Sunday, October 23, 2005

First Semester First Impressions

Upon reflection, I realized that pt.4 of my Secret Origin series touched very little on the circumstances surrounding my early friendships, so I've decided to do a Spotlight Sunday edition on my first semester first impressions.

You know, they always say "you never get a second chance to make a first impression," which is basically true, but only if the first first impression actually makes an impression when you meet someone at first. After all, how many of the people in your life can you honestly say you remember meeting for the first time in exacting detail? And conversely, how many of them could say the same about you? Having had conversations about this topic before, I can say that among the Parkerites at least, the answer to the second question for me is "depressingly few." Chalk it up to the amazing powers of Cap'n Cellophane, boosted by the fact that all of the Parkerites first encountered each other all at once, in a mass of new faces and names; it's only natural that the quieter ones slipped through the perceptual cracks, insinuating themselves in the background until you can't quite recall exactly when they first appeared on your mental radar. Now, going back to the first question, let's take a look at my first impressions (or lack thereof) of some of the 1st semester 1st generation Parkerites.

Wrath teh Berzerkr: I distinctly remember the first time I saw Wrath; it was the day everyone was moving in, and he was walking to the 3rd floor elevator (my room opened up right onto the elevator landing) with his roomie, Captain Ego. My first thought upon seeing these two big, athletic individuals clad in clothes bearing professional sports insignias was something along the lines of "Oh, look, a couple of jocks who I probably won't get along with, great." Yes, I was the very soul of open-mindedness and optimism, wasn't I? I don't recall chatting with Wrath at all during those initial days before classes started when all of the Freshmen were taking part in the orientation activities known as Alpha, although I did wind up hanging out with Captain Ego a bit, who at one point during Alpha after an informal volleyball game in the Parker yard promised that by the time he was through he'd make me a real volleyball player; I'm still waiting, C.E.!

My second impression of Wrath would come the second day of classes, when I walked in to my Honors Freshman Comp. class to find him already there. Turns out that we both had Speech in that building right before Comp., although he was in the Honors section and I wasn't, probably due to some last minute schedule changes on my part. We would wind up being the first two in class pretty much every time. Soon found out that we had a bit in common: both came from small schools, both had a mom who was a teacher, both had been in Competitive Speech, both waited till the last minute to write our essays for Comp. and did amazing things with fonts and margins to meet the minimum page length, etc. Since the Comp. class was in the late afternoon, it was time for dinner by the time we got out, so we usually wound up eating together afterwards. Ah, the Parkerite dining experience; I'll try to talk about that more in the next Secret Origin installment. So, while my first impression was partially true (yes, he was a jock, and a more football-obsessed person I've rarely met), it didn't stop us from striking up a pretty solid friendship.

Coronela: I think Coronela may be the anti-Cellophane; most people who meet her are doubtful to forget her; I can remember walking across campus with her towards the end of my Senior year and having what seemed like every other person we passed say hi to her. My first really vivid memory of her is from the Parker living room, when an episode of Beavis and Butthead came on, and she came running in from the lobby and plopped down in the floor in front of the TV, exclaiming how much she loved the show. Never really having had a chance to watch B&B before, growing up without cable as I did, I can't say that this influenced my opinion of her one way or the other, except for making me think "Boy, she's really energetic."

Coronela and I didn't share any classes that first semester, but she was one of the other mainstays of the late night gatherings, and usually provided a great deal of entertainment because, as unworldly and sheltered as I was, she was worse. While she and I might not have had as many things readily in common as Wrath and I did, one thing we did share was a complete lack of fear in making fools of ourselves on the dance floor. One of my fondest memories of that first semester was the Parker Halloween dance, during which we put on our own little performance piece during Meatloaf's "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)"; can't hear that song without immediately thinking of her. I've talked before about how I change my behavior according to who I'm around; being around Coronela always brought out my goofy, silly side, which is probably why so many of my laughing-till-it-hurts memories involve her.

Pooh-bear Parrothead: I know exactly when I met Pooh because I was conscripted by my next door neighbor (the one who would later make the ego-shredding comment about me being a "super-nerd") to help her and her roomie move in. That was about all the contact I would have with either of them for most of that semester; if we ran into each other in the elevator, I'd say "Hi, Pooh and/or Nicknameless-roomie from Jenks" and they'd say "Hi, Todd from Wyandotte." But that first semester they were never part of the Lounge Lizards or the Lobbyists. In fact, for the most part I think they only really interacted with my neighbor who made me help him help them move in. The first time I recall them joining in on the 1st floor antics was during Finals Week that 1st semester; I remember it because I made a big deal about them leaving their room and joining the rest of us for a change. Pooh would become a much bigger part of my social circle in the 2nd semester, so I'll talk more about her then.

Rocket G'ovich: When I first met Rocket, I thought she was a Sophomore, since she was hanging out with Sophomores; turns out she wasn't, but was hanging out with them because they had all moved in early because they were in marching band. I really didn't get to know her well at all that first semester; outside of being in the band, the only thing I really remember from that early on is that her and the Doc starting to date one another.

Dr. G'ovich: And now, the moment you've all been waiting for: the non-stop action-packed, mind-blowing account of my first encounter with long-time friend and tormentor the Doctor. Are you ready? You sure? It's going to be a doozy. Okay, here it is . . .

I have no frickin' clue.

Honestly, my early memories of the Doc are quite hazy. He wasn't nearly as outgoing in those first few weeks; if I recall correctly, there were stitches and pain meds involved in that early subdued behavior, but he may very well have just been feeling things out before unleashing the full force of his personality, much as I was. But, due to this lack of immediate, attention-grabbing behavior, in my mind he's one of those figures who was just suddenly a part of the group, and I can't quite place where or when he got there. I remember us hanging out, but can't for the life of me recall the circumstances that led to it; I know he took part in some of the late-night gatherings, and, like Wrath, he also lived on my floor, both of which probably added to the chances for socialization. The more I think about it, the more I think it was probably that we both started hanging out with the same people, which brought us into contact with each other. It's just so strange to me that I have such vague memories of the early days of my knowing someone who, by the end of the 2nd semester, I would consider to be one of my best friends. Weird how the memory can play tricks on you that way, isn't it? I suppose by the end of the 1st semester I mainly thought of G'ovich as a funny, cool guy who was a bit unpredictable.

And there you have it, my first semester friendships in brief. I also had contact with Special K, who was another 3rd floor resident, and I believe The Eskimo, who had several friends from the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics living in Parker, may have started hanging around then as well, but my interactions with both were, at that point, pretty limited. There were also quite a few other figures playing some big roles in my life at the time (such as the two 3rd floor residents with whom I shared a brain), but they'll have to be covered another time.