The Roomates I've had, V. 5 Brandt Wall

Some people say that steady marijuana smoking will ruin your brain and make you lazy. I defy you to answer me this question; how is it that my old roommate Brandt Wall was able to pull bong hits every morning, smoke a bowl during the day and hit the bong again during the evening and still be able to hook our apartment up with satellite television with nothing more than a dish and box he bought on Ebay? And not only that. Brandt was also able fix the reception each time it went out. Would a shiftless, brain dead person be able to do that?

I didn’t think so.

Out of all of nearly 30 people I’ve lived with in the last decade, Brandt ranks up there as one of my favorite roommates of all time. Sure, he could get stone drunk and high and turn psychotic, challenging everyone in the apartment to rumble with him. Yes, he did blow out power to the rear part of our apartment and drive up our utility bills with a grow light he made out of a lamp. And of course, there was that night he got so drunk he dangled my laptop in front of my rambunctious pitbull. Those were all incidents that might lead one to believe Brandt wasn’t an ideal person to share space with, but there was just so much more to this guy and some days, I really miss him.
I went to high school with Brandt, but I didn’t really know him until he moved into my current place in Albany a few years back. I knew he was short, looked and acted like a surfer and liked ganja, but there was a lot more to this guy than all that.

Brandt was a mixture of Floyd from True Romance and Jim Anchower of the Onion when it came to weed induced weirdness. But he was entirely different in that he wasn’t a lazy person. When he got his mind stuck on something, he went right to it. Every few months Brandt would have a new job working a sous chef at a different restaurant or country club. I can tell he was something of a taskmaster in his job because he was always complaining about someone being shiftless at work and some kid he had to chew out for fucking up a soup or hollandaise sauce.

“I wanted to fuck this doggie up, dude,” he’d say while pulling on a beer a or sitting in the nook where his computer was. “I was like, ‘you’re fucking my shit it, bro. Cut it out'”.

Conversations with Brandt were often one-sided and hard to follow. He would go on and on about how you you braise a particular cut of red meat or what type of beer goes with what type of fish. It was very complicated. Within a few minutes of telling you about a particular dish he’d learned how to make, Brandt would bounce to the next subject, something for which he was always an expert on, like Japanese knives or the proper type of garlic.

Interestingly enough, Brandt never cooked at our apartment. Probably because he found the kitchen disgusting I’d imagine.

Brandt’s moods were a subject of speculation. Sometimes I wondered if he had a type a bipolar disorder because he could be manic as hell, with energy abounding days on end new things to focus on to get rich.

Enterprise to Brandt was something he talked like an expert on, but the jury’s still out. He still drives a 92 Cutlass Ciera (in spotless condition,  though I must add), so I don’t know if he’s hit it rich quite yet. When he lived with us he’d have a new money-making proposal every few weeks, one that he knew he was the expert at even if it was not yet collecting dividents. Often on our doorstep were brochures he’d ordered from late night television on how to make money on foreclosed properties. One night, I watched a program on the History Channel with him about an industrial diamond mine in Southern California. The next day I found Brandt thumbing through a weathered, decades-old book on North American gems. Several days after that, he’d went out and bought a crystal that he put in our shower to wash off the impurities, confident he would be able to sell it to some manufacturer who would be able to make something electronic with it.

My personal favorite get rich scheme were his ebay scams in which he would use a meta search device to find misspelled listings, bid on them (because presumably most people couldn’t find them on ebay), purchase them and then sell them back at a higher price (with the right spelling, of course). But with business comes risk and there was one product he was unable to unload, a pair of ski goggles he thought he’d fetch more tha $5 for.

Conspiracy theories were also a part of Brandt’s domain. On his desktop he had quite a few .pdf books on September 11, Masonic plots and world government. He also had a book entitled How to Make Yourself Invisible,  which I actually thought was about how to make yourself literally be invisible, but actually turned out to be a brochure on how to live without a Social Security number, credit line or anything else someone could use against you. I always found it interesting that someone who lived such a low-profile life to begin with would worry about such things, but he was convinced that it was best not to be seen or accounted for at all. Perhaps that’s why he was so open about not paying back his college loans, which let’s admit, sounds nuts but is pretty funny.

Brandt is actually pretty athletic (despite an affinity for Camel Lights). Still, he is pretty short and never quite the athlete he may have seen himself as at a younger age. Still, he was boisterous and one night, when he saw me carrying my hockey equipment in after a game told me he could probably smoke everyone in the mens league in which I played. Among his olympian claims was that he could have been a professional soccer player (though in his own right, he certainly was good) and a drunken declaration that he’d “ruin” a UFC fighter he and my roommate saw on satelite one night.

Most people with satellite tv will watch the good stuff; the sports, pornography and movies galore, but despite his hard work in ordering and assembling our satelite connection, Brandt watched standard fare programming like Everybody Loves Raymond as well as a fake judge  show called  Extreme Hakeem I suspect Brandt had a strong appreciation for the acting of Ted Danson because he pretty religiously watched Becker for a while.

For music, Brandt Wall loved his .mp3 collection, which consisted of Grateful Dead and Phish songs as well as Red Hot Chili Peppers, none  of which I can’t stand at all. One night, when really hammered, he sang along at the top of his lungs  to a  song, that went something like, “In the midnight, in the moonlight. In the midnight, moonlight, midnight.”

When he wasn’t off the wall energetic, he could be pretty withdrawn, sleeping for days on end or wrapping himself in a sleeping bag that made him look like he was about to go from catterpiller to butterfly. He also had some stretches of paranoia and did actually believe the New York State Police had weed helicopters with heat technology that could spot out an indoor weed plant.

Still, Floyd,…err, Brandt was a good roommate. He’s a lot more put together these days with a new woman in his life. He moved out in summer 2007 and was replaced with a neurotic guy who stayed with us for nearly a year. Brandt moved in with someone with the exact same name, which was hilarious and he told me they had a really impressive satellite hookup after that.

I enjoy reminiscing with Brandt when I see him these days. He was a good roommate, much cleaner than myself and he paid up on time always. He was also funny and a good person. Just eccentric and well, interesting, but good nevertheless.

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