a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Her Hussein rocks

By: Amanda Gillooly

In true American group-think mentality, the name Hussein has become almost a curse word. I guess when people think “Hussein” the image that comes to mind is of a cruel despot and other militant Muslims.

Me? Well, when I think of the so-called H-word, I think of my college friend, Kanduker Hussein. (I most likely misspelled his first name) I didn’t even know what his first name was until I’d known him for almost two years. Much like Prince and Bono, he didn’t need one.

Hussein was an international student who had become a legend far before I enrolled as a freshman at Point Park University in Pittsburgh back when it was still a college. If memory serves me correctly, I met Hussein during the annual college tour. I’d almost go as far as to say the senior prodding us along said something like, “And here is the college radio station, here is the Point Café, and this is Hussein.”

Like any legend, there was a shroud of mystery around him that exists to this day. There were many theories. Some believed that he was really a prince; others believed he was the heir to a fortune. Still others thought he was the son of some type of top politician. And we never really knew how many years he attended the school.

I met him my freshman year, and I’m sure he was hitting on me. He hit on everyone. And although many of his peers were friendly to him, they cherished making fun of him. But he never seemed to notice. Hussein was too busy having fun or trying to find some.

But he endeared himself to my friends early on, and our paths crossed throughout my college tenure in various, and always-hilarious ways.

A member of the campus radio station, he could often be found dancing Michael Jackson style (circa the 1980s) with flair. And as the editor of The Globe, our campus newspaper, I was always the one who edited his copy.

Although his English was above par, and he had been a journalism major for some years before I arrived. Yet, he never seemed to really “get” news. We’d send him to a campus event and the first three graphs would be about the appetizers served and the music that provided the backdrop. Aside from generally missing the news aspect altogether, he’d also get what facts he had horribly, horribly wrong.

When writing about a popular Britney Spears song, he referred to it as, “Give me baby one more time.”

Because of stuff like that, fellow Globers asked why I kept assigning him stories. How could I not? He was the first person to arrive at staff meetings, the first person to volunteer for a story and the first person to turn in his copy – however mangled it might have been.

Despite his inability to use the English language effectively in writing, he was a colorful orator. Like many of his foreign exchange student peers, some of the first words he learned were all of the four-letter variety.

Never, not to this day, have I ever met another person who could riddle a sentence with as much profanity as Hussein. Even when the subject was what he had for breakfast, or how his evening had gone.

And his responses were always worth the questions. His gift of hyperbole was also a characteristic I would be unable to exaggerate. A typical conversation about his weekend generally went something like this:

Me: “What’s up dude. How was your weekend?”

Hussein: “It was so wasted. I had 29 beers, 43 wines and 18 shots. It was (expletive deleted) crazy.”

Given the colorful character that he was, friends weren’t as surprised when I invited him to my 21st birthday bar crawl. It was fun until he got so tanked he fell asleep on the bar and was talking in half-English and half-Bengali. But don’t worry, whenever he got kicked out of the bar, we made sure he was safely driven home in a cab.

So, to you Hussein, I’d like to say thank you. While many in this part of the world may fear you by name, it will never fail to bring a smile or honest laugh my way.


Brant said...

When I was an R.A., there was a guy in my residence hall who, by some estimates, was in his seventh year at West Liberty. Now, I liked it there, but four years was plenty. I sometimes wondered how long he would be there until he either graduated or was told to move on. Flash forward about 18 years, and the missus and I go to the homecoming football game (she's also a West Lib alum). I'm sitting in the stands before the game and watching a couple of college employees set up the Gatorade jugs behind the home team's bench. Damned if it wasn't that same guy, now working for the school. Guess he just couldn't cut the cord.

Scott Beveridge said...

It doesn't surprise me, Brant, that you were an R.A.

Brant said...

Are you suggesting that I'm a leader, or perhaps a pain in the ass?

Scott Beveridge said...

Born leader, without a doubt.
Although, I don't remember ever seeing my R.A. at Edinboro. Not even once.

Amanda Gillooly said...

It seems like every college has That Guy. Luckily, Hussein was actually cool and didn't become a lifer.