It is still a mystery to me why I was assigned to the wrestling dorm my freshman year at college. My only experience with wrestling was with my ex-girlfriend’s Siamese cat who would ambush me from above and land on my head. The cat was the best part of the relationship. I still flinch every time I pass an armoire.
My roommate and I were the only non-wrestlers in our dormitory. We had similar physiques, scrawny, around one hundred ten pounds; with just the right amount of body hair to be considered as on-call replacements at the Cro Magnon exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. To make matters worse, my roommate had a terrible stutter which made us even more desirable targets to be bullied.
The stutter was worse when he answered the phone. I would dash and lunge for the phone when it rang. He was faster. His neck muscles would strain like bridge cables as he struggled mightily to speak. I sat stoically listening to my mother’s voice, “Hello…Jeffrey…Hello… This isn’t funny. Hello… Your father and I are very worried about you. Do you need us to send you more blankets? Fortunoff is having a big sale. You need pillows? Your father will drive me to the post office.”
The worst bully was a wrestler named Nick. He took particular delight in teasing my roommate Jerry about his stutter. Nick also enjoyed practicing his wrestling moves on Jerry and me. We soon became acquainted with double leg takedowns, head locks, and Nick’s favorite, the “Spladle.” The “Spladle” resulted in Jerry or I being wrapped up like a pretzel until Nick decided he had better things to do, like dissecting a live squirrel.
The wrestlers also liked to do “fun” things like “penny” the lock on our door so we couldn’t get out. One time they took a blow dryer and blew powder under our door while we slept. Another time they stole garlic powder from the campus cafeteria and they blew that under our door. For weeks our room smelled like a Sicilian social club.
After several weeks of bullying Jerry was considering a transfer to the nearby Elmira State Penitentiary. He heard that they had an excellent criminal law program. I had a better idea.
I explained to Jerry that we needed to use psychological and guerrilla warfare against the wrestlers. I had done a book report on Ho Chi Minh in fifth grade so I knew exactly what needed to be done.
The first phase of attack was to write up a flyer that was to be mass distributed all over campus. The flyer read as follows:
Once In A Lifetime Opportunity
Venus Fly Traps
First 10 Callers Receive a FREE Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Poster
Call Nick at 555-666-7777 Please call after 11 PM
I printed out one hundred copies of the flyer and put them up as far away from our dorm as possible. I waited a few days then I printed out another hundred copies, plastering the Student Union and other areas where I knew there was a lot of student traffic.
It did not take long for the calls to start coming in. Soon the words, “Venus Fly Trap” were the most commonly heard words in our dorm.
Nick was one confused fellow. He thought a Venus Fly Trap was a new wrestling move. He had no idea why he was getting all these phone calls late at night. Most people would have taken their phone off the hook, but not Nick. He was the belligerent type and he took all the calls – personally.
“No you are not one of the first ten callers. You want a free Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders poster? Sure. Come on over. I will shove one up your butt.”
Jerry and I could hear Nick yelling even with our door closed. We were convulsing with laughter and we had to cover our mouths so no one could hear us.
Nick and his friends went around campus pulling down the flyers. I waited a week, and then printed out another hundred flyers. I was becoming an expert at psychological warfare and Nick was becoming an expert at putting large holes in the wall with his phone.
Soon the semester came to an end. Jerry and I made arrangements to move to a new dorm. Last I heard, Nick was living in Elmira.