Trooper, Slightly Imperfect, Pablo, The Dirty Italian, and I were forced to go to a “Transfer Orientation” a day after arriving at SUNY Potsdam.
We had all gathered in my room and were bonding over hate when the RA reminded us attendance was mandatory. This would be the only time I would see our RA the entire semester, leaving us in the hot but unavailable hands of Toga, the girl RA down the hall.
Pablo mumbled something about the word mandatory and decided to get stoned and watch The Cosby Show instead of coming with us, striking a blow for transfer student rights.
The T.O., just as crazy and self serving as the football player, can be described as a poorly organized seminar of useless information. The kind you could summarize on a 3 x 5 index card.
1. “Go to class. That’s why you’re here … right?”
2. “Here’s how to access your school email. Don’t use it for porn.”
3. “Our school is as politically correct as you heard. Watch your mouth on and off campus.”
4. “University Police can be reached at …”
5. “Don’t cheat.”
But they didn’t cover what to do with crazy people …
Upon arriving, we strategically positioned ourselves across from the food, so that when it was served, we could eat our body weight in it. This would result in a glorious food coma that would insulate us from the coming bullshit parade.
The coma would bring us to a wonderful fantasy world where professors gave you money just for showing up, and the annoying kids wore shock collars that anyone in class can activate by pressing a button.
Also: There are dragons.
My mouth watered like a drooling moron's watching the dining crew prepare the tables. This was my first meal of the day, and if you know anything about dangerously underweight people, you know not to get in the way of a meal. We’ll cut you.
I didn’t notice the wiry looking ginger fellow, Irish, sit down next to me until he proceeded to stare.
I learned on the subway this usually precedes a stabbing, so I ignored him. Irish gave up on me, smiled, and proceeded to contemplate murdering Slightly Imperfect.
Slightly Imperfect, thinking she might have found a date, slyly said, “How’s it going?” There’s a pause. The staring continues, and Irish mutters an uninterested, “Hey.”
Interesting. I expected a “Hey” as in, “Hello, my name is Scott. I am a freaky red haired kid who is carrying a bowie knife, want to see it?”, but his response was lifeless. Even a “Hello, my name is Flannery O’Connor, want to hear a morality tale before I gut you?” would be more interesting than that reply.
I proceeded to imagine Irish’s head being a giant potato and started to chuckle, thinking it couldn’t possibly be a potato because the Irish don’t have the best luck in that department.
My psychotic hunger delusions were interrupted when Irish drolly told Slightly Imperfect about his t-shirt, which featured a curious drawing of Jesus as a stick figure with a halo.
“Isn’t giving Jesus a halo redundant?” I asked.
No reply from Irish. He started to talk about how great Jesus is.
With mock fascination, I turned and started to openly complain because we just learned we wouldn’t be served the food for another two hours. My attempt at turning the conversation away from one involving the words, “sacrifice”, “savior” or “salvation”.
Then a funny thing occurred, like clockwork, as Irish started to draw The Dirty Italian and Trooper into his conversation with Slightly Imperfect, another gentleman sat down across from him.
Like Irish, the new kid also appeared to be one apple short of a bushel. Irish paused and gave his friend a knowing, “I’m not gay, but if I was, I’d totally sin with you” look. Irish’s presentation went from droll to dynamo in his explanation of the Rapture.
Bored, I tuned Irish out. I was preparing to gnaw off my arm, but Slightly Imperfect convinced me I needed it to get through college.
I instead stared at Trooper’s oddly shaped head in a mock imitation of Irish, and imagined what Trooper’s head would look like in 2-D (The answer: Flat Top from Dick Tracey.)
There was an awkward silence as Trooper realized I was starring at the top of his head, interrupting Irish’s excited explanation as to how we were all going to burn in hell.
Then as if to recover the attention, Irish looked at his ambiguously associated friend and started to talk to him loudly, in the kind volume reserved for an evangelical preacher asking for your credit card number.
Annoyed, the four of us tried to drown them out by questioning the school’s admissions policy, hoping they’d take the hint and leave. They got loud, so I got louder making proclamations about how I’m going to get biblical with Toga.
Extremely religious folks don’t like the idea of promiscuous sex.
At the sound of this sanctimonious statement, the dynamic duo stood and increased their volume as they turned toward us.
There was a another awkward pause.
Irish turned to his friend and said, more to us and the other people at the table, “Do you rock with Jesus?”
I laughed hysterically.
The other kid replied with a planned: “Why yes. I do.”
I replied: “I don’t!”
Trooper jumped in: “That’s right. He’s a Jew!”
We were Christ-punked by the fringe.
The two ignored us and left for another table at the same time similar students from other tables left to join the Hajj to their Mecca.
A friend of mine, training to be a pastor, told me about these exclusion exercises from the fringe. Many are modeled off of a church group in New York City where people stage mock fights, stop, and calmly talk about the Bible and how it resolved their dispute in hopes of drawing in fellow believers.
I never thought I’d experience one, especially at SUNY Potsdam. The school my parents talked me out of going to St. Bonaventure for because they thought there would be “more Jews there”.
I giggled for a few minutes before our group decided to made a break for it. We wouldn’t learn anything by staying that we couldn’t find online and the punking was enough to get us oriented to our new school and all the strange people and things it had to offer.
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