This probably happened between December 5 and 12, though not the Friday before December 12: My choir friends went to a church to practice for their upcoming tour. They would perform Handel’s Messiah in churches, including the Hallelujah chorus–most impressive of all. They weren’t going to do it at Roanoke, so this was my only chance to hear them.
I came along to help Pearl with her wheelchair, because my friends said I should come and watch the practice. I believe they first practiced in the sanctuary, but for some reason I wasn’t in there.
Instead, I stayed nearby and wandered around a bit. It’s quite possible they went there just to do the Hallelujah chorus, and I wasn’t able to go in there, but went looking for the bathroom.
Later, they moved to a choir room. Just as my friends suspected, the choir director didn’t mind me watching. Somebody said she’d love it.
I felt a bit uncomfortable having to face the choir as I listened, the only place I could sit, and I flipped through a Life magazine while I listened to keep from looking at them and feeling weird.
But the singing was lovely. I don’t think I’d ever heard the choir sing better. The choir director asked me, and I told her how wonderful it sounded.
(Phil wasn’t in the choir this year, so I didn’t have to deal with him. He had been trying to get away from the Singers and the choir, though the director wanted to keep him in.)
Remember Ned, the tall blond who flirted with every girl who moved, dated Catherine for a while, then dated Melissa, and did Virtual Reality shows with Darryl? He was there, though he’d graduated, because he was in the S– Symphony Orchestra that accompanied the choir during the tour. He came over once and hugged Pearl.
One day, Clarissa showed me a weird cartoon called Two Stupid Dogs. I’m almost certain that’s where this line came from for Dolphin Philosophy: “I’m your friend. You don’t eat your friends!”
We had InterVarsity meetings every Tuesday in the Muskie conference room. We ate dinner there together. On December 6, Persephone said at the meeting,
“I’m going to break up with Phil. His parents have been harassing me. They keep calling every half-hour looking for him when he’s not in my room. I’ve had mono, but they act like I’m not really sick because I’m up and around now.”
Mike said at one Tuesday meeting that he got a totally unexpected letter from a high school friend he hadn’t heard from in years. This made me think I should start writing letters to my old high school friends, just out of the blue, like that girl did. So I wrote a few, though none of them wrote back.
Cindy wanted to set up Tara with Randy, but was afraid to because she also tried to set up two people back in freshman or sophomore year. I didn’t know much about that, but heard it was a big fiasco, and the two people ended up hating each other.
To our surprise, Tara had never met Randy before. One night during Winterim, Sharon and I tried to reassure her that he was cute and a nice guy.
I had all my Roanoke yearbooks there in my room, so Sharon and I went through them to find pictures of him to show to her. We finally found his freshman year Cross Country and Track picture, the best we could find.
Tara and Randy decided to meet in the computer lab one night before going out on a date.
They liked each other, and Randy said to Cindy, “She’s so sweet!” Cindy asked Tara for Randy, “Do you like Bryan Adams?” Tara loved Bryan Adams.
They had a few other things in common, too. I said with a smile, “Sounds like a perfect match!”
They decided to start dating, and Tara dressed up for her first date in great anxiety. She still feared they wouldn’t like each other. Pearl and Sharon went to her and Pearl said,
“Tara, we’ve decided to live vicariously through you.” They, like me, had trouble getting dates, and wanted to know everything that happened on Tara and Randy’s date.
The first date must have gone well, because not only did they become a couple, they got married in 1997. For the rest of senior year, Randy was a common guest in the apartment, which we welcomed–since, after all, Tara never had to kick her roommies out of her bedroom.
On the 10th, I wrote a paper for American Lit titled, Richardson and Dickinson–Two “Feminist” Writers. I noted that both writers–though Samuel Richardson had a different idea of what a proper wife “should” do–depicted
women as capable on their own, and happiness in marriage does not necessarily occur. Both portrayed women as quite able to be equal to men, if only given the chance. Such concepts were quite unusual for the day.
Though Richardson’s view of a wife’s role was more traditional, he hardly expected women to be just ornamental or silly, unreasoning creatures. His novel Clarissa depicted an intellectual and pious young woman, who often acted wisely, though at times she was trapped by her own piety.
For example, her friend Anna Howe noted that if she had not been such a dutiful and sweet-tempered daughter, her family would never have thought they could force her to marry “the odious Solmes.” She said, in modern terms, that you teach people how to treat you.
Clarissa’s mother, though a perfectly submissive wife, was also trapped by her submission, because she became a doormat, depended on by the rest of the family to submit to anything her husband required her to do.
She felt obliged to go along with her husband when he decided, on his son’s advice, to force Clarissa to marry a contemptible man who offended all her sensibilities. (Think Wormtail from the Harry Potter series, only with money and land.)
Clarissa agreed that she would have to submit to her husband–but she at least wanted a husband who was worth submitting to and trusting. Richardson obviously felt women should decide whom to marry, and not just have it decided for them.
Dr. Nelson wrote on my paper, “I’m impressed by your reading–the amount you’ve read and your impassioned condemnation of standards women had to live up to in the 18th and 19th centuries.”
He also wrote that I needed to expand my analysis. He wrote, “There’s definitely a senior honors thesis to be done here–‘Rebellious women in 18th and 19th century Anglo-American Literature’ or some such.”
On the 11th, Anna told me she was wrong about the guy she thought God planned for her to marry! She had all these “proofs” that God was telling her to marry him, yet he was going out with other girls, not her.
Still, for the past couple of years, she believed he would one day be hers. Then she found out in November that he was engaged–to someone else.
That’s when she realized it was the Devil’s lies and not God at all. This also shook my faith in my own fleeces about Phil.
By December 15 I sent Mike the following note:
¿Tienes mucho hambre? ¿Tienes mucha cumtha? Tienes muy guapos ojanaddiz. No estas un dorcos pero un uchasosio.
I signed it “Estrella” to hide who I was, since you don’t need a return address for on-campus mail. The meaning was,
“Are you very hungry? Do you have a lot of (Nonsense word: food)? You have very handsome (nonsense word: eyes + nose). You are not a (nonsense word: dork) but a (nonsense word: U.C.C. member).”
Yes, it was a joke, something he couldn’t translate. Pearl told me he went mad trying to translate it, and wondered why someone would send him that. He soon found out who sent him the message.
I also sent this to Astrid around the same time, and signed it with the name I picked for myself in German class in high school:
Guten Tag, meine Freundin! Bist du gut aufgelegt? Hoffentlich hast du ein guten Tag. Und hier ist ein gutes Lied:
Mein Hut, er hat drei Ecken,
Drei Ecken hat mein Hut.
Hat er nicht drei Ecken,
Er ist nicht mein Hut!
It meant, “Hello, my friend! Are you in a good mood? Hopefully you’re having a good day. And here is a good song:”
The following is an actual, German drinking song, which Frau taught my German class:
“My hat, it has three corners, / Three corners has my hat. / If it doesn’t have three corners, / It is not my hat!”
I received many Christmas cards with wonderful messages. My favorites:
From Sharon: “I really enjoy having you as a roomie. You’re a great person–one of the most unique people I know. I thank God for friends like you.”
From Mike: “Who hatched the egg that [our teacher] laid? We did!”
Charles knew Phil, who kept trying to be friends with him, but Charles thought he was trying too hard. Charles didn’t like people pushing to be his friend.
I talked with Pearl the night of the fifteenth, and she told me that Randy had started to be good friends with Phil now.
Randy used to be friends with Peter freshman year, before Peter started smoking weed and embarrassed Randy at a family function by bragging about it.
It seemed like some sort of requirement that my exes be friends with each other and with Randy at some point, and that they join the Zetas (which Charles did in the spring). It was weird.
But then, I guess that’s small-college life for you. Fortunately, Randy didn’t seem to like or stay friends with Phil for long.
I feared that Randy’s friendship with my exes explained why he didn’t want to date me, that they poisoned his mind against me with lies. But Cindy set him up with Tara, and they eventually got married, so it no longer mattered anyway.
Cindy told Pearl that Randy told her that Phil said I forced him to go to Indiana and stay there for the summer, that my parents wanted to check him out and see if they wanted him to keep dating me.
This blatant lie shocked me. I wanted to confront him about this as soon as possible.
I already wanted him to get out of my life and go far away where I would never see or hear of him again. I did not want him back anymore. But this was the last straw that sent me over the edge; I wanted the controlling and abuse to stop once and for all.
I didn’t see him, so I wrote a note. Furious, I mailed it without letting it sit for long, which I shouldn’t have done, since I wrote some things that were mean, not just righteously angry.
I still regret them, and did later apologize for them, when I found him online years later.
But among the mean things, I wrote many things I never regretted, because they confronted him with the lies he kept spreading about me. Sometimes such letters must be sent to get closure.
I told him what I just heard, that he knew it was a lie, and if he kept lying, I would report him to Memadmin.
I said I’d been trying to forgive him, but he wasn’t making it any easier.
I said I was sick of his abuse and being his scapegoat for what went wrong.
I did give him a chance to tell me if the report I heard was wrong, but I also wrote, “Leave me and my life alone.” Though I didn’t think of calling him a stalker, I probably could have justifiably.
Over Christmas Break, I worried whenever I thought of the note, whether it was really justified, and what would be the results.
When I got back to school, I kept expecting to open my mailbox to a scathing reply, but got nothing. No defense, no cries of being unjustly accused. Just complete and utter silence–not even to say hi or nod when we passed on the sidewalk.
I later learned that the school counselor (bless her heart) told him to stay away from me. Finally, peace!
He told Pearl he didn’t say those things.
But I don’t believe him because, as I told you in the July & August 1994 chapter, one day over the summer he went on and on, reproaching me about the things he gave up to stay with me over the summer. Though I never forced him to stay with me, he talked that day as if I had.
And I’ve also shown you in the September 1994 chapter how he pretended to be depressed and lied to Dirk because he wanted Dirk and his roommates to feel a certain way. He told his friends lies about me, lies which kept coming back to me, so why wouldn’t I believe he said this as well?
I knew he used his acting ability to lie and manipulate. Why wouldn’t he do the same to Pearl?
Once, right after I got back in January, I saw him sitting alone with Persephone, in a solitary part of the cafeteria. He saw me. He sat all hunched over and upset-like, his head down and his fists up to his shoulders.
Ever since then, he gave me weird looks when he saw me. Like he felt guilty or was mad at me or just didn’t know what to say to me–I really don’t know which.
For a while, even Persephone seemed to look at me oddly, almost as if she feared to talk to me or something. Then she talked to me sometimes, but I tried to avoid her.
I didn’t trust her. I felt like she and certain others could be kind of like spies, whether they knew it or not: Anything I said or did around them could get reported to Phil, so I tried to guard myself around them and avoid them.
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: