One Dangerous Harding University Exploit After Another
I spent my nights, during last weekend's visit to Searcy, at a friend of mine who lives within a brick's lob of the campus. This friend is no longer a student, but has advanced into the stratosphere of Harding faculty. He dresses in a tie, and sits at an office desk, where he watches squirrels out his office window. Monday morning, the day I was to get up, leave Searcy, and head towards southern Mississippi, I got up from his apartment floor. He was gone. He has strange things like office hours to keep.
I pick myself up out of my blankets about mid-morning, I throw on a pair of blue jeans only, and I walk outside the front door to feel the day's sunlight. Now, I can't answer why I do certain things, especially in the mornings. I'm never really thinking until about 4 hours after I wake up. So involuntarily I strut outside to stretch, I guess. I can only speculate that it's that instinct in a man, that displays itself when camping out. The first thing to do is unzip the tent, then go outside and stretch and yawn and feel the rush of the outdoor sunshine. I reckon that I sought to do the same sort of thing in Searcy this particular morning. But like I said, I wasn't really aware of what I was doing, that is...until I tried to get back in the apartment and I found that that the door was locked.
Yes, for some strange reason, my friend had the paranoid idea to keep his door where if it shut it automatically locked. So there I was, locked out of this apartment where my shirt and shoes were, and my keys and my cell phone were also. I knew no one else around. My only option was to walk that short distance to the American Studies Building, to my friend's office and get a key. For some reason, I had a hard time owning up to this only course, for I felt that it would be terribly awkward when strutting around campus in only a pair of blue jeans...in broad daylight...(At night time, without jeans, this would be called the Maybee Challenge) but in the daytime, even though only shirtless and barefooted, it was just weird.
But regardless of my embarrassment, which can, as has been done before, been hurdled over, I was all the more concerned about the embarrassment my friend would have if I were to saunter into his office, past the secretary, demanding all the while that I needed the key to his apartment. His boss worked directly next door and could see everyone coming and going out of my friend's office. An explanation from my friend to his boss would be needed.
"All I needed was a shirt." I thought to myself. "The lack of shoes is hardly noticeable...but without a shirt, with my fair skin, a local cropduster could see me shining below. But where can I get a shirt?" I thought about other friends who were of close proximity to this dire scene, but they were still much too far off. I even thought of knocking on a stranger's door and explaining to them the whole situation, and begging for them to let me borrow a shirt.
My mind shook itself when coming to the dim realization that I was about to make a farewell to Harding bare-chested. I stretched my vision down the path I would have to take in order to make any progress at leaving Arkansas. I noticed how over half the hike would be alongside girls' dorms. Then it was up into the very building where half my classes took place 2 years ago.
The entire American Studies building would be swarming with old English professors of mine, and here, I would march in, like a pale Tarzan with my jeans with the ripped hole in the knee. They would think that I was up to one of my antics, and it would be much like the little boy who cried wolf, when I would say, "No, this is for real! I really did lock everything but these pair of jeans in my friend's apartment.....who just so happens to work in this same building. Honestly! I am not semi-streaking my old MLA-documented stomping ground!" But I wouldn't be believed.
I could picture it, they would all glare at me and then one by one pronounce derogatory names upon my head. -Not ordinary words like "idiot" or "fool". No, I would receive the best scolding spewing from their ripened vocabularies. Words like "insipid infidel" (notice the alliteration) or daft damnation-inducing dudderhead" I could see Mrs. Jewel so outraged, she, the grand duchess of grammar, could only speak in sentence fragments. "I always knew you were the shame of the English department, if it wasn't falling off stage at graduation, or planting your own questions at your senior symposium,.....not wearing a shirt is pathetic!" And then she would shriek realizing that she had said an incomplete sentence.
Then there was the social aspect of it. "I would be treading right below a bunch of girls' dorms and then walking into a hall of study where the coolest thing is to wear a jersey just like the person next to you, blending in with the mass crowd that is the judge of everything. What you absolutely don't want to do is to stand out. And forget the jersey, walking around without a shirt was standing out. I would be that oddball crazy guy....but of course, without it being fun. (Why is it that we fear what we already are perceived to be?) And why couldn't my friend work in the theatre department where weird acts like this were accepted, even encouraged? My....my...I was just getting over my social anxiety at Harding University. During this entire visit here, I advanced to the presumption of looking the pretty girls in the eyes, without feeling that shy intimidation clinging to me. It was as though, my entire student life at Harding passed without realizing that girls will smile at you as you walk by. You have to be careful, half of them are ensnaring husbands with those smiles. But no", my mind had to stop rambling and come back to my ridiculous situation, "completely shirtless...what anxiety I'm going to be falling back into."
Such were my thoughts, as I tried one hopeless last measure after another. I tried my car doors, knowing that I had an extra shirt inside. -But those doors, too, were locked. I thought further, "Maybe I am overreacting. I mean, so what if a bunch of professors and teeny-bopper girls see my nipples?....I'm no longer a student here. I could take off these blue jeans and it would make the same difference....it would only be an assurance to what everyone already knows, 'that blonde kid is one strange cat.' I wish I had a marker I could write a bunch of Greek gibberish on my skin. Maybe highlight my nipples...make eyeballs out of them...have a phrase inscribed above my belly button saying, 'Because I'm cooler than you I can do this'."
But just as courage was coming to me to make my bare-back journey onto Harding University campus, the most sober consideration occurred. "O dear....Just from this weekend...with a previous antic of mine...a description had gone out to security describing my features." I will not say much about this antic and who else was involved....I just admit large-scale fireworks were involved the other night, where I would shoot several artillery rounds and then drive or run off with the help of an accomplice or two. I know...I shall never taste maturity. But you must realize how fun this was. These celebratory undertakings to light up the sky were cheered by bystanders, but sought after by the Harding security. We were quick to duck out of an area by the time security came running, only to strike another snap, crackle, and pop in another area. This zigzagging probably infuriated the security. And one time during an escape, my pursuers, who this time happened to be students, managed to get a good look at my features. And just how many boys do you think at Harding have my length of hair and my hair color as well? I think I had the longest hair on campus that I saw this weekend, not to mention my characteristic bright blonde hue that could be spotted a mile away. So I would imagine that security is on the look out for someone matching these descriptions. I cannot stand out at all or I could be facing some serious trouble. Not just for being shirtless, but for my other nighttime celebrations.
I pondered alternative routes, maybe going behind the American Studies building and knocking on my friend's window. But I could never really be sure which window is his from the outside. All the windows are tinted a dark color, and his office is directly next to his boss's office who also had a window. Certainly that would be the worst case scenario, to be tapping on some Harding staff, big wig's window without a shirt, creeping around like a savage in the flower bed.
I was just about to make my venture....nipples and belly button exposed, the traditional route of just walking straight into the building and into his office, when I had one last resort. It was my ability to break into places. Maybe through the windows, I could get into his apartment. I tried the first window....locked. then the 2nd, last window that was situated right above the kitchen sink. And to my amazement and relief the window slid right up. I pulled the blinds up and then ever-so-thief-like slipped head first through the small window. I got in and completely subverted the entire adventure I was dreading to take.