[Please note: This is NOT the “Tracy” of my other memoir, The Darkness Engulfs Me.  The Tracy of “Darkness” lived in a far different region, far away from mine, and was probably in middle school when I was in college.]

He Can’t Decide Between the Girl he Wants and the Girl he Doesn’t

Sometime that year, the Phi-Delts discovered that their sorority was nicknamed the Bible Beaters.  They couldn’t figure out why, considering they weren’t Bible beaters, and only a few of the members were even in InterVarsity.  Is it so wrong for a few sorority girls to be in a Christian group?  I mean, come on!

I probably returned from home on the fourth, since Winterim classes started on the fifth.  Pearl soon told me awful and unexpected news.  Why would I expect it, when I knew I was the object of Phil’s crush?

First, during Christmas Break, Tracy had asked out Phil.  Pearl didn’t throw a party after all, but Phil still saw her.

He sighed and said he had to choose between two women, then said, “I have another problem: What would you do if I asked you out?”

“I’m not ready for this,” she said.  She said something about not going out with him because she liked another guy, I believe it was.  (This was to be nice; she didn’t want to go out with him, period.)

But she and Phil went on a friendship-date to see Mrs. Doubtfire.

The second piece of bad news was, Tracy asked if he wanted a relationship with her, and he said OK.


He said it was because she asked him first, even though I had already asked him on a date and had had no chance to go out with him again before Christmas Break.

Why would I ask him for a relationship when we’d only been on one date?  It was supposed to grow naturally out of dating, not be forced like that.

It was unfair that he chose Tracy, and so quickly, especially when he’d already told me he was interested in me, not her.  So he had three dates with three different people over one weekend and, without giving me a chance to fight for him, chose Tracy.

Not only that, but he was indifferent about Tracy: He didn’t care if it worked out with her or not.  He only chose her because he knew her better and got along with her.

I called him up that night to ask him out, and get the whole story from him.  He said he’d see me at lunch the next day and tell me if he could afford to go out with me on Saturday.

He also sounded embarrassed; he had a bit of trouble explaining what had happened.

I don’t remember if his call gave me hope for him or not, but somehow the conversation got to our mutual friend Peter.  I might have spoken of our meetings after such a long enmity, and being friends again.

Phil said, “From what I’ve been hearing from Peter, friendship isn’t all he has in mind.  Peter says he still cares about you.”

I got so excited that Phil had to ask if I still wanted to see him on Saturday.  I hung up in shock, thinking that after I’d long since given up on them, the “words” were coming true after all.

I saw Phil the next day, and we picked a time.  He said he’d talk to Peter for me and tell him I wasn’t just interested in Phil; Peter could meet me in Old Main after my Winterim class the following afternoon.

I told some people, including Jennifer, in Pearl and Sharon’s room that things had turned out the way I had originally expected with Peter and me.  I said I would tell Phil about Shawn and me, since it paralleled his situation in some ways.  I would warn him not to lead Tracy on like that, not to be like Shawn.

I didn’t know at the time that he would never kiss Tracy even once, and thought he would kiss her and hold her and such and make her think he cared more than he really did.

I told my friends how great it was that I could tell him this now.  Before, I couldn’t, because I feared he would think I told him just so he would break up with Tracy.  Now, since I was about to get back together with Peter, there would be no self-serving reason, and he could take my warning seriously.

On the night of April 21, 1999, I would tell a fifteen-year-old male friend (J–) and an eighteen-year-old female friend (C–) on the Online Fond du Lac BBS about the love triangle.  (J– wanted some advice because a girl had told him she liked him, then gotten another boyfriend.)

Just on that little bit of information, J– called Phil a jerk!  I wrote that he could tell just from that little bit, when I was too blind to see it myself at the time.  C– said that it is hard to see these things when you’re involved with someone.

Anyway, back to the timeline.  The next day, Thursday, I was in the clouds after having been so depressed.  I guess I forgot how scuzzy Peter had gotten.  Peter was staying in Dirk’s room, and had the perfect chance to come see me.  My fun Winterim class, American Film Survey, began.

The first day was mostly an introduction; it was probably the next day when Dr. Nelson showed us D.W. Griffith’s racist Birth of a Nation.

Our classes generally started with a discussion about the movie we saw the day before, and then the rest of it was a movie.  However long our class was depended on the length of the movie, so we often got out long before 3:30 (the time was 12:30 to 3:30).

(I set up a morning schedule in the library–9:45 to 11:45–so I could see more sun than if I didn’t get up until 10 or 11.  It was January in Wisconsin, so the sun would set around 4:30.)

The movies went in order from oldest to newest, and were significant in one way or another.

The class was mostly made up of guys, and some of them seemed to be the type who either were “cool” or didn’t care if other people thought they were “cool” or not.  I was glad to be in a class with guys like that.  They weren’t the kind of “cool” that knows it and gets snobbish.

But for now, I spent the whole class thinking, “I have a boyfriend again!  At long last, I have a boyfriend again–and it’s the one I was hung up on for so long and once expected to marry, Peter!”

I walked out of class with my heart thumping.  I probably dressed cute for this, too: boots, maybe the purple shirt I bought with his recommendation one day freshman year, nice pants.

I couldn’t wait to see him again and mend everything that had been broken in the past.  I felt a resurgence of the love I had long since forgotten.  I was happy and excited.

The class ended.  I looked around for Peter in the spot I had told Phil about.  He wasn’t there, so I moved to the second floor (class was in room 31 on the third floor).

Still no Peter.

I went downstairs to the first floor, probably getting concerned by now.

Still no Peter.

I went outside.

Still no Peter.

Disappointed, confused, and upset, I went back to my room.  Was Peter working and unable to come see me?

I waited both for Peter and for some explanation.  I wondered if Phil had forgotten to talk to him.

On Saturday the 8th, Phil and I met around 2pm.  As we walked out to his brother’s car, I asked Phil if he talked to Peter.

“Yes,” he said, “and it seems I misunderstood what he said.  There’s a difference between ‘care about’ and ‘care for.'”

It meant that Peter still cared about me as a special person, his first girlfriend, but was not in love with me or interested in a relationship.

My worst dread realized.  I couldn’t believe it, and felt sick.  When we started off for S–, I was quiet and upset.

I didn’t want to guilt-trip Phil with what I did say, but I might have.  I was expecting a mere friendship-date, and to advise him to not see Tracy, without him thinking I was just trying to eliminate the competition.

Everyone agreed that he made a bad choice, since she would probably want to be far more serious than he would.

I’d even asked him as we passed the suites, “Will we have to watch out for Tracy?” and he’d said, “She’s not taking a Winterim.  And, at least according to my understanding of it, it’s not exclusive.”

But now I had to figure out whether or not I could say anything about the wisdom of his dating her.

Only two weeks ago I had someone (Phil), only yesterday I had someone else (Peter), and now I had no one at all.

For a shy, quiet, socially awkward (probably NVLD/Asperger’s) person who kept getting overlooked, in an era when girls asking out guys was a bold move and still often frowned upon, and in a religion which expected you to only date others who were committed to that religion, just finding a date was a major event.

It wasn’t as if I could expect to meet somebody else next week.  (This is also why it was so hard for me to get over exes, and why it’s still hard to get over losing a friendship or a friend moving away.)

We got to Marcus Cinema in S–, not knowing what was playing or when, and everything had already started.  So we went to the S– Mall across the street, where I got some pants with my credit card, which Mom had told me I could do.  (She paid my credit card bill while I was in college, so I used it only when necessary and only with her permission.)

Neither one of us wanted to see if Peter was working at the time in the Radio Shack there, because we were both too embarrassed to face him.

We went to Phil’s house for a while because the movie we wanted to see wouldn’t start until later in the afternoon.  I met his parents a lot earlier than I’d expected to.

Phil had me wait as he went into his room, and his mom called to him, “I hope you’re not going to take her into your room.  You can’t get it cleaned up that quick.  You’d be better off taking her into the family room.”  So he did.

The tiny ranch house had a living room and a family room.  There was a couch here, a Packard or Dell computer, bookcases, a chair or two, and for some reason I remember light blue.  Maybe the couch was blue, and/or the walls.

Phil and I sat on the couch and he showed me a new card game related to Dungeons and Dragons, Magik.  I had no idea that this would become extremely popular among roleplayers.

We played one game, with him coaching me, and I won.  He shook my hand and congratulated me for winning my first game ever of Magik.  However, the game bored me, despite the pretty pictures on the cards.

The movie was Sister Act 2, and played at 4:30pm.  We had dinner at Burger King, came back and played chess and some computer games, such as Solitaire and the new game “Lemmings.”

I had no idea at the time just how entranced I one day would be by the cute little creatures, who went where and did what you told them, died horribly if you led them wrong, and made funny little noises in high-pitched squeaks.  (On some computers, you could tell the noises were actually words, such as “Let’s go” and “Oh, no!”)

They wandered across various scenes as various tunes played, and when you got them home, they cried out, “Yippee!” and jumped into the doorway home.

Before we knew it, it was 10:00.  I had some things to do, such as laundry and taking out my contacts, so Phil brought me back to Roanoke.  For hours I’d been wishing he’d break up with Tracy, rather than wishing Peter wanted me.

We sat on the heater inside the doorway to warm up, started talking about the hypnotist I saw on Thursday and the one he saw at a senior dinner, and ended up talking about more serious things.  We eventually sat on the two chairs next to the heater.

Cindy came in and out, and Catherine saw us once and said, “It’s still visiting hours, Nyssa.  Take him to your room and share him with your roommate.”  I didn’t think she was serious.

I know we got there around 10:20 because, as I later discovered, Pearl and Sharon had been around and left a couple of messages on my door, such as: “It’s 10:20PM.  It must be past curfew!” and “Where are you?  I’m sure you’re acting lady-like.”

We saw them when they left Krueger, and they kept smiling at us and at each other.

Anyway, Phil told me some things about Peter–such as, that he was more of an atheist now, due to his ninja training (astral projection, even!).  He had stopped smoking marijuana not because he believed it was bad for him, but because it no longer had any effects on him.

We both agreed this was a bad reason, since pot-smoking was just plain wrong, and we may have both agreed that when it stops having an effect on you, that’s a bad sign for your body.

I told Phil, “I hope you’ll be a good influence on Peter,” since they had become good friends.  Phil gave his embarrassed little choking-laugh, and smiled.

(Pearl once pointed out this laugh to the rest of us, that when he laughed that way it sounded like he was embarrassed.  He seemed sort of shy in those days.)

I said, “Even if you’d been right about what he said–” here he acted embarrassed, and crouched down– “after a couple days I would’ve had to say, ‘I can’t deal with this.  See ya.'”

We talked about other things, too, like religion.  He was Catholic, but didn’t believe in going to confession, because he thought it was a matter between him and God only.

I dealt with my laundry, and we ended up moving to the lounge, where it was warmer.  We sat next to each other on a couch.

I did still tell him about Shawn, because Phil said Peter said I wouldn’t go past certain limits.  “He doesn’t know about last year,” I said.

I didn’t tell him exactly what Shawn and I had done, but I said we’d gone farther than we should have, and that I wouldn’t do it again without some kind of ring.

I also told him the parallels between that situation and his with Tracy.  He saw my point, and said everyone else was also telling him it was a bad idea.

We moved to the lounge, which was empty and warmer.  We ran out of topics, so turned to silly stuff.

He sang They Might be Giants songs, such as “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” “Istanbul,” “Particle Man,” “Someone Keeps Moving My Chair,” and possibly “Whistling in the Dark” (for which his deep bass was perfect).  I’d never heard the last three before.

He knew these songs from a tape a friend had made for him of a Giants CD.  I found them amusing.  He also recited some Monty Python routines.

Once, I took off my glasses to show him my prescription, and said, “Right now your face is blurry.”

He said, “I could change that, but I won’t.”  I wished he would.

Earlier, he’d also said, “If it doesn’t work out with Tracy, I’ll be back on the horse again.  I’m giving you fair warning.  That is, if you’re still interested after some of the things I told you” [about himself].

These things drove me nuts, that he’d be telling me them yet seeing another girl “officially.”

We talked until about 2:05AM!  He wanted to see me again and have another conversation, but he had to talk to Tracy first, and see if she’d allow it.

When we stood up and were about to say good-night, he said, “What should it be, a handshake?”  But he put his arms out for a hug.  I gave him a funny look, but loved the idea, so we hugged each other good-night and said good-bye.

Phil soon told me that he’d talked to Tracy, and she said she never expected them to be an exclusive couple.

That January was bitterly cold at times, more so than usual.  We had subzero temperatures–and an inefficient heating system.  Krueger had rooms that were only maybe fifty degrees or colder during the cold snap!

Some rooms were warmer, some colder; Clarissa and I borrowed Pearl’s space heater because the suites weren’t as cold as Krueger.  Even then, it was cold in our room.  I don’t think our room got down to fifty degrees, however.

The school began to take care of the problem by putting up plastic to hold the heat inside the rooms; they may have planned to eventually replace the windows, but I’m not sure about this.

As for the Phi-Delt suite, it wasn’t as cold as ours, but it was still cold when the weather turned cold, probably in the sixties during the worst of it.

I wrote this poem on a slip of paper, which also had a note about the movie M, information probably received from Dr. Nelson.  It probably had to do with my waiting around for Phil to make up his mind:

The days got so boring
One ran into another
Nothing, all nothing

I decided it would be best to include Tracy in my list of prayers for blessing.  Maybe this way, I could forgive her for snatching up Phil when I was so close to finally having a real boyfriend again, someone who really did like me and was attracted to me, not some quasi-boyfriend like Shawn.

Urbana, a Christian conference for young people, was from December 27 to 31 in Urbana, IL that year.  Pearl and Sharon went there.  Sharon, who worked with me in the library over Winterim, told me about the fun they had.

We talked quite a bit in the library, when I was supposed to be reading my Film class textbook.  We often spoke of Phil.

Once, I said I couldn’t let him get me into Dungeons and Dragons: In those days, I still believed it was demonic (a common belief among conservative Christians who did not understand the game and were whipped into hysteria by Pat Robertson).  Sharon said it was scary.

In January or thereabouts, a new song by a new band came out: “Linger” by the Cranberries.  This beautiful song and the Irish lead singer’s accent entranced me.  The video was lovely, too.  The lyrics were wonderful, and probably reminded me first of Shawn and then of Phil.  I would discover later on that Phil liked it, too.

In December or probably January, I went to see a choir performance with an athletic girl named Tara P.  She’s the one who occasionally drove Pearl and me to her church.

Phil was in the choir, with his bass singing voice; Mike was also in it, with his tenor voice.  A certain young blond man was also there, as were, of course, our other friends.

Tara pointed out the blond to me and said, “I can see you with him.”  He was cute and Christian, but I secretly thought, “Actually, I can see myself with Phil.”

It seemed she always tried to be a matchmaker.  I believe that in the fall, when I’d mentioned the blond guy (a different one) at her Evangelical Free church, she said she could see us together.

Film Class

We saw many classics in Film class.  The first was D.W. Griffith’s 1915 silent movie, Birth of a Nation.  It may have been blatantly racist, but it was important because it introduced many techniques Griffith had invented, such as irising (blacking out the picture around a particular thing you want to emphasize) and cross-cutting (cutting back and forth from one scene to another during such things as battle sequences).

He was a filmmaking genius, and the movie looked so real, even seen on a small TV screen.  Maybe it was the “real” look of the actresses, who didn’t seem Hollywood perfect like the actresses of following years.

They didn’t look painted-up with makeup, even though silent pictures required special makeup, so maybe they were made up differently than in other silent films.  It seemed as if these people would look in real life exactly as they appeared onscreen, except in color.  The film was surprisingly clear.

As for the other movies mentioned in the textbook, I wasn’t even aware before this that silent movies were made in the days of Merry Widow hats and leg-of-mutton sleeves.  I thought they started in the 20s.  It was so strange to see movie actresses dressed this way when they weren’t in a costume drama.

It was hard to have to read all the lines and hear only music for three hours, which probably made the movie seem even longer, as did our hard, classroom seats–but it wasn’t impossible.  If it weren’t for the racist plot, the movie could actually have been great.

In the beginning, it introduced itself with a words-only screen in which it called itself the “greatest movie ever.”  Considering movies were brand-new, this was quite an arrogant claim.

Oddly enough, this movie was a catalyst for the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 20th century.  The Klan had disbanded in 1869, and then this movie came along and praised it.  This movie may have become almost obscure over the years, but in its day it inspired major controversy.

History repeats itself more than many people realize: My textbook read on page 62, “The film was suppressed in some cities for fear of race riots.”  I believe a similar thing happened in the early 90s with one or two movies about the ghetto.

Maybe the next day after we saw Birth of a Nation, it was time for much more pleasant movies by Charlie Chaplin.  We saw one or two of the shorts (I think one was One A.M.) and then The Tramp.

The next day, we saw the impressive talkie The Great Dictator.  Hitler had supposedly taken his peculiar mustache from Chaplin to make himself seem more lovable to the German people; now, Chaplin returned the favor, and played Hitler (Adenoid Hynkel) in one of two roles in the movie.

He poked fun at Hitler in a well-deserved fashion.  I loved when Hynkel gave speeches interspersed with such words as “Wienerschnitzel” and “Sauerkraut” and other German words for food that had no place in the speech, and coughs and German words with very English pronunciations (like “joo-den” for “Juden,” which should be “yoo-den”).

I also loved “Tomainia” for Germany, “Bacteria” for fascist Italy, and “Osterlich” for Austria.  The last one was my favorite, because it sounded like “ostrich,” and Austria in German is Österreich (oes-tehr-rike).  This movie was often serious, but often funny.  The whole class seemed to love this movie.  It was certainly a lot easier to take than Birth of a Nation.

This film class taught me that there are many, many classics and non-classic but brilliant films which have fallen into obscurity because they are silent movies.  In the early 2010s, I would finally have a chance to see Intolerance (Griffith’s ironic response to people being “intolerant” of his own intolerant movie).

I have seen Metropolis (the robot movie clipped in Queen’s “Radio Ga Ga” video) on TV in 1985, on DVD in the 2000s, and on TCM in the 2010s, the latter being the finally restored, mostly-complete version.

I have also seen Nosferatu and many other silent movies, thanks to TCM running silent movies on Sunday ever since around 2005/2006.

Since I haven’t been able to find my Winterim syllabus, I don’t remember when or in what particular order we saw the movies, or what they all were.  But I do remember they were in chronological order.

I do remember seeing Citizen Kane for the first time and discovering what a masterful work it was (the shadowing, in particular, could not have worked in color, but is exquisite in black and white), The Grapes of Wrath, It’s a Wonderful Life, Meet John Doe, Sunset Boulevard, Rear Window, Easy Rider, Dr. Strangelove (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb), The Conversation, Do the Right Thing.

Most of these movies I had never seen before, so I would associate them ever after with Film class.  I liked most of the movies we saw, too.

Since it had been years since I read the book Grapes of Wrath, I didn’t mind the film’s liberties with it.  (Though I hated the book, I am a purist about movie adaptations.)

Rear Window was a fun and sometimes erotic play on the voyeurism of watching TV.  The eroticism may not be apparent to everyone, but it, according to our textbook, had to do with the long camera lens sitting on Jeffries’ lap, and his lack of sexual interest in anything he didn’t see in the TV-screen-like windows across the street.

The textbook also considered certain parts of Dr. Strangelove to be sexual jokes: the two planes in the beginning, apparently copulating; the bomb at the end looking like a phallus symbol which Slim Pickens rides down to earth.

It was a great pity that we could not hear Dr. Strangelove very well in that classroom despite Dr. Nelson’s attempts to fix the problem.  This distressed him, because we couldn’t hear all the jokes or appreciate just how good this movie was.  We made note of this, and didn’t judge the movie as bad just because we couldn’t hear it.  No one knew why it was so hard to hear, because all the other videos sounded just fine.

I went to San Francisco in 1999, and probably saw many of the sights shown in The Conversation.  Though the movie often dragged, at the same time I couldn’t see how it could be cut.  There was something professional and intriguing, yet abhorrent about the way Gene Hackman’s character kept recording and endlessly replaying the targets’ conversations.

Do the Right Thing both amused and horrified us.  Many of the scenes were funny.  But the deaths in the end were so awful, especially the one of Radio Raheem, the kid with the jam box, since it seemed he hadn’t done nothing wrong except make an error in judgment.  It was such a shame that he, whose jam box was everywhere during the movie, would be killed, so ending his music-loving days.

Also, I saw in this movie what I had read about, perhaps somewhere in the textbook: that in the scenery and composition of his movies, Spike Lee used colors that complemented black skin.  It made for a truly beautiful effect.

Some of these movies made you feel good and noble; some made you feel bad and part of a diseased society.  But you could see what made them all great and/or significant movies in one way or another.

They weren’t all wonderful movies, but even Birth of a Nation used groundbreaking techniques, making it significant, though not great.  I don’t remember what other movies we saw than the ones I’ve already mentioned, just that I liked most of them.

Nelson also wrote suggested movies on the board every day, movies which were being shown on TV that night or week.  This was the first I heard of The Graduate, but I didn’t get to watch it.

I saw very few of the movies, though I did try.  I wanted to see Stalag 17 again, but it was playing on AMC, which Roanoke’s cable system, Warner, didn’t have.  I did see North by Northwest on the 18th and used it as a subject for a response paper, which I noted in my day planner on January 19.

I saw Strangers on a Train and wrote a response paper on it, which I noted on January 20.  I don’t remember if I saw A Night at the Opera, but since it was the Marx brothers, I know I wanted to.  I wrote down movies even if they were on AMC, probably just in case I still got a chance to see them, however remote.

I Spend a Night with Phil

The miniseries Tales of the City came to PBS; Wisconsin played the censored version, the one without nudity.  The movie played over two nights or more.

I discovered after the first installment that Pearl and maybe Sharon had come across it and watched it.  As demented as it was (it was about a young, innocent woman’s experiences in the twisted world of 70s San Francisco), with its marijuana brownies and gays and lesbians and free love and a woman who used to be a man, we couldn’t take our eyes off it.

On Wednesday the 12th, Pearl asked me to record it for her that night, since she would have to miss it.

On Friday, January 14, apparently I was supposed to expect Sharon to come over and hang out in my room for a while, but I don’t think she did; Phil, however, did.

We had a long conversation, during which I got my point across, that he wasn’t being fair to either Tracy or me.

Clarissa was out of the room.  It was bitterly cold outside.  That was the first night of the sub-zero temperatures we had that year.  It was cold in our room, too, so as Phil sat in a desk chair, I sat in another chair in front of him and wrapped myself up in my flag afghan.

He said that friends could marry and be happy even though they weren’t in love with each other.  One of his relatives had done this.  But I didn’t buy it.  Sure it could happen, but why settle for a marriage or dating relationship with someone who’s just a friend, when you have someone you can love wanting to love you?

To this day, I don’t understand why he chose Tracy over me.  Got there first, hogwash; he already knew I liked him and wanted to go out with him.  He’d come right out and asked me about this before he chose Tracy.  And he said he knew Tracy better, but he could’ve gotten to know me before making his decision.

I also didn’t know that during this conversation, he realized he was in love with me.  He didn’t tell me this for maybe a couple of weeks.  It was also much later that he told me how badly he wanted to unwrap my afghan and ravish me.

We finally went over to the Phi-Delt suite, where a bunch of us were to watch my tape of Tales in Jennifer’s room.  We ripped on the insanity of the movie all the way through, but enjoyed it at the same time.

Phil said his birthday was on the 16th.  He would be 20, the same age as I was.

I don’t remember what else we did that night, but I do remember that it got so bitterly cold (wind chills were probably well below zero) that Phil and I didn’t want to go outside to go home.  When Jennifer and her roommate asked us to stay overnight, Phil agreed, and then so did I.  I think Clarissa left anyway.  I only lived in the next dorm, but if Phil was going to stay there, I wanted to as well.

Jennifer’s Mike was also there; he and Jennifer cuddled in her bed.  Several of us crashed on the carpeted floor; I slept with my coat as a blanket and maybe also as a mattress.  It was very cold on that floor, but the room wasn’t as cold as some other rooms were.

It was a long night and I got little sleep, since the floor was not at all comfortable.  Phil slept nearby in his jacket.  We inched closer together all night; I think some of our friends noticed this.  Phil had passionate dreams about me.

I was glad when morning light finally came into the room and I no longer had to try to sleep on that hard floor.  When it came time for people to wake up, Phil woke up and sat in a chair for a while, watching me.

I suspected he was watching me, but my eyes were closed, so I didn’t know for sure until several days or weeks later, when he told me.  He also later told me that he stayed there because of me.

After he left, I spent some time in the lounge with Pearl, maybe Jennifer, and Jennifer’s roommate.  I spoke of Phil, but they called me the Other Woman.  I was convinced he really wanted me, not her, but they weren’t.  They seemed to think it was really Tracy he wanted, and that it was hopeless for me.

On Tuesday, it was so cold that classes were canceled.  For Wisconsin, that has to be pretty dang cold: We’re not wimps up here.


According to January 27 in my day planner, that day I got a Gothic novel from the library to entertain myself over Winterim Break.  I may have gotten The Monk at that time, though I thought I got it earlier and had the flu while reading it.

The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis was written in the 18th century.  This strange book amused me while it scared me, because of all the sex going on in this 18th-century novel.  No wonder it was considered pornographic for the time!  (Of course, this was the same century that produced Dangerous Liaisons.)  For ours, it’s pretty tame, however.

It’s about a monk tempted by a novice who’s really a woman in disguise.  Meanwhile, he also lusts after a 15-year-old girl he saw around town, and plots to rape her.  She wants to marry this guy she’s just met.

There’s also a couple who break up for some reason I forget, and she enters a convent.  The guy comes to see her, and they end up doing things that they shouldn’t.  Then, even though she had a part in it, the girl calls the guy a foul seducer.

There’s more, but just in case you want to read the book, I don’t want to give away what happens.  I probably finished reading the book on Friday, March 6.  In February I told Phil about it, and he jokingly scolded me for reading such a racy book.


On the 27th, Pearl talked to Phil, and he told her he was able to date other people as well as Tracy.  The problem was, he’d just found out about another girl who liked him, even though he wasn’t that interested in her.  (I think she was 16, and he recently discovered that wasn’t “legal,” so he wouldn’t want to put himself in temptation’s way and end up in jail for statutory.)

On the 28th, everyone else left for Winterim Break, and I stayed.  I had tried calling Phil the night before, but he wasn’t home.  Now he called me, wanting to hang out, if the weather allowed him to come to the campus that night.  It was supposed to be pretty snowy, but he came anyway, around 8:30.  Once, while Clarissa was out of the room, he said,

“I decided that Tracy is a good friend and will stay around.”  He talked as if he broke up with Tracy nicely.  She understood, saying she didn’t expect to hold onto him, anyway.  (Not until summer did he admit that he wasn’t so nice.  In fact, he said to her, “I’m sick of being nice.”)

He was available again.  This made me happy, of course.  Finally!  No more “other woman” stuff from people!  And note the date–exactly two years after the day Peter broke up with me.

I wondered if this was deliberate timing on God’s part, a consolation, giving me someone better (so I thought at the time) on the anniversary of the day that was so black for me.  As for Peter, all I had left for him was friendship and concern.  What I’d felt the past few months was probably nostalgia.

Phil stayed to watch Mystery Science Theater: 3000 with us, though finally Clarissa wanted him to leave so she could go to bed.  Phil and I stood outside in the hallway for a few minutes to say goodbye.

He looked like he might want to kiss me, but as far as I was concerned, this was our first “date” since we became a couple, and kissing should wait for the second date.  He seemed to sense this–maybe it was my body language–and didn’t try.


On Saturday the 29th, Phil came over to pick me up at 4:30.  It was now Winterim Break, and we had no homework to worry about.

As we walked along the sidewalk that led from the side door nearest the suites, I looked up at Phil’s clean-shaven face and thought, “He doesn’t look as cute now!”  I had a strange, momentary loss of interest in him.

But I remembered my loss of interest with Peter soon after we started dating, and realized that this would probably soon pass.  I also soon asked him to grow his beard back.

(I didn’t use to like beards.  Maybe I did now because all the alternative rockers were wearing goatees now, so all the college boys were also wearing goatees when the school year began, so I began to think goatees look cool.  I still think so.  Phil’s beard was more shaggy than a neatly-clipped goatee, and had patches which did not grow properly, but I still liked it.)

We went to Phil’s house to watch movies: Top Gun, Dead Poets Society and Room With a View.

I thought he played these for me because he loved them, which impressed me; he told me much later that he liked View more because it was good for dates, than as a movie.  At the time, however, I innocently thought that his liking it showed how sweet he was.

As for Dead Poets Society, I believe he legitimately liked this one, because Robin Williams was his idol.

My mom and I had watched View before, the uncut version with the skinny-dipping men getting caught by women.  (Turns out that really is in the book, even though it was written about a century ago.)  Mom said, “Whoops!”

We watched these movies in Phil’s tiny room.  He had no bed, just a couch, which he later said was a sofa bed.  There was no room for a regular bed.

On the wall with the door was his full entertainment center, with TV, S–‘s Marcus Cable with Weather Channel reports for S– (rather than Green Bay, which we got at Roanoke–and they even had different colors, fonts and features), VCR, Nintendo, and possibly a stereo.  He even had remote controls.

Also in the entertainment center was a porcelain bird, a beautiful, white sculpture, maybe a foot high or shorter.  It was probably a falcon, though people thought it was an owl.  He later told me about the artist he got it from (I forget the story now).  When we began talking about engagement, he said it would be my engagement ring, since he didn’t have the money for a real one.

Up on the back of his door was a picture, drawn on a piece of notebook paper.  I think it was a unicorn, and around it were the words, “I love you.”  I hadn’t drawn it, of course, so I smiled and asked Phil what it was.  I may have feared it was from Tracy, but it was from girlfriend number 6.

I think he had broken up with her only the previous summer, and I don’t think he was mad at her for anything, so he still hadn’t gotten around to removing the picture.  I smiled, completely without jealousy, and said nothing about him taking it down.  But once, I got up to go the bathroom, came back, and noticed it had been removed.

As we sat on the couch watching movies, getting progressively closer, Phil’s four-year-old nephew kept walking in and talking to us, because the door didn’t have a lock.

He brought in his drink; he chatted with and smiled at me; he acted like a four-year-old who didn’t understand the concept of dating and wanting to be alone.  We laughed.

He finally fell asleep in the living room.  Phil and I got even closer then, with Phil stroking my hair and kissing the top of my head.

After the movies, Phil turned off the TV.  He sat beside me on the left arm of the couch, and looked at me.  He half-smiled and may have nodded his head.  Then he leaned over and kissed me, leaning me down onto my back on the couch.

He told me he’d liked me as long as I’d liked him, and that’s how long he’d been waiting to kiss me.

We shared so many long kisses that evening that my lips grew tired and chapped.  But my stupid daily wear contacts dried out as it got later and later, so I finally had to reluctantly tell Phil that I had to go home and take them out.

During this date or the next, Phil told me that Peter had warned him about going out with me.  He named some reasons, and said he had no problem with them.  At least one was news to me.

Phil agreed with me that the reasons were petty, and I said how glad I was to be with someone who was not petty.  He said, “Peter said, ‘Phil, she waited outside the bathroom for me!'”

We both thought this was the most ridiculous thing we’d ever heard.  Where else was I supposed to go, we wondered?  Was I supposed to wander all over the building while he was in the bathroom?  Was I supposed to ditch him there and go off to class without him?

A short time later, Phil and I were alone in the cafeteria and about to leave.  We went over to the doors, then he went into the men’s bathroom, which was between the two sets of doors leading to the hill outside.

I leaned up against a table which had been used for holding various foods during the meal, having nowhere else to go.

Phil came out of the bathroom, saw me, said with a grin, “You waited outside the bathroom for me!” and kissed me for it.  He couldn’t imagine somebody not doing this!

My husband also can’t figure out why Peter had a problem with it, and once got upset with me because I went to a nearby cafe in the movie theater instead of waiting outside the bathroom for him!

Whenever we’re out and about, or traveling, and have to use the bathroom, we wait outside the bathroom for each other.  So Peter–WHAT THE HECK was so wrong with this?

On Thursday, March 9, 2000, several of my college friends came to my home and, with my husband and me, went to a restaurant for dinner.  As we were leaving, the girls stopped in the bathroom for five minutes or so.

And you know what?  We didn’t go out to the cars, oh no.  We all stood and waited (not my idea) right outside the bathroom for them, with the guys holding their coats, and nobody said a word about it!

I don’t think Phil ever did agree with any of the things Peter told him were supposedly “wrong” with me.  For the record, when Phil broke up with me, I don’t believe he used any of those reasons.

In fact, when I told Phil early on that being with Peter too much destroyed our relationship, and that I didn’t want to spend all my time with Phil for fear it would happen again with him, Phil said,

“I’ve had ex-girlfriends tell me that if they’d spent more time with me and knew more about me, like they know now, they wouldn’t have broken up with me.  I want to spend as much time with a girlfriend as possible so this doesn’t happen again.”

Peter also told Phil and Phil’s mother that I had talked about marriage all the time.  So I told Phil what really happened, that I only talked about marriage all the time because Peter did the same and we were essentially engaged.

Though in many ways I was not yet aware of, Phil was bad for me, in some ways he was good for me, at least for a while, because he showed me that Peter had indeed been petty and not all guys have problems with these things.

Phil said Peter was right about one thing: that I was a good kisser.  Hearing that even an ex-boyfriend would say this about me, was flattering.  Hearing that two guys thought this about me was even more flattering.

Shawn had complained about how I kissed–but who cared anymore?  This proved that it was just Shawn being his usual hypercritical self, never satisfied with anything about me or anything I did.

I was furious with Peter for trying to keep Phil from going out with me.  Peter seemed to have turned into Mr. Studmuffin, constantly finding new girlfriends, while Phil was the first guy I’d found since Peter who truly wanted to go out with me.

I deserved love, too.  And didn’t he realize that the best way for me to get over him was a new love?

This bit of evidence makes me wonder if other guys did not ask me out, because Peter poisoned the well with his lies and half-truths about me.

As he drove me home with the radio on Top-40, he sang along with songs that said, “I love you.”


The next night, the 30th, I didn’t wear my contacts, so I could stay as late as I wanted to.  We ended up falling asleep on the couch, holding each other all night.  Yes, we were fully clothed.

We often did this over the next few weeks, though soon it began to be too uncomfortable to spend the night holding each other on a couch.  He would begin to pull the couch into a queen-sized bed instead.

The first night, however, it seemed wonderfully comfortable and romantic to lie unmoving and holding each other on a couch.

The next morning, right after we woke up, I had to hide in Phil’s room until he spoke to his mom.  When he did, she said it was OK that I was there.

On the way back to Roanoke, he put his hand on my knee, sang along with love songs again, and said, “Don’t think I don’t mean it.”

A declaration of love this early?  Aren’t guys supposed to be reluctant to commit, scared away by girls who say “I love you” too early?

Though I loved hearing him say “I love you,” I didn’t know what to do about it.  Though I could be in love with him already, it was too soon to be sure.

When we got back to Roanoke, I began to feel as if Phil were already wearing on me.  This transient feeling made me a bit sad after Phil left.

What’s this, I finally have a boyfriend, one I really like, and already I don’t want him anymore?

Phil said to Clarissa with a smile as he dropped me off, “I think she’s getting tired of me already.”  I don’t know how he knew.

But it only lasted a few hours or more, the aftermath of forbidden fruit no longer being forbidden, but at the time I didn’t know what was going on.

Peter told Phil that I moved very slowly, and that we didn’t kiss until maybe a week or two after we started dating.  Phil told him we’d just spent the night on his couch, and Peter was shocked.

As I told Phil, I couldn’t figure out why he was so shocked.  I often crawled into Peter’s bed at night when I spent the weekend or a vacation at his house, and we both had wished that I could stay there all night.

I would have, but Peter told me his parents would probably go ballistic and perhaps ban me from his room entirely.  We didn’t want to have sex; we just wanted to cuddle.  I’m serious, so don’t laugh or say “sure.”

So I wondered why Peter thought I wouldn’t sleep fully-clothed and chastely on Phil’s couch on one of our first dates.  Did Peter forget so soon?  Oh yeah, he had a way of twisting the truth about me.

As I also told Phil, the only reason Peter and I didn’t kiss right away was because he took so long to do it.  I would have gladly kissed Peter much sooner, but though he had plenty of chances to kiss me goodnight, he always chickened out (as he told me later) and hugged me instead.  It made me very frustrated with him, since I wanted to kiss a guy before I died.

Also, Peter obviously had no clue how far I had already gone with Shawn.  I wanted to go back to innocence, stay away from the things I did with Shawn, but I was hardly the innocent one Peter thought I was, anymore.

I soon learned that Peter was thinking of joining the Church of Wicca.  From Christian to atheist to Wiccan: what a change in just a few years!  And how incompatible we would have been!

On Tuesday night, February the 1st, just before Spring Semester started, I don’t think I had a class very early the next morning, though Phil did.  But at the time he didn’t care, and was more interested in kissing me than in taking me back to school and then going to bed.

Late that night, Phil’s brother Dave suddenly burst into the room wearing nothing but briefs, and said in a scolding tone, “Phil, you have an 8:00!”

He left soon after, and I thought that was so strange.  How could he have been so bold as to 1) come into the room without knocking while I was in it and 2) come into the room in his underwear while I was in it?

I believe he was well aware that I was there, so ignorance was not an excuse.  I think Phil said Dave really didn’t care.

I was soon to discover that both Dave and his mother had a habit of bursting into Phil’s room without knocking.  They did this no matter who was in his room.

February 1994
Life at Roanoke: My College Memoirs–September 1991 through May 1995

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: