Fluf is vegan and has been for nine years; vegetarian for fifteen. He left home when he was sixteen years old, and this is his first year to be enrolled at any university, although he is twenty-nine years old. He decided to come to college because he wanted to find people who thought like he did: basically, people who are unhappy with the present state of the world and who want to find answers for how they might change it. He struggles with dyslexia and what he terms alcoholism, although he has quit drinking alcohol for over a year now, all of his own will. He smokes marijuana, but in the most unconventional way I have yet encountered: he usually smokes it in his room, and he sits by the window to blow the smoke outside, because he says he doesn’t like smoking. That is next on his list to quit.
For those of you who know how many movies I have watched with Ben, I am starting out on track to make Fluf my new movie buddy. So far we have watched: 1984, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Closer, Amélie, City of God, a documentary on hip-hop/scratching, and several episodes of Battlestar Gallactica. I am also learning to cook from watching him and sometimes cooking meals with him. I now know that to stir-fry tofu, you must first put the flavoring on the tofu and then add cornstarch, so it will crisp up in the pan. I am also much better acquainted with various vegetables: I know what parsnips are, I actually like cabbage, and my strong dislike of mushrooms has abated.
He probably doesn’t realize, but some things that Fluf says are incredibly important to me. Just the other night, I was relaying an encounter I had had on a bus ride home involving three very immature twelve-year-old girls and some college-age boys (all of whom were at about the same maturity level). When I had concluded my story, Fluf remarked, “You are going to be so good at telling stories to your kids.” I was so shocked that he had been paying attention to me and not the insignificant things I was saying, that I asked him what he meant. “You get so into the characters, you’re so animated, you’ll just be very good at it.” That meant a lot to me.
What may have meant more was when he noticed one night that his computer wasn’t playing music in the background. I asked him why that was significant, and he said he always liked to have it playing because he didn’t like silence—it made him uncomfortable. But that didn’t seem to bother him so much with me. I almost sighed with relief. Finally, I could finally give this over-generous guy something in return.