Another Pre-Engagement–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–February 1994, Part 7

I told Phil that I had never had a Valentine’s Day, and that, especially after coming so close to having one with Peter and then being denied that privilege, I wanted one even more.

So on Valentine’s Day, I don’t remember where I found them–in my mailbox or outside my door or personally delivered–but Phil got me a box of chocolates and a red rose.

The rose was in a long, green or white, plastic cylinder, and the chocolates were in a pink box–not one of the usual candy boxes or heart-shaped boxes, but a small, high box.

The chocolates were eaten over the next several weeks, and the rose lasted far longer than I expected it to.  I saved both the box and the rose cylinder.

When I told Anna about the rose the next day as we walked past the library, she said, “Ooh, sounds like you’ve found a good man.”  But romance is not the only indicator of a good man.

On the night of Saturday the 12th from 9PM to 1AM, there was a Valentine’s Day dance in the Pub.  We went, expecting to hear slow dances and dance to them.  However, all they played was rap.

We eventually left in disgust and disappointment, wondering how a Valentine’s Day dance could have no slow dances.  It was that year or before that school dances began to be like this, full of rap music and not much else, which disappointed a lot of people who didn’t like rap and wanted to hear alternative or dance.

Before we left, however, Derek (pepper steak guy) came over and put his arm around me, pretending to come on to me.  He acted like it was just a joke, but Phil didn’t like Derek and suspected it to be a deliberate attempt to upset him.

Phil didn’t like Derek because of jokes he made; I believe Phil felt he was teasing people not to be funny, but to be mean.  Phil got a new catchphrase: “That’s just Derek!”

Phil and I had awful luck with dances that year.  I wanted to see him dance, since it was legendary in his family: He would be all over the floor, doing all sorts of wild and weird moves.

But we never did seem to have the chance to go to another dance together, not that I remember.  Remember that; it becomes important later.


On or before February 16, Pearl told me at lunch that there was a concert coming up, and I would be interested: it was Whiteheart.  She knew they were my favorite band, that I’d never seen them in concert despite trying, and that seeing them would be like paradise for me.

I gasped and got all excited.  I wrote in my day planner to tell Phil about it.  We also asked him to drive the InterVarsity group there when the time came.  It was to be at UW-Whitewater.  Pearl had friends there, and we could stay in their room.

On February 25 and 26, members of InterVarsity did the 30-Hour Famine, which World Vision sponsors.  Your group goes without food for 30 hours to find out what it’s like for people in Third World countries, and raises money for World Vision.

I felt I couldn’t go without food for that long, surviving only on juice, but I did pledge money.  (I thought I had a moderately high metabolism.)  The people who did do it were surprised because they didn’t feel all that hungry–and even when they gathered together for pizza and a party after it ended, still didn’t feel all that hungry.

Once, I sat in the hallway outside my room with Phil and told him why I still couldn’t drink canned Mountain Dew.  (A few years later I could handle it, but I didn’t like the taste as much.)

It reminded me of the breakup with Peter, when I drank canned Mountain Dew with the sack meals provided by Food Service over a holiday weekend.  I also couldn’t eat ravioli, because it was served right after the breakup, and I could barely eat it.

He didn’t understand why when it had been so long since the breakup, and when I had him now.  This upset me, especially since I couldn’t make him understand no matter how much I tried to explain it.  He may have thought I wasn’t over Peter, but this wasn’t the case at all, not now.

The real reason I couldn’t stand Mountain Dew in a can was that it reminded me of a dark time in my life when I was very depressed.

It’s not quite the same thing as having a new boyfriend or girlfriend yet not wanting to see a movie you saw with the old one, or not liking to hear that the old one is engaged.  In such a case, you have someone new who is supposed to help you forget the old one and not care if you saw this movie with the old one or if you hear that they’re engaged.

But in this case, canned Dew reminded me of depression, not just a person, and would bother me no matter who I was with.

I told him I also had a problem with ravioli.  Considering that the last time I ate it I felt like puking it back up again, and was in the beginning of my depression, I had good reason to not like ravioli, either.  (Both issues have long since gone away, with the passage of years.)

I also don’t like ginger ale because it reminds me of being sick.  So why would my aversion to canned Dew and ravioli mean I still wasn’t “over” Peter?

What about all the years it took to stand Dew and ravioli again, or how many years it took to listen to songs which reminded me of Peter and/or the breakup depression?

Long after I found someone new and got married, I still had trouble listening to those songs.  It wasn’t Peter, but the depression itself which I hated to remember.

Phil had a D&D-based board game which we sometimes played together, with him acting as DM and me acting as the character.  He set up rooms for me to go in and loot or capture.

We rolled dice with symbols that showed how successful I was.  I enjoyed it.  One night while we played it, his mom opened up the door and said with a grin, “I just knew you two would be playing a game.”

Phil’s mom was, I believe, in the national Dean’s List publication the same year I was, freshman year.  Unlike me, she was able to afford it.  I looked through her copy, and sure enough, at long last, I saw myself there.

It wasn’t long before Phil and I started talking about marriage.  We decided to get engaged after 6 months of dating, then marry when I graduated.  We believed we were meant for each other.  Our interests and beliefs seemed to be much the same in many ways.  And we believed we loved each other.

One day, an Honors classmate brought in some books from the S– library, and put them on the desk so they wouldn’t set off the alarm.  Two were “Brides” books because she was getting married.  Seymour saw them, thought they were mine, and said I was a fast worker.  It was ironic, but I said nothing because at the moment, it was a secret.

Phil’s mom had spoken to Peter recently; Peter told her the reasons for the breakup.  He told her some of the same lies he told other people, that I was talking about marriage and he wasn’t, even though he started it and talked about marriage at least as much as I did, with excitement.  We had agreed to get married after graduation.

You don’t promise to marry a girl and then tell everybody she’s some psycho obsessed with marriage.  I think he did this major smear campaign to keep me from finding love with somebody else, even though he didn’t want me himself.

Because of Peter’s lies to her, Phil’s mom kept asking him, “Is she talking about marriage yet?”  He told me he wanted to say, “We both are!”  But instead he just said, “No,” because our agreement to get engaged (yep, I was “pre-engaged” once again) was a secret from her.  I did tell Pearl.

I don’t want to go into details, since there are lines I don’t want to cross on the Net, and I don’t like reading other people’s blow-by-blow (literally) descriptions of sex on the Net.  It’s embarrassing and makes me feel like a perv, a voyeur.

But around this time, one thing led to another, and it sure seemed like sex to me.  I cried, “What did we just do?”

But he–whose school had sex ed, unlike mine–talked to me from his position of “superior” knowledge, and told me it was not sex: Because our clothes were on and there was no entry, it was not actually sex, so we were still virgins.

I felt foolish.  It was many years before I discovered that this is actually one of many lies we Christians tell ourselves, that it really is sex and, for us, sinful, that I was right but Phil made me feel wrong and ignorant.

Virginity isn’t something physical we can “break.” And virginity isn’t your hymen: it’s an idea, or a set of values and concepts which varies from person to person, not a body part….

So, it’s more sensible, if you’re going to use the V-word at all, to, for instance, say — as many people do — that losing one’s virginity is about choosing to have a certain kind of sex with someone, such as vaginal intercourse, or about having ANY kind of sex with someone else (which would really be the most accurate and inclusive way to look at it).

Even then, a lot of those concepts have flaws, but they’re less flawed than all that silly business with hymens that’s so meaningless and flat-out wrong….

Yes, you’re dressed, but this stuff going on is about sex, is about one or both of you exploring sex, and that’s just as real as intercourse or anything else….

If the two of you were dry humping, and everyone is all turned on and looking to get off, you were having a form of sex, and it’s just as much sex as intercourse or anything else, even though it doesn’t present the pregnancy or STI risks vaginal intercourse and some other sexual activities do.

(This is some of why so many people are so underwhelmed if and when they DO have intercourse: they expect it to feel like something wildly different than dry humping or oral sex and it really doesn’t: it’s just one other way to do the same sort of thing.) —Did he break my virginity with dry humping?

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: