I down my entire Holiday Winesky Nog (wine, whiskey, egg nog, and cough syrup, because you’re only young once) in record time, my sixth mug celebrating the same number of potential love interests who stopped messaging back this week on a stupid dating site I don’t care about even a little bit at all. I’d spent all day not working, not thinking about the grades that were just posted, not thinking about graduating -
“You my beer pong partner?!” my roommate bursts in, all cheerful and whatever. I pull my computer closer to me and hiss loudly. She sags. “This is the last time we’ll all see each other before break,” she explains. Super obnoxiously. I thoughtfully sling my mug in her direction, and it smashes onto the door as she slams it shut.
I fix another Winesky in an unwashed bowl as she calls out something about “if I change my mind.” As if! I’ve got another 72 glorious minutes of America’s Next Top Model to yell at and a jar of peanut butter to finish.
I guess my good friend Winesky had other plans, because the next thing I remember is “WAKE UP! We’re doing SHOTS!” I punch indirectly a few times, then open my eyes.
And see what looks like – me. But in a mini skirt. And a side ponytail.
“Get up get up get up, I left Beta’s “Holiday Hos and 80s Everyone Always’ to do this for you!” she slurs, holding out a shot.
“How — what are you?”
“Fine!” She swallows both shots, wincing. “I’m freshman-year-you – the Ghost of Christmas Past!” She looks me up and down, and sighs. “You’re a disaster, I hope you just got dumped or something. Come on, we have to go -”
Before I could say “not without Winesky” we’re walking down a long hallway. A familiar, colorful, dirty hallway with only a bucket of condoms standing guard -
“Ta daaaa!” she sings, flinging open the doors to my old floor lounge. “This was your holiday party exactly three years ago.”
I step softly into the brightly-lit, heavily decorated lounge where about a dozen freshmen are draped all over the stiff furniture.
Christmas Past shoves one passed-out dormizen off the couch so she can sit; he falls like a brick. “We told all these people a ton of secrets, danced like an idiot, yelled some Lady Gaga songs, and passed out on the floor.”
“Yeah, this was terrible! It was super embarrassing, we got in trouble, I was all into him -” I point to a dude somehow upside-down on an armchair.
“But you were having so much fun! Everything was new and interesting and all part of the college experience!”
“The freshman year go-nuts thing got old by about junior year! It’s all the same, you realize you’ve got to get ready to graduate and work and -”
Suddenly, everything snaps to black – I’m back in my bed, in the present, by myself.
I wait a couple tense seconds. Nothing bizarre happens. I chuckle. “Got me again, Winesky, you old sonofabitch.” I reach for my bowl – and hear a throat clearing.
My anthropology TA stands politely next to my closet. I say nothing, praying he won’t call on me.
“Feel free to guess who I am. There are no wrong answers,” he smiles expectantly.
I pick at my covers, avoiding eye contact. This is how our relationship goes.
“You should have a general idea, at least, if you’ve gone to lecture -”
“We both know I haven’t gone to lecture!!”
“Well we also both know you didn’t have the flu six times this semester! I’m the Ghost of Christmas Present,” the grade he gave me must have marked the end of him tolerating my shit. “And we’re going downstairs!”
Before I could argue, he ghost-ported me down to my roommates’ party – my hands rushed to cover the basketball shorts I’d been wearing for six days -
“They can’t see you. I just want to show you what you’re missing.”
“Oh. Well whatever, we have parties all the time. They’re all the same.”
“Oh, is your bed a more fast-paced environment??” he snaps. What a bitch. “Most of them are doing something. Internships, studying, cementing lifelong friendships - don’t you roll your eyes!“ I totally wasn’t. He points: “she just got a job. A job-job. Not that you have to do these things. But if you haven’t noticed, you’re not really doing anything.”
“So, what, should I go to grad school?” I snort. He narrows his eyes.
“You know what I always wanted to do to you?”
Surprised, I shrug nonchalantly. “I guess I’ve always thought you were pretty cute.”
Aaaand I’m back in my bed, rubbing my jaw I believe was just ghost-slapped. Touche, TA.
“Um, hello?” says a hot, blond male voice, as someone opens my door – I sit up straight. “I’m Matt Barkley. I’m the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come,” he says stiffly, reading off a piece of paper.
He shrugs. “It’s USC? My manager told me to. So, listen. You died.”
“What?!” He points ““ a tombstone I never noticed before sits in the middle of a pile of my laundry. “What’s that??”
On it was – MY NAME!
“Haven’t you ever read A Christmas Carol?” He checks the paper. ”You suck a lot, so you died. Just… Stop having senioritis. You’ll be fine.”
“You want to hang out, Matt Barkley?” I said, giving it a shot. “Grab some coffee, teach me how to prevent my demise? Find the double entendre in Yet-to-Come-“
“I have a ton of other people to teach to appreciate life right now. Later,” he says, hot and blondly, and he and the tombstone disappear.
I gather myself, look around my disgusting filth-nest. I peer out my blinds at the party that’s still bumpin’.
“Know what, Winesky?” I turn to Winesky, who doesn’t do anything. “I think we’re going to go outside.”