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Inching Closer to the Real World - Apartment Life

For someone who originally wanted to crank out a column every three or four days (my goal on the original Big Cat Press), this is getting a little ridiculous.

It’s been more than three months since my last real column, and before that, I had pumped out only two in the last 9 months. Technically, I have been writing during the summer for the Humorous Cats website, but with the exception of both of our readers, you didn’t know that. And even if you did, and even if you liked it, it wasn’t the same. That was more of a Big Cat Press News type of writing, the classic mock-journalism style that burst onto the Mount Tabor scene over three years ago. I threw in a few ramblings just to make sure people still remembered that I’m crazy.

But it’s time to get back to writing the real thing. There are no excuses now. The football excuse is gone. The “other website” excuse is gone. The fan(s) deserve better.

And yes, I said all that stuff in my last two articles, too. It’s just that I’m serious now.

Since my last article, plenty has happened; too much to cover in any detail in one column, of course. I went to Bonnaroo and spent five of the most ridiculous days of my life driving, camping, listening to music, and basically just trying to survive. But that deserves its own column, so I won’t even attempt to go any further right now. I played a lot of tennis, won a league bowling title (stop laughing, that wasn’t one of my jokes), and played in a couple monster poker tournaments. I went to the beach for a week, I lifted some weights, and I waited tables at a restaurant 40 minutes away. I saw a kid eat a 70-ounce steak. And of course, I slept until noon every day.

OK, I should probably get to the point: I have moved one step closer to the “real world.” I moved into my own apartment. Granted, I don’t pay my own rent or anything, but this is a big step. No more cramped dorm rooms, no more random kids down the hall asking me for a fork at 1 in the morning (hold up… that was actually me needing the fork), no more fire alarms every two weeks. I’m on my own now, along with my trusty sidekick Branson.

So how’s it going? It’s probably too early to tell how the apartment rates compared to dorm life, but they don’t pay me the big bucks to tell you it’s too early to tell. Let’s run down the first three weeks in the new pad and see if we can figure anything out.

I moved in on Sunday, August 15, as did Branson. That night we only had the bare essentials, including a 32” TV we bought for $250 and a light-up Michelob Light sign Branson got at an auction for $100. We had no cable, and we didn’t have rabbit ears, so there were really no channels at all. We had no internet. I took a mattress from home and laid it on the floor in my room, and slept on that. But we were so psyched about having a place of our own, none of this really mattered.

The next day we were headed to my grandma’s house to pick up whatever other furniture we needed. We knew this wasn’t going to be an easy day – we left at 9:00 a.m. in hopes that we could be back by 9. Didn’t quite work out that way. We got to Clinton around 12:45 after a 30-minute detour through the wonderful city of Turkey, North Carolina. After a delightful lunch (mainly delightful because my grandma had Cokes in glass bottles), we headed to the storage unit. After about 90 grueling minutes, we had sifted through the broken lamps, old magazines, and gun racks and found the furniture we needed. This included: a double mattress and box spring (still no bed frame), a painfully heavy dresser, a couch that had a greenish-grey color that Crayola has yet to capture, a “so nice that it’s out of place” leather chair, a recliner that doesn’t really like to recline, and a 3’x6’ table that we figured might be of some use.

We headed back home around 4:30, already an hour behind schedule, and we arrived another 30 minutes late after another wrong turn. We moved in all the furniture (except the couch, which I traded straight up for my family’s couch from home), but we still had to drive back to Montgomery County, where Branson lives, to drop off the truck.

Naturally, this leg of the trip took about an hour longer than expected, and we finally arrived back at the apartment (after a late-night Wal-Mart trip) at 12:45, almost four hours later than we had hoped. All told, we had been working or driving non-stop for nearly 16 hours. But still, we had our own apartment. And now it had furniture AND a light-up Michelob Light sign.

So we had (almost) all our furniture moved in, but the place was still a mess. That day we made a massive Wal-Mart run that marked only the third time in my life that I was not eligible to go through the Express Lane. This place was starting to come together, but I still had to call the power company (we had power, but apparently we had to switch it over to our name… or some crap), the cable company, and the phone company. Other than the brutal push-18-buttons-just-to-talk-an-operator automated systems and the interminable time on hold and the confusion over who the bill would be sent to (because obviously I wasn’t actually going to pay for this stuff MYSELF), it was ok. EXCEPT THE CABLE COMPANY COULDN’T COME FOR ANOTHER WEEK.

For those of you who don’t understand the ramifications of this, it means a week where ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, Real World reruns, VH1 list shows, and the internet are replaced by ONE CHANNEL (for some reason only NBC came in, even with our newly-purchased rabbit ears). Was this even legal? Thankfully we could watch the Olympics, but you can only handle so much Michael Phelps and Paul Hamm. But still, we had our own apartment. And eventually we would have cable, furniture, and a light-up Michelob Light sign.

So we spent the next week or so just hanging out, watching Olympics reruns and getting far too emotionally involved in gymnastics and women’s beach volley ball. And of course we played ridiculous amounts of NCAA 2005; Branson took his Duke team to several BCS bowls in the early 2010’s, while I continued to play myself enough to get Video Game Anders Larson’s rating up to 76 for my Heisman campaign in my fifth year (unfortunately, I turned the level up to All-American that season, and after a 2-2 start, I decided I didn’t like the game and stopped playing). We had some minor throw-downs at the pad, played too much poker, and generally just acted like big slobs.

Then, on August 24, 2004, Apartment 1016 in The Corners at Crystal Lakes came to life. We had cable. As Branson would say, the girls really had no chance now. The apartment was simply TOO nice. Sure, school started the next day and I was still sleeping on a mattress and box spring on the floor, but for a time, everything was right in the world.

Class did start the next day, but to be honest, this wasn’t really a bad thing. As I expected, my schedule was so easy it made New Orleans seem like “The Big Difficult” (wow… I’m not even sure how to respond to that joke). I haven’t woken up before 10:00 since school started except the one day I got motivated and got my hair cut at 9:30. Tuesdays and Thursdays I have one class – and it starts at 1:30. I often eat two meals before my FIRST CLASS OF THE DAY. I looked it up, and only three people in Wake Forest history have ever done that. If everyone else on the football team knew this was possible, odds are we wouldn’t even have a team within a week.

But small problems with apartment life started to creep in throughout the next week. We realized that bread, eggs, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, and milk don’t last forever. Floors don’t clean themselves. My shower curtain holder rod thingy keeps falling down. The laundry room costs too much money. I still hate folding clothes. Bugs get in if you leave the door to the porch open.

And worst of all, our internet was flaky. We were using an extra wireless router that my dad had at our house, and I soon realized why this was the “extra” one. The main problem involved using instant messenger, which sadly has become a staple of our lives whether we want to admit it or not; after about 10 minutes of non-use, it would simply disconnect and sign off, and even when we were using it, there were 30-45 second periods where it basically froze and we couldn’t receive any messages.

For Branson, this meant that he couldn’t effectively mack on girls from home over the internet. For me, it meant that I couldn’t put up my patented away messages for more than five minutes. I mean, honestly, why even have the internet at all?

Even so, things look like they may be turning around now. Perpetual roommates Ryan and Jeff, who live about 50 feet away, now have a washer and dryer in their place, which means no more awkward “I hope this person doesn’t walk in while I take their underwear out of the washer” moments. Ryan and Jeff also have a big screen TV, meaning we have a combined 80 inches of televisions at our disposal. I cooked my first real meal my life last Thursday, which consisted of some delightful Korean beef strips and baked potatoes. Branson just won his first National Championship in NCAA 2005. And tonight, we get a new router that will solve all of our internet problems for the rest of time. Maybe everything really is right in the world.

Well, I guess I still haven’t put my bed frame together. And I have some clothes I need to fold. And we’re out of milk.

But still, we have our own apartment. And it has a light-up Michelob Light sign.

Anders Larson Archive