I dropped by Daniel’s room after class.  He was sitting at his desk, hitting keys on his laptop.  Like all the single rooms in the dorm, his was sparsely furnished:  one wall held the bed, the other the window, the third the desk, the fourth a dresser and the door.  The walls were large bricks painted white.  He had decorated his with psychedelic posters of mushrooms and dwarves that glowed under his black-light.  He was bold enough to leave Playboy magazines out on the wide windowsill where anyone could see them.

            “What’s up?” He asked, turning his head to look at me briefly before going back to his computer.  He was downloading music again.

            “I hate this place.” I grunted, sitting down on the edge of his bed.

            “Dude, you need to relax.  Get drunk, get laid, get high.  Something.  Life is too short to take it as seriously as you do.”  He grinned, turning from the computer.  “Want to go to the gym?”

            “Sure.  Why not?”

            Dan had been dragging me to the field house, training me in the use of the equipment.  He weighed over two hundred pounds and had this massive chest, and felt I should try harder.  We jogged there in sports-pants and sweatshirts, then shucked the pants for the shorts underneath, and stowed the sweatshirts in lockers so we could head to the machines in our t-shirts.  Dan was my spotter; encouraging me to do more, work harder.  I don’t think I ever put in the effort I should have, though I was noticing a significant difference in my muscles as weeks went by.

            I grunted through the last reps of my set and then set the bar into its socket.  Daniel gave me a knowing wink.

            “She’s a hottie, eh?  I’d love to get my hands on that.”  Dan gave the girl in question a smile, and she smiled back.

            I glanced at the girl on the treadmill that he was indicating.  I shrugged.

            “Aren’t you dating Teri?”

            “Yeah, so?”

            “So show some commitment to your relationship.  You complained all semester about being single, and now you’ve got a girlfriend.  Show her some respect by not flirting with other people, and show yourself some respect by honouring your commitment.”

            “Nice speech.” Dan grinned, never ruffled by other people’s opinions.  “Want to grab some dinner in the sports bar?”

            “Sure.”  I stood, and headed for the change room.  I met him upstairs in the bar, and we sat in a corner table.  From there you could see three television screens of different games.  Hockey was on, and so was basketball.  The other station seemed to be a sports commentary show.  I ignored all three.

            Dan ordered a beer and a double-cheeseburger with fries.  I got a clubhouse and onion rings.  He winked at the waitress.

            “Want something to drink?” He asked, as usual.  I answered with my usual ‘no.’

            “Seriously, you need to lighten up, Ethan.”  He smiled.  “Life is about the pursuit of pleasure.  Sometimes it’s in beer, sometimes it’s in a hot girl’s ass while she’s wearing tight shorts.  I can’t believe you’re turning twenty in three months and you’ve never even had a drink.  Not everything is life and death.”

            “I think it is.”  I said, in between eating.

            “Obviously!”  Dan laughed.

            “I don’t want to drink, not yet, anyway.  I have other things to think about, and that’s my choice.  Your choices are your choices.  I wouldn’t care if you were just screwing around.” I told him.  “That’s your business.  You were doing it with Laurie, and Melody, and Rachel, up until two weeks ago.  But now you chose to have a relationship, with a girl who worships the ground you walk on.  Honour that choice, the one both of you made.”

            “That’s not a bad point.” Dan said, saluting me with his beer bottle.  “But it doesn’t hurt to look.”

            He punctuated this point by grinning at a waitress as she passed.

            “It does.  Your thoughts are on someone else, instead of on Teri.  And you don’t just look, you flirt.”

            “It’s not like I’m cheating on her!”  He laughed.

            I wasn’t so sure.

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