Tuesday, 12 July 2011

WWAD? (What Would Arnie Do?)

The first thing I did at university was drop a television on my face.

I had said goodbye to my mum and was left with the few pieces of home I had brought with me, piled into boxes and stacked around the room. Most accessible of these was the new TV/DVD combi, purchased so I needn’t be without my Schwarzenegger collection for more than a heartbeat.

The room was so full that I had wedged the door open to allow for overspill. I manoeuvred the television to where it might maximise my viewing pleasure: the top of the wardrobe. It was high, and the television heavy. WWAD? (What Would Arnie Do?) I hefted it up with mighty strength.

There were a number of shortcomings. It was too high to watch unless I stood on the bed. Worse, there was no socket even remotely in reach. It would have to be moved.

I reached up to place a hand either side, and slid the television slowly toward me. Very suddenly its weight pitched forward, and I lost my grip.

What followed is perhaps the least exciting slow-motion moment of my life. The television was falling. My hands were already engaged in failing to hold it. I had two options. I could step back and let my brand new television drop to the floor where not only would it shatter but along with it my dreams of snuggling beneath a warm duvet gazing moon-eyed at the glistening muscles of the Austrian Oak. Or I could catch it with my face.


The television struck my forehead with a thick glassy thud. The impact shuddered through my body. I was quite unable to move. The television on my face, hands still clasping it either side as if I were trying to balance it there.

It was this moment which my room neighbour chose to introduce herself.

‘Are you alright?’ she asked from the doorway.

This particular housemate was a slightly older, quite unfathomably attractive girl with the sort of northern accent which makes chubby socially-maladjusted boys with televisions on their faces weep with lust. I lowered the television and mumbled some sort of greeting

It transpired that four of my housemates were worryingly attractive girls. Unbeknownst to me, the unpleasantness with the television would set the blueprint for our encounters.

I don’t make friends easily. Especially when those friends are women. Most people would try basic conversation as a means of establishing relations. I chose a more stunt-based approach.

There was the time I heard them conversing in the kitchen, and attempted to join in by claiming a bad back required me to lie on the hard floor. After half an hour of being ignored I gave it up. On another occasion I feigned a noisy fall in my room. This garnered a knock of concern, followed by an expression as if I had defecated in her favourite shoes. Often, after a particularly ambitious binge eat, I’d leave the leftovers in the kitchen to be shared. Hours later, my stomach emptied, I’d steal upstairs and return them to my room.

Shortly before the end of the first semester, I visited the kitchen to cook dinner. All my housemates were gathered there, every area of the oven engaged. They were having Christmas dinner together. I had not been invited.

Arnie would have demanded a seat at the table, snagged the finest cuts of meat, pulled all the crackers by himself and not left the room until every girl present was sufficiently pregnant. I am not Arnie. I returned to my room and went hungry.

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