The summer had come and gone before everyone wanted it to, as is usually the case. Marcus had worked in a factory in Lansing that summer and had secured a ramshackle three-story house at 116 Burcham, north of campus, as the first place for everyone to live in after the dorms. It was the beginning of our third year at M.S.U. Mick, Marcus, Les and I were to move in at the Burcham address along with Terry and Phil. Terry was from the dorms with me the first two years, and Phil had gone to high school with Marcus and had lived in the same dorm with he and Mick. Craig was the seventh roommate, although he always stayed at his girlfriend’s apartment and was never there. His room, across from Marcus’s room on the second floor, wasn’t even furnished. It simply held his books and belongings in boxes that were piled randomly around the floor.
Craig had been an unexpected roommate of Mick’s for a few weeks the previous year in Wilson Hall. He was a 6’4” Black American who was returning to school after being stationed in Japan with the army for two years. He also practiced Karate. Mick had arrived at his dorm room on the first day of the school year only to find the glass missing from the window. He also noticed a Japanese design hanging on the wall over one of the beds and wondered who his new roommate was. Craig came out of the bathroom wearing a Ghi, introduced himself, and explained that he was throwing punches at the window and had gotten a little too close. He only wound up living with Mick for part of that term but had kept in touch and became the seventh roommate on Burcham for only the fall term of ’79. Craig was also into Amway.
I had received a call that summer from Craig, out of the blue. We hardly even knew each other.
“Billius, this is Craig”.
“Oh, hi Craig. What’s up?”
“You’ve got to come up to East Lansing as soon as possible, it’s important!” Craig exclaimed. I wondered what was wrong.
“Well, I’m visiting Marcus this weekend at the house he found for us on Burcham. What’s so important? Is something wrong?”
“I can’t tell you, but trust me, it will change your life!” was all that Craig could divulge about the pyramid get-rich-quick scheme that he had been suckered into.
When I showed up at Burcham that Friday and asked Marcus what it was all about, I was briefed into what Amway was.
“Stay away from it man”, was what Marcus told me. “It’s a scam.”
“Well, I promised Craig that I would go. I can’t really back out now without being rude. I’ll just go and not take it seriously”, which is exactly what I did.
I showed up at Craig's apartment which was filled with five other people and the presenter, who kept insisting that “You can do this plus your J-O-B!” He was a short, balding guy in a blue suit who kept spelling out J-O-B throughout his presentation, as if it was something that you didn't want to talk about, like when parents spell out words around their children. He began his presentation by drawing a circle on a white board with a blue marker and then coloring it in.
“Tell me what you see", he said to everyone. We went around the room. The first guy, a mouth-breather, went first.
“A blue dot”, was his reply.
“A blue dot, okay, okay - do you see anything else?
The first guy thought really hard for a minute, then responded, “Uh, no.”
The next guy had a little more imagination and said that it looked like a blue sphere surrounded by white space.
The question finally made it around to me. “Tell me what you see”, was the presenter’s enthusiastic plea.
YOU ARE READING
A Pie In Every EyeNon-Fiction
A. W. Ellison, A. K. A. Billius, was a Chef. This is the story of The Chefs...Campus Pie Assassins, as they pied professors during lectures in humungous lecture halls at Michigan State University from 1979 to 1981. The story covers how The Chefs ca...