Smooth Moves

Like anyone who sets out to make the most of his or her higher education, my four years of college were primarily spent amassing a vast collection of junk.

Propped up behind the door stood my epic metal DDR pads, worn from years of serious gaming. Beside the fridge sat my 94 remaining cans of Rockstar (I’d snagged them for such a low price!). And there in the corner were the scraps of cardboard I’d saved in case I ever needed to construct more makeshift helmets for another Astrococks and Space Sluttles party.

And who could forget the box of miscellaneous cords that I could hardly discard without sowing mental discord—surely they went to something!

But now graduation was a few days past, and the overlords of residential housing would brook my presence no longer. I needed to transport all my worldly possessions across campus to my summer housing, and I only had the Zipcar for 2 hours! But even faced with this Mount Everest of a task, I couldn’t part with any of my things.

I think it’s the guilt. I spent good money on that ball of four thousand rubber bands! And I poured my time and energy into salvaging that orange rocking chair from the dumpster! I couldn’t just leave it on the street to collect rainwater again. Not after all those months spent painstakingly scraping the mildew out of it.

Guilt rules pretty much every aspect of my life. Whenever my crazy aunt Bertha would give me a fruitcake, I’d suffer through every bite; when my dad gave me a fancy (piano) keyboard, I signed up for lessons from a teacher who believes musicality is inspired by ghosts; and if I were ever given a sloth I’m sure I’d raise it, teach it important sloth skills, and release it into the wild—with some sort of tracking beacon so I could help protect it in case any sloth predators ever got near.

After psyching myself up for the impending ordeal, I went to rent my car, only to find that Zipcar had given me their finest gnome-mobile, which I’m sure was a veritable Winnebago for gnomes but was not very functional for my collection of giant ceramic birds purchased at the flea market. This was going to take some expertise.

Expertise which I completely lacked!

I know this is going to sound a little ridiculous, but I’d never packed a car before.

When I’d moved to college, my dad had done it all. He’d stuffed light bulbs into shoes to keep them safe and carefully taped posters to the windows to prevent them from getting bent. He was a master, transforming the task of packing into the most complicated game of Tetris mankind has ever seen.

As I stared into that puny, insignificant excuse for a trunk, as I thought of the overwhelming quantity of widgets and whatnots in my room, I became convinced that the packing I had seen in the past was an impossibility. My dad must have hidden a bag of holding in there! Or maybe his trunk was an entrance to Narnia.

Still, I had to try.

Trip after trip, I loaded up that car, and trip after trip, friends would conveniently realize they had other plans, satisfied that they had fulfilled their obligation. As the process wore on, I became acutely aware of my burgeoning hatred for stairs. My room was on the 3rd floor, and by my twentieth descent, my calves were aflame with the incendiary heat of sudden use after years of computer-based inactivity. I slammed my elbows into doorways, nearly tripped a dozen times, and dripped sweat over every single one of my belongings.

By the time the last trip rolled around, I regretted having ever been born. Why was I cursed with legs? The things hardly seemed to work! Why couldn’t I have been a tree or something, rooted in a single place for a lifetime? They seem happy enough, what with the growing and the xylem and the photosynthesis.

Nearly all of my friends had abandoned me at this point, and with good reason. But I still had one last bastion of muscle: Blake, the triathlete. We loaded up the trunk with the remainder of my miscellanea, excepting my most prized possession: a life-size cutout of Channing Tatum as Duke from G.I. Joe.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is my favorite movie of all time—a true masterpiece of cinema. Hot girls in tight leather, ninjas dueling in a reactor core, nanomites eating the Eiffel Tower, and endlessly quotable dialogue. And my friend even managed to snag a cutout from 7-11! Because for some reason, nobody else wanted it.

I don’t care how much grief that replica has brought me. I don’t care how often it’s caused people to question my sexuality (though after explaining that G.I. Joe is my favorite movie, people usually wish I’d just said I was gay—at least that’s something they can understand). And it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve woken up screaming because Duke is staring straight at me with his eyes full of acting talent. I love that thing.

But no amount of love makes an object easier to transport. We pushed and crammed and prodded and bent, but there was just no way it was going to fit. That left us only one solution.

The cutout was wider than the roof of the car, but we positioned it as best we could. Too bad I’d already packed away everything that resembled a rope. This was going to be a balance job. Blake hopped into the passenger seat, we rolled down the windows, and we grabbed on.

That was the most miserable car ride of my life.

It was even more miserable than being driven to my first date by my mother, when we picked up the girl and my mom launched into a story about how she’d drunk a boatload of Mint Juleps during the Kentucky Derby while she was pregnant with me and was sure I’d have brain damage. Nothing like the promise of brain damage to get a girl to make out with you.

This time, however, I had no alcohol to numb the pain.

One hand clutched at the steering wheel while the other was clamped down in an eternal battle with the forces of nature itself. Every time the car went over 2 miles per hour, the wind would catch underneath Duke’s head and threaten to send him flying into the air. We did our best to keep him pinned, but his cardboardyness made it impossible for us to get any sort of grip. As our hands clammed up, it became a little easier, the sweat creating a layer of friction-inducing stickiness. But after about two minutes of this, the exertion has created so much perspiration that Duke was slipping every which-a-way.

Not to mention that half the time, the wind would suddenly shift and he’d get blown straight downward in front of the windshield, blocking any view I had of the bewildered pedestrians shocked into stopping in the center of the road.

[Sam, we really need an image here to help break up all this text]
[Yeah, I know, but I can’t think of anything relevant]
[Me either]

I would have gone at a snail’s pace, completely ignoring the accumulating rage of the cars trapped behind me, except that we only had a few minutes before we had to return the Zipcar, and I was not about to incur their absurd overage charges. Every excruciating second further convinced me my shoulder would make a mad lurch for freedom from the tyranny of my socket, and the only music I had to comfort me was the sound Blake and my grunting, which progressed quickly into a chorus of atonal screams.

And yet we persisted, because what would Duke have done? Did he quail in the face of Cobra Commander threatening to erase his girlfriend’s mind with nanomites? Did he quit when he was captured and brought to an impenetrable base underneath the polar ice caps? Did he slow down while literally jumping through a train? No! And I would live up to his example.

And by god, we got there. We might have had to ice our arms for the next few hours, and maybe it took us a few days to fully recover, but Duke now stands proudly in my apartment, and as long as I draw breath, he will go wherever the wind takes me.


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35 responses to “Smooth Moves

  1. Miriam Joy

    Ha ha, I can sympathise on the cords front! I have three boxes of them in my room and while I’m convinced they’ll come in handy eventually, I expect they’re probably the wires to cameras I lost five years ago or something.
    My whole household is quite bad at throwing things away, in general. The sheer number of objects that make us go, “What even is this?” when tidying / reorganising is testament to that. And when we were clearing out my grandma’s house … well, we found some very odd books.
    I’m now trying to teach myself to read Beowulf in the original Old English from the Grammar that we brought home. I haven’t got very far, probably because the book on M C Escher is too distracting.

    • Beowulf in Old English? Impressive, and probably a more useful endeavor than either of us ever trying to figure out what those cords go to. Chaucer in Middle English is as far back as I ever went. Whan that April with the shures sote…or something like that. The draught of March had perced to the rote.

      I’m sure that’s not particularly close, but its the remnant of what they forced into my head in high school.

      • Miriam Joy

        Ha ha, yes, I remember Chaucer. I’m fascinated by Old English, Anglo-Saxon, all that stuff. I want to study ballet, but if I don’t get in, I intend to apply for the Anglo Saxon, Norse and Celtic course at Cambridge (also called ASNAC). It’s got to be THE most useless degree ever… and also fascinating!

        Hopefully by the end of August I will have progressed past the first page. Or maybe that’s being optimistic. The first sentence?

  2. 1) I used to own a life-size cutout of some Nascar driver. We used it to scare people until someone stole it. (Those things are valuable to a college student!!)

    2) The elevator in my bldg broke the day I moved in to my 7th floor apartment, so I feel your pain.

    3) Can I be that tree please?

  3. sj

    That last drawing does fit right in. I assume Duke is now creased and weather-beaten? Sad, sad way to treat the so-called King of Your Heart. 😦

  4. Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease put the tree and hover text in your store!
    I love the last drawing 😀

  5. Awesome! The purple hippo is a multi-talented aeronaut. I now have a head full of images of him para-sailing, being shot from a cannon, and navigating a Speeder through the forests of Endor.

  6. My mother is an incredible packer too. And thankfully, she (and my sisters and my friends and the dorm’s friendly janitor) helped me when I packed my treasure out of the dorm. And THANKFULLY again, the elevator was doing fine (it’d broken thrice with ME inside).

    The Duke is great, yeah, doing those amazing things. But remember that his surname is Hollywood. You may need to sign up for this family before following his example. Maybe get start with marrying him 😀 ? And for the tree, hmm, if you were a tree, you wouldn’t know G.I. Joe and the Duke for sure. So I guess you have to accept this sorrow of being human with legs 😉

  7. My dad must have hidden a bag of holding in there! Or maybe his trunk was an entrance to Narnia.

    Hahhaha I love it! And way to rent a zipcar! That is truly the college way.

    • Yay! Nerd jokes! I was all about the Zipcar back in the day. Now I actually have a car? What’s that about?

      Car, if you’re reading this, don’t worry. I love you.

  8. Rae

    I moved every year in college (usually because, “Hey, I heard the Internet is faster on the other side of town!”), so I became an expert mover. Actually, the trick is to never completely unpack. Just leave your closet full of the boxes of things you feel too guilty to get rid of but don’t really need out. I have some boxes of stuff that I haven’t unpacked for at least five years. True story.

  9. I had a life sized cardboard cutout of Charles Barkley when I was younger. I have no idea what happened to him. I certainly hope he’s in a good home. Oh, and the only thing worse than moving is helping your friends move. “Lug your shitty, beer-soaked couch up 10 flights of stairs because it won’t fit in the elevator? I’D LOVE TO, BRO!”

  10. Here in my neck of the woods, we use pick-ups to move things 😉
    And in my son’s case, my car, his car and my mom’s car.
    Ah, I’m so glad my days of moving are mostly over – won’t want them back!!
    Hope you learnt how to pack now young man – one day you will likely be a dad that has to be a packing-hero in your son’s eyes…

  11. It’s so nice how your dad has become your packing hero!

  12. Sounds like you would have been better off carrying that cutout on foot. Couldn’t have done any more damage to your legs.

  13. duke is a lucky cut out…

  14. Wow. You are his/its hero!

  15. omicronceti3

    I’ve done that car-roof holding thing, surprisingly hard! And Duke was Channing Tatum? He’s becoming increasingly famous… I’m thinking in a few years this could be like having a life-size cutout of Clint Eastwood from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly — or, well, who knows, but anyway, good stuff!

  16. “my twentieth descent, my calves were aflame with the incendiary heat of sudden use after years of computer-based inactivity”

    you are the Barry White of words!! that’s the effect you have on me!

    Plus, Channing Tatum by your bed every night?!? Must’ve helped your dates in bed!

  17. Flying purple hippos as a tag…love it. “What does this post have to do with flying purple hippos?: someone may ask. what DOESN’T have to do with flying purple hippos?

  18. If only I could convince my Pop to have a crack at a Tetris game. He would crush that shit — He is a GOD when it comes to packing cars.

    And being attacked by a Carnivorous Tortoise. What a way to go…

    (Oh! Oh! Purple Hippo is back!! … In my mind, he has been named Reginald. Because I have to name everything.)

  19. #1 reason I bought a house at age 22? I was so sick of moving from college. I moved at least twice per academic year if not more. I don’t know why they always make you move your stuff out for the summer even when you are going to have the same room next year and the dorm is closed. *sigh* At least I had a car. Funny stuff!

  20. Ahh… The memories of moving that this brought back …FUN times… (NOT!!!)

    Stairs…. They’re not fun at all…

  21. Love it. 🙂

    The Duke cutout reminds me of the Passion of the Christ cutout I snagged from the movie theater. I think there’s a special place in Hell just for me. Perhaps I’ll see you and Sam there. 😉

  22. So good:) And you’re so lucky to have Channing Tatum to look at everyday when you wake up!

  23. You have a cut out of Channing Tatum? –

  24. Well that was silly! .. it posted it with out me even finishing … anyways my point? .you are my HERO! if ever you feel like donating that disgustingly beautiful man .. feel free!! and 3rd floor issues? try having a friend who lived on the 14th and the lift working? miracle waiting to happen!

  25. OMFG I love the last drawing! In last my last one-room apartment in college I had packed my mom’s car to move in, but needed a U-Haul to move out. Funny how college kids collect so much crap.

  26. …I may never move house again…

    😀 Great work guys and the artwork this time around from the very first one are more hilarious than usual and those last 2 in particular made me burst out!

    Thanks so much, made my Monday morning (yeah, Im a little behind on my reading…)

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