Monday, Feb. 17, 2003, 11:44 PM

Testimonial number one

Tonight's entry is a little different. Not many people in my real life know about this diary. A few know that I have rekindled my desire for writing, and a few more know that I am keeping some kind of journal of sorts. And one or two know that I have an on-line journal, but only one of them knows how to access it. That one has been mentioned in entries previous, and I'm sure will be mentioned again. One day when we were talking she mentioned a story she had told recently about our time at college, and more specifically, about some instance that involved me. I asked her if she would be interested in recounting that discussion in writing for a post. The request was met with enthusiasm. So here I is. I like to think of this as a testimonial, and this person as a character witness. I like this concept. I would happily include more if other friends or family came forth with them.

Besides, I talk way too much in these entries so I'll let someone else speak tonight:


I don't know how to begin my story of Greg. He is Greg to me, by the way. This name formality has only come with age, and it is hard for me to call him Gregory, this person who wore a woman's shorts on his head during a game of Strip Trivial Pursuit, but that is another story. My first meeting with Greg occurred in the lobby of my dorm. He had come to visit a friend of mine and met me in the process. I lived across the hall, you see. He and I reclined on the weird sci-fi looking couches that sat blocklike in the upper level of the dorm. They were yellow and orange and belonged, in my estimation, in a seventies nightclub. They appeared comfy but were plastic and rigid. Greg showed me photos of his trip across the US and did gymnastic-like moves while he talked. He couldn't sit still. He still can't. We talked late into the night. He still has that ability, too, to make me talk late into the night.

What really stands out to me are the breakfasts that he made all of us, though I am getting ahead of myself. After meeting Greg my freshman year, I had the good fortune to end up in the apartment next to his during my senior year. I had been through much in those years in between, and so had he. One relationship of mine perished through separation (both physically and mentally), and several of his had as well, though perhaps not for the same reasons. Life had made us neighbors, which more or less turned into roommates. The apartment to the left of ours, number four, and Greg's group to the right in number six, made my group of friends an apartment of women surrounded by men. Oh, it was interesting, all right. We ran in and out of each other's apartments as though they were rooms in the same house. One of Greg's roomies slept in my room every night because I shared a room with his girlfriend. Most of us worked at the campus radio station, and my unofficial male roomie was my radio show partner. It was confusing, but it worked.

Every Saturday morning Greg would get up and make breakfast for us. Depending on the weekend and who went home, we would have as many as twelve people in Greg's apartment, perhaps more. The main players were always the same, but sometimes others would join us, such as Greg's brothers or a person's friend from back home. So Greg would cook for us in the morning, which for us started as late as one p.m. He would make the most wonderful things, such as French toast, bacon, and home fries. He used whole loaves of bread for one meal. I was always amazed by the quantities. We would each take a plate and go to the living room and watch something inane just to make fun of it. Our favorite was Baywatch. So many jokes could be made in such a short amount of time.

A couple of months into the semester, Greg got a job. He worked at a bookstore. I assumed that the job became a necessity due to a fiscally demanding girlfriend and the financial constraints of being a college student. After a few weeks of his working, I suddenly realized that he had never asked me to chip in for the breakfasts. I found this odd, because paying for our share was how we did everything. I checked around with our friends and discovered that he hadn't asked anyone to pay. Once I talked to everyone, I went to him armed with my newfound information. To my dismay, I discovered that he had gotten the job to pay for the breakfasts. Unbelievable. Who does that? I offered to give him money for my share, and he refused. I don't think he ever took a dime from anyone. I still don't know why. Maybe he liked the camaraderie of those Saturdays. Maybe he enjoyed cooking for large groups. I'll never know or understand. But I will always remember those Saturdays. We had other experiences more grand, such as being snowed in during the blizzard of '92 and again in '93, playing that now legendary game of Strip Trivial Pursuit, goofing in the radio station and getting in trouble for the umpteenth time, and eating fudge off each other's fingers, but nothing else was ever that easy or comforting. The regularity of those days was extraordinary, in some bizarre cosmic way. I don't think about it much anymore, what with life getting in the way, but I can't help but recall that the college time in my life was incredibly complicated, so the simplicity and purity of some gestures and moments during that time is amazing. I can't get inside Greg's head and analyze his reasons for his selflessness, nor do I want to. I just want it to be what it is and was. It was good. For that little while, for that blip in time, things were really, genuinely good.

-- A friend