Breaking up with Charles–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 3

I admit I skipped a few Intro to Christianity classes.  But sometimes I just didn’t want to get up and run off to a 9:15 class.  I’d either be tired or depressed about Phil again.  Once or twice I actually felt under the weather.

(Maybe this is a symptom of depression; after all, up until this time, I wouldn’t dream of skipping class unless I was sick or had a bout with insomnia or had to tend to Phil’s nervous breakdown.)

So I’d skip it, and copy the day’s lecture notes from Mike.

I followed the syllabus, read the assignments, did the research essays and studied for the tests, so I didn’t miss much.  Since I knew the material, I made an A or B in the class.  And I didn’t have to tell the teacher where I’d been.

I did show up to most of the classes, though sometimes I think I barely made it on time.  (I don’t remember now how often I was late or on time.)

But then, after all, I just took this class for the credits anyway.  It was interesting, but I’d taken all the required courses and only needed a certain number of credits so I could graduate, so I took whatever looked like fun.


Sharon began giving us all titles, all in fun, not because she really felt this way about us:

Pearl was sometimes the Slut.  I was also the Slut, but I don’t remember if I had another title.

Pearl was also the Druggie because of all the prescription drugs she had to take after her surgery.  There may have even been a hypodermic needle involved.

Tara was the Alcoholic.  I forget why, exactly–maybe because she sometimes liked to mix up Sloe Screws and drink Daiquiris and Sex on the Beach.

Sharon kept torturing Tara and me with the song “Zombie” by the Cranberries.  She’d sing, “In your head!  In your head!” until we pretended to hit her.  One of us would say, “It’s in my head and I can’t get it out.”  So Sharon would sing, “In your head!  In my head!” and laugh.


Over the weekend, Mike joined us for a meal.  Charles saw a picture of his sister Wendy.  Mike told her age, which was closer to Charles’, and Charles said, “Could you introduce me to her?”

At another point, he said he was “twenty-four, and still not dating anyone seriously.”  He smiled at me after he said that.

A twinge of insult lasted only one nanosecond.  I didn’t feel insulted after that, just wondered what was going on.

Charles hadn’t been coming over much, I had given up on trying to be in love with him (I guess I no longer felt that “spark” as he called it), and after his comments I started to feel like we weren’t really seeing each other anymore.

I tried to work up the courage to break up with him.  I’d even been depressed lately, wanting more and more to be with Mike (or Phil if he repented of his abuse) instead, so depressed Clarissa even noticed one day before dinner and asked what was wrong.  (I didn’t tell her.)

We also had different political opinions: We were both Republicans, but his opinions were much farther to the right.  One evening, he turned on Rush Limbaugh’s TV show, to my dismay.  I kept my mouth shut to avoid trouble.

And he could get vocal with people who disagreed with him on politics.  He recently embarrassed me when, to an innocent comment made by the elderly Southern teacher I’ve mentioned before, he blew up and yelled at her.  He said he was so sick of people saying such-and-such.

I don’t remember what she had said or if she meant it politically, but he made it so.  She was a sweet lady, and his elder, and didn’t deserve that at all.

I think that was when I first seriously considered breaking up with him.  I knew this just wasn’t going to work out.

(Ironically, my future brother-in-law would be just like him.)

On the tenth, the group walked back from lunch and got to where the sidewalk forked, one way leading to Muehlmeier and the other to the apartments.  Charles usually came along with us to our apartment, but lately he’d been splitting with us and going alone to his room in Muehlmeier.  I thought he did this because Sharon complained about him coming over every evening.

He said good-bye to us again on the tenth, and I thought about pulling him aside right then and breaking up with him, but wondered if it was really necessary: As far as I could tell, we were just friends now, no more.  Our dating status seemed to have dissolved without a word.  So my roommies and I just said “bye” to him and walked on.

But then Charles pulled me aside and said we should break up.  He could see the feelings I still had for Phil.  There were things he’d heard, though he didn’t say what, and he said something about Phil and I wanting to get back together.  The wording made me think Phil wanted me back and was about to come back to me.

My heart jumping, I said, “Why do you say that?”

But this wasn’t the case, to my disappointment.

Had he heard about the angry letter?  If so–well, I had to send it.  Confronting an abuser–whether by letter or otherwise–and cutting him off if he won’t repent, is common advice.

Did he mean the secret marriage?  If so–well, the practice is hardly limited to the young and foolish.  Couples far older and wiser, agree to secret marriages long before the public wedding.

I never did find out what “things” Charles “heard.”  All I knew was he said Phil and I needed to grow up, that he was older and knew better.

He said, “It seems to be a rebound thing for you after all.”

I said, “I didn’t mean it that way.”

“We can still be friends.”

“Of course.”

And we truly were.  I harbored no bad feelings, except for the “grow up” crack (which Pearl considered arrogant).  He didn’t appear to resent me, either.

As far as I was concerned, he didn’t break up with me: We broke up with each other.  It was mutual, the first time I’d ever experienced such a breakup.

Finally, I was free from trying to feel attracted to him, and from wondering if other guys realized I could still go out with them.

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: