking games with a girl who knew how to work it. I had at least five rum punch drinks already in my system when she offered to take me "for a ride." Her offer went well over my head, but several years later I figured out what she was implying.

Judy arrived some time after four along with other girls from Sally and Judy's suite. They were all eager to jump in with the mindless drinking games, as were a handful of my suitemates. Everytime we drank with the girls my suitemates would ramble on incessantly about "scoring" and evaluating the prospects. It was something of an embarrassment. Regardless, we drank on. By eleven o'clock my bottle of rum was empty. Except for four or five drinks I mixed for the girls, I had polished it off myself. Someone handed me a beer and informed us that there was a real party going on down on the first floor. Trying to make conversation with Judy before we departed, I asked her what her major was. She was pursuing a career in criminology.

Long shot of that jumping sign,
Visible shivers running down my spine.
Cut to the baby taking off her clothes.
Close-up of the sign that says,"We never close"
You snatch a tune, you match a cigarette,
She pulls the eyes out with a face like a magnet.
I don't know how much more of this I can take.
She's filing her nails while they're dragging the lake.

The rest of the night became a fast moving drunken blur, but I was strangely coherent given the quantity of liquor I had consumed. Judy was lost in the mayhem of the first floor party, which was raging out of control with liquor bottles everywhere, marijuana smoke in the air and people doing lines of coke openly in the kitchen. As I frantically searched for Judy, not wanting to lose her to the night, a face from the past appeared. I knew Terry from junior high school, but he had gone to a different high school and we lost contact. He was living in the first floor party suite and was the local source for quality grass. He led me to his room, where four attractive young ladies were engulfed in smoke. There was an elaborate, giant hookah pipe in the center of the room. The girls looked as if they were prisoners of an alien spacecraft with their mouths tightly wrapped around plastic hoses attached to the smoking hookah. Two of the girls left, and I joined Terry and the two remaining girls for a bit and then got up nervously. I was turning into dust before my own eyes and needed to slow down the rate at which I was killing off brain cells. In the end it wasn't the brain cells I should have been worried about.

One of the girls was from Bulgaria or Hungary or some other communist overrun eastern European country. She seemed to take a shine to me and even sat on my lap after we finished smoking. There was something terribly odd about her, however. She took my head in her hands and kissed me on the cheek. Then she laughed with her friend and asked Terry and I if we "liked them." Terry answered in the affirmative and I smiled and nodded. We talked for a while and made all the patented goofy teenage moves. It went nowhere. They knew we wanted to get in their pants and they knew how to tease us just enough so that we wouldn't turn into angry madmen. Once they had us all but on our knees begging, they grinned and departed. Terry and I looked at each other, dumbfounded, but we wouldn't have long to debate our moronic failures.

There was a commotion in the suiteroom that was housing the brunt of the first floor party. Terry stashed his apparatus and we went to see what was going on. Campus security and a police officer had arrived to investigate reports of excessive noise, drugs and a fist fight that had broken out while Terry and I were in his private chambers. We kept ourselves quietly in the back of the crowd, watching and waiting to see what would develop.

Just as it seemed we would be shut down and possibly arrested, Judy appeared out of nowhere. While evidence was carefully hidden away, she spoke to the police officer and campus security. Whatever she told them seemed to effectively satisfy their questions. They thanked her and shared a joke before turning to the group of inebriated students and asking them to "keep it down."

You think you're alone until you realize you're in it.
Now fear is here to stay. Love is here for a visit.
They call it instant justice when it's past the legal limit.
Someone's scratching at the window. I wonder who is it?
The detectives come to check if you belong to the parents
who are ready to hear the worst about their daughter's disappearance.
Though it nearly took a miracle to get you to stay,
it only took my little fingers to blow you away.

The whirlwind continued, and I was swept back upstairs by one of my suitemates, a Cape Verdean casanova named Moises. He had attracted the Bulgarian girl and her friend into his web of pseudo-romance. After advising that it was best to evacuate the party, he informed me that he had found two women who were "in need of some loving." When I saw who they were, I warned him that he was wasting his time. The story of how things went when Terry and I were with these girls did not phase him. "You guys are amateurs. You are working with a professional now. You'll get some tonight." Yes, there is no point in avoiding it, everyone just wanted to get laid. We were young, dumb and full of it. I was a bit different in some regards. I wanted Judy to be in love with me. I was a misguided missile that didn't even know what its target was.

Moises pulled all of his magic tricks out of the bag, but the ladies weren't biting. They danced around the issue, drank Moises' liquor and talked him into giving them his favorite t-shirt. Later that night, Moises would sit on the ledge outside the window of his room. While overlooking the entire campus he gave his own version of the "I Have a Dream" speech. He was put on probation for it.

I had left the empty pitcher I made my rum punch in across the hall. Figuring the night was over, being as it was close to four o'clock in the morning, I just wanted my pitcher. Judy and her roommate Sally were still up, drinking and playing the boardgame Clue in their suiteroom kitchen. I joined them for a drink and then Judy took me by the hand and led me back to her room. Staggering in a drunken haze, I felt my dreams were about to be realized. Sally had plans, and they came in the shape of a rather large man in a sleeveless t-shirt who wanted the pleasure of her company in his bed that evening. We would have the room to ourselves.

With almost a full bottle of rum in me, along with a fair number of beers, a few shots of various liquors and the marijuana, I was not hitting on all cylinders. The ritual of love-making began suddenly after sitting down on Judy's bed. At first it was slow and wonderful. I had been here before, but I was about to go into foreign territory. As the last of our clothes were cast aside I found myself in a precarious position. No matter what Judy did, there was no answer from my sexual response organ. Her passion began to subside. I was not yet aware of the existence of alternative plans for satisfying her desires. I was a dumb kid.

Just like watching the detectives.
"Don't get cute!"
It's just like watching the detectives.
I get so angry when the teardrops start,
but he can't be wounded 'cause he's got no heart.
Watching the detectives.
It's just like watching the detectives.

The next day she wouldn't take my calls. I was relentless in my pursuit of her. Later in the day I received a message second hand. She didn't want to speak to me at all and was purposely avoiding me. Judy didn't want our little drunken evening to become anything more than a one night stand. I felt desperately cheated. I had misfired and wanted another chance. I wrote her a long, angsty letter explaining myself and telling her I wanted to take her out on a date. She read it in the suiteroom across the hall as I watched from my window in the dark. She had a hard time making it all the way through the letter. I have always been overly verbose and she was trying to watch Columbo. Later on that night, Terry would show up and they would make out in front of the window for what seemed like an hour while I listened to the song...

My Aim Is True from Elvis Costello and The Attractions was often on my turntable in those days. The song Watching the Detectives has now been forever linked to the events of that night. Ah, the foolishness of youth. And I was always told excessive drinking made you forget. Liars.

Lyrics by Elvis Costello
My Aim Is True, 1977 Rykodisc
Used without permission.

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