Ryan the Mennonite

I was not interested in high school.  I enjoyed football, baseball, the cliques, the cafeteria, and study hall, but when it came to the actual schooling, it never held my interest.  It was fear of academic ineligibility in sports and an ass whooping from my parents that kept me hovering around complacency, if not for those, I probably would have just skipped classes all together.  Looking back, I can see the importance of high school, but not sure if the outcome would be much different if I had to repeat. 

Being a poor student provided minimal leverage in the college application process.  I knew if worse came to worse, I could go to a school that wanted me to play football, but I really did not want to play football in college.  Football meant weight lifting 3 days a week and cardio 1 or 2 days a week and that was in the off season.  It was like having a full time job year round, if I was going to college, it would be to learn something.   

I sent out a couple applications to state schools and Bloomsburg University accepted me with a condition, I needed to take part in their summer freshmen program.  The summer freshmen program was an opportunity for derelict students like myself to attend classes in the summer and prove they are worthy of the college experience.  While my best friends went on senior week vacations and enjoyed their final high school summer together, I traveled up to Bloomsburg to prove I could make it as a college student.  The one requirement of a summer freshmen was to make it through the summer maintaining a B minus grade point average.   

I arrived in Bloomsburg shortly after my high school graduation.  It was incredibly hot and dusty because they were doing major campus renovations.  Whenever a breeze would blow, the dust would swirl up on your sweaty body and stick to your arms and legs and make tiny bits of mud.  There were all kinds of students that wound up in the summer freshmen program, there were inner city kids, suburban kids, hick kids from back woods Pennsylvania towns like Shamokin and Kane, there were pot heads and prepsters, but we all had something in common, we were all terrible students.  

I would say 1 out of 10 kids from the summer freshmen program ultimately graduated, or at least graduated from Bloomsburg.  We had kids that just got up there and were dumb as hell and just couldn’t keep up with the college curriculum, we had a kid who went to a Delta Pi frat house party and when the police raided through the front door, he bolted out the back and hopped over a fence trying to escape punishment for underage drinking, unfortunately for him, the fence was a protective measure and he ended up hopping over a cliff and falling to his death, we had people who partied every night, people who got caught with drugs, we had people who were just homesick.  The person that I still think about fairly often is Ryan the Mennonite.  This kid showed up to college in suspenders and a straw hat.  We all thought he was amish, he told us he was a Mennonite, but we couldn’t tell the difference.   This poor guy picked the wrong place, wrong time, and wrong program to integrate with the greater society.  He was holed up in a dorm room with a fairly typical 18 year old male, a man that enjoyed posters on swim suit models, TV shows and movies with a little violence and sex, and sometimes the company of a female student if he was lucky enough to make it happen.  Before you guys jump to conclusions, I wasn’t Ryan’s roommate, my roommate was a soccer player from Easton, we call him J-Dawg.  

Ryan the Mennonite stuck out like a sore thumb and from the first night he made it clear to his roommate that he would not tolerate the lewd posters and graphic movies, he made it clear that the room would be a sanctuary from the insanity that surrounded them, he made it clear that no females would be allowed in the room.  Well, Ryan’s roommate immediately figured this to be a terrible living situation and contacted the senior resident on the floor who was our resident adviser.  The resident adviser was a psychology major and found the whole thing fascinating, he probed and probed trying to figure out what was acceptable to Ryan and what was not, “Is porn okay?  Is masturbation okay with your religion?  Do you like women or just ignore them?”  This line of questioning went on for an hour and did nothing but to satisfy the resident advisor’s perverse desire to contaminate this individual’s clean moral slate.  Nothing could be done, Ryan and the roommate were forced to stick it out.  

Ryan’s roommate told anyone that would listen about his unfortunate living circumstances.  It was always a great conversation starter and when someone complained about their roommate (which was most frequent), he could always have the last word.  Soon enough, Ryan became a freak attraction in Bloomsburg in the summer of 1997.  His moral intentions created a profound backfire, every girl on the campus wanted to show him what he was missing, wanted to convert him into another man who needed them, every guy wanted to tell Ryan the dirtiest joke they knew, Ryan’s innocence created a blackhole of filth and perversity.  As I would pass his room, girls in bikini tops would poke their head into his room and he’d cover his eyes and angrily tell them to leave, which always made them stay a little longer.  

One night Ryan’s roommate went to a frat party and struck an impromptu relationship with a female student and they returned back to his room.  Ryan was woken by the encounter and became irate, telling the woman she had to leave.  This made Ryan’s roommate angry too and in the morning, Ryan’s roommate created a barrier right down the middle of the room with all the furniture they had in the room.  When Ryan returned from breakfast to see the new divide, I remember him saying, “My people have been promoting faith and unity for the last 200 years, I will not allow you to place a barrier in our room”.  The barrier was taken down.  

Ryan didn’t return the following semester, but his roommate did.  His roommate was one of the summer freshmen who actually graduated from Bloomsburg.  The funny thing is, when I last checked on him to see what he was doing, he was doing missionary work in South America.