EAST LANSING, Mich. -- My body is bloated from a two-week diet of nothing but beer and pizza.
I have a week's worth of stubble on my chin. My supply of contact lenses ran out a week ago, and I have bags under my eyes from lack of sleep. I haven't had a haircut in two months. I can't hear in my right ear and my speech has been reduced to a hoarse growl that can be understood only by a select few species of Pomeranian dogs. I'm a middle-aged goof wearing a more-or-less permanent uniform of blue jeans, a Michigan State T-shirt and a green Michigan State cap.
But even so, I had no idea how bad I looked until I was recognized at a bar tonight.
"Hey, look," the man yelled. "It's Michael Moore!"
Actually, I'm making that up. If only because I haven't had time to buy Moore's requisite Michigan State cap yet. I was supposed to arrive at MSU in plenty of time to see the campus and buy a full Spartan wardrobe, but my flight from Seattle was delayed over Montana when a passenger fell ill, forcing an emergency landing. When the pilot announced, "We're making an unscheduled landing in Great Falls, Montana for a medical emergency," I assumed he was talking about me.
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|Back to School: Check out highlights of Jim's visit last week to Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State|
After all, I feel like I've been on life support since picking up some unknown virus at the University of Illinois during the first week of my own personal March Madness. I'm congested, I've had a sore throat, poor hearing, hacking cough and headache for more than a week. But no one is diverting a plane for me.
Instead, I reached East Lansing just in time Tuesday night to watch the final two minutes of the Michigan State women's basketball game at my residence for the night, a beat-up old house jammed with 16 independent students. Shaun Freiman's description of the house in his e-mail was as follows:
"Conveniently located at 415 M.A.C. Ave., 'Sorority Row,' we can offer luxurious accommodations including your own bedroom with modern locking door, your own reliable Internet connection (demonstrated by our sending of this e-mail from it) personal mini-fridge stocked with vitamin C-rich juices in order to aide in your recovery, both illness and hangover related, and the opportunity to live with 15 diehard Spartans (not greek). Host to the biggest independent parties on campus (most notably our Jello Wrestling New Year's party, 415 day Pig Roast, and various other shindigs for various other reasons such as 'Wednesday') 415 M.A.C. is dedicated to showing you an inside look at true Spartan Life."
This description was not quite a lie ... but not exactly accurate, either.
As it turns out these "luxurious accommodations" uncannily resemble the filthy 10-room fleabag I lived in as a sophomore at the University of Washington. There is the same general layout, the same questionable outside wood staircase leading to the upper floors, the same low-ceilinged, cramped bedroom on the top floor. In fact, it is so similar to my old house that I would swear that is exactly the same including the fact that it doesn't appear to have been cleaned in the past 25 years.