Michael Pemulis is Hal Incandenza's best friend and a resident of the Enfield Tennis Academy. He comes from a working-class family and a grim childhood in Allston, Massachusetts. Pemulis is the E.T.A.'s resident drug-dealer, and also sells Visine bottles filled with clean urine ("'Urine trouble? Urine luck!'") (152) during mandatory drug tests, making him the entrepreneur of the E.T.A.
One of Pemulis' trademarks is a white yachting cap, inside of which he stashes various drugs including the incredibly potent DMZ.
Pemulis has a gift for math and science, and the only reason he is at the E.T.A. is his scholarship, the "coveted James O. Incandenza Geometrical Optics Scholarship, of which there is only one" (154). Unfortunately, Pemulis is not a gifted tennis player-- he is "phenomenally talented at net but about two steps too slow to get up there effectively" (154). Because he is not ranked highly enough, Pemulis is not sponsored by any corporation, and therefore wears unique shirts that have slogans like "CHOOSY MOTHERS" (156) while in play. Due to his lobbing and mathematical abilities, however, Pemulis is the organizer and best E.T.A. player of Eschaton, a strategy-based tennis game of massive proportions.
"Michael Pemulis is nobody's fool" (156), and because of this, he forces his substance-purchasing customers to ask him to "'Please commit a crime,'" to which Pemulis resonds, "'Gracious me and mine, a crime you say?'" in an effort to avoid the "dealer's Brutus" (156). As DFW explains, "...Pemulis's deepest dread is of academic or disciplinary expulsion and ejection...and is one reason Pemulis takes such elaborate precautions in all extracurriculars - making a Substance-customer explicitly suborn him, etc. - and is why Hal and Schacht presented him on his last birthday with the poster over Pemulis's room's console that has a careworn large-crowned King sitting on his throne stroking his chin and brooding, with the caption: YES, I'M PARANOID - BUT AM I PARANOID ENOUGH?" (fn.211 p.1035)
Pemulis is considered a good friend by Hal and Mario Incandenza-- he helps Mario with the tech-related aspects of filmmaking, and also assists Hal with his math (852).
Pemulis' biggest fear is being expelled from E.T.A. After John Wayne takes speed and creates an embarrassing scene, Pemulis is blamed for it. He is sentenced to be expelled at the end of the semester.