Classmate a stand-in for “Rudy”; Jigging at College Dance
I wrote this in my diary on September 1:
Last night the old friends of Mom and Dad who have the college grandson stopped by. I discovered they’re still thinking of fixing us up, and the woman asked me several questions and talked about him ([he’s going to] Purdue), and showed me a picture of his brother because she didn’t have one of him. If he looks anything like his cute younger brother….
And I noticed with surprise that the man’s eyes were sky-blue! [my favorite eye color] My parents were looking all over for a picture of me they could give them. When Dad pulled out pics from 7th and 9th grade, I hurried upstairs and got a senior picture.
All this began just as Hawaii ended on channel 50 [Chicago] and the 1st part of the sequel, Hawaiians, began with cool music and a pic of a boat on the sea with Charlton Heston in it, dressed like a captain.
I don’t know whatever became of this fix-up with the grandson. I never heard any more about it.
Hawaii and Hawaiians were excellent movies, though. Hawaii was funny, with the natives doing as they’d always done and not realizing they might be doing something wrong; the missionary’s list of sexual sins only gave them new ideas: “Hey, I hadn’t thought of doing that. I should try it.”
Rudy was a movie about a college student who’d always dreamed of playing football for Notre Dame, but was small and not that good of a player. But because of his lifelong dream, he worked hard, and got to play at least once.
The crowd chanted, “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy,” when he played. Dad saw that game and remembered the chanting, though he didn’t know at the time what it was for. On September 3, I wrote this in my diary:
On the 10:00 news on [channel] 16 tonight, they talked about how hotly Rudy is selling, and showed the long-sideburned stand-in–[one of my high school classmates]!!
He’s a Notre Dame student, and the reporter was talking with him at a kitchen table, it appeared. The reporter said, ‘Don’t think he wants to be an actor. He wants to be a game-show host.’
I can just see that–and I think I remember him saying that once.
He was also the stepson of a famous South Bend DJ, one of our local gods. He was the James Dean lookalike in this McDonalds commercial when he was 19.
I probably arrived at school on Monday, September 6, because that was Labor Day and a much more convenient day for my parents to drive me to Roanoke.
On Saturday, my friends and I went outside Bossard to cool off and drink pop while the DJ played “Jump” by House Of Pain, a rap song. Because of the Irish theme of the video, which had Irish hats and buttons and dancers, Astrid and I began to dance an Irish step-dance or jig.
Since it was so much fun, I realized I liked it far more than the modern, boring sway-dancing going on in Bossard. I requested “Funky Ceili” by Black 47 so we could jig again, but the DJ didn’t play it. I don’t know if he even had it.
To my glee, James worked with me for the last few minutes of my Tuesday and Thursday shifts. I had a chance to get to know him–and possibly even more.
Though some people thought library work was the most boring, I thought it was the most wonderful. Almost anything seemed better after a year working in Food Service, but it wasn’t just that:
I could sit at the information desk and read my homework assignments, waiting for people to check out or return books. When the cart of returned books was full, I put the books in order and re-shelved them.
I loved being alone among all the books, and often found books on the cart or on the shelves which I checked out for myself. I hung the daily newspapers on racks in the main reading room (by the information desk). I loved spending time among the 800s, of course, since that’s where literature is in Dewey Decimals.
There was a third floor, a half-floor, actually, a kind of balcony extending over part of the second floor. It may not have been in use junior year, though senior year it was used for a juvenile section.
My boss, Head Librarian, was a tall, skinny woman with glasses and dark hair. I don’t remember Flora’s librarian title; she had short hair and glasses. I don’t know how old they were; probably forties. Flora was from Indiana, but had a Southern bent to her mostly Northern accent. She must have come from farther south than my hometown.
Seymour was the circulation librarian. He dealt with the newspapers and magazines. I wrote an essay on him for Advanced Writing. He was tall, mostly bald, and dark-haired, with glasses and a gentle expression.
This was a post-retirement job, taken after he got a Library Science degree. He often sat at a desk alongside the wall opposite the information desk, and above the desk was a window. People would come in and, without turning his head, he greeted them by name. Some people found this scary, but he could see their reflections in the window. He was friendly and talked to everyone he could.
Freshman or sophomore year, I went into the library and checked out a book.
Seymour asked, “Where are you from?”
“South Bend,” I said.
“Why did you come so far away from home to Roanoke?”
I came for the Writing major, and other things.
“South Bend is the home of Notre Dame football. Are you a fan?”
“No, but I still support the team.” I supported it by rooting for it, not watching the games.
Sophomore or junior year, we had the same conversation, almost word for word.
Though Head Librarian and Flora could occasionally be seen doing things around the library, much of the time I found them sitting in the office watching a TV on a wheeled stand. Sharon wondered if they had us student workers do most of the work.
They were pleasant and laid-back, not caring if student workers came in a few minutes late, and often smiled at us. The library clerk, J–, had one leg shorter than the other. She was a pleasant person, with blonde hair and glasses. When she was at the desk, she’d chat with me.
Sometimes I was the only student working, and sometimes there was someone with me. When setting up hours, you had to be careful not to schedule yourself with more than one person.
One of the heirs to a prominent local business was a schizophrenic man in probably his forties or fifties. He would come into the library to find his tutor. He talked very loudly, and as if he were a little slow mentally.
He was tall, maybe a little overweight, and dark, with heavy eyebrows. His tutor was heavy-set, dark, and mustached. I grew to recognize them both.
“Mr. Heir” would ask me if I smoked, maybe to offer me a cigarette if I did (bleh), and go outside to smoke in the entryway, the only place in the library where it was allowed. I think sometimes he even lit up in the library itself, and had to be told to move into the entryway.
Teachers put articles, test answers, books, and other things on reserve, and these reserved materials were put in a bookshelf to the left of the information desk and along the wall, with each teacher’s name pasted over separate sections. Students had to ask one of us to get the reserved materials for them, and they signed their names on long cards stuck in the material.
Because of this, I felt like I knew a lot about what was going on in the classes. Sometimes, teachers came up to the desk and talked to me because of these reserves, or because they knew me.
Flora’s husband liked to call her a lot, and always asked for her by her first and last name. Since many people just asked for “Flora,” we’d know it was her husband. It almost seemed as if he wanted there to be no mistake that she was his woman.
I didn’t know her full name at first, and had just read in the student workers’ information manual that the student workers weren’t there to go fetching people all the time. We often got calls asking to talk to people who might be in the library, so I went to Head Librarian and Flora, who were usually in the office, or to Seymour and asked if they knew who such-and-such was. They often did, and found them if they were there.
So one day I asked if they knew a Flora T–. Flora laughed and said that was she. She took the phone and told her husband I was new.
I had to read the manual on my first day, and though I probably forgot a lot of it, I knew I was supposed to answer the phone and say “library” if it was on-campus (one ring) or “Roanoke College Library” if it was off-campus (two rings). I kept wanting to say “Lib’ry!” like the British.
Sometimes Latosha came into the library and talked with me. She, of course, had her cute baby daughter by then, and sometimes brought her in. Last year, when she conceived the baby, she was living off-campus with E–; now, she’d broken up with him, and was glad to be rid of him.
(She’s on my Facebook, and now that little baby is all grown up and graduated from high school! Scary how time flies when you pass 20.)
On Wednesday, September 8, classes began. The new year excited me: What would it be like? Shawn was gone, and I didn’t see Peter anywhere.
On the one hand, it was sad to not see Shawn anymore, but on the other hand, it was a relief. Both those men were finally gone, and I was free! I could start the year off on my own terms.
I had gotten used to looking at everyone who came in or passed, wondering if it was Shawn or Peter, but now it would never be again. That was weird. A wonderful semester began, the best and happiest semester I ever spent at that school.
Though I thought about Peter during the summer, I did not want to get back together with him. On September 22, I wrote in my diary–and later told Pearl–that maybe the supposed “word” about Peter and I getting back together, referred to friendship and not romance. Though before I would have hated this thought, now it elated me.
One night, sometime before mid-October, as Jennifer and I washed our hands alone in the bathroom of Fox Valley Mall in Appleton, I asked what had become of Peter. I hesitated and took great care in bringing this up, probably because I didn’t want her to think I was still hung up on him.
She said, “He dropped out of school. He decided he didn’t need a degree for what he wants to do. Now he’s working in Radio Shack in the S– mall.”
On the one hand I wondered how the supposed “words” were supposed to be fulfilled now; on the other I felt joy and release: Peter was truly out of my life.
I rarely stayed in my room on Friday nights, and I think Clarissa often came with me. My friends had parties, or Jennifer and her new boyfriend Mike invited me to join them and others as they drove off to Jennifer’s house or elsewhere.
Jennifer and Mike weren’t together yet at the beginning of the year, though: We met him that year. He may have been a transfer student or a freshman.
I remember him sitting next to me in the back of a car full of my friends, and talking to us. I thought he had an uncanny resemblance to my World Civ teacher (and laughed like him)–though, thank goodness, he didn’t spit when he talked.
I soon discovered he liked Jennifer. I thought they started dating, but Pearl or Sharon told me he was interested in another girl and had to decide which one he wanted. This anxious triangle was soon resolved when he chose Jennifer.
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
July & August 1994: