So, anyway, I had another half-hearted talk with Ronnie the day after the party. I just flat out said I was going to see other people when the opportunity arose, and so should he. I told him we were too young to commit, and I wasn’t going to do it. “I have feelings for you, but I don’t think they are those kinds of feelings.”
In my innocence, I thought that was plenty clear and honest.
Next up on my post-graduation agenda was Camp. The last few years I had gone to a church Camp where my mother had been a counselor. This was the last year I could go as a camper, and I was looking forward to it. My friend Jenny Hirsch was coming in from Texas to stay with me and go to camp.
She and her brother had lived one town over with her mom. Her older brother, Jamie, had been in my class at Christian school. Despite being the most popular guy in class (well, there were only TWO, but still), he had never made fun of me. Ever. In fact, we were buddies. While he made his way through both grades of our split class, breaking hearts and taking names, we became good friends. At least the sort of good friends one can make in a gulag.
I think it was because I always got his jokes. We thought a lot alike. We always guessed each other’s hints at Charades, and wrote a rather lengthy take-a-turn spoof of Star Wars called The Yoder Papers. When he left Christian school, I was the only one he wrote to. I later heard that his mother had re-married and moved to Texas.
Years passed. My first year at Camp, I sat around waiting for everyone to come from Knoxville. Most of the Campers rode busses from Knoxville, even though the campground was in North Carolina. Where I lived, it just didn’t make sense to go to Knoxville first. Anyway, there were only a few of us there before the busses. One was Jenny. She looked very familiar to me, but I couldn’t place her. In the course of our conversation, I kept trying to figure out how I knew her. I finally (DUH) asked her her last name. Hirsch.
I didn’t know her, but I knew her brother. The resemblance was spooky. Same smile, same laugh, same sense of humor. Her hair was a little darker than her brother’s platinum blonde, and she had freckles. Of course, I hadn’t seen her brother in a few years. I finally stopped remarking on the resemblance when she told me I was freaking her out.
I can understand not wanting to be in someone’s shadow.
Anyway, this year we met her at the mall. She had come when school was out and stayed with her brother (who either had not moved to Texas or had moved back as soon as he could). I really didn’t know him anymore. He was very tan, but didn’t look like the same kid at all. Puberty does monstrous things to some people. Skin was still clear as a baby’s, hair was still very, very blonde. It was like when Bugs Bunny drinks Dr. Jeckyl’s potion – still recognizable, but somehow brutish. He waggled his tongue and made a playfully rude gesture at his sister as we drove off. I decided he was on drugs.
Jenny and I had a nice little giggle-fest going on, getting ready for camp that night. The phone rang, and it was for me.
It was some guy named Mark B. He was the home health nurse for Bill Anderson’s autistic little brother.
Remember Bill? Clacked his retainer at me in Geometry? Always wore the same torn John Cougar Mellancamp T-shirt, until after Christmas, when his mother bought him a new one and burned the old one (that is my assumption, anyway)?
He sometimes sat at the same lunch table as I did, but I cannot remember him speaking to me, unless I said something first. He also always wore a sort of hat that I tended to think of as a Panama Jack hat, because the guy on the Panama Jack t-shirts they sold at the beach always wore one. He’d also been in my Anatomy and Physiology class, and Microbiology. The very, very last day of school, I had gone out of my way to speak to him in Micro.
It was a very hard class, only fro the studious or the foolhardy. I hadn’t much spoken to anyone except my partner and the class clown (who had a tendency to stick his fingers in acetone and then light them, to much applause). This day was different. We mingled more. I talked to a girl and found out she was going to UT Knoxville. I asked her why UT, meaning what was she going to study. She gave me this blank stare, and popped her eyes.
That was the first time I ever realized that some people really DO go to college just to party.
Anyway, Bill. I walked over to him, trying to think of what to say. He was smart, and, while not really a friend, he seemed to know a lot of the same people as me. Surely we moved in the same circles, why else would he sit with our bunch at lunch? I had to say something.
“Bill, there’s something I’ve wanted to tell you for a very long time,” I said. People got quiet, and I got flustered. Why did everyone have to listen? So I said the first thing that came to mind. “I really, really hate that hat.”
Everyone laughed. He smiled, blushed and said nothing. The girl going to UT Knoxville to major in Partying Down pulled me aside, still laughing. “I thought you were going to say something serious!”
Maybe I had, too, but this was better, right? Zing! Points on the nerdling who never did me any harm (though his lab partner had slipped their cat’s intestines around my neck like a necklace, once).
So, Mark B. had called to see if I wanted to talk to Bill. I said I was in the middle of getting ready for camp, though we were pretty much done. There was much passing of the phone around on both ends. Bill talked to me and to Jenny, and Mark talked more to both of us than Bill had probably ever spoken in his life. We gave them the address for the camp, and made them promise to write us. I never got mail at camp, because it was only a week and besides, my mother was with me.
They were as good as their word. Jenny thought they were both terrible dorks. Bill, just on general principle and Mark because he kept mentioning that he drove an Oldsmobile. I never have gotten that whole car thing. A dork in a nice car is still a dork, isn’t he?
But I insisted that an Oldsmobile didn’t seem like a real brag car anyway, so he must not have meant it that way.
Bill’s letter had a phrase in French on the back. I think he knew I had taken Spanish, and thought he was safe, but Jenny was in her second year of French. I think it said, “Je te vous” or something similar. I don’t get French. A word can have five million letters and you only pronounce two, so I have probably totally mis-remembered that bit. She said he was saying he liked me, but when I freaked she said she wasn’t sure. “I’m probably wrong so just forget about it.”
We wrote them back and thanked them for their letters. It was something to do. After Camp, Jenny stayed a day or so at my house. Mark called and offered to take us out. In his Oldsmobile. Jenny shot me a look (she had these really amazing eyes, like Jenny Gardener’s only more blue than green) every single time he said “Oldsmobile”. We were in stitches, and didn’t really want to go anywhere. Poor Bill was forgotten entirely.
It came to light sometime later that Mark had been trying to help Bill get out of his crippling shyness. He’d asked him if there were any girls he liked, then he’d looked me up in the school directory and called me for Bill. I was deliberately clueless about Bill, the whole time. Anyway, Bill’s dad had told him that he would give him $20.00 every time he got the highest grade in the class on an Anatomy or Microbiology test.
So, not only did I break his heart, embarrass him in front of everyone by making fun of his awful hat, but I had also screwed him out of about $160.00 over the course of the two classes. No, I had no idea who had the highest grade on the tests, but Bill or Bill’s dad knew. The teacher may have announced it or something. It may have been posted on the door. Whatever the case, it never made much of an impression on me.
Oy, poor Bill.
Anyway, eventually Jenny left. My birthday is near the end of June, and I was sick with a nasty head cold. Mark called to wish me a happy a birthday, and found out from my mother that I was sick. So, he showed up at our house with balloons saying “Get Well” and “Happy Birthday” and a stuffed turtle wearing running shoes. He called him “Flash”.
At this point, I was as completely disgusting as anyone with a cold can be, but my mom still let him in to see me. “You look fine.” This, from my perfect, gorgeous mother.
Mom liked Mark. He was 19 or 20ish, so not terribly older than me. He was a nurse of some sort, though he hadn’t been to school quite as long for it as my mother had. I suppose he was the first fella to come around that had a real job. Maybe that was part of it, though I suspect she just wanted me to get out more.
In any case, she let him in my room and didn’t leave the door open. That was the first time I had met him in person, though we had talked for hours and hours before, sometimes with Jenny on the other phone, sometimes not.
Before he left, he had braved the germs and kissed me. This is another thing I just don’t get, because I have a huge thing about germs. I cannot imagine ever wanting to kiss somebody who, but for the existence of Kleenex, would have a face bathed in snot. Even if the nose isn’t running, you know the sound. That special resonance of viscous fluids. When a person speaks, you can hear that their head is full of goo. How is that sexy?
But Mark was all, “Mmmmm… GooHead.” I should have known right then that this would never work out. My 18th Birthday party was planned for the following week. Mom helped me with the guest list and sent the invitations. At least by then my head cold was gone.
Posts: 9293 | Registered: Aug 2000
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But I could NEVER overlook the snot. Still can't. I bring my honey a cool compress, kiss his forehead or his cheek, massage his temples. Over the years I have worked up to a quick, martyrish peck on the lips and managed not to gag at the sound of a blowing nose.
Hmm. Usually I won't kiss when one of us is sick, but if we cuddle and it gets past a certain point, I kind of forget about that, even though I'm usually a germ freak...
Posts: 21182 | Registered: Sep 2004
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I was actually going to add one of my own, but then I realized that everyone would already be mad enough at me for bumping this post without having a new installment from the author!
Posts: 3149 | Registered: Jul 2005
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Sorry, guys. My hard drive crashed, and we have been unable to recover my writing. Most of it was backed up elsewhere. Not Pennies. except in this thread.
I won't have the scratch to buy a new one until the end of the week. I would have been at the library writing more of it today, if I had a computer of my own to do it on.
So, forgive me. I will do my best to re-write the stuff and get something posted asap. For now, the kids are home and need help with homework before dinner.
Posts: 9293 | Registered: Aug 2000
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So, I'm in a restaurant with free wireless in the wilds of Appalachia and decided to post the next bit. Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to this. It wasn't at the top of my list of stuff to try to recover or replace after the crash.
Anyway, if anyone still cares, here it is. Thank you for your kindness.
My birthday party was not a well-thought-out affair, though I thought it was at the time.If everyone I invited showed up, there would be five girls and five boys, including Mark and me. Since it was summer, several of my friends were away on vacations or visiting relatives. Beth and Pondscum couldn’t make it. I only sent invites to those I knew would be in town. I wanted to keep it small, and I wanted boy/girl symmetry. It was my eighteenth birthday after all, and I fancied myself some species of adult. I invited Julie and Melanie, for whom I invited Jamie (the one from the other prayer club that Melanie liked – the one that I had accompanied to his Junior Prom), and Mike, the Football Player (Second String).
I invited Ronnie Ellis and Chris “Strange” Range, plus Johnnie and Jeanette (the Christian school gals I still hung out with at church (and whom my mom and I had vacationed with, if you recall). Jeanette didn’t come, though she gave the impression she was going to be there.
The plan was that we would meet at my house and take everyone to my grandparents’ house a few miles away. Their house was at the head of a hollow and had a rather park-like expanse of rolling green hills all around it.
Johnnie split before we got that far. I had told her there would be boys there, but I suppose Range and Ronnie were not to her liking, or maybe just the idea of taking my leavings offended her. I don’t know. All the party stuff was at my grandparents’. She wouldn’t even stay for cake.
We waited for a bit at my house. I forget who was late, or maybe we were waiting for Jeanette to show. Anyway, it occurred to me (a bit late, because I’m dense that way) that all they boys who showed up had either dated me or tried to date me in the last three months. >_<
I remember the exact moment when this realization hit. When Jamie arrived, he had a gift for me. I opened it immediately, though I don’t recall why. I think I opened most of the gifts before we left my house, just to save room when hauling everyone to my grandparents’. It was a picture of the two of us at his Junior Prom, and a pencil drawing of my face from that picture. Only then did I remember that he was an art student, too.
A slow, cold feeling spread over me as I realized that two of my other guests had asked me to MY prom. Though I had not gone, it was awkward. Maybe more awkward because I hadn’t gone to my own prom.
Ronnie gave me an earring and pendant set, which I still have, and a card with two people about to kiss at sunset on the front. I was careful to hold the envelop over the front of the card as I read it, so he wouldn’t be embarrassed. Or so I wouldn’t be embarrassed. Or so nobody would be any more embarrassed than was absolutely unpreventable.
That was basically how it went. After I had opened the presents, Mark tried to pull me onto his lap and kiss me in front of everyone. Julie and Melanie smiled and giggled. When we went to the part proper, Johnnie evaporated.
I witnessed and was subjected to several other primate dominance behaviors before the party was over. At one point, Mike lifted me up over his head like a star quarterback after the big game, a show of strength which could not be left unanswered by anyone else. It was like a testosterone-fuelled mosh pit that meandered, amoeba-like, around the lawn. I shrieked and giggled the entire time. When I escaped, mom didn’t say anything. She didn’t have to, what with that little smirk and raised eyebrows.
Ronnie caught me to myself shortly after, and explained that he intended his card (the one with two open-mouthed people on the front, about to mack) to be a “friendship card.”
“It’s okay, Ronnie,” I interrupted him. “I understand.”
God help me, I really, really did.
I begged Julie and Melanie not to leave me alone with all those boys, but they did. At least they took Jamie with them, since they were his ride. A quiet, gentle boy, Jamie had been the least of my worries. Without him, Ronnie and Range became the least aggressive of the bunch. Range because (I think) by this point he didn’t think of me as anything more than a friend and Ronnie because he knew there was nothing left to do. They were all very attentive, though. They took turns giving me rides on my grandfather’s four wheeler and trying to best each other at insipid tasks, such as spitting watermelon seeds for distance.
Mike the football player lasted the longest, though they all tried to wait out Mark and be the last one to leave. We hauled everyone back to my house, where it became clear that the party was over.
My relationship with Mark lasted two weeks, which was a sort of benchmark for me. He was a bit clingy, and I was going to go to college with no ties to anybody. Plus, he was kind of an agnostic. Funny to think of it now, but my faith in God was so important to me back then that his lack of faith was more than enough to take the shine off the penny.
Faith or no, I knew he wasn’t right for me. When he called me while in the process of getting himself drunk at home after our break up, that cinched it. I am not one to be blackmailed by threats of self-destruction. If you want to harm yourself over a girl you’ve dated for two weeks, you really need a hobby.
Happened to be seated a couple of tables away from him at TGI Fridays several years later. I was with my fiancé. Mark saw me but didn’t speak to me, though he did talk a bit loud and laugh like he knew I was watching. I vaguely hoped he was happy, and wondered if he still drove an Oldsmobile. I spent the rest of the meal telling Ron about Jenny Hirsch, and our laughs at church camp.
When you leave home for the first time as a young adult, it is something of a paradigm shift, and mine begins in the next installment.
Posts: 9293 | Registered: Aug 2000
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Hope you're having fun in the wilds Happy New Year! And glad you're returning to this. I was worried you wouldn't, after The Crash. (That'd stop me, I'm pretty sure.)
Posts: 17164 | Registered: Jun 2001
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I’ve given some thought to where this story needs to go next. There is a lot to tell, and I lot I don’t care to tell, truth be told. I’m not sure what it says about me, or if I want to say it, but I will be honest, even to the point of possibly putting myself in a worse light than may be strictly true. I will try to make it brief overview.
Before going to college, my roommate wrote me a letter and we met to shop for stuff together, so our room would match. We did it in pink and burgundy ( I still have my burgundy pillow chair and trash can). Emily was nice. We hit it off, I think mostly because we both wanted to so badly. She lived on a farm in Meadowview, Virginia and belonged to an independent church. “With doctrine similar to Baptists,” she’d say.
I also attended a non-denominational church, but I didn’t elaborate much. A bit about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, maybe, with the disclaimer, “We don’t handle snakes, haha.” I soon discovered that the two girls next door were also part of the “Charismatic movement” as it had been called. Gina Roes had been a lifeguard at Heritage USA. This meant nothing to me, as my church had nothing but the giggle-snorts for the Bakers.
At least, I did.
Emily’s New Student Orientation Group had a couple of guys in it who were roommates, named Grady and David. We met at dinner one evening during orientation. There was a speaker, giving advice on how to get along with roommates. He used examples from his own early marriage and was amusing. It was the first I ever heard of people caring which way the toilet paper came off the roll. Me, I’d just slap it on the roller and let it be a surprise. But then, I never could remember which side was hot water and which was cold, so that was usually a surprise, too. I think that was because my parents’ and grandparents’ homes had been built by our antecedents and differed from the standard in some ways (though they were solid, spacious and nicely appointed, for the most part).
Or maybe I was just criminally unobservant of things that did not interest me.
Back to Grady and David. David was also a holy roller of sorts, as it turned out. So were a couple of guys in my New Student Orientation Group, Rich (“Call me Woody”) and Scott. We ended up forming a fellowship group, which was nice. Woody got me to dance at the first dance of the year, and I found I liked it. People seemed to think I was good at it, too. Ballet (my only previous dance experience, which I loved), it was not, but I liked movement.
Turns out, Emily kind of liked Grady and Grady kind of liked me. He told David he thought I was cute, and David told him, “Yeah, but the Spirit doesn’t shine through her the way it does Emily.” So Grady thought he could pursue me without stepping on his roommate’s toes. This was before David found out that I went to a Charismatic church, like his.
I was vaguely aware that some guy with very short, curly hair was often nice to me. Unfortunately, there were three who looked a good bit alike in my Freshman class. I kept confusing them. So, why did that guy save me a place in the lunch line one day, then look at me strangely when I said “Hi” in passing the next day? OBLIVIOUS, I tell you.
I accidentally locked myself out of our room one day, when I knew Emily’s NSOC group would be having their swimming races. I went to the pool, a huge indoor thing, to find her.
It was so loud in there, what with all the cheering and stuff. I tried to get her attention across the pool by yelling and jumping up and own. Grady saw me. I tried to get him to tap Emily (sitting next to him) on the shoulder, but he didn’t get it. I walked over and sat next to them, but hey still couldn’t understand what I was saying, so I waited until the relay was over. SO LOUD. It was the suck. I have never enjoyed the loud noises in enclosed spaces. Thunder and lightening? Cool. Bagpipes? Also cool, provided I am not enclosed with them. Can’t even take sports stadiums – any wall at all is too much when it comes to that much noise. Pity my children.
Finally, Emily told me she though Grady liked me, and confessed that she though he was cute, but wasn’t mad that he seemed to like me instead of her. She braised my hair and let me borrow her blue jeans jacket for the bonfire that night. Grady sat next to me, but not too close. A girl named Amy squeezed in between us and chatted him up until he monosyllabled her into leaving. Some guys are really good at that. They don’t say, “Go way” but they will grunt and mumble until the girl gets the idea. Amy was either really thick, really determined, or some combination of the two.
He told me she had come on pretty strong, but that she was “too dangerous” for him. Then, he added that he liked me because I was “dangerous.” I think he meant a bit of a risk-taker, a bit outgoing, a bit more likely to break the rules than he was, poor sod. But not as all-out loopy and unpredictable as that Amy chick, who had climbed into the window well of their of their dorm room in the middle of the night, and hung out there until the guys whose room also shared the well played a recording of bathroom noises at her until she left. O_O I have no idea why they had a recording of bathroom noises. I may have that story wrong, as it was third hand, but I think that was the gist of it.
So, I told him right off that my Grandmother had made me promise not to “get serious with the first little boy you meet” and I thought it was a good idea. I was there to learn, so my plan was to date casually and not exclusively. We agreed that we wouldn’t be exclusive and that was fine.
Until we actually went out with other people.
A nice Fundy girl (named Rachel or Rebekkah or something like that) had tickets to see Dark of the Moon, and asked him to go. I was SOOOO jealous. I really wanted to see that play. *sigh* I pouted, but only a little.
He told me they were just friends, and all that, and he told me about the play. When I heard the whole bit about “raped in church to save her soul from the devil” I was glad I hadn’t been able to go.
He made a bigger deal of the “just friends” thing than I really thought the situation warranted, so I joked it off. “Okay, then I don’t have to do anything drastic.”
He sobered. ”Drastic? Like what?”
“I dunno. Stand next to her in bright light?”
*flinch* God help me, I was such a little b—ch. He laughed and said I was “cruel.” This was true, but I think it had more to do with expectations than really wanting to be mean. This is hard to explain, but I need to try.
The context was very different in college. I was so accustomed to not being seen by most people. I had been barely visible in high school, besides the academic stuff. I really bloomed when it was over, so much so that I passed a girl I graduated with in the grocery store six weeks after graduation and she did the most hilarious double-take. You could see it on her face. WTF? How did she get so hot.
My role had always been the sweet, brainy girl-next door, and I had played it well. But for college, I was set to be seen as a pretty, fluffy-brained social butterfly. But with that role came certain expectations overt or implicit. I was beautiful, so I must be catty and conniving, and not terribly bright. I wasn’t trying to be those things, but I was aware of the assumptions people made.
I kept the grades a secret. I had this obsessive need to make high marks. I needed that outside validation. Also, I had scholarships to keep, though they only required a 3.0, and I’d have had to skip class and drop acid to fall below that. Add to that the fact that I HAD to study to keep my cover as the “average but good-looking student” (as I imagined it) and it was fairly impossible for me to do badly on the Freshman stuff.
Grady was a King Scholar. Every spring, potential students came to campus to compete for 8 full scholarships. I had decided to apply to King after those scholarships had been awarded, so I hadn’t competed. It was a Big Deal. I think Grady sort of enjoyed having a flighty, distracting poof-brained girlfriend, so he could be all “Go away, I have to study.” The other day, I found a notebook I had in college. On one page, I had drawn a picture and passed it to him while we studied in the library. He wrote all over it. Snatches of Robert Frost, his full name and my full name, written in various styles of script. A lot of dark scribble-throughs, and very clearly in one corner, “HALL YOU PAIN I CAN’T THINK.”
Heh. I only just discovered that he also wrote my name with his last name. If I’d seen that at the time, I’d have dropped him like a flaming potato. This was the guy I told you about before, the one I thought had whispered, “I love you” to me. Remember that?
I wonder now if our relationship didn’t mean more to him than I thought it did. It was just a game, to me. I would not have chosen him if other people didn’t say they liked him and that I should go out with him. He was too pent-up. Anyway, if he really cared for me, either he hid it well or I was oblivious. I was always oblivious, but there’s also the option that I was right the first time.
Now, I sort of went out with a guy in my art class, too. He was beefier than I usually go for, with soft brown eyes. He said he found me really restful, and we hung out a bit. I was never sure how to respond to guys like that. He couldn’t pay his tuition (or else wasn’t doing well academically) and he disappeared halfway into the semester. We hung out, but we never “went” out.
Anyway, the real trouble started when I went out with someone else. The guy who modeled for the drawing class I was in was a funny, smart, geeky Senior, who also took voice. His name was Gary.
I had a voice recital. My mother came with a friend from church, but she left as soon as it was over. The recital had gone over and the cafeteria was no longer serving dinner, and my mom had gone. I was hungry. Gary offered to take me to Waffle House. I had no money, and ordered the cheapest thing I could find.
I was at ease with Gary. He was funny and smart and sharp. I wasn’t attracted to him at all, though, which is kind of sad. I could only relax fully around boys I totally didn’t want that way. Major mixed signals. I’d tease him in art class, smack him on the backside. Anybody would have gotten the idea that I liked him that way, but I didn’t.
So, my dating technique was basically to ignore guys I liked and be chummy with those I didn’t. *facepalm*
Anyway, Grady was upset. I told him it was just food with a friend. I hadn’t kissed him, or even touched him at all. Grady and I still went to the Fall Ball together, and I visited him over the holiday break. But it was strained, because he knew I wasn’t kidding when I said I wasn’t going to be serious about anybody. Maybe he realized (as I hadn’t yet) that I would be serious if the right guy came along. I would not admit the possibility.
You're such a good storyteller, Olivet. Thanks for sharing your life with us.
quote:Originally posted by El JT de Spang: I learned when a girl tells you she doesn't want to date anyone seriously she is saying she doesn't want to date you seriously.
Or she *thinks* she doesn't want to date anyone seriously until the right person comes along. I don't know anybody I want to date right now, but I'm open to the possibility.
Posts: 3546 | Registered: Jul 2002
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Do whatever you feel like you gotta do. If it's to rush things, or stop entirely, or slow down, whatever. Of course you know what I'm rootin' for, though
Posts: 17164 | Registered: Jun 2001
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Ever have cut with a biggish scab on it? One that is healing so well around the edges, where the original cut was shallow, that it itches like a dickens, but you know if you rip it off the inner part will bleed again, maybe scar because of it?
It's like that. You know it's gotta go sooner or later, but when depends entirely on your strength of will.
I felt as if I had pulled off the perfect scam. One guy had looked at a pair of my shoes and said, “You were a cheerleader, weren’t you?” His tone had been a little smug and dismissive. I had only smiled, triumphant as I answered, “Not since 9th grade.” They didn’t need to know it was in Christian school, back when the school was so small no one was turned away if they could o the cheers. If it had been the usual popularity thing, I wouldn’t have had a chance.
I actually enjoyed all the horrible assumptions people made about me, most of the time. Once, a guy named E. Roy was going on and on about how The War Between the States shouldn’t be called “The Civil War” but “The War of Northern Aggression." Now, I enjoy a good pointless argument as much as the next person, but he went on for some time, repeating himself obviously parroting something he’d heard on NPR.
I like history, don’t get me wrong. History is full of stories, details that make it real, exciting. What was it like? Who was there, and how did they deal with it? Those are my favorite questions that history can answer for us, or at least suggest an answer. But, what to call it? Oh, please! Hurt me, beat me, make me write bad checks. Just. Shut. UP.
I asked, politely, if we could talk about something else. E. Roy snarked back, “What do you want to talk about? Did you buy something nice at the store?” Everyone present laughed, and it caught me off guard.
I grew up with very little money. Recreational shopping was not something I had any experience doing, yet it was assumed that I was the sort of person who would be quite proficient at it. It really threw me. I think I asked why we couldn’t talk about the war itself instead of worrying about what to call it. A rose by any other name, and all that.
Then, there was that one time in a coffee shop called The Bonfire. It had these two gas-flame torches outside, and was really an all-night diner that boasted bottomless cups of coffee. Students would gather there, supposedly to study all night on an endless caffeine buzz for $1.50, but mostly they would socialize and b*tch. They called it a “bull session” for guys and a “b*tch session” for girls, but they were almost always coed.
I rarely went to the Bonfire, because, dangit, I like sleep. Plus, I would only “pull an all-nighter” if I really needed a bad grade. I just wasn’t built that way. I don’t remember why I went there, but I do remember that I was there the night I nearly blew my own cover, if you will.
A fellow with the unlikely name of Bivins Calhoun was on about society and welfare and high taxes and what not. I do not remember, specifically, what made me giggle at him, but he noticed. He asked me what was funny, and I said, “That is such a textbook bourgeoisie cliché.” I was smiling, and I said it lightly, like a poof brain happy to say big word. He wasn’t mad. He just smiled back and said, “Well, you aren’t exactly proletariat, are you?”
I wasn’t far from it, truth be told, but I smiled back. “You got me there. Touché.” My family wasn’t landless, entirely. My father had been in the Army when I was young, so we moved a lot. We did own a place, once, but it was a trailer and we were not there long. My grandparents had homes, and land. But, yeah, my stepdad and mom both sold their labor to make a living. I was there on scholarships, and my mom worked as a nurse to save up enough so that she could pay down my tuition to a level where my work study would cover the costs.
These people thought wearing hand-me-downs made you poor, said hand-me-downs being the burden of the less fortunate. But I had been poor enough top be thrilled when my sister outgrew something. I was even excited when she got new clothes, ‘cause I knew I’d get ‘em eventually.
Yeah, I was a big ol’ Fakey MacFakerson. I was trying hard to be this thing I thought I understood (though I didn’t, really) and was constantly surprised that people fell for it.
Things were not all roses with Emily, either. She DID want to pull all-nighters, and claimed she couldn’t think to type if I let out hamster roll around in his ball. She even kicked him when I told her I’d only have him out for 5 minutes. He needed a bit of exercise.
She punted him far enough out the door that he rolled down the stairs to the first floor. The people in the dorm office couldn’t believe that Emily had kicked the hamster. That was one advantage of her homey, farmgirl persona (rounded cheeks and a mischievous gleam in her eye that fairly dripped of sweetness). No one could believe what a b*tch she could be.
She made me go into the hall to spray my hair. I only used a little (one bottle did me more than whole year) and I even got the sweet-smelling Aussie stuff to placate her. She’d slam open the window when I walked back in from the hall to get my books.
It really, REALLY pissed her off when she saw my Western Civ test, the midterm. It was the only class we had together. Dr. Wade was supposed to be the hardest grader of the four proffs who taught Western Civ. I suppose he was, but I LOVED that class. She knew how little I had studied, so when she saw the grade, she popped. I could be the cutie that the boys liked, as long as she could be the good student, I presume.
I don’t really know why, but she was miffed at me, ever more so as time passed. I probably did bug her when she tried to study, but it was careless, not malicious. I was giddy with the success of my persona, going to all sorts of social things on campus.
She once asked me if I would do some drawings for somebody or other in her family’s Sunday school class. Or maybe it was for a Christmas thing. She asked once and I said I guess I could. She didn’t mention it again and I forgot. Rather, I don’t think she ever told me when she needed them.
Until, that is, she was about to leave to take them home with her and I didn’t have them. I said I was sorry and started trying to throw some sketches together. She was so mad. She yelled about how irresponsible I was, and how she should have known better than to expect me to keep my promises.
I tried to apologize, but she wouldn’t hear it and stormed out. This was ten minutes after I said goodbye to my mom and sister, who had come for a visit. After Em left, I ran outside, down to the visitor’s parking lot. I was hoping to catch them. See, I was eighteen, and right on the edge of that time in my life when a hug from my mother could still make everything better.
They were gone, and what’s more, it started to pour the rain just as I got to the stairs that led off the hill. They ran past the chapel. I was crying so hard, I almost ran down Grady who was coming up the stairs.
I was crying, hard. Sobbing, really. I was hurt and angry at what Emily had said. I wanted to talk to my mom and sister, because they would understand. Yes, I’d let my friend down, and she had a right to be upset, they’d say. But I was still a good person. I could make it up to her. I cannot tell you how badly I needed to hear that, from someone who knew me well.
Grady led me into the basement of the chapel, where the piano and voice practice rooms were. We sat on the narrow stairs, just inside the door, to wait out the rain.
I told him what had happened. How angry Emily had been, how she’d screamed at me and called me a bad name. How angry that made me, that she wouldn’t listen to me. How horribly guilty I felt for letting her down, how sorry I was, and how I didn’t know if I could make things right between us again.
He gave me some Kleenex and listened. When I finally calmed down, he put an arm around me and asked, “What did you do?”
I didn’t understand. “I forgot to do those drawings for Emily.”
“No, I mean, after she left.”
I went running for the parking lot. I was hoping to catch my mom and sister before they left.”
A look of honest surprise came over his face. “You didn’t… do anything, or break anything of Emily’s?”
I blushed with renewed guilt. “I picked up her ragdoll and smacked it into her bed really hard a couple times, but I didn’t hurt it. I put it back where she left it before I ran here.”
That pious mofo laughed at me. “Oh, good. I thought you’d done something.”
Evidently, with me, the b*tchiness was assumed, absent evidence to the contrary. Everyone, even this guy I had spent more time with than anyone else on campus(with the possible exception of Emily), was evidently convinced that I was Parker Posey.
Just be glad that you didn't do what I did: Pretend to be the person you thought you wanted to be for so long that the pretend version became the reality. Then, of course, you realize that the original you was much nicer, if not as popular. Then do it all over again, but in reverse.
Posts: 5462 | Registered: Apr 2005
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You know, I didn't find out until I was about 9 or 10 that not everyone wore hand-me-downs? I was just so oblivious. I think that's one reason I got so much crap in elementary school-- I didn't really get why people were sneering at me half the time until much later. (It's sad that elementary school kids sneer at anyone. But I digress.) I knew that some kids had newer-looking clothes than me, but I never really noticed. I figured that everyone was like me-- got some new things for back to school, birthdays, Christmas, and the like, mainly from grandparents with more disposable income, and the rest were thrift-store or hand-me-down clothes. Boy, was I clueless. And by the time I could have learned to play that game, it was too late. So, I decided that I would be proud of wearing thrift store clothes, and became one of those people instead. Still am, in fact-- I love thrift stores, and I wear what I feel pretty or happy in, no matter what everyone else thinks of it. But for a long time, I did that as a defense while secretly longing to be "in the know"-- and have money to do something about it. (Luckily, I've outgrown that part of it. I'm happy with the way I dress. And so is my husband. )
Posts: 21182 | Registered: Sep 2004
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kq- None of that really changed when I went to college. I had some new clothes for college (partly because of the whole surgery thing and weight loss), but they were standard things. Jeans,sweats, a few tops. Everyone dressed college-student sloppy, not to be confused with real sloppy, but you know.
Another benefit of my peculiar situation was that (after my dad retired and we moved back to the boonies) I had been frequently reviled as "rich" by some of my neighbors. I went to private school, and my non-hand-me-downs came from Sears instead of the Dollar General store.
By college, though... mom was working and I was the only child still at home, which changed the dynamic a bit. She spoiled me a little, because she could. Also, I was very pleasing to spoil because I was truly grateful for everything.
It was basic middle-middle class stuff, unremarkable except mom had an old friend with a store that sold hand made jewelwry, and several friends who would make stuff for us. Why, I don't know. But I had some cool (if inexpensive) bling. The goal was fit just so, to be neither high nor low.
To blend. But it was the late 80s, when torn mesh and bleached jeans were hot. *shrug* It does not take a large budget to achieve the look people had going back then. I got a college sweatshirt (fuchia) wore a white turtleneck and white knit pants, and I was golden. *melts with the pain of fashion flashback*
Posts: 9293 | Registered: Aug 2000
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So, one last story to illustrate the beginnings of somewhat sociopathic tendencies. You may think I speak in hyperbole, but I’m not sure I do. I began to identify with that cold-hearted image. People would joke about my puffed heart necklace.
“I’ve heard ‘don’t wear your heart on your sleeve’ but what about around your neck? Shouldn’t you be more careful with it than that?”
I’d slip it inside my shirt and grimace. “It’s cold.”
Just before the end of the first semester of my Freshman year, the theater class put on the Ayn Rand play, The Night of January 16th. My mom was coming to school to see it with me, and nearly everyone else. The day before opening night, I was walking with Grady. It was cold and overcast, but not freezing.
He saw some of the ‘wild’ kids in front of the students’ center, and made a comment about how one of the girls was not wearing shoes. But, she was wearing shoes—light tan skimmers.
Now, I am trying hard to reform my know-it-all-ish tendencies, but back then I loved nothing better than proving someone wrong. I told him she was wearing shoes. He disagreed. I suggested we walk closer. He refused. I dragged him a bit closer, so he could see I was right.
This REALLY pissed him off. He excused himself to go do laundry. I called the hall later to ask if he and David wanted to ride over to the theater with my mother and me, and he said no.
He also told me that the guys had been talking about me while they got ready, and E. Roy had said something like, “That one’s a fury.” I liked the sound of that, and laughed. He said it wasn’t a compliment, but I couldn’t see it any other way. Still can’t, really.
People fear what they can’t understand, and sometimes fear leads to mockery. I was pleased that they didn’t understand me, and a little smug in the knowledge that they never would.
He was truly angry, which amused me. I didn’t understand his anger, except on an instinctive level. I think it stemmed from sexual tension, maybe feeling like being proven wrong unmanned him somehow. I had kept my grades mostly to myself, and he knew I didn’t study much, so it was easy for him to think of himself as my superior. Sounds horrible, but they tended to take the man being the head of the woman a bit too seriously for my taste.
It hadn’t been an argument. I wasn’t at all angry, and didn’t understand his emotional fixation on whether a girl was wearing shoes or not. My detached puzzlement at his anger only made it worse.
Anyway, we went to the theater one town over and found our seats. David and Grady made their way to theirs seats about the same time as mom and I did. We had a large group of girls from my dorm with us, and Emily’s mom, too. Em and I had patched things up, and were getting on quite well.
I later heard that, in the bull session where I had been dubbed a ‘fury’, Grady had told David, “The best revenge is looking good.”
As they took their seats, David looked at me and whispered to Grady, “Dude, you lose.” I didn’t hear about it until much later. As a matter of fact, I had only the vaguest idea that he was upset with me at that point. I only came to understand it later.
The play was a courtroom drama, and the verdict was left to the audience. When it was over, we filed out. Mom and I ended up near Grady and David in the isle.
“So,” Grady said to my mom. “Guilty or not guilty?”
“Ill never tell,” said my mother. Everyone who heard burst out laughing. I’ll say this for my mother – she knew how to work a room, and she was never at a loss for words. I could have kissed her.
It was snowing at the theater, with a few inches already on the ground, but none had fallen back at school. It was a great night; I loved hanging out with my mom and the girls afterward, the vagaries of boys nothing more than a speedbump in our reality.
Some time later, Grady and I went walking one evening. I think it was after the Fall Ball, our fall semester formal. He was still annoyed with me. To me, he was becoming tiresome.
He was telling me stuff he was not liking about … god, I don’t even know. I was like, Keep talking, baby, I like to watch your lips move.
I tried to be rational with him, but I think my detachment only made things worse. He was pissed off, and just wouldn’t let it go.
That was when I had this … flash of insight, I guess. I just wanted him to shut up and kiss me, and suddenly I knew just how to make that happen. I didn’t know why it would work, I just knew it would.
I pretended to get angry right back, and I punched him the gut. Not as hard as I could, mind you, but hard enough that he might think my heart had been in it. I could have really hurt him, but I pulled it a little after contact. I was thinking, Look angry, look angry…
He grabbed my necklace and pulled. I resisted a little, but let him pull me into a kiss. Then I kissed him back. You know, the whole gradually yielding thing they do in the movies.
It worked. I tried not to smile where he could see me. I was so proud of myself.
Hamlet was my favorite play by Shakespeare, at least at that time. I will quote one of my favorite bits in its entirety, as I believe it is in the public domain.
quote: Hamlet `Tis as easy as lying. Govern these ventages with your fingers thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.
Guildenstern But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony. I have not the skill.
Hamlet Why look you now how unworthy a thing you make of me. You would play upon me, you would seem to know my stops, you would pluck out the heart of my mystery, you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass - and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot make it speak. `Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play me.
I knew his stops, and I had played him with ease. Let him assert his imaginary dominance, and gotten my way.
It was, of course, the beginning of the end of our ‘relationship’. I wanted to end it on my own terms, I suppose. I don't really remember what I was thinking, except that I was a little drunk with the power I had just realized I had.
I use quotes around 'relationship' because he never knew me at all, and I never cared much one way or the other. To be honest, for all I knew, this was how relationships worked. You found someone that others found suitable for you, and you snookered them. It was certainly more fun than risking your heart.
I thought I had a gift. A knack. A natural talent for it. I did, actually.
Though I am not proud of my behavior, I will tell you this: It was awfully hard to stop, once I developed a taste for it.
Posts: 9293 | Registered: Aug 2000
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Man, he was mad at you because you were right and he was wrong? Waah.
Reminds me of Porter's mom. She went to play minigolf on a date. She played excellently and won by quite a bit. The guy took her home without hardly saying two words to her and never asked her out again.
I have no respect for such jack-asses that have to feel superior to the women in their lives.
But I understand you feeling bad about what happened afterward. It still isn't right to manipulate someone, even if they are a dolt.
Posts: 7050 | Registered: Feb 2004
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Thanks, bev. That was about the worst part of this story, the hardest to get out. It was hard to be honest about how really evil and cold I acted, underneath it all.
I can’t stand it much longer, so I’m going to try to make this quick. (No laughing, please ). Sometime before the end of term, Grady and I went driving in search of an ice cream parlor. We got lost, and ended up close to the road that led to my home town, so I tricked him into following it then pretended to be surprised when I “realized” where we were. It was maybe 9:30 pm, and on a whim we went up to my parent’s house. I was surprised to find them sound asleep, but I had a key and let us in and gently woke my parents up to meet him.
I showed him my room, which I had decorated myself. It was fairly elegant, I thought, with an antique china tea service on a table by the window (bad idea, I had a cat) and sheer curtains embroidered with the long lines of calla lilies.
My folks were very nice to him, and he was on his best behavior. Afterward he said he thought he understood me better after seeing where I came from. I thought that was funny, but didn’t let it show. We left and went downtown, stopping by the historic covered bridge, realizing too late that we had parked next to a car where people were copulating in the back seat. At least, that is how it seemed from the bare feet sticking up.
It was a bit awkward.
When we headed back to school, he said, “I want to take you to ____.” His home town. It was in Virginia not far from the West Virginia border, directly up the interstate about three hours. There had been less than 20 people in his graduating class from the public high school. The downtown area had one pay phone (that didn’t work – you could hear but no one could hear you) and the Post Office was a room on one side of the tiny general store. I didn’t think places like that were real.
Anyway, he said the interstate ran right through his family farm, so it would be a quick trip. He got permission from David (his roommate, whose car he had borrowed) and we decided to go. I grabbed an oversized purse which I packed lightly and we were off. By then it was nearly eleven, so it could be as late as 2am when we arrived.
He asked me if I “felt froggy”. I had no idea what he meant. He had to explain the saying, “If you feel froggy, jump.” We jumped. He told me about places we passed through as we went along.
“Wytheville is the county seat of Wythe County. Are you Wythe me?” Heh. He was very amusing on this trip, I admit. Sadly, that was as good as it was going to get.
I don’t remember exactly when we got there, to a smallish house surrounded by faintly illuminated fields bordered by tall, black pine-shaped smudges. He got to the porch, found the hidden key and froze.
“Suddenly, I think this is a bad idea. Let’s go back.” There was a tremor of laughter in his voice, more nervous than funny.
I sighed. “Do you really think they’ll freak out?”
“Do you think we can make it back without sleeping?” This was honestly a concern. We were very tired. “It’s up to you.”
He turned the key, and left me in the entryway while he woke his mom. She was very gracious to me; I liked her immediately. What was he so afraid of?
She made the bed in his room for me, and brought him some blankets for the couch. I cleaned up, brushed my teeth and went to bed.
The next morning I did my best to look presentable. His father and brothers were there, too. We talked over Sunday Breakfast, after his father read some scripture aloud and said a prayer.
Grady had warned me that they had interesting social structures in that area. It was all about which families were the oldest. His father, he informed me, had married beneath himself according to their cultural whatevertheheckyouwannacallit. They knew the name of the first member of their family to settle the land. I barely knew my own grandparents’ full names, since most of them had died long before I was born. Oy.
It was alien to me. I was alien to them, but I really tried to be on my best behavior. I didn’t know the rules. They asked about my ancestors and the only one I could think of that went back any way at all was the family legend that my great-great-great grandmother was the daughter of The Prophet. (Sometimes they said Tacumsa, but when I first heard the stories it was merely “the daughter of a great Shawnee shaman”.) I was (and still am) proud of the possibility. I think it has at least a grain of truth.
I think the story was proof of my unsuitability for their son. Not sure if it was racism or that they didn’t like being reminded that somebody was here before them. It was so weird to me. I had no idea… Anyway, it was okay for one of his brothers to make a joke about having visited the room I slept in sometime in the night (he hadn’t) but it was not okay…
You know what? I have no idea what there deal was. NOT A CLUE. To this day, it bugs me a little. I was fairly good at figuring people out. But these people were mostly very kind and gracious to my face. Unfailingly polite (when mom or dad were in hearing range, anyway) but I have always felt a bit uneasy about what they said when I wasn’t there.
I expressed concern about the people on campus who saw us drive off together, semi-jokingly, and his mother wrote me a note stating that I was at her home from 1:30am until 9am, and that no funny business occurred.
It was sweet and thoughtful, and more than a little creepy.
Grady’s mom had shown me photo albums, with labels neatly typed in a typewriter, cut out razor straight and glued in place with no smears. They went all the way up to a picture of him getting in the car to go back to college after fall break, which would have been less than a month before my visit. Three weeks, tops.
I had to get back for a voice recital, so we couldn’t stay for church. Grady got a ticket on the way back. I took a picture.
I offered him the picture so his mom could type the neat little label, “Grady’s first ticket.” He declined.
The next semester, a mutual friend happened upon the picture while a bunch of people were hanging out in my dorm room. He also found a candid of him in the middle of yawn, and decided to use them in a prank. I gave him my permission, not thinking that, of course, everyone would assume it was my idea.
He copied them on the library photocopier with notes that read, “If you drive like this… [yawn] You may end up like this… [Grady sitting in a police car]
I guess I’m lucky nobody killed me before my 20th birthday.
Over Christmas break he sent me a wee bottle of White Shoulders (the perfume I used to favor at the time). I had been wearing it since my mother gave me a bottle of it that her friend (and my namesake) Olivia had given her. It was 15 years old and had aged nicely. (Mom couldn’t wear it because it smelled really bad on her. She didn’t find many scents that didn’t react to her skin in odd ways.) The new stuff seemed too strong.
In the letter he sent with it, he mentioned that his bed had smelled like me. It had driven him crazy, but he assumed that was my plan. Actually, I had been menstruating on the night of our adventure, and a little paranoid about the blood smell. But, yeah, sure. It was all about him. Why not? *shrug*
He also had postscript: Save the Tape. The packaged had some duct tape on it. He had once mentioned that David was gone, and joked about sneaking me into the room. I had laughed and said, “Sure, I’ll grab a hat and some duct tape, and we’ll be good to go.” I was thinking a hat to hide my hair in and tape to… make me less feminine in silhouette, shall we say.
But when he seemed confused about the use of the tape, I balked because I was insecure about being under-endowed. So I said, “Oh, I probably don’t need it anyway.” He assumed I had some kinky sex thing in mind, I think. I have no idea how to even describe how far anything like that was from my mind. “Keep the tape” indeed.
I Felt bad for not having a gift for him, so I called his mother and asked if I could drive up for a day with a friend to give him his gift. She was amazingly nice about it. Jeanette and I drove up one Saturday after Christmas. I took the wrong exit and ended up trying to call from the broken pay phone. His mother guessed what was going on and gave directions how to get to their farm to what sounded to her like dead air. That was amazingly kind of her.
We made it there. Hung out with his brothers and a friend. We were wearing long blue jean skirts and button down shirts with a brooch at the collar. It seemed way too dressy, once we got there. We watched North by Northwest, one of the best thrillers ever. It was the best thing about the trip. We drove back just after dark.
After school was back in session, they posted the Honor Roll and Dean’s List on ever public door on campus. Mine was on the Honor Roll, the one denoting students with perfect 4.0 averages. My secret was out.
People actually came up to me, impressed, and said, “I had no idea you were smart!” Grady said nothing, but was increasingly cold. I was dissatisfied being stuck with him. He wasn’t very bright (at least not in interesting, surprising ways). I guess I mean to say that he was dull. He couldn’t dance. I mean, he’d try, but it was just embarrassing. I think we were only together because people would talk about how cute we were. One chick even asked us to kiss in front of her. O_O
He went home for his grandfather’s funeral. I went to a dance on campus that weekend, and danced with friends and other guys who maybe were interested in me, too. If they asked about Grady, I would tell them that we agreed not to be exclusive, which was true. When he came back, he took me to a quiet corner of the library and told me that being with his family he realized that we just had different values. Too different for things to work out well with us.
It was the wisest thing he ever said, even though I don’t really understand the reasoning. I am tempted to think he couldn’t stand the pressure of going out with a girl who could never miss a social activity and still be 4.0, or maybe the disapproval of his family was too much for him. But he was right.
I would have gone with the flow until I absolutely despised him. It would not have been pretty. The one thing I asked was if we could still be friends. We had the same group of friends, mostly. We ate and hung out with the same people.
He said he didn’t think he could, that he had never been able to be friendly with someone he dated after they broke up, but he’d try.
He failed. He got quiet whenever I was around. Wouldn’t speak at all if I sat down at the same lunch table, or whatever. Naturally, people assumed I had broken up with him and broken his heart in the process. *shrug*
I wasn’t too broken up about it, but it was annoying to be suddenly outside your usual group (that wasn’t entirely the case, but this is where my connections to the Theater People and Weird Intellectuals began to strengthen). Also, the people closest to me knew the deal, so they were cool.
I dated lots of people much more casually than I had Grady, and it was a blast. I began to make friendships that were a bit more honest, out of necessity. My friend Mouse and I made plans to be roommates the next fall, since Emily was moving to the New Dorm. I met my future husband when he toured the campus as a prospective student.
But this is not his story. It isn’t MY story, either. Not really.
Ronnie Ellis was still going to my church. I saw him when I was home, and he made jokes about how I never came to youth group. Bristol wasn’t that far away, after all. I didn’t have a car, though, at least not on campus. They discouraged Freshmen from having cars because parking was a serious problem.
Over Christmas he took mom and me to play. We exchanged presents. Mom took a picture of us circling each other, sumo style, acting like we were afraid the other wouldn’t give up our present if we let them have theirs first. It was a hoot. It was natural and comfortable. In short, everything I was trying so hard to avoid.
One last note about Christmas break. My high school senior English teacher had a little party. He invited a bunch from the class, but only a handful of girls came. The only other one whose name I remember is Theresa, the girl from Speech and Drama. She was the only one who spoke to me much at the party, and it was nice to talk to her.
Midway through the evening, Dr. Pierce announced, “Only one of you made it through your first semester with a 4.0 grade average. Any guesses?”
I wanted to beat him with a chair. He looked up our grades (at least three different colleges were represented in the group) before inviting us over? Most of the girls went to the local state university, Therese was at a very large, more prestigious place in the Midwest, possibly Northwestern. I had known he taught at the state university sometimes, and my workstudy was under a professor who was a close friend of his, but I was surprised he’d gotten hold of Therese’s grades.
I was very testy about it. Sulky, even. He acted like he’d won a bet or something. He probably had, the evil little man. Therese was the only one who chatted with me after that. She even walked with me to my car, while we talked. She had a bisexual roommate who happened to be called “Libby”, which was what some folks called me in High School.
There was that comment, and the fact that she had chosen a story about a girl hopelessly in love with her best friend and who eventually kills herself when the friend marries. The angsty lesbian love theme, if you will. I was great at knowing which boys liked boys, but entirely oblivious to girls who liked girls. In retrospect, I realize that most of the girls I got on with well were probably lesbian or bi. I was clueless then, but I think maybe Therese liked me. If I’d had a clue, I would have been flattered because she was gorgeous and smart and poised. I also would have been horrified. Heh. And, of course, I could be misreading it entirely; knowing me, it’s likely.
Ronnie thought it was weird that Dr. Pierce had a party for former students. He said he had dated a few former students. I was surprised (and intrigued) but much too intimidated by him for it to matter. He had told me to read The Death of Arthur by summertime, and give him a report.