Mike started eating one banana per day, usually at lunch. I think it was a health thing. It seemed to make him bouncier than usual.
My dad sent us an old modem to hook up to Pearl’s computer. It was 2400 baud, already ancient by then, when 14.4K was top of the line. He also sent his old, outdated copy of Procomm, without all the fun perks of the later versions. It was fine for Pearl’s 8088 computer, which didn’t have Windows.
We just needed a phone cord and someone to help us hook the thing up. It wasn’t a simple box like our first modems were, but confusing and intimidating: you actually put it in the computer.
Mike’s friend Brent came over one night to install the modem, after January 27 and before February 7. I had a lot of fun chatting with Brent about AOL and modems and such as he set everything up.
I think there were no problems putting the modem in, but when Brent tried to use his introductory AOL disc, it refused to work. Mike tried calling the tech support number, but was put on hold for an excruciatingly long time.
When he finally got to talk to someone, it didn’t help. Somehow, Brent finally figured out the problem and got the disc to work.
We were now in business. Dad gave me two S– BBS numbers from one of his computer magazines. One may have been for Spatula City, a once-popular BBS run by Jennifer’s boyfriend Jason. The other was for TCB.
Spatula City was more an old-style BBS, but this TCB amazed us. It amazed Pearl and Sharon because they’d never been on BBS’s before, but it amazed me because I’d never seen such a fun BBS before. Even PanOptic Net (Dr. Who-based BBS in South Bend) had never been like this.
It also charged a fee, unlike any other BBS I’d ever used more than once. The old-style, free BBS’s like Spatula City and PanOptic Net were now on the decline, because BBS’s were starting to include expensive Internet access and multiple lines.
TCB hadn’t yet gotten up to twenty-some lines, but it was already close. Every other BBS I ever used, could only allow one user on at one time.
The commands were easy to use, much easier than on PanOptic Net. You could go into Teleconference and find colorful letters, fun action words, and tons of people.
Sharon and Pearl sat there “oohing” and “aahing” as I set up a demo account and explored the BBS. (In those days, TCB let you do almost everything in the short-term demo account, before you decided whether or not to set up a paying account. Later on, the demo class allowed for very little, and wasn’t fun at all.)
Jason also helped us out, telling us about other BBS’s and giving us his Spatula City handle, Antilles. Spatula City wasn’t working right for a few days, so we didn’t get to see why it was so popular.
Jason also told us my ex Peter ran a board named Dementia. He warned us that if we found a Red Dwarf on TCB, it was him. (This is a fake handle. I think Peter got his actual handle from Babylon 5.)
He said all this with an ominous tone, as if he thought Peter was scary. I don’t know if he knew about my history with Peter, but he might have, because he was now dating my old pledge sister Jennifer and used to date Cindy and Catherine.
Pearl, Sharon and I got home one night fall semester, possibly from an InterVarsity activity, and Tara said, “Pearl, some guy named Shawn called.”
We were all like, Shawn? Shawn??? There’s a blast from the past!
We sure weren’t expecting to hear from HIM!
He probably called Pearl again, and must have gotten my number from her. He called me later, and we had a long conversation about how our lives had gone since he left. He said he was on Prozac now. He sounded a slightly deranged sort of happy.
He said, “I haven’t had a girlfriend in about two years, and no one seems interested in dating me.”
When I told Pearl about this later, we both said, “Girlfriend?” The only girlfriend he could have had two years ago was me! I thought he always told me I wasn’t his girlfriend?
Pearl said, “That’s fishy. Maybe it shows there was something going on there. Maybe now he thinks of you as an ex-girlfriend?”
I said, “If he didn’t think of me as a girlfriend before, then why did he call me one, now?”
“I always knew there was something there he wasn’t admitting to.”
A few years later, I read an article in Mademoiselle or Glamour magazine about this very phenomenon. The author had been in several situations where the guy would never say, while they were dating, that they were actually dating or seeing each other or hanging out or anything, or introduce her to friends as anything but a friend. But years later he’d refer to her as an ex-girlfriend! So it happens.
But back to the phone call. While I sat at the desk in my room, I told him about the spiritual marriage. It came up because, when he mentioned things we’d done, I said it could have been much worse but it wasn’t.
I told Shawn we were common-law married, so he wouldn’t think less of me for “giving it up without a wedding ring.”
(I heard that phrase on The Cosby Show once, the fantasy episode in which the men started getting pregnant and not the women. Hey! The men in the opening news segment got pregnant in Oconomowoc, WI, close to where I live now! 🙂 )
Shawn said, “So now there are only a few virgins left at Roanoke!” Meaning a few of my friends–and not me anymore.
Shawn was one person I could talk to about these things. We had stirred up the fire between ourselves; now I had gone on to another guy with that fire still burning.
Shawn didn’t try to get back with me now that I was single again, but that was just as well, because I had moved on–and would soon meet the love of my life.
Shawn called me again the week of January 22, at one in the morning. Sharon was asleep at the time, and not too happy about having to jump down off her bed to answer the phone. I took the phone into the hall, and whispered,
“You shouldn’t call so late, Shawn!”
He said, “You always stayed up late before.”
“But I’m not rooming with Clarissa anymore. I have roommates now who can hear me talk on the phone!” (Reminder: Clarissa was mostly deaf and took out her hearing aid at night.)
I talked low on the phone, so my roommates wouldn’t get woken up.
At some point he started asking me, “What is sex like?”
When I told him, I could hear in his voice that it was turning him on. It creeped me out, like I was his 1-900-phone-sex operator.
He kept asking me questions about it, so I said, “Why do you keep asking me these questions?”
Finally, the conversation finished. Of course, that was nothing compared to those conversations we used to have till 3, 4, or 5 am!
He had called us in the first place because I sent him a Christmas card; I believe he called the switchboard to get our new phone numbers. He called again the next night because I couldn’t talk to him at one in the morning.
I asked, “Why are you calling me all of a sudden? I thought you said you didn’t want to have anything to do with me.”
He said, “After my brother died, I decided I’d better try to keep the friends I have.”
The Vampire never wrote me, though he said he’d try to write every week. And I couldn’t write him unless he wrote me, because I didn’t have his address. He shouldn’t have lost mine, since he wrote it in a notebook with all his BBS numbers, and he probably guarded that notebook well. Oh, well, 20 years later I finally found him on Facebook. 🙂
We finally had another party in the apartment, possibly on January 21. It was a big one, and fun. We played games in two rooms, and had pizza and chips and pop. (No, we never had wild, drunken revels. Who needs those to have fun?) Someone even brought Jenga. We wanted the party to be big and take up several rooms, each with a different activity, just as Tanya’s Halloween party did.
I decided to sit out during Taboo. Charles did the same because he didn’t like Taboo. But I did because we played it every time we had a party at Roanoke, so I knew practically all the answers now.
I’d called one long-lost friend over Christmas Break. Her mom answered and sounded shocked that an old friend from high school was calling. I left a message; however, my friend never called back. I don’t know why.
I wrote to her, my middle school friend Josh and another old high school friend; no letters came in reply. When I found Josh online over Spring Break, he said he sent letters and cards to high school classmates, too, but none of them answered.
He said about my other friend, “I’m sure he’ll write ya,” but he didn’t–and neither did anybody else. I wrote other letters to my male friend, but he didn’t answer those, either.
But funny how times change: I later found all of them on Facebook. No longer do we have to depend on the old method of exchanging letters or phone calls to reconnect with old friends we haven’t seen in years, friends who may forget who you are or forget to call/write back, or never get your note.
It’s even better than the old Internet standby of e-mail, which can also be easily forgotten. Facebook is much better because you can interact with your old friends with immediacy, even if you have not seen them in 20 years and live far apart.
Astrid began sending me letters because I mentioned that I wanted some. I didn’t mean letters of the alphabet, but she began sending me one alphabet letter at a time through the on-campus mail, until all together they made up a quote from her new poster. I’d have to find all the letters to tell you what the quote was.
Pearl and Sharon decided to stay another year and take on another major, because they didn’t want to leave Roanoke yet. I, on the other hand, was sick of Roanoke, and didn’t want to do this. And it would have meant more money to pay back in student loans.
On the 27th, I wrote to my friend Becky,
Sometimes these days I feel like several of my friends, who know about the common-law thing, are judging me. The things they say–It’s as if they mean, “You’ve done a terrible thing–premarital you-know-what–and we thought you were more moral than us! You’ve fallen, fallen!”
It makes me want to grab them and say, “Hey! According to my research, it was a common-law marriage! I didn’t sleep with him until we were c-l married, so it wasn’t premarital or anything! Stop talking to me like I’m a fallen woman!”
–Since, after all, we began calling ourselves married, which is all you have to do. I’ve told them that, but they still talk this way. I don’t believe I’ve broken God’s commandments because we were c-l married, but when they judge me, I feel like I have. It really frustrates me.
I won’t write what Becky replied, because it’s private. But she and Catherine were both far more understanding.
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: