Peter, My Ninja Boyfriend, Hypnotizes Me and Starts a Mental Link–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1991, part 1

According to MTV, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” debuted on 120 Minutes and on the airwaves in early October.  It debuted at number 144 on the charts, and went gold only 17 days later.

This song introduced grunge alternative rock to mainstream music.  It was unique, it was new, and it was so not what was popular at the time.  Bandmembers wore T-shirts and jeans instead of classy clothes or costumes for concerts or videos; their hair was long and stringy instead of long and permed and/or perfectly coiffed.

It blew people away, me included.  I thought it rocked in a way I had never heard anywhere before.  This unknown band named Nirvana eventually became one of my favorite bands in college.

Not everybody liked it, though: One of Candice’s friends sat ripping on it one day in February or March when it came on MTV.  She soon discovered that I liked it, and said, “When they get to the chorus here, let’s both headbang to it.”  When they got to the chorus, she headbanged.

With her head down like that, she couldn’t see me.  I didn’t join in because I didn’t want to look silly.  I may have suspected that she was making fun of me and/or the song.  Besides, headbanging gives you a headache.  Unless Candice told her, I don’t think she ever knew I didn’t join along.

Songs from this time which stand out for me: “Real Real Real” by Jesus Jones, “Kiss Them for Me” by Siouxsie and the Banshees, the entire Powerhouse CD by Whiteheart (which I had only just acquired).

On October 1, Peter and I decided that the summer hit “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” by Bryan Adams would be “our” song.  That evening, Peter finally kissed me in a secluded spot in the woods after dark.  But, while my journal goes into detail, I won’t describe the scene, because it’s one of my private memories.  Yes, it was just kissing, no farther.  I will tell you that we saw foxfire.

Peter would put two fingers together and press them to his temple, telling me he was using his ninja ESP to see someone who’s far away.

Once, after some guy teased him while driving past, he put his fingers to his temple, closed his eyes, and said in distaste that the guy was, of course, drinking.  He said if anybody ever tried to rape me, he’d know, and be there immediately (he was also interested in learning telekinesis).

How much of this he really believed and how much was just playing on my gullibility, I couldn’t tell you–I do know that he told others about traveling through time in his dreams:

This started in probably December or January.  He videotaped himself while sleeping, and saw that his body went rigid whenever these dreams started.  The way he looked was far different than for other dreams or other times of the night.

He met a ninja master in ancient or medieval Japan, he understood the language even though it was old Japanese, and the master taught him things.

You could say he was just trying to pull my leg, trying to make his girlfriend think she was dating an amazing person whom she would never want to break up with, except for one thing: He told another person about this, too, and she wrote about it in Fiction class the following year.  She never dated him.

Peter said his relatives were a bit strange, having a Halloween party every year as a family reunion instead of the typical cookout-type-thing.  This year, it was on Saturday, October 5 at about 5:30 or 6:00.  I was a bit of a celebrity at it, being Peter’s first girlfriend.  This was his dad’s side of the family.

His mom lent me a gorgeous, green, princess dress from her wardrobe.  To our surprise, it fit me perfectly.  I used two white hair-fabrics, which were a style of puckered fabric-wrapped ponytail holder popular in those days; I put my hair in two pigtails and then wrapped the hair-fabrics around them, to imitate as close as possible Helena Bonham Carter’s version of Ophelia.

I discovered that the dress fit me perfectly because I forgot to zip it when I tried it on.  Fortunately, the train of the dress hid the zipper.  I borrowed a crown from Peter’s mother.  Because my ancestors included Scottish kings and queens, I said that I was the princess and Peter (the ninja) was my knight.

When Heidi opened the suite door to Peter in his ninja garb, she stopped, got a strange expression on her face, and looked him over from head to toe.  And what toes: ninja boots have separated toes.

We had a fun time there, though I didn’t know anybody and his family did seem to be a peculiar bunch.  I don’t remember why now, though, or I’d give you some stories.


Sometime in October, I first heard the music of the Bradley Clock.  It played at certain times of the day–maybe it was every hour–when the clock struck.  The music was whatever it had been programmed to play, such as hymns, the school song or, come Christmastime and until January, February, or perhaps even March, Christmas songs.

There was one hymn I was always trying to identify, but I couldn’t quite.  In fact, I believe it was after Christmas Break when I brought an old hymnbook to school with me so I could look up that hymn and remember its lyrics.

The striking of the clock mimicked London’s Big Ben.  That clock would seem like a constant friend for the rest of my college years.

My first brat fry was right outside the Campus Center on October 6, a Homecoming event hosted by the Sigmas.  I cared little for brats, though.  Even in 2006, after living in Wisconsin for 15 years, I’ve had only two brats my entire life.  The second one, I had because nothing else was available.

That evening there was a Swiss dinner in the little basement of Ley Chapel.  This basement had long tables, chairs, a little kitchen, and small bathrooms, and was a popular meeting place.  Heidi and Ruth were probably the ones who made the food, since it was a Swiss dinner.  Heidi was very proud of it.

I said a word or two in a S– accent, without thinking about it.  Peter grinned and teased me, saying about my accent, “It’s changing!”

One of the dishes had been cooked with alcohol, and I ate it, so Peter teased that I had to change my claim that I had never had one drop of alcohol before.  But I told him that alcohol was cooked out, leaving flavors but no alcohol.  He didn’t believe me, but it was true.

We had something with rhubarb, probably rhubarb pie with a cream topping.  Heidi told the few of us who were there (probably people from the language suites) that you weren’t supposed to drink pop after eating it.  Acids from the vegetable and from the pop would interact to destroy your tooth enamel.

Peter worked as Photo Editor for the school newspaper, The Mirror.  I became his assistant in the darkroom.  No, nothing indecent went on.  It wasn’t like that joke about going into the darkroom to see what develops.

I took Photography class in high school, and knew something about developing pictures.  I even got a credit in the paper for being Darkroom Assistant, and got mailings about Mirror meetings even though I wasn’t signed up to get class credits for working there.  The staff met in a suite a few doors down from my suite.

One of his first assignments was to take pictures of the Mr. Muskie Football Fashion Show on October 9.  The comedian, Marvin Bell, may have been the guy who said that in your first few months you open doors for your girlfriend, and then after that you’re like, “Open it yourself.”  We laughed, but Peter and I insisted to each other that it would never get that way for us.

For the fashion show, which was run by the cheerleading squad, the football players dressed in drag–formal dresses, bathing suits–and paraded around the stage.  Some looked disturbingly good.  From the article in the paper (which spoke flirtingly of sexy dresses, fine figures, muscular bodies and little smiles), one of the “contestants” must have been losing his bosoms.

At the end, all the contestants came out in cheerleader costumes and began doing Muskie cheers as the audience joined in.  Then they formed a pyramid.  The article read (keeping all the spelling errors in place), “The pyrmid was strong and sturdy which help prove that they were some real men.”

Peter laughed as he took pictures.  Awards were given for Best Leg(s) (awarded to a contestant with a cast), Best Formalwear, Best Swimsuit, and the biggest honor, Mr. Muskie.  Mr. Muskie also won Best Smile.

As Mr. Muskie left the stage after the “pyrmid,” “we saw that [he] just couldn’t keep that dress down because it was covering his back and not his rear end.  What a sight!”  Bell remarked as the contestants left the stage, “I hope I never have to walk in a room when you girls are present.”


Yes, we did go to the Semi-Formal Homecoming Dance on the 12th.  At long last, I had a date for dances, and my church would not disapprove.

I don’t remember when this happened; it could have been early on, such as in September or October, or it may have been in January.  And I think it happened every once in a while.

But I pondered asking Peter to make our relationship more open, so we could also see other people.  I was still attracted to Shawn, which made me chafe a little at the bit of being in an “exclusive relationship,” and may have had a little crush on Darryl.

I had always been boy crazy, often had huge crushes on more than one guy at a time, and have never stopped being boy crazy no matter how much I liked/loved the guy I was with.

I probably never will stop, even when I’m old and gray, judging by how the Greeks at my church still flirt shamelessly well into their 80s.

I thought Shawn was attracted to me as well.  But since I believe in loyalty and faithfulness, I wouldn’t date Shawn without Peter’s permission.

Maybe I should have said something, but was afraid of how Peter would take it.  I wrote this in a letter in 1997:

“I’d liked [Shawn] from the time I met him, and while I was with Peter, there were times I considered asking Peter if we were allowed to date other people.  I thought if we were, I’d ask out Shawn and be dating two guys and then be able to decide which one I liked better.”


For years, I would see one of my pets twitching in her sleep, and try to influence her dream by petting, meowing, barking, or whatever.  She would react by barking, twitching, or whatever.  So Peter started putting himself into REM sleep to see what dreams I could give him.

He would talk or move in his sleep.  At least one of those dreams I gave him ended up being elaborate and hilarious.  I kept scratching something, maybe a plastic notebook, and he kicked and made karate chops in his sleep.

After he woke up, I made that sound again to find out what it was in his dream.  He cringed and said that sound belonged to a strange person or being which was attacking me.  He kept ninja-fighting to protect me from it.

On a Thursday night around October 10, at 11:10pm, I wrote in my Freshman Honors notes, “Interesting what you can do to influence a person’s dream!”

On October 10, Peter hypnotized me.  According to him, his ninja training included this ability.  I told him I’d been hypnotized once before, by my psychologist, as a pre-teen.

(I wanted to remember every single moment in my life so I could write it down and be a modern Laura Ingalls Wilder.  To my disappointment, hypnotism doesn’t work like that.  Though it might have helped me remember better.)

After Peter hypnotized me the first time, I knew I was truly hypnotized because I had a point of reference.  I knew that I couldn’t expect to be unconscious while hypnotized.  I knew that it would seem, the whole time, like I wasn’t really hypnotized at all.  But I also knew that when the hypnotist took me out of the trance, I felt suddenly more alert and awake, and also refreshed.  I have been told that hypnotism makes you feel like you got a full night’s sleep.

So yes, kiddies, Peter truly did know how to hypnotize.  This was my own brain this happened in, so I can tell you for a fact that it was true and not just a trick.  Peter also noted that I was probably more easily hypnotized because it had been done to me before.

Since he had no crystal or anything else to hypnotize me with, he used a peculiar “Ninja look.”  Before I closed my eyes, I stared at him and couldn’t look away, even when I tried.  I didn’t know that he couldn’t look away either, an unplanned occurrence and very odd.  If I hadn’t closed my eyes, we thought, we might’ve stared at each other forever!

Then he felt this pressure, maybe a headache, in his head, and took a moment to recover from it.  He had me sit on the bed, and gave me a long kiss.  I thought, Oh, don’t be silly.  This is great, but I want to do some more, really cool things while I’m under.

He told me to forget that kiss until he reminded me of it, thinking if he could make me forget a kiss like that, he must be really good at hypnotizing.  After a few other things, which I now forget (though I have irrefutable evidence that he did not “take advantage” of me sexually), he woke me up and asked if I remembered the kiss.

What kiss?  Later on, the memory began to come back to me, but at the time I couldn’t figure out what he was talking about.

I will copy here some notes I jotted in my day planner.  You will see that many of the things can be easily explained by an older, wiser mind: body language, similar slang terms, deduction, coincidence, etc.

But to our young, impressionable minds, shaped by science fiction, fantasy, the mystical TV show Beauty and the Beast and Peter’s belief in his own ESP, they seemed mysterious and paranormal.

It’s also possible that Peter was deliberately trying to manipulate my impressionable mind, not yet turned cynical, though I can’t possibly prove it one way or the other:

Sat., Oct. 12–Strange things have been happening.  On the way back from the dance, [Peter] wrote in the frost on a car window, “Cool Mustang Dude.”  I knew he’d write “Dude” before he even started to!

Later on, while watching American Ninja 3, I blinked with sudden and temporary sleepiness, and, for some reason, I looked over at P. and he was asleep!  At 2:14, I think it was (yes, AM–the movie was from 1 to 3AM), he either looked at his watch or the clock.

I looked at mine, said nothing, but, even though he didn’t see my expression, he said, “That’s what I thought” or “That’s how I felt.”

Then he said, “How did I know what you were thinking?”

Earlier, the second time we went on the [dance] floor but I stopped because the lyrics were bad [full of sex], he had a feeling I’d stop, and I did immediately after.

I’m not sure if I had stopped before during a sexy dance song or if this was my first time, so it’s hard to say if he could have figured that out logically without a Link.

Also, on Sat. or Sun., whichever it was, how’d he know to describe Mom’s wordless reaction by saying, “Our little Nyssa, watching a movie like that [American Ninja 3]?”?!

Mon., Oct. 14–Odd: This morning we both dreamed about the very desserts [we were to have] for lunch–me about eating a cream puff, P. about strawberry shortcake!

These were our favorites, and both were served for lunch that day.

Tues., Oct. 15–Found P.’s “preoccupied” feeling, which a co-worker also had, broke at 10:55PM when one of the men in the nursing home [where he worked] died!

Wed., Oct. 16–Curiouser and curiouser.  Remember Tuesday night close to 1 when I’d just gone to bed [in my suite room], and, tired, had already begun to go into a dream?

A few seconds later, just as Peter [who was at home] banged his heel on a desk or something, in my dream a shadowy female suddenly hit my right heel, and I woke up jerking my foot away from her fist!

Also, as he lay on my bed doing his Spanish homework in his workbook, I saw a list of words similar to English and probably French.  I went down the list, translating them.

Peter said (so I thought), “Naturally I did know that.”

“Did or didn’t?” I said.

After a confused exchange, he said, “What did you think I said?”

I told him, and he said, he was muttering in Spanish and thinking what it meant in English!  He said sometimes he’s talking with his mom, he thinks something and she hears him and [answers him].

His mother got upset once when, as she substitute-taught at a middle school, a guy tried to prove to everyone that ESP does not exist.

Thurs., Oct. 17–P. didn’t know if he’d be able to come over this evening.  Somehow, I knew he’d either call or, most probably, come [around] or at 7:00.

I kept watching the clock, and figuring what I should do until 7:00.  No, he hadn’t given me a time when he might arrive.

And he came at a few minutes till [7:00]!  ([He was] only allowed to because he chauffered his mom for the 7:30 Japanese film [shown in the Muskie]).

I greeted him at my door with, “I knew you’d come at 7!”

Peter tried to figure out what was going on.  He eventually remembered reading in a book that you could set up a mental link by hypnotizing someone you really care about.

This Link amazed us.  As Peter told me on the way to the Campus Center one day, his mom said that if you know each others’ thoughts, it means you’re meant for each other.

I think a bit of the mental link already existed, but got much stronger after the first time he hypnotized me.

I wrote in my day planner on October 19 that I had Peter “hypnotize me again, but he was tired, so he had to use my watch.”  

First, he put himself into a trance and secretly programmed himself to say certain things to me.

Then, while still in the trance, he hypnotized me, had me stare into his eyes, and said to “imagine a telephone wire…that went between our foreheads.  

When he reached zero after counting backwards from 5, I was to close my eyes again.  We both felt pressure on our foreheads at about the time he was counting.  It worked.  Our minds have a much stronger link now.”

I think he only hypnotized me one more time after that, because it gave him an awful headache.  That time, he used a crystal decoration from his window shade string.

We often spoke of the Link not as possibility but as fact, a new thing which cemented us together even more.  We both loved to use and speak of it.

We amused ourselves by using this Link to get each other to do things: I would think to him to put his arm around me and he would do it, he would think to me to kiss him and I would do it.

We didn’t hear the thoughts, or at least I didn’t hear his, but they gave us the sudden desire to do whatever thing it was.  Then I would tell him or he would tell me, “You did just what I used the Link to tell you to do.”

I felt like we were living the 80s show Beauty and the Beast, in which Catherine and Vincent shared a link (though theirs was stronger), transmitting words and feelings to each other even over great distances.

Though I sometimes feared it, wondering if it was demonic, I also thought it was probably all right.

Because of my fear, I didn’t always want to use it.  A couple of months later, it began to fade, and neither of us knew what was wrong with it.

I later learned from a visiting hypnotist that if someone is afraid of a link, it can fade.  No, the idea of a mental link was not Peter’s invention.

One night as we walked from the suite parking lot around the building to my door, I told Peter it was so wonderful and that “I always wanted a relationship like in Beauty and the Beast.  Now I’ve got one!”  Few people could ever have that, and I had always thought it was just fiction.

He hugged me for that, and said how glad he was to have brought such a wonderful thing into my life.  He also loved it, himself.  He said with an impish grin, “Though if anyone calls you a beast….”

Once, in the car, he said, after I told him my future plans and asked his opinion, he said, “Depends on what part I have in them.”  When I asked what part he wanted, he patted my leg and said, “If things go as I hope, a very big part.”


I had examined a list of S– churches and told Mom that there were no Nazarene churches around there.  She and Dad came up to Roanoke to visit me on October 12. Their S– hotel room had Marcus Cable, not Warner Cable like Roanoke had.

Marcus Cable had a S– public access station which showed ads.  My parents turned it on and found an advertisement for a Nazarene church in S–!  They wrote down the information and brought it to me.

We were to find out later that the people who ran that church had been getting so few results that they were going to pull the ad the next day!  Since my parents only happened to find the ad, and they only happened to find it just before it was pulled, we believed these weren’t coincidences, but God directing me to this church.

Finally, on October 20, Peter and I went to church together.  The first surprise was that there was only an evening service.  I don’t remember if we dressed up; I may have told Peter that Nazarene evening services were often more casual, with men wearing jeans and women wearing pants.

We had some trouble figuring out where it was, because when we got to the right address, all we could see were houses, no churches.  Peter was the first to figure out that the church was actually in one of the houses (a modest Victorian).  I’d thought such churches hadn’t existed in years!  (The last one I knew about was back in the 50s, when my own church got started.)

The pastor wasn’t a real pastor, just the person sent to plant a church.  He and his wife had other jobs besides this church.

Jim and Sharon were an easygoing, fun couple in their forties, and with three kids: eight-year-old Tiffy, or Tiffany, almost nine, a dark-haired, sweet girl; Jonathan, almost twelve, a light-haired scamp and Casanova who didn’t believe his dad when he told him he’d been the same way; and Angela, a fourteen-year-old, dark-haired girl who loved Troll dolls.

Sharon told her once that maybe I had been put into her life as a mentor.  Of course, even if I was, I didn’t have a car, so I only saw her when there was a service.

They had a little peek-a-poo dog named Duchess.

They were from Ohio, and had reluctantly moved to S–, pausing to ask God, “Do you really want us to go there?”  It was colder than Ohio, and no one had come around to welcome them into the community, so it seemed cold in more ways than one.  But they were adapting, and by then may have finally gotten to know some people in the neighborhood.

The house was small to medium-sized, with two stories.  In the living room, where the little group met, was a piano and plenty of comfortable places to sit.  Peter and I liked to sit with his arm around me on the couch.

The bathroom was at the head of the stairs, and I found out too late that the drain didn’t work properly and that was why the stopper was in the sink.  But they laughed, and understood that they hadn’t warned me in time.  I’d wondered why the sink draining made such a funny noise, like it was pouring into something other than pipes.

There were maybe two or three other people there, one a married and thirtyish mother, who was so happy to come here to this new community and find a Nazarene church, that she cried as she told her story.

Sharon played the piano as we sang songs from Nazarene hymnbooks.  Peter loved the songs, and I loved singing familiar songs again rather than the ones sung in the campus chapel’s Wednesday services.

The hymnals were the same brown “Worship in Song” ones we used in my church back home, with three gold-leaf crosses on the front cover.  Of course, while Peter had expected me to sing like an angel, in reality I am a very timid singer who whispers more than sings.

It was very comforting to let the piano drown me out.  I never have liked singing a cappella in church, because it makes me more self-conscious about my voice, which gets even tinier.

It felt so good to be back in church.  One and a half months without a church had been far too long.  And this little, friendly group was a lot of fun to worship, learn and chat with.  The services were very informal; we had discussion, not just a sermon.

Peter loved the services so much that he told his parents how great they were, and they wanted to join.  (He and his parents had had trouble finding a church, since they didn’t like the Catholic or Lutheran Church, and had trouble with the Episcopalian Church as well.)

We didn’t have a morning service because Jim and Sharon took the family to a Nazarene church in Milwaukee.  The following year, however, they would switch to the morning, and try to start a little Sunday School with the few children there.

It also felt wonderful to be in a house in a city neighborhood again, to see neighborhood blocks and walk on the sidewalks.  Once, we all went outside, maybe for a cookout one evening or afternoon, and I loved to look up from the backyard at the surrounding houses.  I hadn’t even had a backyard view in so long, it seemed.  Yes, I was homesick for the city, though I loved the country.


I wrote in a letter to my Irish pen pal on October 22,

“My parents came up weekend before last [on October 12], met Peter, took a bunch of pictures, and replenished my supplies.

“Just as I predicted, Peter and my dad got along great.  They both like computers, [Radio Shack,] photography and fixing electrical things, so they had a lot to talk about.

“But–poor Peter–Dad tried to talk to him about football, and Peter, who hates football, had to act like he knew something about it.  We’d decided not to tell [Dad] that [he hates football], among other things, so Peter could make the best impression he could on him.

“Now my parents have some pictures of him, and my mom’s been showing them around at home as if Peter were the winning entry in a pie contest.”

That’s probably because I had so much trouble getting dates in high school.

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: