Lived in Wal-Mart for almost two days
Hometown: Harvard, Neb.
It started innocently enough. Bartels and his family were talking about what one would do for 24 hours in a Wal-Mart when his dad turned it into a dare. “He said, ‘Isn’t spring break coming up?'” the Drake University junior recalls. So over his vacation, Bartels holed up in a Des Moines store for 41 hours, washing in the men’s room, catnapping in the stalls and subsisting on Subway. “It was a good time, but 24 hours under fluorescent lights is exhausting,” he says. Though the stunt got the attention of women, Bartels, who is in talks about a film, is spoken for. How did his girlfriend feel about all this? “She was disheartened that I didn’t spend spring break with her, but in the end she was supportive.”
Still an undergrad after 12 years at college
Hometown: Whitewater, Wis.
Johnny Lechner has been an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for 12 years. It’s not that he doesn’t have what it takes to graduate—he earns B’s and has racked up 265 credits, about 130 more than are needed. It’s more that he doesn’t want to. Not even the “slacker tax” levied on students who qualify to graduate but won’t has motivated him to split. “You can’t live this life in the real world,” he rationalizes. “I get to set my own schedule, choose the areas I’m interested in and learn about them.” Having spent the last few summers working at camps for disabled children and adults, the aspiring musician insists it’s not responsibility that scares him. “I’m afraid of graduating and then in a couple of years saying, ‘Geez, I wish I’d stayed one more year.'” This fall the perpetual senior starts his 13th year and plans his first semester abroad.
Needs help getting dressed
Hometown: Hoboken, N.J.
As bad dressers go, Kevin McCormick has it good. Every day the IT manager gets help picking out his clothes—not from Mom or a girlfriend, but from thousands of devotees on the Internet. Since last August, when he launched dresskevin.com, McCormick has worn only outfits voted for by his online fans. “I was never good at fashion or matching colors,” he says. Now, with up to 75,000 hits a day, the site has gone from whim to hard work. “Every night I’m taking pictures of my clothes or myself and responding to e-mail,” he says. Although McCormick nixed an offer to turn his life into a reality show (too much pressure), he enjoys other benefits. Fossil and Payless have sent freebies. And he is asked out each week via e-mail. But, alas, no one has struck his fancy: “I’m not pursuing anyone now. It’s all in good fun.”
So crazy about tech toys, they share a house full of them
TIM KIEVIT, MARK FELDHOUSEN JR., DAVE REDMIN
Hometown: Arlington, Va.
Tim Kievit, 28, Mark Feldhousen Jr., 32, and Dave Redmin, 31, wanted to find ways to use technology to entertain themselves and their friends. Step into the Geekpad, as they call their shared Arlington, Va., home, and you’ll see the realization of that vision. This fun house is filled with tech setups the guys designed and built themselves, including a headlines ticker, a video arcade machine stocked with 3,000 games, and a home theater in which they show their favorite films, reedited so they play the starring roles. The trio even rigged up a deejay system so that during their many parties, each song gets its own synchronized light show. Though all the guys have girlfriends, Redmin, a computer engineer, Feldhousen, a software engineer, and Kievit, who’s in media relations, freely admit to being geeks. Just don’t call them nerds. “Nerds don’t have the same social skills as geeks,” explains Feldhousen.
Writes about his dating disasters in the newspaper
Hometown: Charleston, S.C.
“The best part of being single,” Bryce Donovan jokes, “is being able to choose any woman I want to shoot me down.” Such self-deprecating sarcasm is the trademark of this newsman’s four-year-old weekly column “It Beats Working” in the Charleston Post and Courier. “I try to stick to what I know,” he explains. “So I make fun of myself.” Richest material? His own humiliating experiences with the opposite sex, which have included a stint at speed dating, being auctioned off for charity (730 bucks) and chronicling the fallout from cheesy pickup lines. “I’ve learned not to talk with a pirate accent when I get nervous,” he quips. “For some reason, girls don’t like that.” He admits, however, that his rising-star status as a single version of humor columnist Dave Barry has helped his love life. “I do get e-mails from girls,” he says. “Some of them are even seemingly normal.”