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Justin Dolske

Pictured: Justin Dolske.

The three words or phrases that best describe Justin:

For the record, Justin is no longer a member of Prout Table. He withdrew his friendship at the end of the Summer of 1996 for reasons that none of us can fully understand or appreciate (mostly because he never really explained himself). In any case, there is a lot to say about him, and I'm going to write just what I would have written before that happened--despite the feelings of disappointment and betrayal it evokes.

I can say without reservation that Justin was my best friend in college (as corny as it may sound). He and I got along like few friends I have ever had or probably ever will. There is so much that I could write here... I'll try (and probably fail) to be somewhat brief.

I first became aware of Justin during the second semester of my freshman year. We were both in the Honors Calculus II class (with 10 other crazy people) which met several days a week at something like 8:30am--yikes.

We never really talked much, since he was sort of quiet and, well, it was 8:30am! The only thing I really could tell about him was that he seemed to be one of the more intelligent people in the class (no offense, Mike--you and I both struggled). He actually understood what was going on much of the time.

It wasn't until close to the end of that semester that I discovered what would soon become our common bond: the fact that he was an aspiring computer geek. Much of this is fuzzy in my mind, but we began talking via a e-mail about our favorite computer operating system (at the time it was OS/2 2.x, believe it or not). Eventually, the semester came to and end, and he went back to Columbus while I stayed in Toledo.

During my sophomore year, when Tom and I lived on the first floor of Darrow Hall, Justin, Jeremy, and Mike all lived on the same floor as we did. Because of our close living arrangements, Justin and I saw a bit more of each other than we had previously. But the event which sealed our fate occurred later that year: I helped to get Justin a job working for Computer Services (with me!).

From Mike:

I really barely knew him [Justin] our sophomore year when I got this bizarre e-mail from "god@heaven.com." It asked me to repent, and sell all of my possessions, and give the money to the guy who lived across the hall.

That's really the first time I got to know Justin. After that, there was the serial cable we duct taped to the floor so we could play Doom better...

Needless to say, as the months went on Justin and I became better friends. We worked together, had some classes together, and I helped get him to Prout Table for lunch. He was quickly assimilated into the group.

Justin and I lived through some of the funniest (and stupidest) moments of our college careers together. When our junior year rolled around, we roomed together on the second floor of Darrow Hall. I think we must have overdosed on each other this year, because we had some classes together, we went to bed at the same time, ate meals together, and worked together. In short, we spent the vast majority of our waking hours together. We had a blast together.

During the Summer following our junior year, Justin and I stayed in contact via e-mail and IRC. I think we probably chatted three or four times a week, sometimes for more than an hour. It was also during that Summer that I went down to Columbus to visit with him for a few days, and he returned the favor by coming to BG to hang out for a while and then stay with me in Toledo.

Justin and I shared many common interests. Aside from our interest in computers (Justin came to BG as a Chemistry major, but eventually switched to Computer Science--which made be proud), we both had similar tastes in pizza, music (especially Pink Floyd--much to Janet's chagrin), science, and the list goes on.

Finally, senior year (my first one) rolled around. People got busy doing homework, looking for jobs and/or graduate schools, finishing honors projects, and just trying to graduate in general. I had moved off-campus to live with Janet and Justin moved into a single room in Offenhauer.

I don't know if something happened to Justin over the summer before our senior year or what, but not long after he got back, he seemed a little different. There was less of the "fun" Justin that I knew, and there was more of the reclusive "loner" that we all knew he had inside himself. He still ate lunch with us, joined us for weekend excursions to Toledo, movies, and most of the other stuff we did. But every once in a while, he would surprise us by not showing up when we expected him. He seemed a little less excited about things and less interested in what was going on. He became more moody than he had been, occasionally pulling away from people for several days at a time.

Now, none of this behavior was a big deal or a shock. He had a stressful semester and there was a lot to do, so we didn't think much of it at the time. A lot of the changes that began during this period should have clued us in as to what was going on with him. Of course, in hindsight, this is all quite clear.

In any case, he didn't vanish or anything. He stuck with us through his senior year, and even decided at the last minute to participate in the Prout Table Spring Break '96 trip.

After everyone graduated, and Prout Table got together over the summer (Pool Party, July 4th, and so on), we saw the last of Justin. Those who lived near him in Columbus found him to be more reclusive than ever, refusing to go out with them almost all of the time until he eventually told us "once and for all" that he was done with Prout Table. To this day, we're still not sure why.

So there's the story.

If there is one thing that reminds me of Justin, it's a particular song by Pink Floyd. Every time I hear it, I think back to the few years during which we got to know each other so well.

Wish You Were Here

"So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell, blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze? Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground. What have you found? The same old

Wish you were here."

Pink Floyd (Waters/Gilmour) - 1975

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Jeremy D. Zawodny / jzawodn@bgnet.bgsu.edu

Updated: April 20th, 1997