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It was 8 a.m in Martinez Commons at U.C Berkeley, James Jackson, who went by Jackson, woke up to his phone ringing. His friend Blake was calling to ask Jackson if he wanted to play Call of Duty Black Ops III. “Get on BO3”(Black Ops III) Blake demanded. “Dude, it’s like three in the morning”, Jackson complained. “It’s literally eight o’clock” Blake didn’t wait to hear any excuses, “get on BO3.” Jackson groaned as he twisted in his bed at the dilemma in front of him. Play games with his friend but have to get up, or stay in bed and sleep more? He groaned louder and his roommate Gregory, who was quietly studying at his desk, turned his shoulder, glaring at Jackson.

Jackson saw that Gregory was staring at him but groaned even louder, making noises of effort while pushing his three-hundred pound body into a standing position. Jackson always wore black three-piece suits, whether to sleep in them, eat, or go to class in them. He had a black top hat with a zebra patterned stripe that made him look like an eighteen year old pimp-- making him even harder to take seriously. His roomate murmured a few complaints to himself in Korean but Jackson paid no mind and hobbled slowly to his desk with his Playstation 4. Jackson sat down at his desk and played with Blake until 10:56am, four minutes before his first period Advanced Applied Mathematics class. Jackson had no interest in the class, and had especially little interest in Professor Kutwig, who taught the class.

Professor Kutwig had recently lost his parents and was constantly bitter about how he spent more time on his education than with his parents. Kutwig had not admitted to his regrets, but knew he had them deeply seated in his heart. Kutwig took his regret, and covered it with effort to try his best to make his life as meaningful as possible. This meant Kutwig was very serious about his work, and about his life. Kutwig hated Jackson after a certain incident during the first class of the fall semester.

Jackson’s first class on his first day at university was Professor Kutwig’s class, and Kutwig was excited to start anew in his Advanced Applied Mathematics class. The bell rang as Kutwig was preparing his whiteboards for his first lecture and he yelled to the entering first-year students. “Please, file into the front. We will be starting in just a few moments.” Jackson lugged his large backpack down the stairs in the lecture hall to the front row where he took his seat. Kutwig started with his lecture “hello class, today we will start on advanced algorithms.

If you need to use the restroom, don’t ask, you are free to go. This is how I run any of my lectures if you have me.” Kutwig continued with his introduction while titling the white board in cursive “Advanced Algorithms”. As he had his back turned to the students, he heard rustling and switching. Jackson, being the only person sitting in the front row, realized that he did not need to sit in the front row like Kutwig asked, and he picked up his bag mid-lecture to move a few rows backwards. Due to Jackson’s large size, he rubbed against all surfaces of his chair and desk, making lots of noise. Jackson was also heating up quite a bit under the bright house lights against his all-black three piece suit.

His heavy breathing did not help either. Glaring at Jackson, Kutwig thought “how could he disturb the class in the middle of my introduction… doesn’t he know where he is? This is the University of California at Berkeley!” he raged within his mind.  Jackson paid no mind and slowly transferred seats while the entire lecture hall laid their eyes on him. Some were in disgust, some revolted outwardly in scoffs at the disruption that was this joke of a man. As Jackson walked up the aisle, wiping the sweat off his forehead and turning into one of the rows, he noticed the lecture hall was silent and staring at him.

Jackson sat down as normal, ignoring their gazes, finding it kind of funny, and loudly shuffling through his trouser pocket to get out his inhaler. He took a loud inhale from the inhaler and started catching his lost breath. Kutwig glared at Jackson, as if to pressure him to quiet down. At some point Jackson did, but Kutwig was slightly annoyed at how nonchalant Jackson was, especially after the entire class had to stop for him, and he did not even apologize. Kutwig, shaking off the incident and returning to his zen peace teaching, he continued with the lecture.

Jackson fell asleep after about thirty minutes of lecture. Kutwig saw him sleeping and thought that this was enough. “This is Berkeley!” he thought. Kutwig stopped for a moment and lectured the class on why they should stay awake during class, using Jackson as his subject to mock and take out his deep seated anger on. Kutwig spoke loudly, waking Jackson up, who got up in a startle drooling from one side of his mouth. Kutwig knew he had Jackson this time, “now he’ll realize how mistaken he is!”.

Jackson looked around the classroom at everybody staring at him, looked at the professor, “I got him” Kutwig thought, then Jackson hesitantly raised his hand as if to ask a question. Kutwig gave a prideful “yes?”, perhaps the only one word answer you would ever hear out of Kutwig. “What does he want?” Kutwig thought. “C-- Could I go to the bathroom?” Jackson stuttered in a low voice, Kutwig’s smirk started becoming infected by fury. “How could he be so nonchalant!”, Kutwig continued glaring at Jackson, processing the possibilities for how to “get back” at Jackson. Eventually a nearby student spoke out, “just go”, replying to Jackson with an attitude as if Jackson was not worth any of their time. This instance made Kutwig very angry, and since that point Kutwig has strongly resented Jackson.

Jackson walked out of the lecture hall after class, he found his friends Combo, Palo, Adrian, and E.J waiting outside for him. Jackson’s group of friends were all friends he had been with since first grade who never moved apart from each other. Most of them were in community colleges, but some were in other public schools scattered around the Bay Area.

His friends hooted as Jackson walked out “Jacksonnnnnnnnnnn!”, “bruh we haven’t heard from you in hella long, whatchu been doing?” said Combo. Jackon dapped up each of his friends, gave a wheeze from walking up the lecture hall stairs, started with complaining about his professor, and then started complaining about the amount of stairs on the U.C Berkeley campus-- which caused his friends to laugh. Combo, Palo, Adrian, E.J, and Jackson were all loud and noticeably out of place on the prestigious U.C Berkeley campus.

From any onlooker, they would look like random high school seniors being loud and obnoxious. But their obnoxiousness was who they were, and was something that made them happy amongst the stress they faced in their underprivileged homes. Although the group was not particularly smart, well-educated, from wealthy backgrounds, from families with both parents, or from American-born parents, they were still the funniest people in the world. Although they faced lots of discrimination and difficulties as a group of all minorities, they had each other.

All of them had been hurt in some way by family, friends, or strangers. But through their flamboyance and “loud” outward energy, they were secure from being hurt by anyone else who would dare approach a group so seemingly obnoxious. 

As the group walked through the sunny U.C Berkeley campus on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon, they were their usual loud selves, laughing and chatting over each other about how college was going for each of them. Although each of them had found a place in their own colleges, Jackson was the one friend who was completely out of place in the college he was attending. “What you doing in a white college Jackson?” E.J exclaimed in surprise, “bruh it ain’t even like that, my mom made me” Jackson pleaded to his friends.

The fact that anyone of their friend group, especially Jackson, was attending essentially an Ivy League institution was a joke to them. Although Jackson and his group stuck with themselves, they ended up spreading a great amount of joy to onlookers who found their loud jokes funny. How could one not laugh when one of the people making jokes was three hundred pounds, had a hoarse voice with no seriousness in its tone, wheezed when he laughed, was constantly tired and breathing hard, always wore black three piece suits with a top hat like Charlie Chaplin, had a body shape like Violet as a mutated blueberry from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and could not take anything serious-- his weight included. To Jackson, his weight was funny.

His friends thought Jackson’s body shape was funny too, and used it as a center for making jokes whenever they ran out of other ideas. What was more is that Jackson did not care whether they made fun of him, he laughed, finding his appearance almost like something external to him and something God-given, out of his control that he did not need to feel ashamed about. Even if you tried to make Jackson feel bad about his weight, he’d probably just laugh or smirk. This was the reality of Jackson, he was a living joke, but that is exactly what the world needed at the time.

They needed comedy. The world needed someone to lighten their moods with laughter, and to help them see again the simplicity of the world. The fact was, Jackson was not all great and perfect, his mother Brenda was a single working mother who was stuck in a loop of working under unpayable college debts. Jackson’s younger brother Daniel attended school in the same uniform everyday for years in middle school. Simply, the familiy could not afford to buy new uniforms or clothes. But this was not solely the living conditions of Jackson, his friends lived in similar circumstances.

Some had seven or eight siblings and a single parent to pay for it all. Some had no prospects for work beyond a five figure salary because of the support they received from parents, or their schools who resented them. No matter what, the group had each other. Jackson was himself, in light of all the dark thrown towards him, he maintained his shine that reached some, even when it seemed to trample on others at the same time-- after all, he could not be perfect where everybody was satisfied. Jackson knew that he could not please everybody, and that the only person he should aim to please is himself.

Although this sounded selfish, it ended up being a very fulfilling way to live that Jackson would follow order in at all times. One day Jackson even ended up making Professor Kutwig laugh-- and genuinely as well. The fact was, Jackson was himself. Even in light of his health problems, conditions at home, funny appearance, strange old-fashioned style of dressing up, his inability to take anything seriously, and his loud flamboyant nature, Jackson was always himself. And even though he was somehow accepted into U.C Berkeley over all the potential students with GPAs of 4.5, or other impressive feats, Jackson fit perfectly into the place, time, and people he attended Berkeley with.

He had a bigger impact on the well-being of students that he made laugh than any of the other possible applicants could have had. Jackson did not fit in the conventional sense of being intellectually ahead, but he filled in a gap on the campus that no one could fill better than him. Jackson was himself, focused on himself, fulfilled himself, and subconsciously had a huge impact-- in fact, a perfect impact, at the perfect time, at the perfect place.


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