this is how it was

"i love my friends" by jeffrey harland

There were six of them. They were roommates. There were Paul, Fritz, Charlotte, Kim, Kirby, and Pizzy, who's real name was John. All of them loved each other and had grown close to each other over the year, but they were roommates.

First there was Charlotte. She shared a room with Kim. Charlotte was a large girl with a proclivity for cinnabread; that was a pizza which was cooked with a sort of cinnamon roll goo for the sauce. It was then topped with frosting which melted like cheese. Essentially, it was a pizza cinnamon roll and Charlotte consumed it in vast quantities. She was the annoying roommate, always rambling on about some thing or another in a high pitched voice, like the locked-up, screeching brakes of a cement truck.

She smoked weed and drank alcohol, as did the other roommates, as did the other college students in the town. But Charlotte did it in a way that could only be described as excessive, even grotesque. Charlotte was grotesque, and would lay on the couch for long periods of time. It seemed she never left the house much. Nobody was sure what her major was. In fact, they weren't sure if she even went to school.

Kim on the other hand was thin and attractive. She would run in the mornings. She was an environmental science major and her boyfriend Eric loved her. It wasn't long after Kim moved into the house that the other roommates began to notice a thin, acidic residue in the toilet. It always seemed to linger after Kim came out of the bathroom. It smelled like a foul belch, or vomit. The guys didn't know what to think about it, but Charlotte knew what was going on. Nobody really talked about it much. Kim was never home anyhow.

All the girls loved Kirby. He was lightly tanned, like an English muffin fresh from the toaster. A big nappy mass of dirty blonde curls snaked on his head. He was a sexy guy, and he knew it, all confirmed by the amount of female attention he received. Kirby surfed and was, naturally, an oceanography major at the college. He didn't have a girlfriend.

There was a long standing debate in the household as to whether he was gay or not. Everyone but Paul seemed to think so, although everyone noticed the fact that he never brought any girls around the house, and always had a tendency to take his shirt off in front of Kim and Charlotte's guy friends. Kirby also played the guitar rather poorly. He listened to Sublime and skated, and was basically a trendy white guy.

This was what Fritz thought anyway. Fritz was Samoan with long wavy black hair erupting from his massive cranium like jungle vines. Fritz was indeed Samoan, and like most Samoans he was huge. He turned heads wherever he went, but most noticeably at Polynesian cultural festivals and seafood buffets. His precise weight was 352 pounds although he liked to round it off at 360. He was notorious for blasting Dr. Dre at odd hours in the night. No one ever mustered the courage to complain.

Fritz was loved by all the roommates and virtually anyone who met him. The intimidating bulk that he appeared to be was in fact, only a shell wrapped around a sensitive young man. He was a computer science major, and spent a fair amount of time downloading music from the computer he put together. When Fritz became intoxicated, he told hilarious stories from his days in Samoa as a child, running around butt-naked on the reef. Fritz had outgrown his ie` lava lava when he was nine.

Paul shared the room with Fritz. It was a tight squeeze. Paul was no lightweight himself, pushing a slim 260 compared to his roommate. His passion was the violin, so he decided to ditch the fruitless pursuit of English literature to become a music major. He was always elected first violin in the college orchestra, who was now performing Berlioz' Symphony Fantastique at the Civic Arts Plaza.

Paul was depressed. His father, an esteemed improvisational music producer, had recently died of heart failure. Paul also yearned for a girlfriend. He had never had any kind of sexual relationship in his life. On top of everything, he was horribly ashamed of his weight problem. So he drank, frequently.

Finally there was John, or Pizzy, or Piz-nuts as many called him. Like Fritz, he was also a computer science major. He designed complex web-pages and spent long nights wondering whether his roommate Kirby was gay. John was very studious and someday hoped to run his own freelance web design agency. He was genuinely a cool guy, always winning the Tuesday night Tetris competitions in the house.

These were the roommates and this is how it was. But after the fire, there was only Paul. And he moved to St. Louis to become a jazz musician.

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