“Hello and welcome to U.O.K. where every day is O.K.” The speaker’s voice was this tall man in a pink T-shirt. His voice was all chipper and smiles and I felt as if I had been invited to a Care Bears camp. I assumed pink was our mascot colour.
Great, I thought. Maybe my mom was right; maybe it was a bad idea coming here.
But I didn’t want to think so negatively. Mr. Pink Shirt stuck his hand out to me like I had done when I had met Joe, but I shook his hand with a smile on my face. “I’m Art,” I said. It was starting to sound like a staple of mine.
“I’m Burt and welcome to U.O.K.” He paused before continuing. “Orientation starts in five minutes. Do you know what residence you’re with? We have Universal, Okanagan, Kelowna, Abbot, Rutland, and Totem.”
“Abbot,” I replied. It was a small dorm, but I didn’t think I needed a huge amount of space.
“You know you’re sharing a room with someone.”
I nodded. “Yes, I’m quite aware it’s a double room.”
Burt arched his black bushy eyebrows. I wasn’t trying to sound sarcastic, but his statements were a bit ridiculous. I guess most university kids are idiots and need things spoon-fed to them.
“Do you know who your roommate is?”
I shook my head. “Nope.”
“He goes by the name of Joe Mansfield,” Burt said as he glanced down at the clipboard he was holding.
Joe nodded. After the plane ride, we had taken a taxi to the campus together. “That’s me,” Joe smiled proudly.
“Excellent,” Burt beamed. “Well, gentlemen, you can drop off your stuff here and head to Orientation.” Burt then handed us large brown envelopes, which had our dorm keys and some information about the campus and our dorm.
We thanked Burt and headed towards the field of grass he was pointing at.
“Bit of a wacko, eh?” Joe asked me once we were out of earshot. “I don’t know about this place, man.”
“I’m sure the school itself is cool,” I assured him.
“I don’t know. I’m only here ’cause my grandparents own a house up in Kelowna. Rich fucking neighbourhood and all the retirees come up here from all over. Toronto included.”
“So you didn’t really want to go to this school?”
“Not really. I wanted some place bigger like McGill. Even U.B.C. would do. I hear they have a great campus.”
“So why are you here?”
“Because of my fucking grandparents. My folks don’t trust me and think I’m somewhat of a drinker, because I’m sure I’m the only one away from home for the first time and looking to take advantage of that freedom. My parents are so strict, man. Just because I drink doesn’t mean I’m an alcoholic. You know what I mean?” I didn’t. “They wanted me to go someplace where someone could contact me and be somewhat close by.”
“Where do they live exactly?”
“Basically right fucking here. In town. You see how the campus is by the water? I bet my grandparents are like three streets down from here.”
“You’ve never met them?”
“Of course I’ve met them! I’ve just never visited them in Kelowna.”
“So you’ve never been here before?”
“Nope. But I’m getting a truck. Gramps has an extra one so I can give you free rides to the Beer Store or whateverthefuck they have in Kelowna.”
I nodded. A green eyed smiley girl walked over to us, inviting us into the circle that had already been formed. Her walk towards us was short, yet purposeful as if the ground obeyed her feet. “Are you two in the arts?” she asked us. She was holding a clipboard exactly identical to Burt’s.
“Nope,” Joe responded. “Engineering.”
“Oh. Well, that’s just a few circles down. See the gorilla man waving his arms?”
We both turned our heads to see a man that looked like Dwayne Johnson’s double moving his hands in circles in front of a residence building labeled, Kelowna. He didn’t look exactly gorilla-like but he did have hairy arms like Robin Williams.
“Sorry. It’s an inside joke.” Joe and I both nodded as if we understood. “Well, I’d get going,” she said to Joe. “Orientation starts in about a minute.” Joe glanced down at the girl’s breasts before heading over to the Engineering section. “Ugh, they’re all the same,” she said once he had left.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“Sorry, engineers. They all think women are some kind of sexual objects.” But she still watched Joe saunter off, giving the ground a wicked smile. Still, there was an awkward silence between us. “Sorry,” she said again. Very Canadian. “What department are you?”
“Arts,” I told her. Her eyes lit up when I mentioned it. I was taking General Arts because I had no idea what I wanted to do in university as of yet.
“Great! That’s my department!”