Meet Chester. Chester is a college student who uses his title as a way to get instant credibility. He works less than most people his age, but it's okay because someday he will have a degree. And he will make more money than the people who are working hard now. Chester is proud of how he thought this all through and looks forward to a time when he can rest on his laurels and live the high life. Because Chester isn't living the high life right now. Not at all. Chester needs to go to class periodically and some of his professors actually require him to do the readings. Life isn't hard for Chester, but it isn't as easy he'd like it, either.
It was nine o'clock at night and Chester was lounging in his room. His room was, at that moment, in the happy place between several month-long stretches of absolute disorganization. Chester could see his floor. It's always special when Chester can see the floor of his room. Chester had homework to do, but didn't want to do it and was creating all sorts of odd emergencies that needed resolving in order to avoid the ominous book lying prostrate on my desk in a manner that can only be described as unattractive. Chester had to eat something, Chester had to drink, Chester had to do some push-ups. Chester was almost ready to start preparing to get in the mindset to warm up to think up another excuse to avoid studying when his phone buzzed.
It was Bertha, an intelligent 20-something Chester knew from high school. He'd always liked Bertha, but never quite worked up the nerve to tell her or even act on his feelings. Bertha was home for the summer and wanted to hang out. Did Chester want to come over for a movie night?
Did Chester want to come over? Does Batman fly? Do basketballs bounce? Do Rice Crispies make weird popping noises after you pour the milk? Of course Chester wanted to come over. When could Chester come over? Were there any other excuses Chester could use to visit?
Chester did not think about what he was agreeing to. He did not ask what movie would be showing or who else would be present for the "movie night." His mind was completely occupied with thoughts of Bertha. An evening with her would be pleasant no matter what. Chester convinced himself of this.
Chester arrived at Bertha's house in his typical fashion: a few minutes late, out of breath and slightly disheveled. His afternoon had been stolen by YouTube and he only regained control of his body in time to sniff check his shirt and speed to his friend's house.
When Chester pulled up, he saw Bertha's father sitting placidly in the front yard with a .306 rifle. Chester knew he was Bertha's father because of his Dad T-Shirt. Chester stopped his car, but left his engine running. With the air from his car's central system cooling the sweat drops that formed on his brow, Chester debated the merits of continuing. He had a fast car; he could zip out of the driveway and be on the interstate before Bertha's Daddy could draw a bead. Chester wanted to see Bertha, but Chester did not want to be shot.
As if to make up Chester's mind for him, Bertha's Daddy motioned for Chester to get out of the car. Chester gulped, twisted the key out of the ignition and slid the door open. After brief introductions ("You must be Chester"), Bertha's Daddy pulled the rifle to his shoulder and squeezed off a quick shot toward the a fence outlining the perimeter of the property. When Chester extricated himself from the fetal position and the blood returned to his head, he saw a collection of tin cans on the fence. Bertha's Daddy was taking target practice.
"Missed," Bertha's Daddy muttered. "You'd best get inside and get cleaned up; looks like you might have done something involuntary." Chester hadn't, but he appreciated the other man's concern and walked briskly toward the house. Once inside, he had another shock.
If the outdoors were teaming with testosterone, the inside was paved with estrogen, hard compacted and then decorated with more estrogen. Bertha had invited a bunch of female friends for the occasion and the house was a roar of giggling, cooking and dress making. Yes, dress making. Even Bertha's brother, an overweight n'er do well with whom Chester had a lot in common, had flown the coup for the evening. Chester did not know what to do. He wanted to be very small, to be an ant on the ground that everyone ignores. Some of the girls tried to talk to him, but Chester didn't know what to say or how to answer. The conversation continued without him and he felt utterly lost, surrounded by a bunch of beautiful, giggling people who he would never understand. Chester almost felt that facing the .306 would be more pleasant than the estrogen assault. Almost.
Dinner was worse. Chester spoke English, not estrogen and he had a hard time keeping up with the pigeon dialect of his host and the other guests. At least Daddy Bertha was there. Chester now found him comforting as the bastion of masculinity in a sea of girls. He was the buoy Chester used to navigate his conversational ship and, although Daddy Bertha brought his .306 to the table with him, Chester started to like the man.
Chester had forgotten all about the movie that formed the pretense for his visit when Bertha asked if everyone was ready. Chester had never been asked whether he was "ready" for a movie before. He thought that was funny, but didn't laugh because his throat was too constricted.
To this moment, Chester cannot remember what movie he saw. It might have been the utterly pointless Beaches, the overrated Sleepless in Seattle or the tragic failure Steel Magnolias, which was, by the way, saved from utter destitution only by the stunning Dolly Parton. Chester does recall that Daddy Bertha did not watch the movie and that everyone in the room but him was bawling like a hungry two-year old somewhere near the end. Chester didn't see what was so sad, but he had a hard time staying awake, too. And at the only remotely interesting part of the film, the others told him to look away. Crazy.
When the credits rolled, Chester found an excuse to leave, got into his car and drove a mile or so, his mind blank. Then he got out and rolled in some dirt. He didn't know why, but it made him feel better - more like a man. He also stopped by GNC and purchased some supplements that would be illegal in the NCAA. Chester knew he wasn't Dara Torres; he could take these drugs.
The next day, when Bertha asked if Chester wanted to join her next weekend for a shopping trip, Chester did not hesitate before giving a negative response. He had been cured; at least for a little while...