I was recently asked to tell a time when I stole something.
This is the story –
In my freshman year at UC Berkeley, I lived in a dormitory called Bowles Hall. It looked and felt like the gloomy structure of an exact replica of Hogwarts.
The only difference was the ability to find an amazing woman like Hermione Granger, Pansy Parkinson, or an Angelina Johnson to be walking the halls… because women didn’t exist at Bowles Hall!
It was an all-male dormitory with men growing into their prepubescent bodies and their strides of deodorant sticks. It was less of a Harry Potter story and more of a Lord of The Flies type situation.
And on this particular day, like any other day, I found myself vehemently arguing with my roommate, Greg.
Listen, Greg is a great roommate. The only issue is he was (is) a very vocal right-wing conservative. And, to his credit, I can be a boisterous liberal lefty.
I loved President Obama.
He thinks President Obama is one of the worst presidents in American history.
We argue from pro-choice issues all the way to the fundamentals of whether or not systematic racism exists. Our debates get loud – and at the young age of 18… they often got violent.
That day wouldn’t be any different.
Me: FUCK YOU
Greg: FUCK YOUUUUUUUU!
I don’t remember what we were fighting about, so I’m not going to lie to you by providing some made-up dialogue in the hopes to make you laugh. I’m not into fake news.
The only thing I do know is that the presence of the word “FUCK” and “YOU” was rather present.
We were screaming in our private common area for hours when Greg realized he had enough! His only option was to do exactly what I did to him a few days before – he physically pushed me backward.
I always think the beginnings of our relationship played out like a romantic drama. Our fights could be compared to the emotional intensity of a scene from Good Will Hunting: the room scene when Skyler asks Will to move to California.
If you’re curious, just type “Good Will Hunting – Breakup scene (1080p)” on YouTube and you’ll understand the intensity of our relationship.
Greg: LEAVE ME ALONE! I’M DONE WITH YOU!
He ran off to our bedroom and I…
ME: COME BACK!
He jumped on the top of his bunk bed and I sprinted behind with my fists in hand when suddenly he did the unexpected. On the edge of his bed was his white towel… he snagged it and somehow his hand molded into a sling.
His towel wouldn’t be used for drying.
It would be used as a whip… a weapon.
WOOOOOKK SWAKKKK SWISSSSHHHH
My feet planted on the ground, looking up, I felt as if time stopped.
The edge of the towel torpedoing towards my face.
I don’t know if you know this…
but I’m a blue sash in Kung Fu: Choy Li Fut.
On the left of my peripheral, the closet door was left ajar, and I pulled the door to shield. I closed my eyes…
I opened my eyes to see the towel hit the closet door. My nicely tanned moisturized face was still in great form. But something soon would change everything.
The towel’s kinetic energy was so strong that when it hit the closet door, the mirror that was attached to the door… fucking detached.
The mirror hit the floor and particles of tiny glass flew in all directions!!
Argument? What argument?
Greg No No No No No noooooo!
Me: Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuckkkk
We looked at each other and we both had the same concern.
How the hell would we be able to come up with $80 to fix this mirror?
We’re 18 year-olds coming from poor communities.
We didn’t have a parent to call!
We didn’t have that kind of money!
Greg: Dude what the hell are we going to do?
Me: *took a breath* I have an idea. Just clean this mess up.
Underneath my bed, I grabbed my toolkit. Yes, underneath my bed I kept a saw, pliers, rope, wrenches, paint, paint brushes, and of course (what we needed) a phillip’s screwdriver.
Call me Home Depot.
Why did I have all these tools? The answer to this question is for a story at a later time…
Me: I’ll be right back.
Where was I going?
It crossed my mind that the Bowles Hall bathroom mirrors were the exact shape and model of our closet door mirrors. I had no other choice in these economic times.
I had to steal.
The number one rule of stealing bathrooms mirrors is that if your room number is 205, you don’t steal from the bathroom on floor number two.
Also, you don’t steal from bathroom number one or number three… you shouldn’t crime close to where you sleep.
I walked up the stairs to the bathroom located on the fourth.
With my philip screwdriver in my pocket, I slyly cracked the bathroom open. The white tiles and black mold in the corners made my toes curl. I’ve seen cleaner gas station bathrooms!
Anyway, no one was present and in the glory of Jesus Christ himself… the bathroom mirrors were gleaming. I found one that would match well: four screws in each corner.
I started unscrewing…
One screw on the upper left.
One screw on the bottom right.
I placed the palm of my left hand in the middle of the mirror.
Keep it steady.
I began again…
One Screw to the upper right.
One screw to the bottom left.
I DID IT!
I grabbed the mirror in both hands…
THE BATHROOM DOOR OPENS
I PLACED THE MIRROR BACK ON THE WALL
PUT THE PALM OF MY LEFT HAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MIRROR
KEEP IT STEADY JONATHAN!
KEEP IT STEADY!!!!
I TURNED ON THE SINK
THE WATER GUSHED OUT
I TOOK MY RIGHT HAND
STARTED SPLASHING MY FACE… as if to say
I AM WASHING MY FACE HERE!
I felt this kid placing his toiletries next to me…
I turned my head slowly to the left to get a better look…
I know this kid.
His bathroom utility box with toothbrushes, face washes, combs, paper towels, soap bars, and for some odd reason… headphones. How does one shower with headphones?
Ryan was taking forever.
I was wasting water.
My face was drowning in water.
My left hand was shaking.
I couldn’t hold the mirror any longer…
I only had one option.
Me: Ryan. Ryan.
With shaving cream on his face, he turned slightly…
Ryan: Oh… what’s up Jonathan?
Me: Listen, I’m about to do something…
Ryan: ohhh kayyy?
Me: But please promise me that you won’t say anything
Me: JUST PROMISE ME RYAN
Ryan: Okay okay. I promise I promise
Me: Thank you so much
I took the mirror and ran.
When I returned to the room, Greg had cleaned up our mess.
We installed the new mirror.
We gave each other a high-five and I think for the first time we gave each other a long needed hug.
This would be the beginning of someone who would become one of my very close best friends. He’s going to be one of my groomsmen if I ever get married. Yes, we’re that close.
What happened next?
Well two weeks later, the Bowles Hall newsletter was delivered to each room with a very prominent announcement.
The announcement read:
“Caution! Keep your personal items safe. It seems there has been reports of someone stealing laptops, bikes, and bathroom mirrors.”
Thanks for listening.
P.S. For editorial purposes and to keep identities safe (especially during these political times) I decided, for the story, to change the name of my best friend.