Red All Over

Dear Reid,

I had an interesting thing occur to me last week. It was about 7:00 at night when I decided to dye my entire body red. On the way to the house of my significant other, Chucko (the name has been changed to protect the guilty), I stopped and picked up the necessary supplies: cherry Kool-Aid (24 packs), and a bottle of Jagermeister. Once I was properly equipped, I, with the help of two aides, filled up the bathtub with hot water and poured in the Kool-Aid. Before taking the plunge, I took a couple of swigs from the bottle. Once my teeth were sufficiently numb, the time came to get red. I stripped down and hopped in the tub. It was bright red and smelled berry-fully delicious. As I lay in the tub, I was slowly making my way through the bottle of Jagermeister. After about an hour and a half the booze was gone and so was I. I was also considerably more rosey.

I exited the tub, got dressed and headed back to the dorms. Chucko needed to get a paper ready for the next day. A lab somehow didn’t seem appropriate, given our condition, and the only other place to turn that I could think of was my neighbor’s room. Once arriving there, bright red and drunk as hell, we fell into a compromising romantic position. One thing led to another and, well… Now, as if that isn’t bad enough, not only were we in someone else’s room but we were in full view of a nearby dorm, i.e. the curtains in our room were wide open, the lights were on bright, and in the dorm across the lawn the lights were dimmed, where 18 voyeurs stood with their noses pressed up against the window, watching the crazy red guy go at it.

Soon word had spread all over campus and people were asking me about it. It’s kind of an embarrassing question to deal with, and I was wondering if you could help me think of a way to respond when someone asks me if I wasthe red guy who had sex in front of God and everyone. Your guidance would be appreciated.

Thankfully,
Red All Over

I know how you feel. Except for the bit about getting drunk, dying yourself red, and copulating in full view of your neighbors on your friend’s bed with somebody (or something) named “Chucko,” yours is a problem commonly faced by nearly every person alive. Ah, gossip. The rumor mill. The grapevine. So many words to describe such a simple and inherent part of life. And there’s nowhere on earth that the wildfires of gossip spread faster and more destructively than on a small college campus in a tiny rural town. No aspect of your life is safe from publicity or criticism. You can’t escape the all-seeing eye no matter where you go.

Hell, you can’t even run across the mall naked in this town without half the campus arguing over the proportions of your anatomy and the other half making up stories about what happened to the last guy who did it. Everybody knows everything about everybody else, no matter if what they know is true, distorted and embellished for effect, or complete fabrication.

Man, sometimes I wish people could just keep their mouths shut. I don’t want to hear every detail of other people’s lives, I don’t want to know your dark little secrets. Actually, I do, so I can write about them, but I sure as hell don’t want to know who I’m writing about. Why is it necessary, if you confide in someone an event or an idea that may be sensitive, that person then goes and tells all their friends, and all your friends, and everyone else they happen to bump into in the Student Center or at The Eating Establishment Formerly Known As PFM.

If you have any friends (which isn’t likely, given that you’re reading such a lousy column as this), and one of your friends tells you something of a private nature, for Pete’s sake keep it to yourself. If you witness somebody in some sort of private activity, such as cavorting unclothed and colorful, whether on the mall or in the privacy of a room in full view of the world, just shut up. The world doesn’t need to hear about it. Or if you must tell someone, tell me. I’ll spread the word discreetly and anonymously, you can trust me.

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