Ronnie Duggan was a kid I knew in college. Although Ronnie was by no means memorable, there are two recollections of Ronnie which, try as I might, I can’t forget.
The first I was witness to personally. Ronnie had been partying hard in his dorm, drinking “jungle juice,” a combination of punch and whatever random liquors could be scrounged on short notice. A highly-potent and ‘sneaky’ drink, Jungle Juice was mainly used to get girls drunk quickly (for no purpose other than so that they could enjoy themselves). Ronnie, always on the scrawny side, was quickly hammered and soon passed out on his floor.
Some hours later I happened to be passing by his room and saw that his door was ajar. Ronnie was still sprawled out on the floor. I was a little drunk myself, and couldn’t understand at first what was so wrong about the tableau I saw before me. Then the horror of what I was seeing finally hit home.
Ronnie had passed out on his back, his mouth hanging slackly open, a thick, syrupy skein of drool running down his cheek to a growing pool under his jaw. During the previous few hours, a line of ants had come seeking the source of the sweetness, forming a grotesque, undulating black chain starting at the window and leading into the darkness of Ronnie’s mouth.
But that wasn’t even the worst humiliation to happen to Ronnie that year, although it was the worst that anyone need have found out about. The very worst thing, which happened after all, in another country, would never have become known if Ronnie had just kept his mouth shut and let the past disappear along with his watch. Had he done that however, this story would just be about a guy who passed out one night and had a trail of ants leading down his gullet. But fortunately for our readership, as we have already seen, keeping his mouth shut was always a challenge for Ronnie.
Ronnie’s ultimate humiliation occurred late in the year. Truthfully, we weren’t hanging out much by this time. The schism in our friendship–more of a drift than a break, was due to the different paths we had recently taken. We had both pledged a fraternity earlier in the year, but Ronnie had washed out while I remained, causing some friction between us. We stayed friendly however, and when I heard the terrible rumor going around about Ronnie, the ghost of our old friendship brought us together once again as I sought to tell Ronnie about the things people were saying.
Over beers, I broached the subject delicately. “Ronnie,” I said, “People are saying something about you that’s pretty awful, and I think you should know.” If Ronnie didn’t look surprised to hear that I had something to say, I didn’t notice at the time, unsure of how to relay the cruel things I’d heard.
I realized there was nothing to do but say it. I told Ronnie that people were saying that on his recent trip to Tijuana (the one detail about the story I knew to be true) with some friends, he’d picked up a professional woman. However, according to the scuttlebutt, while “she” was certainly a professional, she was no woman. And, if paying to be pleasured by a man (Ronnie was a through-and-through heterosexual) wasn’t bad enough, the Hispanic He/She stole Ronnie’s watch.
Ronnie broke the tension which had crept into the room after I’d finished my telling of the awful rumor. He said quietly, “That was no rumor.”
Folks, if there’s any lesson to be learned in this, it’s that what happens in Mexico SHOULD stay in Mexico. Believe me, if this kind of thing had EVER happened to me, you would NEVER hear about it.¹