As a resident assistant for three years, I never had to turn in a single situation revolving around alcohol, which is seemingly the most obvious offense that an RA would have to deal with. In every college party gone awry, there is some jerk who shows up with a badge and a clip board and busts the party up because “freshman Kelly” knew some of the soccer guys and she was really cute and she only drink Smirnoff… blah, blah, blah. That never happened to me. As long as I could look up at the building and not see anyone hanging completely out the window with a bottle of Jager in their hands (you have to have both because I saw plenty of people just normally hanging out the window), then I didn’t really care all that much to bust people. I only had two issues that normally came up in my building: people wanting to harm themselves or poop. Out of respect and class, we’ll focus on the poop (which is the only time I’ll ever be able to fashion that sentence in my life).
|This child would NEVER have had pink eye.|
I should have known that poop would be a common factor in my college experience, as I seemed to be constantly surrounded by it from the time I got there. As an elementary school student, I was never one of those children that ended up with lice or pink eye. We shunned those students and commonly talked about how their parents must make them sleep on the ground whilst washing themselves in the same bath water over and over. There had to be something wrong with those children’s home lives. If you wanted to be decently respected as an elementary school success story, you better never have lice or pink eye, and if you did, it didn’t hurt if you brought your Lite Brite to school so other kids could play with it and eventually forgive you. So, naturally, I was devastated to find out as a nineteen year old college student that I had… pink eye.
When I went to the nurse, I was practically berated with a slew of uncomfortable and accusatory questions: Have you found yourself in the company of a lot of smoke? I can’t remember my last Def Leppard concert, but I’m going to go with no. Do you not wash your hands after going to the bathroom and then touch your face? No, I do not wipe my butt then take my contact out. Has anyone had any sexual contact with your eye? Are you serious right now? I actually had to pause when answering this question to interpret how someone could feasibly have sexual contact with my eye, and furthermore to contemplate who in the world would attempt the ludicrous things that my mind was coming up with. After some soul searching, I had determined: no. No one had had sexual contact with my eye.
The doctor went on to explain that somehow, some kind of bacteria had crept its way into my eye and made home, kind of like when you move into a new apartment and have a “nesting ritual.” This was not the allergy related type of pink eye that people could justify by coming up with a convenient reaction to grass or mold. This was the nasty kind; essentially the STD of the ocular world. I had, by some measure, been eye raped.
I wore my dark rimmed glasses to cover up the shame, but it was no use. People would ask me about my eye and what had happened. Without any warning or lying ability, I would tell them of my infectious disease and they would look at me like a nasty animal. I was the equivalent of a malnourished cat with little eye crusties on the edge of its eyelids. I was an ophthalmological pity case. Some thief in the night was responsible for this; I knew it. I was too clean, too careful for this kind of thing to happen to me. I washed my pillowcases bimonthly. I wasn’t the type of person who got pink eye. I felt like the Hester Prynne of the visual world, with my puffed up eye being the letter A I would carry around to proclaim my shame to the world, and in my ignorance of how pink eye was spread, I began to wonder how much other people knew. What if they went around chattering among each other, I can’t believe he let someone do that to his eye! I didn’t know he was into that freaky stuff… It was too much. There had to be an answer.
So when I was talking to my freshman roommate about the whole ordeal, he said, Maybe Zak did something. I looked at him and said, What do you mean ‘maybe Zak did something?’ He then began to tell me, with that impossibly smug smile on his face that at one point the week before, he let a guy into our room that had something for me. Then when he was leaving the room, he said that the guy was pulling his pants up. I was livid. Who forgets to tell someone when someone was coming to leave your roommate something then leaves pulling his pants up? How is that a detail that you forget to mention to someone. Sure, I accidentally ate your last pack of Ramen; sorry I didn’t mention it, or I meant to tell you that someone called your phone while you were in the bathroom, but if there’s one thing I wouldn’t forget to mention it’s Someone came to leave you something in our room, and they left pulling up their pants.
I immediately starting asking around, trying to pick up any clues that anyone would have. Most people knew nothing, but for those who obviously did, it was like watching an excerpt out of a college version of Winter’s Bone. I expected one of them to pull me aside with a Dale Dickey voice and say, I told you to listen. You should have listened. I wanted finality for this crime, but no one would offer me any information to help me solve it. Just a smile and a shrug followed by, I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s not like I was speaking in a foreign language or asking about international relations between Guam and Peru; I was asking if anyone knew if Zak had air shat on my pillow. No one would answer; no one cared… not like I did.
And the mystery would go on to be ultimately unsolved. Sometimes people would talk about that one guy that got pink eye from the guy who farted on his pillow, but no one would ever mention names. They’re secrets were safe in the bonds of idle chit chat and gossip, and when I was around, the conversation would stop. But I know, I always know. And it’s a terrible prank, nothing like putting someone’s fingers in water to see if they’ll pee the bed or seran wrapping a toilet seat. No, this is a dangerous game that requires antibiotics and strips the victim of their innocence and clear vision. The night after graduation, a group of us collected in the parlor of Carnegie. Zak was there as well, and I couldn’t help myself. Because it was the last time most of us would see one another (and probably partly due to the half a box of wine I had drank), I had confidence I had never felt before. I asked him, in front of everyone, Zak, be real with me for a second. Did you fart on my pillow and give me pink eye? The room fell silent; we all knew exactly what I was talking about–a grudge that had never fully been let go. As thoughtfully as he could, he looked at me and said, Dude. No. I didn’t fart on your pillow. I would admit to it if I did. But the problem is, once someone flatuates on your pillow, you never really come to trust anyone again fully. Even your best friends, and to this day, I have promised myself two things: 1) I will never again leave my pillows unattended. 2) I will find who gave me pink eye, even if it takes cutting off their hands in the middle of a lake.