“Call me Alex!”, he said that while standing up just next to the bed that he was probably occupying naked from the waist up, and smiling with a childish smile. I thought he was over-friendly, but his voice was so loud and firm, that I could not think of an appropriate semi-sarcastic response which which I could use to distance myself from him, without being rude (“OK”, “If you insist”, etc.), so I just shook his hand and started a regular conversation, asking him how old he was, for how long had he been staying there etc. To my surprise, although still very friendly, he wasn’t at all eager to answer my questions, and it even seemed that some of them he did not know the answers of. So unusual were his reactions that for the first few days I had the suspicion that he might be “really insane” - a fact which understandably made me uncomfortable, especially given the fact that with both of us being in the same institution such categorizations were far from objective - maybe I was insane and he was the normal one, and he seemed insane to me thus.
Alex had a huge scar on his left knee which I noticed immediately when I saw him and which made me want to immediately distance myself from him even more. An urge which did not dissolve even after I learned that he got it in a trivial way (sports incident) and was even strenghtened by my enlightenment, as if it weren’t the his scar, nor his cheerfulnes which crept me out but his hair, the way he wanted to shake hands, and the other numerous ways in which he looked just like me. “So what do you do for fun?” I asked, consciously trying to distance myself from him by emphasizing our differences, talking about my weird hobbies which I was sure would be to him most alien, “I like to read”, but he just gave me a thumbs up and changed the subject leaving me with no choice but to make friends with him. I usually picked my friends very carefully, never approaching them until they have passed some of the elaborate mental tests which I have devised for myself like imagining them in hard situations and how would they escape from them or imagining us hanging out together and thinking if we look cool. It was true that recently I started abandoning this practice, but that was not because I didn’t want to my friends comform to certain criteria - I just wasn’t too bad at judging the people around me and for that reason I was sometimes willing to take a chance. But not in such cases as Alex’s, as he was clearly not a person whom I could interest in science, neither hard nor soft, which meant that (although he seemed accepting) he could not be a person who can be anything more than my roommate.
“And who are you?” Alex’s voice was so loud that it got into my head and made me replay all kinds of memories that I thought identified my personality (my acceptance in the Sofia Mathematics College where I had been studying for the past 10 years), and things which I wanted to forget but could not (like my first “Poor” mark which I got shortly after my admission in the same school. Recently the memory that I wanted to forget the most but I actually remembered best was that time when I entered my class while intoxicated. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t get rid of that memory althought the occasion was completely uneventful, the single instance in which my condition affected my behaviour being that the teacher asked me a question which I got wrong and which I might have gotten right if I was sober. Perhaps it was because of my obsession to always have control over my behavior and, if possible, over everything around me. And then I though, maybe it was this obsession, and not my obsession with mathematics, which was the defining characteristic of my personality. Perhaps if Alex were indeed interested in who am I, I would have to tell him that story and how terrible I felt standing on my desk drunk, although there were virtually no consequences and although, if anything, alcohol made me better at what I do than my usual diet as it relaxed me just enough so I could operate on my full capacity (as evidenced by the increase of my performance in the last few months). It was not the fact that I was drunk which unnerved me - it was the fact that I could not stop being drunk on command and transition to whatever state I wanted to be in a given moment.
That is what I would have told Alex if he was really interested in me as a thinking entity, but he of course wasn’t - he just wanted to know my name. As for the fact that I was a control freak, seeing the way he was looking at me he, of course, had already gotten it by then.
“Sorry, I am a bit of a dork” I said trying to apologise for not responding to his very simple request, while at the same time spicing up my persona with some self-irony. “It’s OK, me too” he responded softly. Althought I was sure that he was doing it just to make me feel good, his response actually offended me in several ways: firstly because he chose to take what I said literary, as opposed to the joke which it partly was and secondly because he chose to agree with it instead of trying to convince me that I was wrong. And the fact that he assumed the dork identity for me actually made it worse, as it looked like he was doing it just because he pitied me, which was the last thing that I needed - had he been a real dork, his gesture would have been gladly accepted by me, only he actually seemed like the exact opposite. One only needed to see the way he stood up - calm, fearless, not feeling a single bit of shame over his naked body (in which there also wasn’t anything to be ashamed about) to see that any of my issues such as the ones I mentioned above would for him be most alien. He seemed to me like a person who for example, when rejected by a girl would, instead of feeling crushed, would feel exhauted by the occurence of so unlikely an event. This was the way I perceived Alex until I had gotten to know him well enought to go beyond any such stereotype, although I was sure that this wasn’t the whole truth, especially with him being here - for him his issues were serious, just as my issues were serious for me. Had we been able to switch places for some time, we would probably be able to realise that and live our whole lives care-free, and not needing any kind of anger management. This thought looked for some time so vivid that made me want to actually switch places with him and not only figuratively - I had to become as strong as him, and as confident as him and to adopt his character, only so I can then better appreciate my own character to which I would go back to after a couple of months, a process during which I imagined would cure me from all kinds of anxiety forever. Only after I spoke with Alex for a couple of hours had I realised that it was impossible to do - his personality becoming more illogical for me with every new piece of information I was learning about it, his decision to talk with me being the most illogical of them all.