Jen and I sit around and shoot the bull for a while. I learn that her nickname is Mattie, which is short for "Mad Hatter." It fits. I like her. In idle conversation she mentions that Eszter is the most introverted person she knows. That makes sense to me.
I repack the sleeping bag with Jen's help and shoulder my stuff, and with some brief goodbyes, an exchange of phone numbers, and an open invitation, I am off accross the Merrill campus to my bike. I ride immediately to Brent's trailer, on the other side of campus.
It's about 2pm and he's groggy from sleeping all day. He's pulled an all nighter. He struggles to the edge of his bed and stands up on the linoleum of his narrow hallway and, inexplicably, his tousled blond hair appears immaculately combed. I've never seen Brent upright with uncombed hair. It's like his hair cannot exist in an uncombed state while he is awake.
While Brent does his toilette, I walk outside and converse with two girls moving bikes into a trailer. They've just discovered that their bedding was shredded at one corner. I make sure to tell them my story of Ming Yang and the rats.
Brent, though groggy, proves he's One Of The Good Ones, and he walks down with me through a tangle of shortcut trails to do our errands. First he stops in the computer lab to read email. He's a Teaching Assistant, and this is his lab. He shuffles up to the board, still only half awake. In radiant Orange marker he draws the following legend:
" Welcome _ _ back | '-' | to |_,-,_|ell. "
Without saying a word, he turns around and shuffles out of the lab.
He flags down some guy I don't know in the hallway, and has a cheerful chat with him about why the combination to the lab doors is flaky. Apparently some goofballs tried to break through the door during the vacation. They didn't succeed, but they did screw up the combination lock. The man waves and Brent smiles and waves and we go on our merry way once more. As an aside, Brent leans in close, and I hear him mutter "That guy should be fucking burned at the stake." I grin.
He turns around and walks into the front of the large CS building, and stops at the division information booth. He has a conversation with the woman at the desk during which he practically bleeds good cheer and polite humour, but he learns nothing new from her, and when the conversation ends he whips around and plods groggily out the way he came. I poke him in the ribs, calling him "Smoove B, Love Man" for how well mannered he was.
We proceed across the street and down to the ID center. I fork over my driver's license, sign my name on an electronic pad, and stand in front of a blue rectangle. The little yellow slug perched on the end of the camera lens leers at me. One flash and two minutes later my ID is ready, complete with validation sticker. I shove it into my pocket and walk over to Brent, who is milling around the wire baskets of newspapers by the door. He picks up a coupon sheet. "Oooh," he exclaims in mock joy, "Two-for-one deal at Falafel of Santa Cruz!"
He rolls the sheet up in his fist, and we walk towards the bookstore and discuss Computer Science. Brent is relieved that I'm taking CS-101 this semester instead of last. Referring to the previous teacher, Brent informs me that "that guy should be shot, whipped, raped, ... uh ... quartered, murdered, poisoned", I count on my fingers as he goes, and stop at eight.
We step into the bookstore and drift among the chaos of students. Brent peruses the CS textbooks to make sure the class he's tutoring this semester is using the same book. It is. "Well. Good. That saves me 80 god-damn fucking bucks for a change." He slams the book back on the shelf.
He looks over the supplemental handbook included with another class he's tutoring, and sighs. "This book is completely fucking useless", he informs me, and flings it lazily back onto the shelf. "And they all have to buy it."
He shambles out, and we walk back up the hill towards the camper park. Partway there, we sit down on a metal slab outside a big cement building and look over my class list. A high-pitched whining noise is screaming out all the open windows of the big cement building. I don't know why.
Brent helps me figure out where I should be riding tomorrow. "See, you look at these codes here, and you line them up with this stupid-ass list on this page here. See? E - 3. So that means the class is in this motherfucking building here." He jabs at the paper, almost hard enough to poke through it. "Mother. Fucking. That's a long. God. Damn. Walk." He's been hamming up the surly mood all morning, and finally I laugh out loud and clap him on the back.
We plod up towards the trailer park. Brent makes conversation by way of describing a porn movie that Jeremy (trailer park Jeremy) rented.
"It's got everything," he says, in the tone of a used car salesman. "It's got girls doing guys," he stabs his palm with his finger for emphasis, "It's got ... girls doing girls." (Stab.) "It's got ... guys doing guys." (Stab) "It's got ... bestiality." (Stab.) "It's got ... guys screwing corpses. Whatever that's called." (Stab.) "It's got ..." Brent waves his hands around like a conductor, and makes various squishing noises for about a minute while we walk. If Tanya were around she'd probably punch him for being so incredibly crude.
We arrive next to Brent's trailer. I unlock my bike. Brent wanders over to the mailboxes along the outside wall of the commons room, keys open his mailbox, and gropes around inside. I walk my bike over to him.
"Oh look!" He waves a slim flyer around in the air. "For $14.95 I can get a talking watch!" He lifts the lid on the paper-recycling bin right next to the mailboxes and drops the flyer inside, then stuffs his arm back into his mailbox. "Aw yeah, pizza coupons."
This actually gives him some hesitation. He backs over to the nearby picnic table and sits on it, with his feet on the bench, and carefully ponders ordering some delivery pizza as though it were a troubling exam question. The idea of food occurs to me as well, so I decide to ride down to my car and meet him back at the trailer park with some food of my own.
By the time I've ridden all the way off campus and across to Alex's house and stowed the bike, though, I feel more like going home and resting than doing anything else. Besides, I want to catalog this day as the beginning of my UCSC career. So I stop at the falafel place, get some grub, and drive back to Watsonville, remembering halfway there that I've now had two pounds of beans soaking on the stove for almost thirty-six hours. No harm done though.