Thursday, April 22, 2010

Laney Goes to College

Friends who know Laney today know her as a dainty princess. Friends who went to college with Laney and me remember her...differently. She was more like a cheerleader back then: peppy, outgoing, and operating under the assumption that everybody likes her. As a former cheerleader myself, I am also peppy, outgoing, and operating under the assumption that everybody likes me. Together we made quite a splash.

During the summer of 2003, I was taking classes at Auburn, and Laney and I had the apartment to ourselves. With no roommates and disconnected cable we were a bit restless, but I had a job to do: make an "A" in COMM 3500. That professor was a total blood-sucker, and he had gotten the best of me once before. I was not going to let it happen again. My days were spent in class, my nights were spent studying, and on the weekends, between studying flashcards, I would watch episodes of Sex and the City that I had rented on VHS as a reward for my hard work. I hesitate to confess that I was beginning to go a bit mad in my isolation. Steve had recently moved to Texas, and I would call him up to say things like, "Oh my gosh, Charlotte just said the funniest thing!" Steve would ask, "Who is Charlotte?" and I would reply, "Steve! It's Charlotte! You know, Charlotte. From Sex and the City." He would be like, "Samantha. For the last time, those aren't real people. Please stop referring to them like they're your friends. It's past the point of weird."

Being alone not only makes me hallucinate that television characters are my friends, it also makes me lose track of time. Good thing I trained Laney to tell me when she needs to "go potty like a big girl". Catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I hope to sneak outside undetected. Even though it's a study night for me, it's Saturday night in Auburn, which means everyone else is dressed to the nines and out on the town. I, in contrast, am wearing a pair of men's size XL plaid pajama pants--a gift from me to Steve I had repossessed--with an oversized sorority t-shirt that I had no business wearing in light of the fact that my hair was disheveled and piled on top of my head in what I like to refer to as a "nub", and the only makeup I'm wearing is mascara I applied two days prior. Basically I look like present-day Britney Spears. The girl next door is dating a cute boy from my high school, and I am determined not to let him catch me looking like absolute roadkill for the third time. It's mortifying. 

As Laney is finishing her business, and I heave a sigh of relief that nobody is outside to see what an elegant flower I truly am, Laney is captivated by the sounds of a party in the distance.  Before I can grab her, she shoots off like a cannon, leaving me no choice but to take off in hot pursuit--barefoot--sprinting after her with my arms pinned up by my chest because I'm also not wearing a bra.  She's way ahead of me, but I can see her disappear inside the only open, brightly-lit apartment in the back of the apartment complex. Great, I think.

A minute or two later, I burst into the open apartment, out of breath and red-faced, to find members of the Auburn football team, their friends, girlfriends, and associates. Like a stranger in a strange land, they all notice me immediately, and nobody speaks to me. It would be easy if Laney was just sitting in the living room, but I had to walk through the crowd of partiers all the way to the back of the apartment to find Laney in the kitchen. Surrounded by a trio of black hotties and the football player attempting to serve them beer, they are all looking on with a mixture of horror and disgust as Laney stands on her hind legs and eats ice cubes off the top of their keg. I am intimidated by women who can out-sass me and whose fingernails are longer than mine, and these girls have both in spades. I quickly sweep in to retrieve Laney and sheepishly apologize by attempting a joke, "Pardon my puppy. She's a real party animal." The hotties all give me the angry side-eye as if to ask, "Is this bitch for real?" One of the hotties indicates that they are afraid of Laney and would like her to disappear as quickly as possible and I am more than happy to oblige.

Removing Laney from the apartment is a spectacle all its own. She prefers for me to carry her on my hip, the same way a mother carries her toddler. I've always carried her this way, but now Laney is in that awkward puppy stage where she's all legs, and when I put her on my hip, her front paws rest gently on my shoulders and her hind legs stretch down to my knees. We look like complete jackasses. Laney is more delighted than a newly crowned Miss America, while I am beyond embarrassed as I do the walk of shame through the apartment, trying my best to avoid the stares. Oh, the things we do for our babies.

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