Ryan asked to hear the Marriott Fireplace story Eliza referred to:
Like Ryan, I had a bad habit in college. I would study at half speed for the last few weeks before a test and then, feeling inadequately prepared, I would stay up the entire night prior to the test. Thankfully I don’t operate this way anymore. Along with the introduction of daily lotion application and the concept of washing sheets and towels, the practice of preparing well in advance of a task is one of the most meaningful gifts marriage has bestowed. But I didn’t have Reba in those days. I had only my mistress, Procrastination. We’ll call her P. for short. P. is like one of those women who look like Jessica Biel from a distance. You approach, but something odd is occurring, accelerating with each step. Your target begins to transform, or rather your perception of her transforms as the space between you shrinks. Finally, from ten feet away, you see it’s only Sarah Jessica Parker and you go on your way, cursing your lying eyes. Or for you ladies, it’s like seeing this guy saving a kid from a raging river, and you approach him to ask if he has any river gear sponsors, then you get closer and realize it’s only this guy.
Oh, sorry, I just…What? No, I just thought you were someone else. No, I actually can’t, I have somewhere I have to be. Huh? I don’t have a phone number. No phone. Nope, busy that weekend too.
Yes, P. is seductive and exciting and reassuring from afar, but she’s full of lies and destruction. She tells you that Physics 101 is common sense, and that only a major Serious Susan with nothing better to do would study for a test on common sense, and that you need to watch Band of Brothers with your band of brothers. Then, without warning, the day before the test arrives. Anxiety and nausea perform a loud, clomping dance in your stomach. You make big academic plans for the evening. “There are 400 pages in this text book. If I read 40 pages an hour, and study straight from 4 PM today until 2 AM, I’ll have read the whole book.” You sit down at 4 to get going. But you feel like you need to eat something. Studying on an empty stomach is worse than not studying at all. It makes you forget things. You sit back down at 4:30 ready to go, but your buddy is watching VHI’s I Love The 80’s and you can hear it through your door. Might as well take your stuff down there and study while you watch, since you can hear it from your room anyway. An hour later you have re-read the same 2 paragraphs in the textbook 5 times during different commercial breaks and you couldn’t recite a single word or idea from what you’ve read. You’re ready to get serious but your roomies are going to visit some girls and you feel like you need a break; too tense and worried about studying for this test. You’re back home at 9 PM after the visit. You know your window is narrowing. Time to get serious. Problem is, your room is a mess and anyone will tell you that it’s impossible to study in a cluttered space. By 11 you’ve ironed all your shoelaces and organized all your mission pictures by area and companion. You start freaking out a little. Your body is in open revolt against your brain, refusing to obey the command to read the textbook. Your brain tells the body to study, but your body thinks it needs to clean the mirror and figure out who invented bacon or whether Alex Trebec has any kids on Wikipedia tonight! You realize how irrational you are being, but you’re powerless against it. Finally at around 1 am you just do it. You just start reading. And then it’s not hard anymore. It took the willpower of 10 strong tigers to start reading, but once you do you think, “Geez, this isn’t so bad. It actually feels good.” And after a few hours of reading you realize, “You know, if I’d started doing this at 4 PM, I actually would have been prepared for the test.”
Nights like these were common enough that I soon developed a well-worn routine for them. I would buy two 2-liter bottles of Mtn. Dew, and maybe some candy, like a big bulk bag of Bit-o-Honey. After a few failed attempts at my apartment (“I think it’s a good plan to read about Finance lying down on my couch, and to have a blanket on to keep me warm and cozy, so I can focus on my studies and not on being tired or cold.”), I developed a different method. I needed to be somewhere public. Somewhere that had ambient noise, people who were awake, and bright lighting. The library was closed during these late hours, so I took the next best venue. The Marriott in downtown Provo. I sat by the fire, drinking my Mtn. Dew straight from the bottle—the benefit of drinking 4 liters of Mtn. Dew in a few hours was dual: the caffeine kept you awake, as did having to pee every 15 minutes—and reading like a madman. Having a few people awake and around alleviated the oppressive loneliness I felt at my apartment. Sure I was an oddity to the workers and fancy guests, but I made a point of smiling and greeting people like the friendliest man on Earth. Maybe they thought I wasn’t all there, what with my Mtn. Dew and strange propensity for sitting super close to the blazing fire, and they felt bad for me. At any rate, no one ever bothered me. One night I shared the lobby with a funny looking guy making loud, weird, semi-drunk sounding small talk with strangers at 2 AM. I struck up a conversation and found out he was an Iranian taxi driver who often took people from the Marriott up to Sundance or Park City. He was a wild and crazy guy.
About a year after my Marriott Period began, I transitioned to the law library, which was open to civilians 24 hours a day during finals week. One night I was very, very tired, so I kept moving around and sitting and standing in different places to stay awake. At around 2 AM one night I walked around to a section that had short bookshelves, around 4 feet off the ground. I pulled myself up on top of one and continued reading. I was shaken awake by a girl I had met that night who I just happened to tell about my history test taking place at 7:30 the next morning. It was 7:15 and she happened to notice me face down, dead asleep on top of the bookshelf on her way out of the library. Guardian Angels are real, people.
I don’t know the name of the woman who woke me up but found this picture of her online. The one in the middle.
But 7 hours before this lucky intervention I had driven to Wendy’s for some delicious and healthy refreshment to get me through the long night ahead. My car died 15 feet before the drive through entrance. It wouldn’t start and only the drive through was open, so I walked up to the microphone, placed my order, and proceeded to the window. The unimaginative girl manning the window told me I had to be in a vehicle to order. I explained my predicament. She didn’t budge. I asked her if she would rather me set fire to her Wendy’s or blow it up with M-80s I had from Tijuana. At least that’s what I felt like telling her. Stupid rule. Wendy’s was closing in 15 minutes and I needed some food to survive the next few miserable hours. So I did what any of you would do. I stood at the drive through entrance with hope in my heart and left thumb extended. After waiting a few minutes, a yellow minivan pulled into the drive through. The driver stopped for me and rolled down the window.
MY IRANIAN CABBIE FRIEND FROM THE MARRIOTT!!!
I’m sorry sir, we can’t serve you on foot in the drive through because we are owned by Satan.
Of course he recognized me and let me into the back, where I crawled over and sat behind the 70-year-old couple he was ferrying up to Sundance. The elderly couple never did seem to catch on to exactly what was taking place. Freaking old people. So me and the gang placed our order, I gave the window girl a big, cheesy “how do you like them apples” smile, had my food passed back from the Iranian to the old lady to me, got out of the van, and bid my old partner-in-crime farewell. To this day, Mtn Dew makes me a bit sick and I love Iranians and cabdrivers.