Only the Good Die Young

My time at The Citadel wasn’t all bad. Not even close to it. For all the bullshit the school’s administration made us endure there was always something that could get us through. One of those things was my dear friend Taylor Evans.

Taylor was a year younger than me but boy did I look up to him. His determination, integrity, genius and kindness was unmatched by any person I have ever met. failure and mediocrity were never options for Taylor. The only bad quality Taylor had was that he was under 6′, but that only mattered to women which he never chased. He was my next door neighbor at The Citadel and also one of our best knobs from start to finish. Taylor was a devout Christian and also South Carolina’s only cowboy. Horse riding was his life long passion, and its something I never got to do with him.

I think the only reason Taylor (and any other of my classmates) liked me because I could make them laugh. He was at the table when I did the shampoo-conditioner routine as well as all my other dumb skits.

Knob year I had a terrible roommate, and by terrible I mean sent as a test from God himself to see if I could restrain myself from murdering him. I did, but not without a few punches thrown. This kid never showered, never brushed his teeth, never cleaned the room (very crucial at The Citadel), was/is fat (also a big no-no at The Citadel) and had a speech impediment.  I still describe him as the personification of a slug that can sweat mayonnaise. He couldn’t pronounce his “r’s” and he developed a strange British accent because his voice coach was from England. Basically this was the easiest person to bully in public school ever. For the record I need to interject that growing up I was never a bully and I myself had even been bullied, so I had a lot of empathy for this kid. Or at least for the first month. One weekend early into the first semester we had a room and personal appearance inspection. Some how my slob roommate weaseled his slimy ass out of it and I had to do everything myself. Typical. Our sergeants made us stand outside of our rooms before they inspected our rooms. One of them came up to me to rag on how shitty I looked. “What did you shine your brass with?” he interjected. “Sir, Blue Magic, sir,” I replied, but thats not how I said it. The pronunciation that came out of my mouth was “Bwoo Magic.” So after I got roasted I finally got to talk back and say “Sir, this cadet recruit has developed a speech impediment from living with his roommate for too long.” The sergeant paused and turned away so he wouldn’t show me that I had made him laugh. Taylor and his roommate completely broke their stoic characters and started snickering. I had never seen Taylor break character but I was glad that I was the one that could do that. I’d use my power responsibly.

When sophomore year rolled around Taylor and I became very close. We developed a new passion of ours that only upperclassmen could take part of: hazing. I had two of my childhood friends that were a little younger than me show up on matriculation day and they were blessed to be in the same company as Taylor and I. By “blessed” I really mean “forsaken.” We never caused and physical harm to them, unless you consider making them do several sets of 118 push-ups with horseshoes of dip in their mouth physical harm. Yes, they definitely swallowed their dip and puked. The only reason Taylor and I hazed kids is because when Taylor and I were knobs we were so brainwashed that we thought getting hazed was fun.

For the second semester I had enough of The Citadel’s new regime change and all the bullshit that came with it, So I decided that I was going to get as far away from that school as possible by doing a semester abroad in Australia. I had the time of my life while almost all of my friends back at school were left suffering. Me being the dick that I am, I definitely flexed and rubbed it in in all of their faces. I regret being such an ass about it.

So half way into my booze drenched semester, I was chilling by the pool when I got a text from Taylor. He told me he had gotten into some trouble at school hazing the freshmen. But it wasn’t just him, it was a large population of our school that got busted. So I demanded that we FaceTime so I could get the scoop on all what was going on. He shared with me the news and my heart sank as far as it has for any woman thats dumped me. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t bring myself to it. As bad as the news was, Taylor had a plan. He was going to join the National Guard and join Clemson University’s Veterinarian program. He wanted to specialize in horse medicine since horses had always been his passion. That softened the blow knowing that he was going to do what was going to make him happy. I told him I loved him and I wished him luck as we hung up. That was the first time I lost Taylor.

The next school year I miraculously dodged all trouble and was never locked in my cell on the weekends. One weekend a few of my friends and I decided to go to Clemson to do what we did best– drink. We arrived at this bar call Study Hall and I was DRUNK. So I’m minding my own business, probably incoherently flirting with a girl, when I went back to the bar to get a very unneeded refill. As I was making my way to the bar I got shoved pretty hard in the back. With my testosterone starting to fuel a fight that would’ve easily been diffused if the shover said they were sorry, I got something even better. It was Taylor– with more facial hair. My face lit up like the 4th of July. “Taylor!” I screamed. He had been working as a bouncer to earn some extra cash. I embraced him, picked him up, and gave him a big ol’ kiss on the cheek. I was like a dog seeing their owner come back from war. We had a brief conversation before he had to go back to work but boy was it a refreshing one. And our last one.

Taylor Quinton Evans, 22, of Easley, met his Lord Jesus Christ on Friday, December 1, 2017. He was on his way to a country concert with his beautiful girlfriend. They were on the highway and clipped an 18-wheeler. Taylor wasn’t wearing his seatbelt and flew through the windshield and suffered a traumatic brain injury. His girlfriend, Emily, injured her spine but was thankfully not paralyzed.

One of the craziest things was that Taylor didn’t die instantly. In fact he lived so long that his organs could be harvested to help others in need. Taylor was an organ donor and coincidentally blood type O-, the universal blood type. Taylor and I both believe in God and God’s will. You cannot tell me that all of these coincidences were not  part of some divine intervention. I just won’t believe you. I can’t remember the exact number of how many lives his organs saved, but it was a lot. Someone even got his heart.

The funeral and visitation were rough. It was great seeing the copious amount of people coming to pay their respects to Taylor and getting to see all of our classmates. There were a lot of tears, to say the least, but strangely none from me. I don’t know what it is about Taylor but I don’t think his spirit ever wanted to see me cry even when I wanted to more than anything. I felt bad that all my classmates were crying and my eyes were as dry as the Gobi Desert. I tried, I really did. Another crazy thing happened at the visitation. As I was approaching his body, the first dead body I’d ever seen, he freaking smiled at me. I kid you not. It was like he could see me. I didn’t smile back but it made me feel weirdly warm inside seeing his contagious smile one last time. His face got peaceful and rested and I fully approached him. I don’t remember what I said other than I loved him, I missed him and I was glad he is in a much better place. I do remember what I told his mom. I told her that he was one of the greatest people I had ever met in my life and that I couldn’t put into words how much I appreciated him.

Taylor Evans was definitely a good person, no question. I’m not just saying that because he’s dead. I literally don’t think a single person has ever said a bad thing about him. He was kind, dedicated, compassionate, a great leader, and most importantly a man of God. I am truly blessed that he came into my life. I can’t even put into words what he means to me, let alone the entire community he affected. I don’t know if I’ll go to heaven, but I do know this: If Jesus lets me in those gates the first thing I’m going to do is find Taylor give him another great big hug and maybe even a kiss on the lips this time.

No homo.

How I Became a Viral Sensation (the First Time)

The year was 2013 and I voluntarily sent myself to prison for the next four years. Not “prison” prison but The Citadel, one of South Carolina’s most prestigious colleges. The Citadel is a military college dating back to the pre-Civil War era and is rumored to have actually started the War for Southern Independence (as one of my close friends strictly calls it).

Everyone asks why the hell I went there (and how I made it out). In High School I was a skinny kid that was always dressing in preppy clothes- Polos, button-downs, khakis, etc. I had a hot girlfriend and seemed to be destined to be another one of Greenville High’s generic fraternity-destined products. Well as it turns out I had a come to Jesus moment with myself (shoutout to God). Senior year I was smoking weed every day several times a day, and I did not want to continue that lifestyle. So how could I make myself quit cold-turkey? Why by going to the only school that has random 5AM drug tests of course!

The Citadel is known for hazing the balls off of their freshman year students that they call knobs. The reason they call us knobs is because when I was there they made us shave our heads bald every week so we’d look like doorknobs. Mainly we just looked like penises. I can tell you that this storied hazing is a rumor because my balls are still attached to my body. But now that I think about it one of my friends did actually get his testicle ruptured by an upperclassman our knob year. Okay, it still exists but its not as bad as the stories sound. Sometimes.

I was a pretty terrible knob in the beginning. I was (read: am) stupid and was terrible at marching. My two only redeeming qualities were that I was really good at acting out scenes from movies and one of my sergeants said I had “retard-strength.”

When I was a knob they made all of us knobs sit with at least two senior officers to make sure that they kept us in line, aka making sure that we were robotic and brainwashed as possible. The seniors would often ask for mess facts which could be any trivial fact, current events, the weather forecast, or in my case movie quotes. So when my two officers asked me for a mess fact I asked if they’d like a movie quote to which they replied “Sure.” So I picked up a bottle of ketchup and mayo and did this scene from Billy Madison

There was a long pause. The two officers couldn’t register in their minds how ridiculous and spot on my impression was. They busted out laughing, asked me to do it again and to do it for their friends. For the rest of the 9 months I was there I was doing the shampoo and conditioner routine every time an upperclassman needed a pick-me-up. Countless snapchats and videos were taken of me and sent to God knows who.

But thats not how I became a viral sensation (the first time).

About 3 weeks in to our knob year we finally had a free weekend to where we could hit the town. So my classmate Alex and I knew exactly what we wanted to do with our Friday night: girls. I knew some freshman girls at College of Charleston which was 2 miles away. I had my friend’s older sister drive us to their dorms and buy us a bottle of tequila, and we all got wasted. So wasted in fact I took a picture with a neon pink ZTA hat, holding up the sorority’s hand sign while giving the creepiest stare I could muster. Needless to say I wasn’t worried about this picture ever being posted on the world wide web because I thought some people were decent enough not to post every damn thing on their camera roll or that pops in their head.

I was wrong. I was so wrong. I was so very, very wrong.

So Sunday rolls around, I go on facebook and I see that I’ve been tagged in that picture. I didn’t think it was a big deal because it was posted pretty recently and I untagged myself within an hour of it being posted. I didn’t think anyone from school would see it.

Wrong again!

The senior officer that I thought I had just won over with my Billy Madison impression kicked down my door and charged in my room with my scary, demon spawn platoon leader. “Get on facebook RIGHT NOW!” He yelled. “He’s probably already on facebook,” sneered my platoon leader. I wasn’t. I was doing homework and I thought that would have won them over a little more since I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. As I typed in “face” on my search bar I had a pretty good idea what was going down. “Get on Citadel Safari.” The senior officer commanded.

Citadel Safari is the last place you want to end up while you’re at The Citadel. Think of it as a wall of shame but public for the whole world to see. Their about me reads:

“In order to ensure the longevity of the ideals, principles, and standards upon which The Citadel was founded, it is the cadet’s duty and obligation to protect them. This group exists to protect The Ring and expose the increasing lack of integrity as the means to achieve a better looking institution…”

So thats when I get blasted. I get reamed in reality and in cyberspace by all the upperclassmen at school, alumni, students at College of Charleston, and random internet dwellers. My classmates thought it was hilarious and I became a bit of a legend on campus. I felt bad about it for like a day and then when I started reading the comments I began to think it was pretty funny too. I actually began to get a lot of praise from upperclassmen about it after the initial week of humility. The worst part about it was that they made me do (A LOT OF) push-ups while holding up the ZTA hand sign. I had some pretty sore triceps for the next three weeks.

EPILOUGE

By the time sophomore year had rolled around a lot of people knew who I was and I had a pretty good reputation. They let me be a cadre squad corporal which basically meant that I had redeemed myself enough throughout my knob year to where they gave me an important position. So one day news breaks out that the CofC ZTA’s are coming to campus to do a bake sale. So I felt like it was my duty to pay homage to the sorority chapter that made me a campus celebrity, a safari legend, and the biggest joke The Citadel had ever produced. So I took another picture with them, hand signs and neon pink hat included and posted that shit right on to The Citadel Safari.

I Almost Died at the Hands of a Catholic Ex-Army Ranger

I peaked in high school and I wasn’t even that cool. The summer after freshman year I deceived an aspiring model to date me. I say deceived because you either have to be stupid or tricked to date me. I’d describe dating me (and myself) as the combination of a train wrecking into another while a plane decides to plunge in on the fun; fiery, explosive and something so deeply scarred in your brain that you wish you wish you’d forget but instead have to bring up in your countless therapy sessions. Oddly enough, parents love me.

This girl was gorgeous and had no business lowering her standards for a schlub like me. She came from a nice blue collar family that owned their own landscaping business. The mother and father both had demons in their past that they overcame and did not bring into their family. They are some of the greatest people I’ve ever met and I cherish what they had done for me. Their names are Greg* and Mindy*. They loved me because, at the time (due to me not knowing any better and growing up in South Carolina) I aligned with the right side of the political spectrum  and watched enough ESPN that I could talk about any facet of football. They would’ve come for my throat had they known that their daughter and I let our raging teenage hormones dictate what happened every time we hung out.

On a beautiful Spring day I was texting Greg and Mindy’s daughter during my Latin class (I’m sorry, Ms. Goodlett). My senior year I was fortunate enough that I had taken enough credits that I could leave school before it officially let out. So Lori*, the girl I was dating, told me that her parents were going to be out of town all day and that she’d make me lunch… and dessert. Didn’t have to tell me twice! So after lunch the clothes came off faster than a left turn at a NASCAR race and thus began the naked hokey-pokey.

I’d like to spare some of the details for everyone’s sake but thats what really makes the story. For some reason, the 69 position is cursed for me. Every time I’ve engaged in it something bad has or has almost happened. So as Lori and I were in the middle of the forbidden position Mindy walks in. Mindy sees two faces in places where they are not meant to be. She gave me a look that pierced my soul more than anyone else has ever before. She calmly said “Put on your fucking clothes and get in the living room.”

The clothes went on faster than they came off. At this point I had accepted that my life was over. Greg and Mindy came back early because one of their tractors broke down on the site they were working on. “What are we going to do?” I asked frantically. Then Lori said one of the most hilariously dumb things ever: “We have to lie.”

I was dumbfounded by her statement. She said it with such confidence that her mom would just forget that she just saw the two of us with faces full of genitalia. I told her she was insane and that I was telling the truth because there was no way out. Mindy then walks into the room, looks at me and said something far worse than anything I could have imagined: “Greg would like to speak with you out by the shed.”

Here’s some background on Greg: He is an ex-army ranger, ex-cop, ex-SWAT team member and a current badass. I walked out of the house, to the back and by the shed as I was preparing myself to get Old Yeller’d. “At least its quick and painless” I said to myself. Greg was working on something in the shed as I approached and meekly asked “Yes, sir?”

“ARE YOU TRYING TO FUCKING KILL ME?” Roared Greg. All I could get out was “No, sir.” Hell no I wasn’t trying to kill him, thats what I was expecting him to do to me! He then went on a completely justifiable tirade about how disrespectful it is to engage in sexual acts in his house with his daughter. But things got a little stranger as he went on to talk about how the family had recently converted to Catholicism. He went on the explain that since they converted they no longer believed in contraception. I thought that was so stupid because his daughter and I were doing hanky-panky on a very regular basis, but he didn’t know that and I was very thankful.

After Greg was done with his tirade he gave me the sweetest parting message: “I appreciate that you didn’t just run off. That took courage.” I did not think so, I thought I was just too stupid to leave. He then said “You know, I could shoot you right now if you made me angry enough, but that’d be too easy. Get out of here and don’t come back until I say you can.”

“Yes, sir.” I replied. I peeled out of that driveway so damn fast I thought I was going warp speed. Lori was blowing my phone up and telling me to come back but I gave her a strong “Hell no” to that. I didn’t see her parents until about a year later.

Epilogue

Lori and I broke up as I left for college. I still had feelings for her but I was such a mediocre boyfriend she had absolutely none for me. She began dating one of her co-workers– an illegal immigrant that had a child out of wedlock at the age of 16. Her parents are far less than thrilled about him. The summer after my freshman year of college I drunkenly called Greg and Mindy looking for a summer job to which they gave to me. I think in their minds that having me back around would convince Lori that she was making a mistake with this guy and have her running back to my arms. Mindy especially tried to set us up. That never happened and it’s safe to say that Lori and I are both thankful for it.

 

*Names have been changed to conceal identities.