College Life: I Could Live in a Cardboard Box For You

“Then, this one time, in College…”

Once upon a time I wanted to fall in love with a sociology major. I blame Bearded Jake for this romantic idea. He probably ended up living in a cardboard box. He talked so fondly about one the year we lived in Spring Break Dormitory. He may be the richest man in world now, but we’ll never know.

We called him Bearded Jake. His name was way better than Bearded Jake, but I can’t use it.

You know sometimes nicknames just click without any type of fuss. I always loved that about his name. Jake’s nickname was original, if nothing else. The reason we had to nickname him Bearded Jake was because, as you know, in college for every Jennifer you meet there are at least four boys named Jake.

Our Jake was much cooler than the other Jakes, so we up’d his coolness with a fantastic name. 

Bearded Jake won the hearts of the girls on the third floor of C Wing pretty quickly. We all loved him for the same reasons. He was a genius and always a bit down on his luck, so to speak. I wasn’t in love with Bearded Jake. My roomate may have dated him briefly, but I loved him. He was the classic smart guy. He waltzed around the dorm in his smart glasses and chess set always looking for a reason for a break or distraction.

I was such a sucker! I’d play chess with him any chance I could get.

I owe my great-grandfather, Ivan, a huge thank you for teaching me the game. He was a one room school house teacher years ago and incredibly smart. He wore train conductor overalls and had uncombed snow white Einstein hair. It stood up everywhere. He had layers to him I like that about smart men. I loved him, too.

Sorry, back to Bearded Jake. He always won when we played chess. I can’t even say I let him. He would beat me in only a few moves. There was nothing I could do, but what I found so fantastic was the way he explained how it was done. I could watch him use his brain all day.

I’m pretty sure he was related to Bobby Fisher. He’d say he was better than that guy. I would agree, because it just sounded way too romantic not too.

Actually, the best trait about him was the fact that he never really bragged about how smart he was to any of us. We had to push him to accept or agree that his mind was beautifully intimidating.

Something else I enjoyed about Bearded Jake were his sneakers. Converse. They seemed to help him float his body to and from class without any effort, maybe that was because he had such a small frame. For some reason, his sneakers completed his outlook perfectly. His train of thought was fascinating in the idea that he didn’t get caught up in society’s garbage.

He ran around carrying his cigarettes, chess game and textbook always spouting something poetic or highly intellegent. Then he’d sit back and smile. I can picture his smile as he waited for our replies.

I loved that about him.

Bearded Jake taught me a lot about myself. I found that I truly preferred the mind over the muscles, since I’d just come off swooning over Swimmer Mike. I learned that I preferred a guy who let me win once and awhile. No.

That my friends, is the left over frustrations of ungentlemanlike behavior. Haha! I’m just kidding.

Actually, winning didn’t matter a bit. I enjoy watching the people I love win.

Mostly, he taught me that it was okay to go against the grain, to be an individual and feel comfortable about it. I’m pretty sure he was aware of the fact that we worried about what would come of him some day. I hope he doesn’t live in a cardboard box. The world needed his mind. He recognized that he wasn’t following the typical college plan.

He lived the experience, for sure. He allowed himself the time to screw up.
I’m sure he wasted thousands of dollars all in the name of studying, but didn’t we all? I wish I would have thanked him for being just who he was. Thanks, Bearded Jake.

I would live in a cardboard box for one more day with his mind. Okay, maybe I’d visit for the afternoon…


26 thoughts on “College Life: I Could Live in a Cardboard Box For You

  1. Looking back I wonder how many of us had Bearded Jakes around and how many appreciated them at the time for what they had to say. I remember a few and miss them terribly. I love your stories even though dinosaurs were roaming the earth when I was in college–my oldest said I was born before dirt was made 😉 .

    Keep making us smile 😀 .

  2. 😆 Great story, Audith. I would have played with Mr. Bearded and I fear he would have beaten me too. I always wanted to play chess well–even went to some classes–but, alas.

    So, what happened to him?

  3. What a sweet tribute to Bearded Jake. What caught me though was the tribute to your great-grandfather. “He had layers to him I like that about smart men. I loved him, too,” is such a deep and loving description.

  4. Have you ever googled him, see if he shows up? I had an amazing boyfriend in college. He was 16, bought a house by the college to live in, and started his own business–while getting his BS in Bio. Handsome, smart, charisma coming out his pores. I graduated three years before him and we lost touch. His name is so common, when I google him, there are way too many hits.


    • I haven’t. Honestly, his last name has been long since forgotten. He was a good friend that year.

      Sounds to me like you let that one get away. 🙂 It’s fun to think back to those days gone by, huh.

      Darn is right…although googling names can be down right disappointing. I tried that with my name. Haha

  5. Love the names…Bearded Jake, Swimmer Mike! I loved my college days and all the interesting people that came with it! I had a friend that went from one cult to another, really just wanting to find her way. Another guy who was always searching for his future wife that every girl he dated was “the one”. I’m sure Bearded Jack has found his way. Really weren’t we all a lot like him during our college days?! Great post, Audrey!

    • I’m so glad you get a kick out of the names. It was fun trying to come up with them.

      College is good for finding ourselves for sure. I often wonder if I’d be in the same place intellectually had I skipped the mess of it all.

      There is something to be said for the school of hard knocks. The “doer” in me leans towards the common senses of life.

      I worry that my time in college was wasted. After writing about it though its proved to be an important time in my life.

      I was totally and 100% like him, Barb. 🙂 Rushing rushing rushing…

      Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!!

    • See, college is never a waste! I changed so much during those years. Being away from parents, meeting new and interesting people from all walks of life. Oh, I miss it!!! Enjoy your weekend, Audrey!!

  6. Whoa… this was kind of steamy, lol. I love the caption up top, good variation on the classic American Pie line. 😆

    Reading this it brings home the point of regardless of who the person is, they can always teach us something.

    Thank you for sharing. 🙂

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