The Russinator: An Ode to John

In honor of my friend running for Student Body President at Florida State, here’s a recount of our journey from random roommates to the best of friends. 

THE STARTING LINE

In the middle of August 2013, I was worried about two things: saving money for my twenty-first birthday and leading Tennessee to another National Championship in NCAA14.

One night, at two in the morning, I was trying to get Tennessee another win on Dynasty mode when my random roommate (who I just met that day) walked in and leaned up against my bed.

“Can I play?” he said.

It was two in the morning. I was in the middle of a game. I just met the kid.

“Uh…” I said. “I just got one controller.”

I used the classic “one controller” line, a historical synonym used by video gamers everywhere to say, “I just want to play solo and for you to leave me alone.”

The sadness this kid expressed would of wilted flowers, but I was very serious about my NCAA and nobody was going to get in the way of that.

Little did I know, this random roommate of mine was very serious about spending time with me (that night, right then and there) and nothing was going to get in the way of that.

“Let’s go to the pool.

“You know any girls you could call over?

“Let’s go knocking on every door until we find someone to hang out with.”

He talked to me for two more hours.

Granted, this kid was a freshman. It was his first time in college. He was curious as George the monkey, and I guess he thought I was the man in the yellow hat.

“Trust me,” I said to him when I realized it was four in the morning and he wasn’t going anywhere. “We’re going to go out. We’re going to have some fun. We’re going to have some adventures. You just have to be patient.”

I’m not even all that positive I believed in those words. I may have said it just to calm his curiosity.

Years later, those curiosity-calming words turned out to be prophetic.

This kid was no other than John Russo, and did we ever go out in the following years. Did we ever have fun. And did we ever have some adventures.

LAP ONE


That first year was one of adjustments, getting to know each other, and getting used to one another. I was the cool all-knowing junior. John was the curious freshman. I adjusted to John’s curiosity and John adjusted to someone who was way too cool to ever do the dishes.

John went two months steady of watching me dodge dish-duties before he finally said something. I moved my WiiU out to the living room so we could partake in some classic roommate bonding in Netflix binging. Little give. Little take.

I tried showing him Tallahassee the only way I (as an orientation leading junior that just got initiated into a fraternity) knew how to show a freshman.

“This is Bajas. They have 8-for-1 drink specials and stripper poles in the middle of the club. It’s the greatest place on earth.

“Being involved is cool. At the very least it’s a great way to meet girls.”

I had round-the-clock advice for John. Maybe some good. Maybe some not so good.

We ran through every episode of Friday Night Lights and How I Met Your Mother. We made catch phrases out of Trey Songz’s Gotta Make It, YG’s Who Do You Love, and Young Jeezy’s Me Ok. John even spent his first semester as a pledge for my fraternity. We were brothers by the second semester. Going out together was practically a requirement.

Overall, the first year was nice. Nice enough to show that we could at least live together for maybe another year. And it was that second year where we really took off.

CRUISING


John was no longer the big eyed freshman, and I thought I had Florida State and Tallahassee all figured out.

We road tripped 13 hours to Dallas with 6 of our best friends. We used all our watching of How I Met Your Mother for Ted&Barney wingman games at the bars. We spontaneously road down to Tampa for Gasparilla with two girls we met at Happy Hour. We even added Justin Bieber to our entourage in the form of Chris Cox!

We developed the concept of “pull that trigger” when deciding if we wanted to do something. We used the “one bite rule” whenever one of us thought the other had something good enough to eat.

When contemplating going out, conversations usually went like:

“We’re going out.”

“I don’t know if I want to man.”

“You owe me a go out.”

“Very true. Let’s ride.”

I’m not too sure when it happened. It could have been when I found him crying in his bathroom. Might of been when I drunkenly served him humble pie in the form of a drop kick. But somewhere down the road we became more than just roommates or close college friends.

I realized that John was the Robin to my Batman (John would prefer a more equal metaphorical pairing, but I personally like Batman and Robin… if for no other reason than it boosts my ego), and that as much as it was about my next adventure, it was also about having the Russinator in shotgun.

Fetty Wap. Washington DC. Philadelphia. RVing to Clemson. New Orleans (twice).

Many of my favorite memories feature John in shotgun, or driving because Batman does let Robin drive the batmobile every now and then.

DOWN THE ROAD

A couple days ago, I got my first job offer. I was so excited as any freshly anointed member of the real world would. They asked me what day I wanted to start, saying I could start as soon as possible. I was ready to start right then and there, but after thinking a lot I asked if I could have a week off before having my first day. Risky right? Asking for time off before you even start?

It wasn’t because I wanted a week to prepare. It wasn’t because I was weighing other offers. It was simply because the kid who wouldn’t leave me alone the first night was facing the biggest days of his life as a student body presidential candidate with elections coming up. This time, I didn’t want to leave him alone.

I returned to our ole stomping grounds to stomp some grounds one more time. Whether he wins or loses (we’ll be getting hammered either way), I’m just glad to have been a part of this journey with him.

Insider: when I first met him he didn’t even know who Joe Biden was… who was our Vice President at the time… He also didn’t know Macklemore was white… Lol.

He’s come a long way from the kid that I chose NCAA14 over, years ago. Future memories are a given. Being roommates again is more than a strong possibility.

But more than anything, I’m excited to see this kid continue to grow. If our time together has taught me nothing else, the possibilities are endless with him.

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