Probably as a result of being the youngest of seven children, I learned that with Logan you can either learn to tolerate his quirks, enjoy them, or get the fuck out. For the most part I got the fuck out, but I was certainly around enough to pass from abject horror to morbid fascination. I found myself particularly spellbound by his monthly habit of removing some toenails. What first creeped me out eventually grew familiar, and I must admit, fascinating. Once a month or so, Logan would pull out a handful of rubber bands and select a few toes on each foot. He then would wrap and re-wrap rubber bands around the selected piggies, forming tourniquets. He would then put them up and let them turn black as they lost blood. When suitably deadened, he would pull out a tweezers, jam one prong under a toe nail, pinch the nail and then pull it back and eventually off. He would repeat this with each black toe until they were all completely nail-free. He then, and thank god he remembered his order of operations, would put gauze bandages on the toes and finally use a pair of scissors to cut off the rubber bands. Even with these precautions the gauze would quickly darken, which prompted him to put on his “blood stockings” –a thick pair of black tube socks. This ritual ended with him putting the removed nails in his desk drawer. Yup, he kept ‘em.
As I said, I had become fascinated with this ritual and, given his pre-med mentality, kind of gave him the benefit of the doubt that he had a legitimate reason –perhaps he feared they had become in-grown, or otherwise infected. Of course I asked him about this. His response: “Well, it’s a lotta work to get them to my mouth and I don’t want them to go to waste.”
I had my suspicions about what that meant, and they were confirmed the day after I finally asked about this procedure, when I watched Logan pull one out of his drawer and casually pop it into his mouth, like a god-damned sunflower seed.
It was just these types of experiences that I learned to accept. Ultimately, he wasn’t doing anything to me, so rather than fight him, I instead became like Jane Goodall among the chimps. I tried to engage Logan, asking him about his life, his interests, values, etc. I selected pop culture from the civilized world and shared it with him in an attempt to understand him. I never did understand him (how can you when he gets angry that the movie Leprechaun failed to present Leprechauns accurately) but I did learn to live with him.
He never left our room. As an alternative to fucking with my stuff, I began leaving things out for him. I would leave food out –knowing that he would eat it and therefore not rummage through my closet, despite the fact that I never kept food in there anyways. I would leave videos near his tiny little TV/VCR because then he wouldn’t dig through my drawers to watch something while he still listened to his Bicentennial Man DVD on his computer.
Like all the lesser apes, just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they remind you that they are wild animals and can’t be tamed. For me that lesson occurred with Thanksgiving break. Simply put, Logan would be going back to the goat farm –his first time back after what was undoubtedly his first time away-and I had neglected to leave him things to discover. I had classes a full day after Logan was scheduled to be gone and as I left for the first of them I wished him a Happy Thanksgiving, as I didn’t expect to see him again before he left. He was busy trying to decide which of his “friendlies” –his horse pictures, to bring with him to the farm.
My classes ended, and I returned to the room anticipating what would be my first significant time in my dorm without Logan. My first clue that there would be trouble was that Logan had written on our message board:
I LOST MY KEYS. DON’T LOCK THE DOOR.
I quickly did the math and estimated that his message served as an invitation to anyone with basic literacy skills (approximately 43% of my wing-mates) to enter our room and do as they wished. So it was with inevitable resignation that I opened the door to see the room was trashed. For a solid minute I just stood there and surveyed the damage: my bed upturned my closet ran-sacked, my drawers overturned, etc. Then I realized it was only my stuff. No one would come in and target me without also attacking him. Maybe they’d attack him and spare me, but not the other way around. I glanced back out into the hall and noticed that almost every door had the tell-tale checkout form attached to it. This was done by the last person leaving each room to let the resident assistant know that he was free to leave as well. I re-surveyed the damage and concluded that Logan did it. At first I didn’t know why he did it, but as I put things back to normal I began to notice some things were missing. My M&M’s were gone, the fridge was left open, and a couple of my VHS tapes were also gone. Because I had always left things out for him, he learned to need them. Because I had never shown him where they were kept, he had to search for them. I found myself fascinated by the fact that I understood it and didn’t blame him. He was actually converting me to his flock –at least at this relatively early point in our time together.
Given the Logan-logic of what he did, I paid attention to the movies he took. Both had been titles I had never shown him, and I believe he had never seen. Both were very popular among the rest of the men on our floor, but again, Logan never left our room to socialize so I don’t think he even knew that. Most interestingly, both were stolen from the local Blockbuster.
I haven’t been inside a Blockbuster since 2003, so I don’t know if this is still the case, but back in the day Blockbuster had insane rental policies where new releases –which could be defined by any movie released in the last 5 years- were more expensive, could only be kept for a day, and were guaranteed in stock. What that meant for my friend who worked at Blockbuster was that the in-and-out goings of these titles were hard to really keep track of and he would, by the backpack full, cherry pick tapes out of the return bin before they could be scanned as back in stock. Ever get billed for a tape you swore you returned to Blockbuster? Yeah, you did return it, but you did it on my friend’s shift. Blockbuster hassles you, ultimately the stock is so great that it doesn’t really matter and my friend goes down the dorm halls like the morning milkman dropping off the day’s selections, sharing the spoils.
The films in question: The South Park movie and the ever popular Fight Club.
I guessed that maybe Logan was drawn to them because of their Blockbuster hard-cases, or that they were simply the first he found. I never got him to explain, either. Some mysteries just stay mysteries.
Eventually I too left for home and thought that my time dealing with Logan was finished, if only for a short while, but it was not to be. On the Friday after Thanksgiving, my mother got a phone call. It was Logan’s mom, who was upset that I was exposing her son to filthy movies. My mother quickly handed me the phone to fight my own battles and I tackled them head on. Mrs. Logan’s first grievance was that these movies were both R-rated. I retorted that so was one of Logan’s favorites, Chill Factor (which, by the way is the sole directorial effort from a guy who’s actually named Hugh Johnson). She ignored that observation and barreled through to say that Logan wasn’t 21 yet and therefore shouldn’t be seeing “adult” movies. I asked her if he had actually watched them yet and she told me that they had watched Fight Club. With his grandparents. On Thanksgiving. At this point she was almost to tears so I informed her that 17-year-olds get in legally to R-rated movies, that Logan had been exposed to far worse in college already and that in the future they should read the back of the fucking box before they put the movie in, and, finally, that he stole the god damn tapes from me anyhow. She then threatened to report me to the Dean of Housing which I begged her to do. I had given up trying to switch rooms and frankly, there had already been so many false complaints against Logan that the Housing office was ignoring anything pertaining to him as a prank. I hoped that if she did complain –which she didn’t- that the Housing office would get a glimpse of what I was dealing with and help me out.
I looked forward, as much as I could, to my reunion with Logan because now I would pick his brain about Fight Club. I would see how he reacted to the most popular film among his peers, see if he noticed the references to the film they had been making (LOGAN HAS BITCH TITS), etc. He didn’t really make any of the connections I had hoped. He came back to our room late on that Sunday and handed me back the Fight Club tape. We talked for a bit but he seemed to have not gotten that he was Starbucks and they were Project Mayhem. I switched gears, and asked what everyone gets asked after the first time they see Fight Club: Did he see the twist coming?
“What twist?” He wanted to know.
“About Tyler Durden. That He and Jack, or whatever, Ed Norton’s character, that they’re the same person.”
“Who else would they be?” He plainly asked.
“The whole movie you think they are two different people and then you find out that Tyler Durden is him! That’s why he couldn’t sleep, why he felt left out of Project Mayhem, the whole thing. Why do you think Brad Pitt fucking disappeared when Jack shot himself in the head?” I was getting worked up about this.
“It was pretty clear from the beginning that they were familiars. Everybody has others that take over from time to time. I found the whole thing pretty boring.”
He always found a way to leave me speechless.
I asked him if he had brought back South Park. He told me that he had left it behind because his mother wanted to watch it. BECAUSE SHE HAD NEVER SEEN A CARTOON BEFORE. Again, speechless.
Switching gears, I asked if he managed to track down his keys. He told me that, yeah, he did. They were in his pocket the whole time. I asked why didn’t he check there in the first place, that he was begging for trouble by leaving the note on our door. He said he wouldn’t have left the note, but he knew he wasn’t able to lock the door without his keys and didn’t want me to get confused by his leaving a note inside the room I wouldn’t be able to get into because he hadn’t locked the door and when I came to unlock the door I would actually be locking myself out.
“So, when did you find them in your pocket?”
“Well, I dropped the door pen after I wrote the note and felt them when I bent over to pick it up.”
Of course he did.