It’s funny, no one who might read this has ever met Garrett. They have no idea who he is. If you are reading this blog it’s probably because you know me. And you know me because we are family. Or we are old friends. Or we went to high school together. Or we worked together professionally at some point. Or you know one of my family members and feel like you know me because we move in small tight knit social circles and my exploits are legendary(ok probably not the last part).
But Garret and I were friends during a strange period in my life when I was essentially cut off from everything and everyone I had always known, and I had no time or inclination to develop any kind of lasting relationship because I knew this phase was just a means to an end.
No this isn’t the 2 years my wife was in North Carolina and I was in stranded in Missouri.
This was college. My 16 month sprint to a BA degree at Washington State University in Pullman.
The fact that I had any social attachment to Garrett at all is nothing short of a miracle.
I was only at WSU because it was the fastest path to a degree. And as I recounted in the post on Jeff Reinland, I was hell bent on graduating college before those smucks in the class of 1999 that ditched me back in kindergarten.
I was taking nearly 30 credits a semester.
I was shy to boot. And I didn’t drink, smoke or party.
I had junior standing but I purposely put my self in an underclassman dorm because it was right across the street from the 3 gyms in the PE building, and right next door to the dorm that housed the cafeteria.
I had a roommate that I didn’t quite mesh with named Justin. He seemed decent enough at first until his girlfriend came to visit. They went camping. They got wasted. They Puked on each other. And he lost his virginity. In that order. Suddenly Justin found himself to be a Soi-disant pimp daddy. He kept putting me in the position of trying to keep his ex girlfriend away from his new girlfriend. He got real cocky. He was oddly close with his parents. He had a picture of himself his dad and his brother sticking their hands down their pants and their fingers out the fly of their pants. I came home from class one day to hear him talking on the phone to his parents telling them I scream in my sleep “something about numbers.” Like I had unlocked the door and opened it but he was talking so loudly that he didn’t even realize I was there. If he tells his parents this, I don’t know what he was saying to anyone else.(for the record I know exactly what he was referring to. I often dreamed of playing basketball back then and when leading the fast break I say “We got numbers.” Common occurrence for me to suddenly kick out in bed as I am dreaming of jumping. Still do that to my wife from time to time, but I digress).
Justin got a D in chemistry his first semester and his parents made him come home.
So I was isolated in my room for the next semester when I wasn’t in class or in the gym playing ball.
While the dorm I chose was close to basketball courts it was also the “scholar hall” which meant it attracted mostly nerd, or lesser wannabe athletes like me, who wanted to be king of the nerds. Justin was more of the former. Paul who was next door (and shared a wall with me, and never heard me scream in my sleep, even though it was totally easy to hear, I know because ai heard everything that he did in his bedroom at night ) and he would play basketball with me sometimes but was more of a hockey player. Brian Chu, would go to the rec center with me and play ball, sometimes, but he didn’t play any defense and once he had a girlfriend across campus he moved closer to her. He had started school at Texas and had moved to Wazzu when his parents were transferred to WA for work. He started every story with “Well in Austin” and ended every story with “We were all piss drunk of course.”
Luckily there was a 6’4” guy that lived 2 dorm rooms down. He and his roommate played some online first person shooter game that Justin really wanted to play too. I think I only met his roommate when he came to help Justin, and eventually Garrett and I were made aware of each other. Eventually we started to go to the gym together.
Now like I said, G was like 6’4”. But he couldn’t dunk, at least not at first. Some how between my advic on how to elevate from a power stance and finish, and mocking him for not being able to dunk, he learned how to dunk. And some how learning to dunk made him acutely aware of the timing for other people like your’s truly finishing at the rim and G became a devastating shot blocker.
I remember one day soon after he had figured the whole dunking thing out, we were playing 1 on 1. And I could not get a shot off. I was incensed. I spent a half hour trying to dunk myself. I could not squeeze out the last inch of elevation to get my wrist high enough to execute a proper dunk. I kept getting rim checked by the back iron. I was high enough to drop it in, but not high enough to throw it down.
I stormed out of the gym, and back to my dorm room leaving G standing there, confused but still rather pleased with himself. That is the night my porn habit began.
Garrett and I didn’t get real close until the next year. He had decided to have a double room all to himself. After another summer session I was a semester away from graduating and I had a new freshman roommate named Josh. He was a sweet Little choir boy, but he slept through his alarm clock every morning. I mean seriously, the alarm clock was useless. It was 10 inches from his head and wouldn’t wake him up. After a half hour of waiting him out I would get up and turn off the alarm and wake him up. This was a daily thing. Don’t know how he survived the next semester. He was going to be an architect, just like his dad was going to be. Yes that’s right, his parents were moving to Pullman too and his father had enrolled as an architecture major too. He had a brother too. They were all very close. Not quite sitck your hands down your pants together for a family photo close like Justin, but close none the less.
Josh tended to have a lot of complicated drafting homework to do, so naturally I started to hang out with G to give him space.
A weird thing was happening though. The previous year there had a been a girl in the dorm who kind of liked me. I wasn’t really into her or any kind of relationship at the time. So we did the just friends thing rather well. She had a friend who visited one time. Her name was Annika (what is she Japanese?, as G’s dad would say). Annika was notable because she volunteered to leave a sultry voicemail message for my answering machine. My dad was impressed when he tried to call me once.
She was also notable because G kind of liked her.
Well she was now going to school at Wazzu and lived in the big dorm next door. So some how she and G would end up hanging out together almost every day. Well that’s not accurate. They would tend end up hanging out with me every day. They both claimed to really like the other, but for whatever reason they needed a 3rd wheel to function. So I got hitched to this dysfunctional relationship.
So here is the super weird part. I don’t know why but this all started with Annika singing Eric Clapton’s You look wonderful tonight. Which is fine. She likes to sing, it’s classic rock (sort of) I get it. But she started holding my hand and singing it to me. And this was fun because making Tony feel awkward and uncomfortable is everyone’s favorite game to play. It’s my wife’s favorite thing to do. My 6 year old calls me “Anthony” just to get under my skin. My 2 year old calls every animal in his “See and Say”animal book a “crab” because his mother told him once that “your daddy is a crabby crab” and I didn’t appreciate it.
Naturally this evolved to me becoming the go between for these two love birds. It was odd. G really liked her. She claimed to like him, but needed a buffer, and that buffer became me.
Well all this buffering probably had some kind of strange Freudian transference thing going and when G and Annika finally gave it up for a while, he and I were suddenly very close.
To move on from Annika, G was charting on AOL with some high school cheerleader in Lewiston. He got invited to come out and meet her one Saturday night when her parents were out of town. At first G was kind of hesitant. He said “this could be some freaky stuff.” But being a good wing man, I agreed to go with him. What’s the worst that could happen? The chick would serenade me with “Leila?”
Well we met up with this girl and her friend. We hung out at her house. I mean we sat and made awkward get to know you chit chat. We also did Super fun stuff like using her grandmothers easy chair. It was the kind you don’t have stand up off of or sit down on. You just stand in front of it and hold the up button until it presses up on your back side and then you hit the down button and it lowers you into a seated position. Time to get up? Just hold the up button until the chair returns you to an upright standing position. It’s was like an amusement park without a souvenir shop.
Well it was about 11 o’clock and G and I were literally walking towards the door saying it was “so great to met you,” when suddenly the girls disappear into the kitchen. We don’t want to rude so we wait for a second to see what is going on. Maybe there is pie?
The next thing I know I have ice cubes being put down my pants. I hadn’t calculated this. This must have been what G meant by “freaky stuff.” I wasn’t quite sure what to do. My thought process went something like this. I just got ice down my pants. Is is cold and wet. It’s kind of like snow. If some one throws a snowball at you, a perfectly rational response is to throw a snowball back at them. So I attempted to drop ice cube down her clothes in return. A giggling struggle ensued. I found myself being slowly directed down a hallway to a bedroom. I had no idea what my boy G was up too, but presumably he was getting similarly flirtatious treatment. According to the bro code I didn’t want to interrupt him if he was getting his Mack on. But I had no way of knowing what he was up to, and he didn’t know what I was up to either. This was just before texting became a thing. We were stuck. Prisoners of the Bro Code and quasi rebellious high school cheerleaders.
Well after several hours, curiosity got the best of us both, and we moved out of our respective locales to say good night and finally make our return to campus at around 5am.
We made one or two return visits to Lewiston. One of those rerun visit was during homecoming and we ran into my kindergarten teacher at a restaurant, because it is a small, small world. But ultimately this was not a sustainable situation and we just had to stop chatting on AOL ( god I am so old). Luckily some kind of computer virus had tanked my computer software, and none of my messenger bots were working so I basically ghosted this girl, about 10 years before that was a thing. But in the back of my head I remembered she had hinted at wanting to get flowers sent to her at school to “make me feel special.”
So fast forward past graduation and all the way to the end of the following semester. I had to go back up to campus to pick up some things I left in the dorm room. A lot had happened for me personally in the time frame since I had graduated and I was all about making amends at this point. (Hell no I wasn’t an alcoholic!). So on my way home I made a detour to Lewiston High School to deliver a bouquet of Flowers. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I was playing like I was just a delivery guy. Mispronounced the name on the card and everything to play like I had no idea who these flowers were for or who they were from. I had to leave them at the office anyway. I couldn’t interrupt class to deliver them anyway, which I guess is what I was hoping for; just enough time to shock and awe her with flowers and then leave so as not to further interrupt the class as she is stunned and wondering if the delivery guy looks familiar? But as it is, I have no idea if she ever even got them.
Ok, rewind back to me and Garrett. So in all of the 20,000 students that were on campus with me, Garrett is the only one I think would remember me. I was a part of a lot of group projects and spent many late nights in a computer lab with others. But he was the only one I would say I became friends with. And what did we have in common? What was the basis of our friendship? Basketball and women. Which you would think would be a pretty abundant combo, and if that is all I needed to be friends with some one I should be Dane Cook’s MySpace page circa 2010. But alas, no. All of my other relationships were based on circumstance, a class, a project. We were just kind of put together by the powers that be, and once those things were over, so was the relationship. But Garrett and I actually chose to hang out together. And sure it was convenient being only 2 dorm rooms away from each other.
I remember one weekend I went with Garrett to Spokane to watch his younger brother’s football game. I think his brother was a tight end and actually scored a touchdown that night. It seemed like G had a little bit of dissatisfaction with not being able to play football, like I was secretly (or not so secretly) obsessed with playing basketball. The weekend It’s self was fun. We ended up playing basketball and eating steak strips at one of Garrets old friend’s house. We also ended up hanging out on the Whitworth campus with some people watching some guy doing card tricks.
But the funny thing is we were pretty different by all accounts other than our few shared interests. He was math guy. I can recall the conversation we had about this. He liked that an equation always has one right answer. And I of course hated that there was one right answer because 1.) I am unlikely to be able to figure out the one right answer, and 2.) once you have that right answer you have to move on to the next equation. I’d rather just keep working possibilities for the first problem. I had a “go deep philosophical mentality” at the time. Of course the type of problem I wanted to solve was “how many ways can you score against a 3-2 Zone defense,” not “what is the meaning of life,” or “how to solve world hunger.”
Garrett was a pharmacy major. He was in an accelerated program to become a pharmacist from day one of his college experience. That’s right he came to college committed to a 7 years program. He had a clear path to a lucrative and stable career. I was oscillating between communication and sport management majors basically until the day I graduated. Let’s put it this way. The day he finally graduated with his PhD was about the same date that I just got accepted into my masters program, May of 2007.
So a few years ago I found him on LinkedIn. As you can see from his LinkedIn profile, his bio has terms like “detail oriented” and “multitask”on it. These terms are often referred to as “Tony’s Kryptonite” (ok, no one has ever referred to them as that ever, until just NOW!! But I’m sure it’ll be a thing from here on out).
I was living in Walla Walla at the time and he messaged me back saying it was good to here from me and that he and his wife often like to come down to Walla Walla for wine tasting. That’s right, wine tasting. How perfectly mature and grown up of him. Secretly I was reaching out to him half hoping to convince him to play Hoopfest with me.
So there you have my boy G!
Or I should say Doctor G?
Well actually it is Dr. Manion PhD.
A model of consistency and focused determination.
A paragon of logic and rationality.
A dedicated professional of sophisticated and refined tastes.
And my best and only friend from WSU.
I wonder if he can still dunk?