Psycho Roommates and Bug Wars, Return of Rick, Adjusting to New Dorm, Spitball-Throwing Teacher–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–September 1993, Part 3

Psycho Roommates and Bug Wars

Cindy, who’d moved twice in Krueger since the beginning of the year, quickly decided that the “horror stories” about her new freshman roommate, Tamara, weren’t true.

Then she had some “irreconcilable differences” with her, though Tamara seemed to like her, so she stayed with Rachel until she could get a new room.

Now she considered Tamara to be psychotic.

I liked Tamara because we both liked old movies, playing cards, and The Far Side.  Cindy said Tamara claimed to have a gun to protect herself against her old roommate, who threatened to kill her–but she didn’t actually have one.

Tamara was a tall, slender girl with short, curly brown hair.  I believe that, along with the gun thing, she said she didn’t drink, then would drink.  This may have also applied to smoking.

I got along with her and she seemed to like me a lot, especially since we had things in common, such as nightly flossing.  I believe she lived in that same room all year, though Cindy ended up moving in with Catherine.

Tamara would talk incessantly about the oddest things, though.  One night, I came into the bathroom and she was there; we got to talking even as she was in a stall.  She said she’d just been on a date and got stubble burn.  She asked if I’d ever had that before.

To the surprise of everyone, in January she broke up with a cute, nice guy (the one who gave her stubble burn) to go out with the not-cute, obnoxious Dirk!

(This is the guy who liked me until he found out I was shy, and told me that half the guys at Roanoke were probably in love with me.  This guy also became my abusive ex’s flying monkey senior year.)

We couldn’t figure this out.  But then, they were both a little strange.

Rachel and Ralph may have been engaged for a time, or maybe they just promised to be engaged; a bit later, they had problems and their relationship was on very shaky ground.  But they withstood it, and in 1998 got married.

As far back as 1993, we expected them to get married eventually, and their troubles bothered us as well.  I remember feeling in 1998 that it was about time they got married.  Unfortunately, Ralph got into drugs, changed, and had affairs, so the marriage ended a short time later.

One day, I drew my signature beetle on my door’s message board.  Then somebody, probably Rachel, drew a little shotgun and wrote, “Blood and guts!”  I wrote a message calling her cruel, and resurrected my beetle.  Then Rachel drew a can of RAID.  I think this war went on for a little while.

Catherine glued or taped many small, black, hard plastic spiders to Rachel’s door, because Rachel hated spiders.  It may have been a Halloween thing.  Rachel apparently liked the joke, because she left them there until the end of the year.

Return of Rick

On Saturday the 11th, Pearl and I went with Cindy and her friends to a dance, which actually played good music.  There was some pornographic dancing, too, which we didn’t like to see (called “freaking”).

In our group was, to my surprise–Rick, the guy who made a date with me in the spring at “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof” but never called me.  I decided to get revenge the biblical way: by acting nice so he’d feel coals of fire.  That’s a way of getting revenge without taking revenge.

I didn’t realize until later that his girlfriend was also with us.  I think she was the same one he had broken up with, then gotten back together with, around the time he asked me out.

I did as I planned, so whether or not he remembered me and what he did, I still came out with dignity.  He did appear to look at me a few times.

He kept playing with my umbrella, with a handle in the shape of a duck’s head.  Once, he held a balloon and began contemplating it, so I started poking at it with my duck’s bill.  He looked at the balloon like he was shocked.

(By the way, years later, somewhere between 2003 and 2005, Catherine saw him in town.  He did still remember me, even though I’d barely said anything to him over the years.  He wanted to know how I was doing.  I have now friended him on Facebook.  LOL)

Rick and Pearl sat at a table and arm-danced to “YMCA.”


This was about the time disco came back in vogue, not just the good songs but silly ones like “YMCA,” even though the 70s had been considered uncool for years–especially disco.

Pearl liked it, and I think her old classmates from high school liked it, but I didn’t know what to think.

Later on, we went to the Phi-Delt suite for something, then walked back along the Hofer sidewalk.  Rick’s girlfriend felt cold.  He gave her his coat, the same long, black, classy one which had caught my attention sophomore year.

I felt a twinge of jealousy, but only a twinge.  I knew he wasn’t the kind of guy I wanted to date.  (This is good, since they’ve now been married for many years.)

Adjusting to New Dorm

Just as in the suites, our room had a full-length mirror on the door, only this time, we couldn’t see it from our beds.  The Krueger rooms were the biggest on campus.  Our beds were along the wall with the door and to the right when you stand facing the outer wall; there was plenty of room between them and in the rest of the room.

Along the outside wall there was little besides a big window.  I think we had the dressers along the wall to the right of this, and my TV and VCR went on top of the dresser closest to my bed along the same wall.

Along the wall to the left was a narrow, tall closet (mine), a long desk with two chairs, two sets of drawers, two overhead lights, and another small closet (Clarissa’s).

I put my usual papers in the left side desk drawers, though at the end of the year I discovered a yellowish stain across several of them that I suspected was pee.  Had someone peed into the drawer before we moved in?

It could have been something else, but I had no way of knowing what.  I had to cut the stains off my papers, which I didn’t want to throw away because they were full of valuable writing notes, made over many years.

Though Rachel said we weren’t allowed to leave the doors to our rooms standing open if we left, even if we went to the bathroom (which was right across the hall from our room), Clarissa and I didn’t like taking along our key cards at all hours of the day and night.  I think we’d get fined if we left our door open (it was supposed to discourage stealing).

So to get around this, I developed a way of closing the door with two or three fingers stretched out to catch it just right, making it look closed, but not letting the lock catch.  That way, I could go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without having to figure out where to put my key card without a pocket.

During the coldest days of that frigid winter, we also weren’t supposed to leave on our space heaters when we left the room.  We weren’t supposed to have space heaters in the first place, but Rachel let us because the heat in the building was old and faulty.  She would make us get rid of them if we left them on.  Clarissa and I borrowed one from Pearl, because her suite room was warmer.

People weren’t supposed to block open the side or front doors, but did it anyway with the big doormats.

Security gave us little notes with their extensions so we could call them for a new service: night escorts around campus.  Ever since the rapist incident, we were encouraged not to walk alone at night, especially if we were female, and we could call Security if none of our friends could come with us.

Rachel made different pictures all year for each of our first-floor doors, according to the season: one was a hang-up monster for Halloween, another was cute animals, and others I don’t remember.

Yes, my friend Rachel was now my RA.  I don’t think she was more lenient with friends, but I also don’t think her friends gave her that much trouble.  We weren’t loud and obnoxious, at least not during quiet hours.  She was the RA the year before, too.

In InterVarsity, Shawn and another guy were gone, supposedly to UW-Madison; I don’t remember if we saw Dori or another guy much.  Dori may have already dropped out of InterVarsity due to disagreements with Pearl.

But we did have me, Clarissa, Pearl, Sharon, Astrid, and now Mike, the brother of Wendy, who had been the pledge master.

Mike was strange, but in a lovable way.  He was sweet and kind, and got along better with us women than with many men.

Anna may have shown up a few times, and a certain young black man sometimes did as well.  I don’t remember if Anna’s Pentecostal friend Samuel was still at Roanoke.

We also had an Asian guy who spoke with a thick accent we could barely understand, but was kind.  He was older and married.

We also had Tara, and a popular, sweet couple who later got married, Tanya and Matt.  (We knew Tanya and Matt from Sophomore Honors.)  Tara often helped make posters.

Finally, IV was listed in the Organizations section of the student handbook.  The Statement of Mission and Campus Compact made my friends and I laugh when we read them because they didn’t seem at all true to what we saw at RC.

I think the Mission was less laughable than the Compact, though.  The funniest part was the statement that “Roanoke College is a Christian community.”

There was a new lecture series requirement.  This did not apply to present juniors and seniors, but it did to sophomores, so my junior friends and I narrowly missed it.

We could joke with our sophomore friends, such as Carrie, Clarissa, Astrid and Mike, because they had to follow the requirement and we didn’t.  Commuters and non-trads didn’t like the requirement, because they had a hard enough time fitting in work, school and family.

I would do my laundry at all hours on Saturdays, since no one would complain and it was always open.

Roanoke-TV was channel 23, and that year the operators began to show movies for us.  My TV picked up these movies in hushed tones, so Clarissa and I could barely hear them even with the sound turned all the way up.

One day, perhaps junior year, there was a family day or parents’ day.  Often, many black students gathered in the Muskie to watch MTV Jams; today, many of them sat in Bossard instead during one of the meals.

A little girl yelled out, “There’s a lot of black people here!”  (That part of Wisconsin was mostly white in those days, with just the occasional Hmong.)  I bet her parents were terribly embarrassed.

I’m not sure when my friends started using “obnoxious” to describe not just socially boorish behavior, but annoying things that happened.

Spitball-throwing teacher

The year before, when some of my friends took World Civ, they complained that Dr. Williams’ class was too hard.  I chose him anyway, possibly to avoid an 8:00 class.  Others chose different teachers.

I did not regret choosing Dr. Williams.  He knew history and many of its anecdotes, and though his lectures were fast, they were thorough.

Many students would just grab the textbook and start highlighting things as he lectured, rather than bothering to take notes.  I may have begun to do some of this myself, later on, only underlining instead of highlighting.

Many aspects of history fascinated me.  Much of it was new to me, because our textbooks described far more than White, Anglo-Saxon history:

They went into the histories of American and African civilizations, including North and South American Indians and the blacks of Africa, not just North Africa.  The books recorded the civilizations of India, China, Japan, and other parts of the globe.  We went all the way to 1714.

I read my textbook as I sat at the information desk in the library, since most of the time there was little else to do.  Seymour thought I was a History major.

During first semester, many of the people in the history lessons were in my family tree, so I would often go to Williams after class and talk about them.

The tests were all essay questions and identifications, but you could pick and choose which ones to answer.  For me, studying was mostly reading over my notes for the past several weeks, and this was enough to help me do well on the World Civ tests.

Though I had always preferred simpler, multiple-choice tests, I discovered these weren’t so bad.  My test scores were A’s, except for one B+ (with an amusing note from the teacher of: “OK but you can do better”).

In my notes, on December 1, I noted, “Force a Scotsman to do anything?  He fights (that explains myself [with my Scottish ancestry]).”

You may want to know what historical figures were in my family tree.  According to research done by me, my aunt and uncle, and my dad, they are:

Scottish King Duncan I and his son Malcolm of Macbeth, John & Priscilla Alden of the Mayflower, possibly Viking king Rollo, and Sir Francis Drake.  There are others, but these are the ones I remember off the top of my head.

GROSSNESS ALERT!  If you’re eating or about to eat, please wait until later to read the following:

There was one problem with Dr. Williams, however: He spit as he lectured, and a ball of it would gather in the corner of his mouth until he licked it off.  Absolutely disgusting, but true.

I knew from my friends to never sit in the first row, but I discovered on the first day of class that the second row was also bad.  I spent the whole class wiping off my face and neck and wondering if I just had overactive nerves causing tingles.

The next day of class, I sat in the third row and didn’t have this problem, so I knew it wasn’t just me.

At dinner, or at lunch the day after my first day of class, we had chocolate soft-serve ice cream, and I had trouble eating my ice cream cone as I fought to keep thoughts of Dr. Williams out of my head.  (Grossness puts me off my appetite.)

Within a short time, I was able to go through lunch without thinking of his spitballs, which kept me from wasting away from a lack of appetite.

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: