When I was in college, there was a boy who was possibly the biggest nerd on campus. I use the term nerd in the most affectionate manner for he was a nice nerd. Needy and ugly, but nice. He was especially needy for female affection and would latch on to girls like a crack addict sucking on his crackpipe. He was a true nerd, extremely smart, coke bottle glasses with black frames, button down short sleeve shirts with high waisted pants, and a humongous Frankenstein head. He even had a suitably nerdy name - Eugene. There was no doubt that he was the smartest kid on campus, he physically had the biggest brain.
I'd gone to high school with Eugene and had tolerated him in my half nice/half sarcastic bitch manner. But in college, I didn't have a class with him again until my sophomore year. The first thing I noticed was how big his head looked, but he was still the overly anxious nerdy nice guy that I'd teased before. Not unexpectedly, he latched on to me that semester, even going so far as to take the train home with me and getting off at my station, although I knew he lived 2 stations back. He'd bring me candy and constantly ask me if I were hungry. I sympathized slightly for at the time I was madly in love with Eddie, my Cuban American lab partner in Organic Chemistry. I hated Organic Chemistry but I adored Eddie who was just about the sexiest thing I'd ever seen in my whole life. It was also the start for my love of Cuban food as Eddie would take me to these delicious little Cuban joints in the city. But Eddie was already dating some beautiful theater major over at the Tisch School of Arts, but that didn't stop me from flirting madly with him over our bunsen burners and through our steamy goggles. I never had a real chance with Eddie, his girlfriend was way too possessive, just like Eugene never had a shot with me. But I always thought of Eugene as a nice guy, no matter how irritating he could be.
Fast forward nearly 20 years later. I'm at a reception and I notice a humongous Frankenstein head. There can only be one other head that big. I wander over and lo and behold, it's Eugene. He's gotten stouter and I don't know if memory is playing me false or what but his head looks even bigger. You've got to have some pretty strong neck muscles to hold up a head that big. His glasses are thinner and more fashionable and he is wearing a nice suit, although it doesn't fit him that well. But otherwise, he looks exactly the same. Still ugly.
I smile and saunter over to say hello.
"Eugene!" I say.
His large head swivels over with an imperious twist and he stares at me down the side of his nose. "Yes," he says with quite a sharp and impatient tone."
"It's me, Ellen, from NYU. How are you?"
"Ellen, Ellen, Ellen," he says in this really unctuous tone. "How are you? What do you do now? Did you go to med school?"
"No, I went to law school," I respond, not sure how to take him. He immediately launches into how he went to medical school and has a thriving practice in the area and how his son is a genius pianist who'll probably go to Juliard and his other child will definitely go to Harvard or Yale and then introduced me to his third wife. Yes he told me she's his third wife. All the time, speaking in this arrogant, offensive and belittling manner towards me.
His ego had finally surpassed his ginormous head.
As soon as I could, I extricated myself from him and his third wife and fled the scene thinking my friendly nice nerd had turned into an unbearable jackass. This saddened me and I started thinking about how when you practice law, you come across so many assholes that you know were most likely nerds when they were younger. What caused them to change? What makes a nice person turn into a jackass? I don't know, but I definitely don't want to remember this new Eugene. I prefer the old one, with his sweet demeanor and ugly face that grew on you. Too bad that Eugene is gone forever.