Even food service tops burnt chicken

By Darrell Hassler

Bob opened the door after a few minutes of playing with the lock, and he looked at me with joyous surprise.

“Hey, man. Long time no see. You know, I haven’t seen anyone from the old dorm floor in months! Come on in.”

I walked in and shook his hand. It was wet and sticky at the same time. “Oh, sorry about that,” he said. “I was fixing the disposal. The chicken guts stuffed it up, and you know these apartment maintenance people.” He wiped his hand on his pants.

He looked at me longingly, almost lovingly.

“So, you want to take a look at the place? I tell you, lots and lots of room. My room alone is twice as large as our old dorm room. God, we were packed like sardines, weren’t we?”

He introduced me to his room. His bed was a blanket for a mattress under another blanket to protect him from the cold draft let in by the broken window. His desk was on the other side. There was a lamp on it. And that was all.

“But I have posters to fill it up. That keeps me company, you know. The naked one over there is named Sheila. I bought her last week. That’s Mickey Rourke. You know, I didn’t like him very much until the poster hung in my room for a few weeks. He’s pretty cool when you get to know him,” Bob said.

He then continued to introduce me to the posters and started to tell the posters about me.

“But this room is not the best part. Let’s take a look at the kitchen,” Bob said, in his most proud voice.

The sink was filled with pots, pans and silverware. The food on them was dry and crusty. Bob said he doesn’t even put the dishes away but just grabs them out of the sink. The smell was repulsive.

“Here, I’ll show you what I made for dinner tonight. It’s great now that I get to cook my own food.” He opened the oven to a dungeon of blackness where in the middle laid a small chicken—burnt to the middle.

“I know it’s a little overdone, but I’m used to it. I’m just learning to cook. Here, I’ll show you what I just got at the grocery store.”

He opened the cabinet containing stacks of spaghetti, tomato sauce and Fruit Loops. “I’ve learned to buy in mass quantities since I never have time to go to the grocery store—like in my refrigerator.”

It contained two cases of beer and a half jar of pickle relish. He said the large refrigerators were so much better than the ‘wimpy dorm deals.’

“And even better is this living room. I mean, this is a party room,” Bob said. “Of course, I haven’t partied much since I don’t know anyone except the divorced widow with two children across the hall. But I’ll probably meet more people. There’s still a few months left.”

I asked him if I could use the phone for a minute. “Oh, sorry bud but no phone service. I haven’t paid it for a while, along with the electricity and cable bill.”

I told him I understood and that it was time for me to leave for class. “Oh please don’t. Just stay longer,” Bob pleaded. I said “sorry” and that maybe I would visit again if he couldn’t find anymore friends.

But actually, I went straight to my residence hall where I lived on the 12th floor. As the elevator took me up, I felt like I was getting closer to heaven.