“You know the thing about good food? It brings people together from all walks of life.” – The Princess And The Frog
I felt like a truck had hit me.
Make that ten trucks. Carrying bricks.
“You alive over there, champ?”
I ignored him.
I opened my eyes but my brain seemed to crap out on me. What the hell had happened? I remembered playing beer pong with….with….what was his name? Oh. AJ and Howie. It seemed like a dream. The room started spinning again, so I laid back down. I really don’t like this ride anymore. I felt like I was on the teacup ride at Disney World and it wasn’t stopping.
Oh, I’m in our dorm. So it wasn’t a dream….and now I have a killer headache. I also feel like I’m gonna throw up.
“Huh?” I muttered, keeping my eyes shut as Brian attempted to talk to me. “I hope you’re satisfied with yourself.” he continued. I just kept my eyes closed, trying to make the migrane go away. It felt like a million Brians were screaming at me , all at the same time with giant megaphones. He shook my shoulder gently and I squinted at him, my brain screaming again.
“Fuck off,” I mumbled, hugging my pillow. I had never had a hangover before…..I had never even been drunk once in my life. Kevin let me drink at home, but it was one beer and no more. I didn’t know how to hold my liquor, I felt so stupid.
“Just stay in bed, take it easy.”
bed all day. He stayed in the room with me, checking me every so often.
There was an amazing smell in the room, a smell that seemed to waft straight down from heaven. A culmination of tomato sauce, garlic and hot, gooey cheese….
My stomach was going wild.
“Nick, you hungry? I ordered some pizza if you want any.” Brian said, and I opened my eyes. I could smell the most delicious looking pizza ever created, a pizza to end all pizzas. How did he know? I can’t resist pizza, because well….for one I’m in college, and that’s all we’ve been eating lately…two, I just plain love it. So naturally I accepted it. I never turn down food.
“Thanks for keeping me company. I’m sorry I was such a brat earlier.” I told him, taking the cheesiest slice in the box. I looked at it and smiled.
“It’s all right, you weren’t feeling well. So what’s that grin for?” Brian asked, shoving half of his slice in his mouth.
“Do you remember the Ninja Turtles?” I replied. When I wasn’t watching Disney, I was also really into the Ninja Turtles….I wanted to be Raphael or Michelangelo when I was a kid.
“Yeah I do. Never got into that though.”
Why the hell am I friends with this guy?
“They were always eating this stuff, when I was little, I thought if I ate enough pizza I’d turn green and kick people’s asses.” I laughed, biting into my pizza.
“Are you serious?”
“Yes.” I said, belching. He made a face but I ignored him.
“Mr. Disney World wanted to be a Ninja Turtle? I figured you’d want to be Goofy or something.” Brian drawled with a small chuckle.
“Goofy? Nah. I was Peter Pan a few times for Halloween. Captain Hook once.” I took the cheese off and ate that first before eating the rest of it. The headache was almost completely gone now, and my stomach was satisfied. Each of us ate half a pizza.
“Thanks for staying with me today and taking care of me.” I said finally after we were quiet for a while.
“That’s what friends are for. I promised Kevin I’d look after you.” he replied, picking up the box and tossing it in the garbage can by the door.
“He never told me how I’ve never met you before. You are really cousins, right?” I asked. His eyes wandered for a bit and he sighed.
“Yes, we are. I knew your parents but not as well as Kevin….I grew up in Kentucky my whole life. Kevin and your dad went to college together, that’s all I know.” he told me.
“They did? I never knew how they even met. I just knew he was my dad’s best friend and my godfather. That’s how I ended up with him when….when they…you know.” I said, laying back against my pillow, feeling a bit dizzy all of a sudden. My head was swimming at that point, my stomach flipping.
“You don’t look so good.” Brian said, looking at me with concern.
“I’m okay.” I lied, holding up a hand in front of him.
“Nick, it is okay to talk about them. Holding everything inside isn’t good for you.”
I never answered him, I rolled over and faced the wall, holding my stomach as I felt the tears come.
The next few weeks were insane. I was thrust into more graphic design and art….laden down most of the day with heavy textbooks and my sketch pads. I was heading back to my dorm when someone ran right into me, nearly knocking me over.
“Oh, shit. Sorry kid, I didn’t see you.”
I looked up and saw Howie. I liked him but I felt embarrassed from the party.
“Hey, Nick.” he said with a wink. Why is he always winking at me?
“Howie.” I said softly, not catching his eye.
“So what did you think of the brothers?” he asked. Quite frankly, I liked the house. I also liked the guys….it was the partying I wasn’t really into. I’m all about having fun, but hearing all I’ve heard about the Pikas….maybe Brian was right.
“They were cool.” I said finally.
“AJ really likes you. He was thinking you should try rushing our frat, would you be interested?” he asked. I felt my books slipping and I adjusted them, feeling a bit uncomfortable.
“We are looking for new members. They liked Brian too, maybe he could get in. You should come by, we are having a mixer on Saturday if you are up to it.” he explained. I nodded but didn’t give him an answer. I didn’t think Brian would be so into this idea, but there was no harm in me trying on my own right?
I was at college and wanted to make the most of my experience here, after all we only live once.