That Cyril was almost positive he’d walked in on his new roommate masturbating didn’t bode especially well for their friendship. Not that he’d seen anything, but the shuffling sounds and the guilty look seemed . . . suspect. It was all impossibly crucial now, could he bring it up? A flippant, “Ha, almost caught you!” No, no, that’d be awful. Maybe something vaguer, to just hint at it, something like “I’ll knock in the future by the way.” Or funny! Yes, that could be it, how about, well, “I guess this doesn’t warrant a tie on the door does it?” Yeah, that could get a laugh . . . in a fucking 80s sitcom.
Easy, no need for anything too fancy. All goes right in the world with a good old fashioned “Yo.” And Cyril’s roommate yo’ed back.
This wasn’t Cyril’s first roommate. His last one had packed up and moved back home for unknown reasons. His name was Randy and he seemed nice enough. The one strange thing had been how he’d broken into a five-minute long laughing fit when he learned Cyril’s name. Apparently Randy hadn’t ever met a Cyril and found it hilarious that Cyrils existed in real life. Cyril wasn’t insulted, but also didn’t find it particularly funny and was forced to chuckle breathily in case he gave the impression of being offended. Though it was a bit much for a kid called Randy to be giving him shit for being called Cyril. A bit much!
Though to be fair, his parents hadn’t done him any favors with his name. Cyril is, after all, one of those odd names that fits nicely on Brits with wealthy families, but oddly and even sadly on the American middle class. Add to this that his last name was Smith and it all seemed like a cruel joke.
He didn’t have a good handle on the new roommate. His name was Daniel. Daniel’s room had been infested by a nest of roaches and so when Randy left, Daniel was quick to take his place. Daniel didn’t laugh when he heard Cyril’s name, but he didn’t do much else either. He just sat there usually . . . watching Netflix . . . reading sports articles . . . and masturbating apparently.
Cyril had come to college praying that he didn’t end up with an unbearable roommate and had even imagined up fully developed characters with whom he’d hate to live. One was Yoshi — he was obsessed with anime cartoons and had already covered the entire dorm room with anime posters before Cyril moved in. When Cyril told Yoshi that he wanted to have his own side of the room for his own posters, Yoshi forced Cyril to watch Youtube clips from anime cartoons that he loved and Cyril had to spend half his days pretending to enjoy them. But now, when he looked at Daniel staring blankly into his screen, Cyril almost wished he were living with Yoshi. Sure, he hated anime, but . . . Christ, at least it’d be interesting.
In his few days at college, he’d only spoken at length with a few people on his hall. One was a kid called James. James had one of those horrifyingly nice dispositions, which only becomes more horrifying when you realize that it’s not for show. In Cyril’s experience, only religious people managed to pull this off and he couldn’t help but feel vindicated when he woke up Sunday to see James walking out of his room fully dressed for church.
Another was Rachel. She seemed to Cyril all form, no content. She replied to everything he said with a big nod and a “Right!?” For a little while this made her pleasant to talk to, but it soon became grating.
Then there was . . . well, he’d forgotten his name. He was from Kenya and had a booming voice with the tinge of some accent. He was good, but somehow Cyril could tell they weren’t going to hang out regularly.
He was, he realized, on the tame side of the hall. The partiers were on the other side, as he could tell from the screeching that emanated from there on Friday and Saturday. When he heard Randy was leaving, Cyril was excited to meet a partier, someone who could ingratiate him with the screechers. But no, he got a Daniel. Not even a Dan or a Danny . . . he went by Daniel.
Listlessness didn’t bother him; listlessness during the first week of being at college bothered him. He felt betrayed by every raunchy college comedy he’d ever seen, not that he was foolish enough to expect exactly that, but . . . something exciting? Yes he had met quite a few new people, yes he could text them, yes he could be proactive, but . . . well, he just wanted something to just happen!
So Cyril opened his laptop and went on Facebook. He wasn’t even friends with Daniel on Facebook, he didn’t even know Daniel’s last name. He closed his laptop and left the room, Daniel’s eyes stayed fixed to his screen. Explorers once traveled thousands of miles to find new land, new things, and new people. Now Cyril was about to go on an adventure of his own . . . into the hallway.