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Subject: English Year Chapter 18 **Standard disclaimer applies. This is based on actual events, although names, places, and descriptions have changed to protect the identities of the living. Don’t read if you shouldn’t because you’re under 18 or live in a backwards area. I appreciate any and all feedback, so please email me at jwolf24450@. Enjoy the story! **As always PLEASE keep Nifty free by donating to the website! Even small donations go a long way. I woke up the next morning with the sense that everyone would be talking about Lee and me. I was paranoid, worried, and ashamed. But in a sense, I felt better. There was a relief that came with fucking Lee that at the time was hard for me to explain. I think I had pent up so much frustration for Mike and Pete that getting it out all over Lee’s face took a weight off of me. Whatever the reason, there was a spring in my step when I went downstairs for pre-tailgate cocktails. The seniors had carted over champagne and orange juice, and our house mother was making pancakes in the kitchen and bringing them up in batches to the library. A couple of girls, mostly Pi Phis, lingered around, starting early in yesterday’s clothes. My paranoia that people somehow knew I’d stuck it to Lee the next morning evaporated as soon as I stepped into the conversation that was raging in the library. “She straight up got fingered on the dance floor,” one of the sophomores was saying as I walked to the table and poured myself a glass of champagne. I didn’t even bother putting any juice in it. “Wait, what?” I grogged, rubbing my eyes and taking a seat next to Newby. The guys in my class were either still fast asleep or at the gym for a pre-football game workout. “Okay, Corbin. Get this. You know Melanie Chu, right?” “The chubby Asian girl,” I said, eating a strawberry. “Did you see her at all last night?” “I saw her dancing with that kid in my class that bit Tom’s ex-girlfriend’s nipple off our freshman year,” I answered truthfully, trying to connect the dots. “I knew that was that kid!” Tom, a senior from New York said loudly, taking his hat off and throwing it on the banister that he was sitting on. “That kid is disgusting.” “You’re the one that dated a girl with one nipple,” I reminded Tom. He flashed me a glare, but I turned to Newby to finish the story. “Well apparently several people saw him slip a finger in last night.” For a second, I had a brief memory of seeing Melanie Chu pressed up against the wall by nipple-biter. At first I thought they were just two people doing Late Night well, but come to find out that he was giving her a two fingered discount right there in our basement. The guys continued to laugh and trash that girl as I bemoaned her reputation. It wasn’t like she had very many options going in to rush to begin with, but something like that could get someone balled from even the less picky houses. I made a mental note to put my money on her falling through during Srat Draft in January. As the morning party moved from the library to outside, I wondered where Lee had sketched off to so early that morning. And then I saw him outside, helping set up the fallen volleyball net. He looked good. He looked showered and cleaned, in khaki shorts and a yellow button down shirt. He hardly walked like he’d just pulled a seven inch cock out of his ass, and for that I commended him. I nodded at him through my sunglasses and he shot me a quick wave. “What just happened?” Hutch asked me. I turned to see him standing over me and holding a Pabst Blue Ribbon in one hand and an orange wedge in the other. “Pabst in the morning? What is this, a trailer park?” “Don’t change the subject,” Hutch said, talking to me as if we hadn’t had a huge fight the day before. “What subject?” I asked, just as Roberto, Brian, and Austin all came outside, dressed ready to play volleyball on the lawn. “What was that that I just saw?” “You’d have to tell me,” I quipped politely, narrowing my eyes behind my sunglasses. “What are you two homos talking about?” Austin asked, taking Hutch’s Blue Moon out of his hand and drinking it as if it were his own. “Did no one else just see that?” “See what, little man?” Brian asked, expressing all of our frustration with Hutch’s inability to complete a thought. “He just waved at you,” Hutch explained. “Who waved at who?” I asked, not sure exactly what he was talking about. “Whom, I think,” Brian interjected. “Lee. Lee just waved up here. At you, Corbin.” “I didn’t see Lee wave at anyone,” I said, swallowing. I had seen the wave, and I knew it was directed at me. “Maybe he was waving at you.” “He wasn’t.” “How do you know?” I asked. “Why do we care?” Roberto asked, taking a seat next to me and pulling his knees up to his muscular chest. “It’s just odd, is all,” Hutch said. “Last night you were ready to kill the kid.” “I was ready to ball the kid,” I corrected. “There’s a long way from balling someone to murdering someone.” “And yet he’s over there waving at you like the two of you…” Hutch trailed, refusing to let it go. I could see his pea-sized little brain connecting the dots, and I decided I needed to offer an explanation as to why Lee and I were looking at each other again, and not ignoring each other’s presence. “You know what, we did talk last night,” I said as if I had suddenly remembered. I kept my eyes down the hill where Lee had just put the net up and was slowly walking up the walk to the door. “He came by my room looking for you, Hutch.” “Me?” “Yeah. He said you were gonna let him crash on your couch but that you’d sexiled him. Which is really rude, by the way.” “Oh yeah,” Hutch remembered. “Shit, because he broke up with Steph Doleman yesterday.” “Oh, see. I didn’t even know that. I told him to find a place downstairs, and I have no idea where he ended up crashing.” And then, as if my life was made up of a series of awkward moments, Lee made his way to the porch, patted me on the shoulder, and said: “Hey, Corb. Thanks for letting me crash on your couch last night.” I kept my eyes peeled forward, refusing to look at any of the guys surrounding me. I ran my tongue over my top row of teeth. Lee walked into the house, presumably to find the volleyball that we kept in the library. I pursed my bottom lip and embraced myself for it. “So… do we get an explanation as to why your hands are literally sticky and red?” Brian asked. “Oh, shut up, Brian,” I smacked. “I’m the one who coined the phrase `You’ve been caught sticky handed’.” I looked around and the guys were all looking at me, waiting for me to explain. “Okay, I lied. He slept on my couch.” “Why’d you lie?” “Because it was easier than explaining the truth. And because I know what you assholes are going to say,” I defended. “You slept with him,” Austin said as if he were reading a fact off an encyclopedia. “And there it is.” “Did you?” Hutch asked. I rolled my eyes. “What do you think?” I asked softly. “Seriously?” “What? You warned me against sleeping with any more freshmen. So I recycled one.” Roberto let out a big laugh. Brian sighed, but was hardly surprised. Austin shook his head, and Hutch turned away as if he couldn’t even look at me. “Frankly, I’m surprised you didn’t hear anything, Hutch. We were banging against that wall.” “Okay, way too much information,” Austin said. “I’m getting a drink,” Roberto added, standing up and walking inside with his best friend behind him. “I thought your headphones had come out while you were watching porn,” Hutch hissed, turning back to me. “And the guys in the porno just happened to be named Corbin and Lee.” “From what I heard, they could have been named Bitch and Sir,” he said. I tilted my head and glared at him through my sunglasses. I shrugged my shoulder and took another sip from my champagne. I wasn’t going to apologize for fucking Lee, not to them and not to myself. Sure I wished that it would have remained a secret, but at the end of the day, my pledge brothers knew me almost as well as I knew myself. It was that morning, while alternating cups of champagne and rounds of volleyball, that I did some major soul searching, and I came to the following conclusion. The reason why fucking Lee had been so good the night before was because it reestablished the power I was used to exerting. On a campus like OD, a guy like me was nothing without control over his contemporaries. I wasn’t a jock, and I wasn’t the best looking guy on campus. I wasn’t a member of the Big 4 or president of any important clubs. All I had was influence, and although I was still wielding my influence across campus, I had lost that edge in my love life. I was obsessed with a Brit like a puppy to a master. I had lost complete control of that situation, and every time I told myself I was done with him, I fell back even harder and harder. I had completely taken my eye off the prize with Mike. He was supposed to be the easy one, and yet there he was twisting me around and making me feel things I didn’t need to be feeling. And then Lee came along. Poor, slutty, confused Lee with his legs spread wide and pinned to the ceiling, and I saw an opportunity to gain my power back. And I took it. And so while I could acknowledge that using him was wrong, I didn’t think it was the worst thing I could have done, not given the circumstances. Still, my brothers saw things differently, especially Hutch, and he made a point of reminding me just how filthy I was as we walked home after the football game to play games and drink Pabst Blue Ribbon on our front lawn. “You will never accuse Lee of being sketchy again,” Hutch said. “Excuse me?” I asked, turning to him and looking down through my sunglasses. “Yesterday, you said you didn’t trust the kid. And then you fucked him.” “I’m a little unclear what one has to do mezitli escort with the other,” I replied. “I’m just saying. You have no leg to stand on on this one. He used you to get into the house, and now you’ve used him for your own little sexual revenge. As far as I’m concerned, you’re even.” “We’re far from even, one,” I said, watching my attitude so that it didn’t get away from me. “What he did was calculated and wrong. What I did was reactionary and wrong. Two very different kinds of wrong. Second of all, you have no say whatsoever on what I choose to do with a recruit. If I want to fuck his brains out, I will. If I want to ball him like he stole something, I will do that too. And you can’t stop me.” “You’re being a hypocrite.” “And you’re being annoying.” I took a deep breath to center myself before I continued. “Look, if bid ball were to happen today, I wouldn’t ball him, okay?” Hutch looked up at me and nodded. The rest of the day passed by in a blur of day drinking with little to no consequence. I kept thinking something awkward would happen in regards to Lee, but it never did. He did his part, playing games with the brothers and charming his way into our frat. At one point, I did wonder why he needed to screw people into doing what he wanted. He was charming and cute and people generally liked him. If he were that way all the time, he wouldn’t have needed me to get him in to Chi Beta. But he’d played his hand early, and he’d played all the wrong cards. It wasn’t until I was showering that night in preparation for our Rockstars and Rehabbers mixer that I felt like calling Pete. I didn’t necessarily feel guilty about the night before, but part of me felt bad. If he’d made his move, if he’d given me a reason not to talk to Mike like I’d asked for a dozen times, he wouldn’t have seen that kiss because there wouldn’t have been a kiss. Pete liked to think that I was unpredictable, that I was a slut and that I was out there giving it up to every guy when he wasn’t looking. What he didn’t realize is that, even if I had given it up to Mike and Lee, at the end of the day, I would have given them up for him. I couldn’t say that about the other two. And so I did call him. After my shower, but before I put on any clothes. “Hey,” I said when he answered, enjoying the naughty feeling of talking to him while I was as naked as a jaybird. “Hey,” he replied, not sounding too enthusiastic to talk to me. It was almost as if someone had made him pick up the phone. “What are you doing tonight?” “I don’t know. There’s a hall crawl at Phi Psi.” “You don’t want to go to that,” I said, trying to keep my voice light. I pulled a black t-shirt out of my drawer and threw it over my head. “It should be pretty fun,” he answered shortly. “Okay, well. We’re having a hall crawl here too, if you want to come.” “I think maybe I’ll just go to Phi Psi,” was all he said. I swallowed. I knew exactly what he was doing, and I was determined not to react. “Are you going to come to Late Night?” I asked. “I hadn’t thought that far,” he answered. I was suddenly done with the conversation. “Okay, well, have a good night.” I hung up the phone without waiting for a response. My patience was thin, and if he wanted to ice me, he could. But I’d laid my cards out there, and he was still holding on to his like he had the fucking Queen of Spades in his deck. I pushed him out of my mind with a beer as I walked around the house, making sure everything was perfect for the mixer. Our KD mixers were legendary in their scope of shittiness. I made sure that there was more booze than they knew what to do with. I always made sure the theme was kicking and the decorations were on point. That year, I’d gotten together with my friend Hilary and we’d come up with a Rockstars and Rehabbers theme (she initially suggested Rabies and Babies, in which everyone could either dress up as a rabid animal or a toddler… I vetoed). Because you never really knew how many KDs would actually show up, I confined the party to the upstairs game room, which was stocked with a tequila shot bar, a gin bucket, a vodka bucket, two beer coolers filled with forties, Sparks out the ass, and a drink called Pink Panty Droppers that was pure grain, lemonade, and beer. If no one went to the health center that night, I would have been surprised. Decorations were kept simple. I’d bought about a dozen posters of musicians from Walmart and hung them from the back door up to the upstairs landing. There was a table on the landing filled with sorted M I was taking a break from him. I was breaking up, essentially, from him. I watched Pete’s neck expand and contract as he swallowed back what he wanted to say. “All this over you and Mike?” he asked, softly. He wasn’t talking about Mike at all. I shrugged. “There are multiple reasons,” I said as honestly as I could. He nodded. “It’s just love is… it’s… everything is complicated,” I struggled. He chuckled. “What?” “Nothing,” he said with a smile. “What?” I repeated, louder. “No, it’s just, you remind me so much of that girl in Moulin Rouge right now,” he said. I squinted my eyes. “Nicole Kidman?” I asked, confused why he was referencing one of the gayest movies of all time. “Yeah. When she’s talking about how stupid love is, and how she’s done with it, and Ewan McGregor keeps saying that love is splendid.” “A many splendored thing,” I smiled. “Love lift us up where we belong,” Pete sang. I shook my head. “Please don’t start that again,” I said slowly in my best Nicole Kidman ambiguous accent impersonation. And then it happened. I hadn’t expected my break from boys to be easy. Hell, I half expected it to be impossible. But I thought that I could live with my new philosophy for at least one night before I fell right back into the clutches of this British man. I thought maybe I could live free of the drama and pain of not having him for one single night before he drew me back in. And then he drew me back in. “All you need is love,” he sang. “All you need is love. All you need is lo-ove.” “Love is just a game,” I countered. “I was made for loving you baby, you were made for loving me.” Pete looked me in the eyes and didn’t break eye contact for a second. A tornado could have swept us up, and we still would have been staring in to each other’s souls. “The only way of loving me baby, is to pay a lovely fee.” “Just one night; just one night.” “There’s no way, `cause you can’t pay,” I sang, my falsetto ringing in just the right places. “In the name of love; one night in the name of love,” Pete sang, his voice growing louder and stronger with each line. He flung his arms in the air as if he really believed we were standing in a giant elephant hotel room instead of right outside my fraternity house in mid-October, while people walked past us to get inside of a major party. Since Pete was so determined to commit to the song, I did my part to match his enthusiasm. “You crazy fool. I won’t give in to you.” I put my hand on Pete’s chest. “Stop.” He grabbed my hand as I tried to pull it away from his chest. He kept it there, and for a second I thought he was telling me to stop in real life. Forget where I was five minutes before. Forget the resolve I’d thought I had. This kid was going to make it impossible for me to move forward. He was going to make it impossible for me to breathe. I wanted nothing more than for him to pull me in by the hand and kiss me. And for a second, I thought he might. “Don’t leave me this way,” he continued. “I can’t survive. Oh baby, don’t leave me this way.” “You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs,” I sang in my higher register, not noticing that the song’s words were a direct reflection of my life. “I look around me and I see it isn’t so.” “Some people just want to fill the world with silly love songs.” “And what’s wrong with that? I’d like to know… cause here I go, again!” His voice rang out into the night sky. I’m sure the couple walking past our house to get to sketch alley and home to fuck thought that the two drunk guys singing show tunes off the side of a house were absolutely insane. But in that moment, belting it out with Pete, everything felt right. I was surprised that I still remembered every word to that song. I was even more surprised that straight Pete knew them just as well as I did. And then I remembered that nothing was ever straight with Pete. “Love lift us up where we belong. Oh, were eagles fly, over mountains high!” Pete spread his arms up as high as they could go. “Love makes us act like we are fools. Throw our lives away, for one passing day.” “We could be heroes! Just for one day.” “You… you will be mean.” I poked him with my index finger. “No I won’t,” he shook his head and smiled at me. “And I… I’ll drink all the time.” I rolled my eyes, aware of how ironic that line was. “We could be lovers!” “We can’t do that.” “We could be lovers… and that’s a fact.” Pete put both hands on my shoulders, and swayed us both back and forth. “Though nothing… could keep us together…” “We could steal time, just for one day.” And then we came together and sang together. The harmony was off. Our voices were flat. We probably sounded as drunk as we were. But we connected, right then, in the same way those two connected in the movie. “We could be heroes! Forever, and ever. We could heroes, forever and ever. We could be heroes! Just because I….” “I….” “Will always love you.” “I… can’t help loving you.” “How wonderful life is,” Pete whispered, getting an inch away from my face, his smile glued to his. “When you’re in… love.” I started laughing. I couldn’t help but shake my head at how absurd that whole exchange had been. I’d pulled Pete outside to tell him pozcu escort I was done with him, done with boys in general, done with love altogether. And true to his fashion, Pete turned it around. He made me believe, yet again, that he might actually like me. For a split second, after singing to each other, looking into each other’s eyes and into each other’s souls, I thought maybe he’d satiate me with a kiss. But he didn’t. And that’s why I was forced to let him go. Without saying anything else, I walked back into the house, with Pete in tow, and lost myself in the rest of the party. The memory of that moment, the buildup and the eventual letdown, rang in my mind for the rest of the night, as I drank beer after beer, trying to forget. And forget I did. I woke up the next morning with the hangover to prove that I’d forgotten it all. I crawled out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom. The house was brightly lit, indicating that I’d slept well in to the afternoon. I tried to brush my teeth and almost gagged on my toothbrush. I gave up, and instead ended up drinking water out of the sink until I started to feel alive again. I forced myself to take a shower before I loaded my back pack and walked downstairs. “Hey there, bud,” Austin greeted me as I walked past the Chi Beta library. He was sitting at the conference table with work spread out before him, clearly doing homework. I looked at my cell phone and realized that it was nearly three, and I was just getting started. “How are you feeling this morning?” he asked. “Like death, warmed over,” I replied. “Of course you do, maricon,” I heard Roberto say. I took another step in to the library and saw the Argentine sitting on one of the couches in the corner, his computer on his lap and a book on the arm rest. “You were such a mess last night.” “I don’t remember anything,” I confessed. “What’s the last thing you remember?” “I came inside after me and Pete sang on the back porch and then I went downstairs and got a beer.” “Do you remember guarding the door downstairs?” I shook my head. I vaguely remembered being downstairs, but I don’t remember any sort of guard duty. I usually got out of working during parties by throwing a fit that I planned the party to begin with. “You were standing there with Pete, and y’all had been talking about something intense, I don’t know,” Austin said, looking up from his book and turning to face me in his seat. “And you were standing with him, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you projectile vomited onto the floor.” “Oh god,” I said, holding my head. “It was disgusting,” Roberto said, barely looking up from his laptop. “Y’all are lying to me.” “I wish I was,” Austin said. I tried as hard as possible to conjure up the memories, but I couldn’t. I wondered what Pete had thought, seeing me vomit like that. “What happened?” I asked after second and a breath. “He took you upstairs. Apparently, he stayed with you for a little while, probably held your hair back while you threw up, and then we all put you to sleep even though you insisted that you were fine to go back downstairs.” “What time was this?” “About two-thirty,” Roberto said shortly. That meant I had lasted about an hour after Pete and my sing-a-long before I fell apart. “You kept telling him that he was such a good friend and that you were going to try and be a good friend. It was really weird,” Austin said. He turned back to his work, an indication that the story was over. “Well, thanks for taking care of me, guys,” I said as I left the library. I was filled with embarrassment as I walked from the house to the library. I couldn’t get over what they’d said happened. How could I have let myself get that drunk? Why in the world did I keep drinking after all I’d had at the mixer? I should have stayed at the great place I was in when Pete and I were talking, instead of pounding back beers and turning into a hot mess. I set up shop on the top floor of the library, where I could escape the passersby better than the main level. I didn’t want anyone to walk by and see my shame. Instead of doing work right away, I eased into academic mode by writing my column. I spent most of the article dissecting different kinds of friendships, and reaching the conclusion that in order to truly love someone, you had to be friends with them. Friendship was the cornerstone of the best relationships, and without it, you wouldn’t survive. As a nod to Pete, I mentioned that true friends are always there to hold your hair when you throw up from the mouth. I ended the article with a feature I often included in my columns called a Blind Item to generate buzz and interest. They were usually racy, a little inappropriate, and about something I’d witnessed or heard about over the course of that week. And to the girl and guy that were posted up on the wall at Late Night on Friday, please keep all appendages and digits to yourselves next time. Making out on the dance floor is one thing, but it should go without saying that fingering someone on a dance floor is unacceptable behavior. Sweetie, allowing yourself to be fingered is even worse. I’ve done a lot of ridiculous things on frat basements, some this very weekend. But to take it to that level, well… it’s just disgusting and classless. As we print this, I’m having a sign mounted above our bar that reads: Keep Fingers and Toes Out of Vaginas Until You Get Home. Quite frankly, I’m a little disappointed that it’s even come to this, but you have been warned. And for the love of God, please wash your hands when you’re done next time. Both of you. I sent the article out to Alexandra and went about my studying. I got the news the next day. The email came from Professor Brown at about eight in the morning, and I read it at the kiosk before my first class. To Corbin: Can you stop by my office this afternoon? Any time before two and four will work fine. If that’s not possible, let me know when you have a few minutes to talk either today or tomorrow. I read the message over about thirty times before I closed the email and walked to the arts building for my directing class. At two, after trying in vain to take a nap, I got redressed, grabbed my bag, and walked back to campus. I walked slowly, trying not to get to Brown’s office right at two. When I got to the School of Business building, Brown’s door was open, but she was talking to another one of the younger professors. He was standing just inside her doorway. I stopped just outside the doorway, in view of Brown to see me. “Hey, Hoover, I have a student waiting for me. I’ll come by in a few minutes.” “Sure thing, Amanda,” Professor Hoover said, walking out of Brown’s office. He nodded at me as he passed, and I slipped in. I was nervous about our meeting. I took a deep breath as I sat down. “Hey, Corbin, thanks for stopping by this afternoon.” “No problem,” I said, having a seat and wondering why she needed to see me. “Is everything okay?” “Well, yes, everything is fine.” “Okay, great,” I replied awkwardly, still unsure what I was even doing there. “So the reason I wanted to see you today is because I just finished the roster for The Ad Class,” she began. My eyes got wide, and I forced myself to swallow so that my mouth couldn’t go any drier than it already was. “Okay,” I nodded. “And I had your name on the list of creative,” she continued. I let out a breath. “The reason I wanted to talk to you, however, is because I’m sort of torn. I loved your application. I love what you’ve contributed in class so far, and you are my advisee, so I know you very well, and I know you’ll be an amazing addition to the creative team.” Her words were really sweet and amazing, but I could feel the `but’ coming just around the corner. “The thing about it is, this year’s team is becoming stacked with potential leaders. There’s people like you who I know would do well this year and really enjoy the class and get a lot out of it, but I have to wonder if you wouldn’t have a bigger impact on the overall program if you waited until next year.” The blow hit me across the head. I felt like I was being fired. I knew that wasn’t how Brown meant it, but at the end of the day, it was how I felt. Why couldn’t I have been a rockstar on the team that year? Was it really that full of talented future advertisers that there was no room for me? “It happens every year where I see a couple of people that I’d like to save for the following year, and you’re one of them. And let me tell you, the reason I think that for you is because I think with a year of experience in this kind of thing, you could be creative director next year, or head of planning even.” I nodded, forcing every muscle in my face to keep from betraying how I truly felt. “So I just wanted to talk to you and see if you’d prefer that option. Of course, with such a strong application, if you want to be in the class this year, I’d let you in in a heartbeat, but I don’t think you’d get the best experience out of it. Like I said, my advice to you would be to wait it out.” “Um,” I started. It was Brown’s biggest pet peeve of a word, but I couldn’t help saying it. “I guess if you think it’d be better all-around for me to wait another year, then yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I can’t say I’m not disappointed though.” “And really, Corbin, you shouldn’t be. I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you if you weren’t one of the top candidates. I just don’t want there to be any dispute about your leadership potential when I put the class together next year.” I could hear what she was saying, and I sort of appreciated it. Basically, she was giving me a golden ticket for the following year, and with that I had the chance to have an even bigger impact on the campaign than I would that year. I spent escort bayan another twenty minutes talking to Brown about my decision, all but soliciting a guarantee from her that I’d be a big shot the following year. As I was getting ready to leave, I asked her if there was anyone in the class that I would know. “Oh, a ton of your friends are going to be on next year’s team. I’m holding Colton for next year, and your friend Hilary.” She swiveled around to her computer, and I assumed she was going to pull up the document with the final list on it. “You’ve already talked to them?” “They’re coming by this afternoon just like you,” she replied casually. “And for this year, let’s see. Your friend Helen is in the creative team. She’s just amazing, and a lot like you, I have to say. In fact, that’s why I thought about you as one of the ones to hold over. There’s her, there’s your friend Hannah Kate. You know Anastacia, right?” I worked really closely with Staci on The Fancy Ball Committee. I nodded. “She’s the CEO this year. Your friend Alexandria is on here,” Brown continued. I was sort of surprised. I wasn’t even aware that Alex had applied. I sort of had to bite my lip on that one. “And then you’re friends with the British guy, right? I think I’ve seen you two at lunch together.” I nodded. “He’s on the creative team. A couple of others you might know.” She trailed off. Pete had made it. Pete had made it on to the creative team, and I hadn’t. I couldn’t help but feel as if he had stolen my spot in the class. I held it together until I left the office, but I couldn’t help but feel betrayed by the whole thing. I’m the one who had told him to apply. I was the one who had encouraged him to even do it. And yet there he was, sitting in a seat that was supposed to be mine. To Pete: Congratulations. To Corbin: For what? To Pete: Ad Class. To Corbin: You already know? When did you get the email? To Pete: Just talked to Brown. The email is coming out in the morning. Congrats. To Corbin: Did you make it? To Pete: No. I tried my best not to resent Pete. It wasn’t his fault that I hadn’t made it. And truthfully, I was flattered that Brown had thought about me for the next year, instead. It felt like she was putting an investment in me, and I really did appreciate that. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. I think by the time I digested the news later that night, I was even more disappointed that Pete and I hadn’t made it together. I swallowed my frustration long enough to get most of my work done, however, I was in no mood to go to Monday Night Football that night. Instead, I stayed in and caught up on some of my English class reading. The next day, I woke up bright and early to distribute the paper before my class. The release schedule had fallen in to place where articles were due on Saturday and Sunday, printed on Monday, and released on Tuesday. It was slightly different than how we’d done it the year before, with a weekend release, but according to Alexandria, it was better to put out the paper on a school day when everyone was on campus. And so I did. I expected there to be a reaction to the blind item I’d left at the bottom of my article. I knew people would find it hilarious and ballsy that I had called out the two-fingered offenders. I got the first text message right after my ten o’clock class. To Corbin: Wow. I think you crossed the line on this one. Who’s the girl? She’s officially balled. I replied to Amanda that I couldn’t tell her any names, but if she asked around, I was sure she could find out who the offender was. The guys at lunch all thought the story was hilarious. No one could believe that I’d actually put that in the paper, but I had done risky things like that before. I brushed it off. I kept getting kudos for ballsy and edgy journalism all day, and I felt really good about my article. It was my most widely talked about blind item since I’d outed the affair a pair of teachers were having. Not everyone was impressed, however, and I received my first piece of hate mail that evening as I did my work in the commons. Dear Corbin, it read. While I normally find your column to be insightful, poignant, and fun, what I read today was simply disgusting. I would have hoped you were above writing about a young lady in such a vulgar and inappropriate way. Calling her the names that you did, going into such gross detail about the act, I don’t know if I’ll be able to look at your writing the same again. All this is to say that the girl you wrote about is a student on my hall, and when I saw her at lunch today, I could tell that she took your words as more than just a thoughtless piece of journalistic fluff. She was in tears. Literal tears, Mr. Crowley, and for that you should feel ashamed. As her dorm counselor, I feel the need to make you aware of the affect that your words above many others. I hoped you would have used that influence for good, and not to make a young lady cry. I think you owe her a sincere and strong apology. She then went on to address the editor, who’d she’d CCed on the email, and asked her how she could have allowed such a piece to run. I read the email a couple of times, fuming with each passing sentence. Janet, the dorm counselor who had sent it, was relentless in her critique, and that bothered me. What bothered me even more was the attack on my character. I wasn’t the one who had let myself get fingered in a room full of dancing co-eds, and yet I was the one who was mindless and should have felt ashamed? I didn’t think so. I wrote Janet back simply saying that I wasn’t aware her student had cried at lunch, and that I felt bad for that. I went on to say that I didn’t feel bad for writing what I’d written and that given the same situation, I would have released that article again. I told her that I had seen the offense with my own two eyes and that what I witnessed was way more offensive than anything I could have written, no matter what the detail. I also told her that I acknowledged her concern for her student, but that I wouldn’t be issuing any sort of apology. Finally, I extended the same invitation I did to anyone who disagreed with my column: for her to visit me in my commons office if she had anything further she would have liked to discuss. I thought I was done with the situation until about nine o’clock that night. I looked up from my laptop, still mildly annoyed by the email, only to see Janet approaching my table. Janet was tall, beautiful dark skinned, and generally quite beautiful. She played on the basketball team, and her good friend Grace was actually my lab partner in Chemistry class that year. “Hey Corbin, can I sit down?” she asked, towering over me. I swallowed, licked my lips, and motioned to the chair across from me. “Hi,” I said coldly. “Hi. I just wanted to come by and talk to you about my email and your article.” “Okay.” “Listen, you know I love The Signature. I think it’s hilarious. But come on. What you wrote today was completely out of line.” “How so, Janet?” I asked, folding my arms, and leaning back in my seat. “You told the whole school about Melanie Chu, and that was inappropriate,” she whispered, shaking her head the whole time. “How so, Janet?” I repeated, holding my stance. She was the one that disagreed with me, so she was the one who could make her point. “Really Corbin?” “I don’t find what I wrote to be inappropriate. I didn’t tell the school anything that wasn’t already being talked about in several corners. That girl made her bed, and unfortunately for her, she used a frat basement instead of it.” I could feel my cheeks getting hot as I defended my actions. “Yeah, I get that she made a mistake, but that’s what it was. She didn’t need you to attack her for it.” “I didn’t attack her!” I caught myself before my voice rose too high. “I didn’t attack her. I didn’t even say her name in the article, and believe it or not, I haven’t told a single person her identity, and I don’t plan to. The fact that she cried after reading the paper is the only reason anyone would have for linking her to the blind item.” “Let’s be real,” Janet said. “Let’s.” “You wanted her to get embarrassed. You wanted to cause a big old controversy with this whole thing.” “I really didn’t.” “I’ve read your stuff. You live on this kind of a story, and its usually fun and games. But this time someone got hurt.” “And I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry that she cried.” “But you aren’t sorry that you made her cry.” “Janet, I really don’t think that I did,” I replied stubbornly. I hadn’t made her cry. She had made herself cry, and that wasn’t my problem. “What would you have done if it was you? If you had woken up and read that article in front of all your friends, and you realized it was about you?” “I would have put the article down and pretended it wasn’t.” Janet shook her head. “You owe her an apology,” she said sternly. “I don’t believe that I do.” “Okay,” she said, relenting, just like that. It sort of through me. I expected her to insist and yell and try to use her position as a dorm counselor to muscle an apology out of me. But she didn’t. Instead, she stood up and told me to have a great afternoon. I continued to get text messages and emails about the story. Only about one in ten people that reached out to me had an issue with anything I’d written. One of my friends Facebook messaged me saying that he was sure I was getting a lot of heat over the article, but that it was literally one of the funniest things he’d read out of The Founder in years. And then I got it. The email that stopped me dead in my tracks for the night. It was impossible for me to go back to work after I read it, and so I didn’t even try. I packed up with a heavy heart, walked home, and went straight to bed. Mr. Crowley, the email read. I think we need to have a conversation tomorrow morning in my office, and I think you know exactly what about. Have a good night. Dean Watson. Thank you so much for reading. As always, your feedback is greatly appreciated. You can send your thoughts and comments ail.

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