Losing my wisdom teeth (Bits of Abuse Here and There)–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–June 1994, Part 1

I started getting disenchanted with and disillusioned by The 700 Club, though I still watched it.

One, I never quite got over Sheila Walsh‘s sudden disappearance freshman year.  I missed her last episode because I could only watch occasionally then, and never found out what happened to her.

(Years later, I found an article in which Sheila explained why she left.  It was supposed to be an extended hiatus while she dealt with an illness.  Now, she’s a popular Christian speaker at women’s conferences.)

I had always feared her disappearing from the show and never coming back, just as a past co-host had done (Teri Meuwssen).

Besides, young Sheila was such a bright point on the show, and made it fun to watch.  If Pat was gone, they might put on this one guy who joked right along with her and made the whole show more fun and interesting.  But whenever she went on vacation, the show was mostly dull.

I didn’t know if she died or got fired or left to concentrate on her singing career or got fed up with Pat Robertson’s ideas on the equal rights movement or what.  I knew she said once, on the air, that she thought the women’s movement had done a lot of good, not just harm, that it was a good thing that women now had more career options.

After all, though I don’t think she said this at the time, she was working outside the home.  She had a singing career (I loved Shadowlands and Say So), and was, obviously, working on what she called The Club.

According to Wikipedia, she left after depression and “ideological differences” with Pat Robertson led her to change her life’s direction and get a doctorate in theology.  And eventually, even Teri came back permanently, in 1993.

Two, there was a controversy in the news and columns at this time, either spring or early summer ’94, about a southern school board or committee trying to get its school system to teach history that focused on the white contribution to history and showed the whites as always good guys.

I read an editorial in the paper about it, and I could see why this was a bad thing.  After all, white people aren’t the only ones to contribute good things, and they’ve contributed bad things as well.  If we don’t recognize the contributions (good and bad) of all cultures, we won’t be fully educated in history.

And whites are relative newcomers in history.  Until the Roman civilization reached its height, the biggest players in history were Mediterranean, Asian and North African.

But on The 700 Club, they blasted the uproar against the school board’s policy, and portrayed the curriculum as a good thing!  Pat Robertson said something like, “What’s wrong with teaching history that focuses on white contributions?”

Their news report even showed an obvious bias toward the school board, even though they said they were the fairest reporters of anyone on TV because they weren’t liberally biased like the rest of the media.

(I tried finding a story about this online, but could not.)

Three, I also knew, from an essay I read in Persuasive class, that the Andres Serrano picture of a crucifix in urine was really supposed to be a portrayal of how people treat the Gospel these days.  At least, that’s what the essay said:

[The artist] Serrano denies harboring any blasphemous intent and indeed claims–for all I know, with complete sincerity–that “P**s Christ” is a Christian commentary on the debasement of religion in modern America. –Richard A. Posner, “Art for Law’s Sake,” p. 430-1 of The Informed Argument: A Multidisciplinary Reader and Guide by Robert K. Miller

Wikipedia also supports this:

Serrano has not ascribed overtly political content to P**s Christ and related artworks, on the contrary stressing their ambiguity. He has also said that while this work is not intended to denounce religion, it alludes to a perceived commercializing or cheapening of Christian icons in contemporary culture.

Whether or not we buy that, it should’ve at least been mentioned in the reports on The 700 Club, but they never breathed a word of it.  And I watched it faithfully back then, so I would’ve known if they did say it.  That screamed “deception” to me.

And now there was the issue of the school board.  I told Phil how outraged I was over this, how I couldn’t believe The 700 Club would defend the school board on such an issue.

Plus, well, there was that thing over Pat’s predictions of who’d be elected president in 1992.  I waited and waited for the lovely day when Bush would be re-elected and I could laugh quietly over the people who supported Clinton.  I knew it would happen, and I could almost taste the feeling of victory….

But it didn’t happen.  Pat was usually right in his predictions, at least since I started watching around 1986, yet his only explanation was, “I guess I missed it.”  It made me wonder what he really listened to–Was it all God, or did he let some political desires get in the way of God’s voice?


Phil’s driving often got reckless.  Back in the spring, my friend Carrie said that he didn’t seem to notice her, but he once nearly ran her off the road when passing her or turning.  Oddly enough, I usually didn’t notice, but there were times when he did things that scared me–like taking both hands off the wheel and dancing around.

Phil claimed my red tabby cat Hazel didn’t like him.  I doubted this at first.  But then one day Hazel peed in a bag of mine.  It was full of important things, and some of them were ruined.

She was upstairs in my room, but the door was wide open, and she could have gone downstairs to her litter box.  I had no idea why she did this.  Nowadays, I wonder if maybe it was a protest that I was with Phil, and she didn’t like him.


One cause of my headaches was removed: I got a wisdom tooth pulled on June 3.  There were supposed to be two, but they could only find one.

An old high school classmate worked there; when I first went to an appointment to see what needed to be done to my teeth, he saw my Whiteheart T-shirt, and asked where I saw them.

I saw them in Whitewater; he asked if I was from Wisconsin; I said I went to college there; he may have asked how I ended up in South Bend, and I said, hey we used to be in German class together!  Then he started to recognize me.  I now discovered he was a Christian, which I had never known before.

It was awful: On the side where they did exploratory surgery and found no tooth, it hurt the most, took the longest to heal, and kept “seeping.”  I had to use Listerine, and kept waiting for the stitches to dissolve.  It felt like the doctors had opened a hole in my sinuses where none should be.

As for the surgery itself, I had been afraid of pain, but a moment or two after they pricked my arm with the anesthetic, I was out.  I didn’t dream or anything, just totally blacked out until after the surgery was already over.  Then I woke up, groggy and nauseated, cotton stuffed in my mouth.

Mom took a staggering me to the car and then home, where she put me on her bed.  I stayed there most of the day, nauseated, eating soup because I could eat no solid food yet.  Phil sometimes came in to visit me, but much of the time I slept.

The next day, I felt a little better, but still icky.  I kept hoping Phil would be like Jennifer’s Mike was when she got that bad illness the previous school year.

She was constantly drugged up and sick, and there he was, taking care of her, getting her food and making sure she took her medicine, constantly mothering her.  It was so sweet and loving, and we thought she should hold on to this guy!

I thought Phil was the type to be the same way. Instead, he barely seemed to notice I was sick after that first day, and even thought we’d make love that first or second night.  Say what?  I was disappointed, though I didn’t mention this to him.


I researched marriages in the encyclopedias at home, and discovered our marriage could be called common-law.  I told Phil about it, but he smiled and said, “You like thinking about this, don’t you?”

Um–Why on earth would he tease me like that?  Isn’t he the least bit curious about what our marriage is called and how common it is?

I also hate it when guys talk to me like that about one of my interests, like it’s some cute thing the little girl is doing, pat her on the head.  It’s patronizing.


I really didn’t know what to do sometimes.  I didn’t know if it was my problem or if Phil was the one with the problem relating.  He would go to my dad, whom he loved talking to–he said they sat at the computer once, fighting to keep the bouncing-eyeball screensaver from distracting them–and talk about me.

We had problems dealing with religion.  I had arguments with him over it that I didn’t have with my friends or other people.  As I told him, I didn’t argue with them, I was able to get along with them, and didn’t impose my beliefs on them because I didn’t believe in doing that.

But when I talked to him, I got upset whenever his ways differed from mine.  As I told him, I wanted to impress him with, not turn him away from, my denomination.

Phil talked to my dad about this, along with religion.  He noticed that he could talk to my dad without it turning into an argument.  Dad told him he should go through the Bible and see what it says before talking with me about it–get on an equal footing, know for himself what it says.

He also said that you don’t have to read your Bible for devotions, as long as you at least pray.  That fits in with the times I’d pray for devotions because I was unable to read my Bible.  Like when I’d walk home from Shawn’s room late one night, I’d usually think of a Bible verse and reflect on it.

Anyway, Phil wondered why we couldn’t talk about it so easily.  I have since been told that other people’s opinions are easier to take because I’m not marrying those people.  When you’re planning to spend the rest of your life side by side with someone, his opinions are more important to you because they affect the peace of your home life.

After all, Phil wasn’t marrying Dad, so of course they could have quieter discussions about religion.  Also, later on, Dad told me he got the impression at times, during these talks with him, that Phil was an idiot.  I’m not sure why that was–probably not what he believed, but why, or how his thought processes worked.

Phil said maybe we shouldn’t talk about religion at all.  But how could I go through life without talking with my own husband about religion?  It was one of my favorite things, starting with long talks with Dad in my teens.  (And look at where it led me.)

My dad came upstairs one day while I was working on Jerisland, but I was a bit too busy at the time, being right in the middle of writing a scene.  He wanted to talk about my religious disagreements with Phil.

But he found out we worked our problem out for the time being, an ability we (at least, during the spring) had even without reading how to resolve relationship problems.  I felt weird about talking to my dad about that.  I could see problems on both sides; it was not all me.

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: