Freshman year, Ron lost over a hundred pounds. It was unbelievable. You never saw him eat healthy or exercise. Being so big—well over six feet, barrel-shaped—and perhaps embarrassed, he exercised only under cover of dark. For all we knew, he might have been playing World of Warcraft. For dinner with our group, he always had a cafeteria cheeseburger and tater tots, both dishes shredded into Cheerio-sized bites he’d dip in sauce mixed from sixteen self-serve ingredients. He’d savor the meal for forty-five ritualistic minutes, moaning in ecstasy. Neither the menu nor his Eucharistic eating approach changed.
So, it shocked us when he showed up having dropped so much weight his t-shirt billowed around him like a victory flag. “Whatever, losers,” he said, unloading his PC after Thanksgiving break. “Told you I didn’t have to eat healthy.” I swore I’d seen this slimmed-down version of Ron running around campus, but his luggage confirmed he’d been away. If his Warcraft PC had been gone, so had Ron. Could he have a marathon running lookalike?
Ron kept losing weight even as he ate his cheeseburgers and tots and sat on his ass leveling his warlock. Around that time—I remember because Ron vetoed group outings Thursday nights when he had raids—I ran into the little Rons. I was reading in the student center when four preschool sized Rons sporting beards and glasses started crawling over the pool tables, cackling like hyenas. Pipe down, I told them. Blow me! one said. Kiss my ass, the second and third concurred. The last one mooned me and kicked the cue ball my way. I had no response to this, and Ron looked even slimmer when I swung by his room to report this encounter. He typed furiously away at a boss, charging up magic spells: “Not my problem, bucko.”
Soon Ron was the slenderest of us all and gave up his weight loss regimen. But by then campus was plagued by a burrowing colony of ant sized Rons. Their tunnels had collapsed a major road and plunged the women’s gymnasium six feet underground. When the volleyball team complained, the ant Rons hissed foul taunts and scurried about carrying sand-sized chunks of what one presumed were cheeseburgers and tater tots lifted from the concession stand. I had to ask: Did this make Ron their Queen? Ron said I was looking a little doughy.
Facing disciplinary action after his ant-selves toppled a St. Ignatius statue, Ron had to keep the tiny ones in a 50-gallon aquarium. He fed them microwaved White Castle burgers until after graduation he moved to Vietnam on business. He smuggled them into the country in an urn, lying to customs about his “terrible loss.” A third of them perished en route, and the last picture of Ron I saw on Facebook featured a plump little second chin.
James Sullivan has split his adult life between the Midwestern US and Japan. Find his recent work in Fourteen Hills, Inscape, and XRAY Literary Magazine and follow @jfsullivan4th