We dreaded the Mountain View Target. Closest to campus, the dorm-supplies haven was a sure-fire way to bump into other frosh—clothes-too-ironed, rambling parents, sweaty palms. The Class of 2023, in its entirety, dreaded the Mountain View Target, and that’s where I first saw him.
In Aisle 8, desk lamps and squeaky cart wheels set the mood. Over his turtle-shell Warby Parkers, he made eye-contact. It’s the glasses that gave it away—I instantly recognized him from his over-saturated profile photo in my dorm group chat. And that’s when I turned away.
It’s a frosh. It’s a froshfroshfroshfuturefellowfrosh. This is why I said to go to San Jose… I turned the aisle, dragging my parents with me.
But I’d see him again.
And again, and…
His hair is curly, his socks dirty. His eyes are cyan, his glasses round. If you really get him talking about them, which is easy to do, you’ll learn they’re actually bifocals because his eye-muscles do this weird contracty-spasm-thing, which he’ll explain in layman’s terms because he’s unpretentious and sincere and speaks pretty much like this sentence, comma-less and fast and over-hyphenated.
If you really get him talking about his Instagram, which is easy to do, you’ll learn it’s over-saturated because of Ariane. If you really get him talking about Ariane, which is especially easy to do, you’ll learn he sends his postable photos to her to edit. It keeps them close. They’ve been doing long-distance for a while now—best-friendship, that is. (Boarding art schools in Michigan do those kinds of things to best-friendships.)
He has earbuds in a lot. You know the Apple ones that come with the phone? Those. Not AirPods—too pretentious. They’re in when he’s slouched over his laptop, composing, fingers tapping his mouse-pad along to the beat. They’re in when he’s slouched over his laptop, asleep in the lounge, Disney+ laugh-track barely audible.
They’re not in, however, during mealtimes. And with him, mealtimes are all the time. Trader Joe trips are his weekly pilgrimage, the checkout line his weekly Mass, his subsequent dark-chocolate-Quadratinis feasting his weekly sacrament. Clearly, he’s not religious. But he’s also Jewish.
Comma-less and over-hyphenated, he’ll ask you for a bite, a sip, a scoop of, um, well—pretty much whatever you’re holding. And because he’s him, he gets away with it. The lady at late-night gives him free boba. He’s funny but still texts with the first letter capitalized, which I appreciate.
During a capella auditions, his voice turned raspy. He still made it onto Fleet Street, though, and boy, did he get popular. Not the gross, Regina-George type of the popular. More the, wherever-you-go-with-him-you-stop-and-talk-to-strangers type of popular. The he-gets-to-wear-a-red-acapella-bowtie type of popular. His voice gets higher when he runs into those he knows because he loves them, and they love him, too. Girls in the dorm next door scramble around him as if he’s Harry Styles and as if they’re, well—girls. You’ll get used to the fangirling ambushes, though. Even when they take the form of a line to kiss him at Full Moon on the Quad. And you’re OK with it, because you get to sleep in his bed when you both want an excuse to cuddle and have the same 9am.
He’s pointed out that, in the case of an earthquake, he’ll die. All the junk on his shelf, which doubles as his headboard, will kill him in his sleep. His pride flag hangs on it anyways.
Next, his wall. It serves as a gallery to:
- A Frosted Flakes cereal box—staples still in it from when he donned it to be Stanford’s “flakey” culture with me (the spookiest of Halloween costumes), and
- A signed Marie Antoinette play poster, from when he had to fake being straight for an audition, deepening his voice for a, “I’ll pin you to the wall.” He played Joseph instead.
Finally, his desk lamp. It’s white and skinny—like him. Mine’s teal and tall and scrawny—same brand, different color.
Thanks, Mountain View Target. And a special shoutout to Aisle 8.
About the Author
Originally from Dallas, TX, Anastasia Sotiropoulos is a lover of filmmaking, writing, humor, and stories that humanize. Her journal showcases a collection of stickers ranging from Betty White to Mario Kart, and she spends a significant amount of time curating Spotify playlists and eating hummus. She is passionate about prison reform and the intersection between art and social justice — topics she is pursuing as a freshman at Stanford.