Study abroad gives meaning to brokenhearted fellow

Feckless youth finds meaning abroad after lustful yearnings leave him empty

Cereal box Virgil Starkwell


Like all regrettable things in life, it all started with a kiss.

Just one kiss.

After an October evening of ESPN, chicken wings and beer, my buddies and I stumbled to the football house for a party with all the fixin’s: easy booze, easy laughter and, of most importance, easy ladies.

We arrived, mingled and soaked in the ambiance. I felt good, a nice rolling buzz, and BAM.

There I saw her leaning against the sink of unwashed dishes, balancing a bottle of Everclear between her arms, sending a text.

“What a great mom she’d be,” I said to myself. “I mean, she’s got cradling down.”

My life fell away from me. I imagined us in our thirties waking up, exchanging billows of morning breath with every yawn, rolling out of bed at the last minute to get ready for another day at the jobs we hate.

I, a marketing strategist for a failing bootleg toy company. She, a stay at home mom.

What a life. I had to have her.

As all men do, I mustered up the courage to make a fool of myself. I sidled up next to her and stammered, “Hey … I like your choker.”

She looked up from her phone, taking a second to gauge who I was and what my intentions were.

“Hey … thanks,” she said.

And we were off, like horses out of the stable after a long rain.

We stole off to some bedroom, and like the ebb and flow of a great ocean, we commanded our lovely campaign.

Oh yes, I pursued, and she withdrew. And she pursued, and I withdrew. And, not knowing what was at stake, we kissed.

I planted one soft, supple, like the morning dew on a spider web, and, as quickly as it began, it ended.

In the midst of it all she told me her name, but I forgot it. Mulca, perhaps. I did give her my number, expecting her to text me in the morning. She told me she would.

But alas, days later I was still awaiting, yearning for this no-named dame. I just couldn’t stop imaging us, 20 years in the future, falling asleep on the couch, in the middle of the show we watch each night so we can avoid conversation, a pint of ice cream melting between us.

I just couldn’t let her go.

Days turned to weeks, week to months, and I began to think she wasn’t interested. I spiraled into depression.

How could she leave me behind? “What’s wrong with me?” I would ask myself in the mirror. Why didn’t she want me?

Winter and even darker thoughts rolled in. I spent the cold evenings chugging beer and watching reruns of M.A.S.H. Oh, Hawkeye, what a man. Probably a guy she’d fancy.

J-term was around the corner and, tired of blubbering in my filth and sorrow, I chose to embark on Augie Abroad’s India trip. It felt right.

We landed, and right away the people, sounds and smells struck me. With all the new faces passing me, I began to question my purpose in the world.

It was a feeling I’ve never felt. The world struck me in such a new way.

Looney, the students and I ventured to the Taj Mahal on our eleventh day, and we couldn’t believe it. I was struck. “What a momentous moment,” I whispered to myself.

Seeing the bust-like dome and phallic spires, I discovered I was the victim of petty conquest, a simple casualty from hedonistic mores.

Publicly, I praised Augie Abroad for giving me the opportunity to find myself again and miraculously quoted the incoherent Rocky, “It ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

I promised God I would become a better person and change my life for the better.

I had become whole again. She didn’t even come to mind.

We landed back at the states, and my buddies met me at the airport. And after a quick meal at Gary’s Glut and Go, we moseyed to another party.

Virgil Starkwell is a rebel trying finding a cause. When he’s not chuggin’ beer and filling his endless gut, he’s trying to crawl out of a deep-rooted existential crisis violently racking his brain. What a mess. Get him a counselor.

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