Phil’s crappy jobs cause depression (Bits of Abuse Here and There)–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–June 1994, Part 2

My dad told me, “I’m not paying for a Catholic wedding.”  I told Phil about this, since of course he needed to know, and of course it upset him that my dad would feel that way about his denomination.

But there wasn’t much I could do about it.  A Catholic wedding would be far more difficult for my parents to manage:

As members they could rent our own church at a greatly reduced price, but for a Catholic wedding, they’d have to find some church either in South Bend or in Wisconsin that they had nothing to do with at any other time.  I didn’t blame my dad for not wanting to deal with that.

Besides, I wouldn’t be able to take part in a Mass at my own wedding, and we wouldn’t be able to get married in a Catholic church anyway, because I wasn’t Catholic.

Also, Dad said, “I want to walk my daughter down the aisle.”  Mom and I had no idea before this that he felt so strongly about it.


I read Interview With a Vampire by Anne Rice. It’s a good, intriguing book, but gory.  I had to skim over some parts, but some others I just couldn’t stop reading.

After that, I read The Thorn Birds–which, surprisingly, was also a bit gory at times.

I kept putting Phil in the parts of the sexy main characters in my mind’s eye: He was Louis, he was Father Ralph.  Physically he seemed to fit the parts, and there was his past seven-year desire to become a priest.


Phil’s first summer job, selling satellite dishes for cable TV for country homes, had the potential to pay $100,000 a year.  Just a couple of promotions would do it, so he considered not going back to school in the fall if he did well at the job.

He seemed like the type of person who could be a salesman.  We thought it would be a good start for our marriage, but I still hoped that one day he’d pursue his dreams of being an actor.  If I never saw him act again in a play or anything else, it would be a huge loss.

(Fast-forward: He never did become an actor.  Instead, he became a math teacher like his father.)


We had a little birthday party for my dad on the 5th.  He was 56 now, and trying to tell us he was 32.

“What does that make me?” I said.

“Chopped liver,” Phil said.

Actually, I would turn 21 on the 22nd.  I didn’t intend to start drinking, though.  I wasn’t raised to drink, and the stuff was stinky and unappealing.  Besides, even if I did, Phil couldn’t join me because he would not be legal for another six months.

When I left for the summer, I thought, Next year my friends and I will say good-bye for good.  Some of our friends already had.  But as it turned out, my friends and I did not say good-bye for good.  We still keep in touch via e-mail and try to see each other whenever we can.  Facebook has made things even easier.

My Senior Writing Project was a novel (Jerisland) which I started in 1988 or 1989 and wanted to finally finish.

I told a pen pal that for romances in my stories, I liked to match the main character with another character I liked.  It’s fun to be in control of that in stories.  On TV or in the works of other writers, the matches aren’t always the ones I would make.

Phil kept coming home and saying that his name was on everybody’s lips at his job.  His superiors kept saying how well and how much Phil was doing.

Yet he had to spend a lot on his transportation and clothes, they didn’t reimburse him for this, and they only paid him if he did 20 presentations or sold to two households.

Also, despite working his butt off six days a week for nine or ten hours a day, he made few sales.  My parents kept having to give him food and gas money.

(Just like during the school year, when he had a job but half of my paycheck went to his food and gas!)

So finally, after maybe two weeks of working for them–and the day after finally getting a paycheck but for only $175–he quit on Friday, June 10.  He needed money for school and my engagement ring, not this piddly amount.  When Mom told my brother Jake about it, she said he finally came to his senses.

On the 11th, I wrote in a letter to Pearl,

My parents just love Phil.  He and my dad are always talking about stuff, and my mom told the people at work that “you just want to love him to death.” “That’s my job,” I said.

Jake hasn’t said much, and my youngest brother–who knows what he thinks.  He teases Phil so bad, just like he does everybody else, and you wonder sometimes if he’s serious.

I couldn’t believe what Phil did last night.  He’d thought up a joke to do at a drive-through while I was with him, but before he couldn’t do it because he kept laughing. This time, he did it.

We went to Dairy Queen, which has a drive-through here, and he said, “I want a Peanut Buster Parfait, and I don’t want a hot dog.”

The person taking the order said, “That’s  a Peanut Buster Parfait and a hot dog?”

“No, I don’t want a hot dog.”

“Okay, a Peanut Buster Parfait and no hot dog.”

She sounded ticked, but when we pulled up to the window she didn’t seem that way at all.  “That’s a Peanut Buster Parfait and no hot dog,” she said.

He told her it was a dare, and she said, “That’s okay.  I survived it.”

Then today we were driving along outside South Bend and in the outskirts of Mishawaka and saw a curve sign for a curve that was up ahead.  It was right next to a tree, the arrow pointing in the direction of the tree, and someone wrote “TREE” on the sign.  I just busted out laughing.

On the 12th, I wrote to Peter,

Phil’s here at my house, keeping it interesting.  I suppose we might as well see what it’s like to live in the same house, because we’ve been engaged since April.  We weren’t intending to get engaged that soon, but he just couldn’t wait any longer.

His mom calls us the perfect couple.  It does seem like we were meant to be together, even with our differences.  We do have our arguments, especially over religion–one Catholic, one Protestant, both of us bull-headed (my dad’s term)–but we always get them worked out somehow.

My youngest brother still isn’t married, but at least he’s finally out of the house.  That’s why Phil gets to stay here, because we have a spare room for him.  Not that he’s in it very often.

So this helps explain how, despite the abuse that had been going on, I stayed with him: because it was so subtle that the good times still outweighed the bad.  But things would soon change.

From what I’ve read, this is common in abusive relationships, because you have to be hooked first.  If the abuse starts too early, you’ll bail because you’re not emotionally bound to this person yet.  But if everything is perfect, you don’t want to leave when the abuse starts; you keep waiting for the perfect to return.

He found another sales job early in the week of June 12, selling Kirby vacuum cleaners.  Mom hated them, and now Phil was selling them.

This job depressed him.  One night, as he and my mom were alone in the kitchen and he ate a late dinner (as usual because of his hours), he seemed close to tears.

I think his employers treated him a little better, compensating for gas and such, but he thought none of the other sales people in his group liked him.  He quit at the end of the week.  To stay with me all summer, he had to find another job.

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: