In my second letter to Cugan, I used a more familiar tone.  I made no secret of my attraction to him, though I didn’t talk about it much.  After all, now he knew how I felt about him, and he already knew Catherine was planning a movie night to get us together.

One night around this time, Krafter and Sharon left Stimpy alone with me and went off by themselves, which was agreeable for all of us.  I took Stimpy to the Muskie for dinner.

I had fun showing him the campus and the Muskie.  There was probably a commercial on the TV for Step by Step or Family Matters, or else one of them was playing, and Stimpy said how much he hated those shows.  I said I used to watch them, but didn’t anymore.  (They were okay when I was still in my late teens, but around twenty they began to seem lame.)

I also showed him the campus to get him to want to come to Roanoke.  He’d never gone to college before, and some of us were trying to convince him to.  If he did, though, I hoped he wouldn’t join the Zetas.  Wouldn’t that just beat all?  (Peter was a Zeta, Phil had just joined, and now Charles was pledging–Charles!)

I talked with him a little about my relationship with Phil, that it was “borderline abusive.”  I told him we got engaged too quickly.

As you’ve seen, I had a tendency of getting engaged (officially or unofficially) after dating a guy for only about two months.  Then the relationship crashed and burned, and I soon discovered that this “perfect man” was SOOOO not the person for me.

“Next time,” I said, “I want to wait at least six months before getting engaged.”  He agreed this was a good idea.  (And no, there was no hinting here.  I didn’t even think of referring to marrying Stimpy, and I don’t think he took it that way.)

I carried out this resolve: Cugan’s first proposal was after about eight months, which I didn’t accept, and his next was after about ten months.  (I get the impression that modern generations find even this too “fast,” even “creepy,” but in those days, there was nothing seen wrong with it.)

****

Though far away from everything else on campus except the two scary-dorms, living in the apartment was liberating.  With the kitchen and the occasional Friday late-night grocery run with my friends, I could make lunch or dinner when need be.  I even had frozen treats sometimes.

So on weekends I could sleep in and then make my own lunch, instead of getting up at 11 or 11:30 so I could shower and get lunch before they closed the doors to the cafeteria line.  I often slept until somewhere between noon and one.

And on weeknights, especially Tuesdays or Thursdays, when my roommies were out and I went online for hours after class, I could either choose to get off and go to dinner before the cafeteria closed, or simply make up some Spaghetti-o’s, eat them in front of the computer, and keep talking with my Stimpy or with Krafter et al.  There was also my frozen chicken to zap in the microwave (like I did my Spaghetti-o’s), or my mac and cheese.

TCB was addictive, and my favorite users would come online around dinnertime.  Once, I used up all of my daily allotted five hours, and next time I spoke to Stimpy online, he said, “See?” because I discovered just how easy it was to use up all those hours.

One night I told Stimpy I was eating a Mississippi Mud ice cream sandwich in front of the computer for dessert.  He typed, “Mmmmm! Can I have some?”  So I gave him a cyber-Mississippi Mud.  People online liked to feed each other cyber-food when someone said he was hungry.  Krafter had his “pizzia delivery.”  You could go into the games menu, order a sausage, pepperoni or smurf (blue) “pizzia,” and a few minutes later it showed up onscreen in primitive pixel art.

My roommates introduced me to the wonders of stove-heated s’mores.  I thought you had to roast the marshmallows on a stick over a fire, but my roommies knew you could stick them on skewers and hold them over a heated burner on a stove.  It didn’t have to be a gas burner with a flame: Even electric coils could heat up the marshmallow.  I began making them all the time.

My roommates and I didn’t bake much, but sometimes Astrid came over and baked something, such as cookies.  We often smelled delicious odors wafting from the apartment above ours, and were jealous because they cooked more often than we did.  We wondered what they were cooking, and wanted some of whatever it was.

Our appliances still got much use, however.  Nuking Spaghetti-Os in the microwave or, in my case, cooking Kraft Macaroni and Cheese at the stove were done quite a lot.  I wasn’t the only one making my own lunch on weekends: Pearl often got up between noon and one or two.

I had been keeping up with Beverly Hills 90210, which I always called “Beverly Hills” while everybody else called it “90210.”  But lately it was too boring.

I’d do other things, such as ironing, while it was on, and barely pay attention to it.  Brenda was gone, Andrea was having problems with her new husband and looking at divorce, there was no couple I really cared about, their view of college life was unlike anything I’d ever experienced, Brandon had turned into a nice but “I’m cool and I know it” type of person, Dylan never got back together with Brenda even though everybody wanted him to, and Dylan and Kelly made an awful pair, totally mismatched.  Kelly and Brandon began to like each other, and that seemed more believable to me.

The show had gotten too soap-opery.  The couples would never stay together, so it wasn’t worthwhile to care about any of them.  Brandon and Kelly looked good together, but they were still hard to care about.  The Minnesota kids had turned into just Brandon, and he had become totally Beverly Hills.  His parents didn’t even show up anymore, and they’d helped make it “real.”

It was sad because, at the very beginning of the year, the show got interesting again: Dylan had a near-death experience and the episode was mystical, weird and cool.  The actor playing Dylan was now directing and said he would make it less soap-opery, more like it used to be.  But apparently he had little success with this.  It wasn’t long before I stopped watching for good.

Stimpy said he chose the handle “Stimpy” “when Ren and Stimpy were still cool” and Beavis and Butthead hadn’t taken their place.  Of course, people always said to him online, “Steempy, you EEdiot!” just like Ren.  He joked about taking away the privileges of people who liked to do that and thought it was funny.

Krafter and Stimpy went to an Mystery Science Theater 3000 convention in late 1994 I think.  Many people were in costume.  Someone was dressed like the Head That Wouldn’t Die.  An older woman even came on to Stimpy, which was really weird to him.

I often called up registries for people I knew or didn’t know but saw online.  Nearly everyone, including me, and especially the guys, listed alternative as their favorite music.  I wondered if alternative was “geek music” just as Mountain Dew was the “geek drink.”

One of the younger teenagers online really liked Sharon.  He kept logging in with new names, and one day, Sharon logged on to find Son of Ziggy.  It was this boy.  She thought it cute.  Krafter found out about it, though, and killed his account because the users weren’t supposed to use all sorts of different names like that.

Since the demo class allowed for full use of the system in those days, a person could use one name until it ran out of credits, then log in with a different name, and never pay money to Crystal Dragon (CD).  CD didn’t like this, of course.

CD, the sysop, was about thirty, with a wife and a new arrival: a cute wiener-puppy, Peanut.  CD joked about him online.  He presided over a BBS full of mostly teenagers, some of whom would bully and verbally abuse others, then complain “freedom of speech!” when CD forced them to stop.

Stimpy and I could get into conversations on Beavis and Butthead or personal things, but trying to start one with him on almost everything else didn’t work.  We just didn’t have enough in common.  We could meet on lowbrow humor, but that wasn’t enough to establish a long-term relationship.

He was also agnostic.  As long as we weren’t serious, his lack of religion didn’t matter, but in time it could.  (I was not supposed to marry people who were not Christians.)

I knew early on that there would be a breakup, though I didn’t start dating him with this on my mind.  I knew it would be soon, and that I would probably be the one to do it.  I knew it would make me sad.  The only consolation was that, for once, a breakup would be my idea and not the guy’s.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995: