Selective Mutism Strikes at a Zeta Party; Peter Turns the Screws–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–November 1992, Part 2

[To all who have been bullied for being shy and quiet, this one is dedicated to you.  I feel your pain.]

Selective Mutism Strikes at a Zeta Party

On November 15, the Zetas held a party in their meeting suite showing Wayne’s World.  I planned to go because I wanted to see the movie.  None of my friends could make it.  Steve was there, Shawn was there for a while, and Darryl may have come around–but most of the guys were strangers, Zetas.  I’ve never done well when surrounded by strangers.  Shyness?  NVLD?  Both?  I don’t know.

I didn’t understand why everyone liked Wayne’s World so much.  No one at the Zeta party laughed much when they did watch it.  They mostly played pool or chatted, I could barely hear the movie, and I didn’t feel comfortable.  I felt even more uncomfortable when Peter showed up.

When I saw the movie much later, with my friends, I finally understood why it was funny.

The Zeta meeting suite was in horrible shape, terribly dirty.  In the bathroom, for example, one toilet was broken and blockaded by junk, junk and dirt was all over and even in the sinks, and the other toilet’s handle didn’t even work.

How could they have a suite without a working toilet?  Didn’t they ever call maintenance?  Didn’t anyone ever try to clean the bathroom?  How could they stand this?  It was a good thing they didn’t live in the suite!

I did not expect Basic Instinct, a recent movie, to be played next.  I knew little about this movie.  One Zeta said there was a censored version–and they had the uncensored version.  Oh, joy.  The opening scene was darkness intermingled with cries of obvious sexual pleasure.

I was even more uncomfortable than I had been all evening, but when Sharon Stone’s character pulled out the ice pick, I had to at least know what was going on, how in the world she could be so cold as to kill the man she was having sex with.

The discomfort was even worse because Peter sat in a corner nearby.  I was on a couch at this time, and he was in a chair almost adjacent to mine, with maybe one or two people between us.  He seemed uncomfortable as well during all the sex scenes.  Someone teased him about being off in a corner by himself.  During this movie, Shawn arrived–a relief, with Peter there.

After this movie, to my great relief Steve suggested Princess Bride.  I chatted with Steve about it, which was such a relief.  It was good to have someone to talk to at that party besides Shawn, who didn’t stay with me for long periods.  Occasionally, Maizie would be near enough to pet.

In general, the evening was a torment.  I would have left if not for the movies.

My torment was complete when Shawn said a day or two later, “Don’t tell anyone I told you, because the Zetas would kill me.  But after you left, they sat around asking if you’d said two words to anyone all night.”

I was disgusted and hurt and embarrassed.  I didn’t even know most of them, and had cared about little but watching Wayne’s World.  And most of them didn’t talk to me, either.  Outgoing people often complain that a shy person never introduces herself to them–yet they themselves never talk to the shy person!  If it’s so hard for me and so easy for them, why do I have to do all the work?

If you ever read the book Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, Fanny Price was almost exactly like me at that time.  She tried to be good, tried to be moral, yet was so shy that she couldn’t stand to be surrounded by strangers.  She’d feel inner indignation about things that violated her idea of morality and right, yet wouldn’t often say much about it.

It seemed Jane Austen understood my type of person so completely that she could write about one without sermonizing on how this shy person should be more outgoing.  If Fanny Price were there instead of me, I believe she would have gone through the same things and emotions that I did, and that she, too, would have been talked about after she left, in a way that would embarrass her.

I was about ready to cry at the news.

How much of this was related to NVLD?  I’m not sure, but it certainly wouldn’t have helped.  It could also have been a form of selective mutism.  I didn’t want to turn into an outgoing person.  I wanted people to accept me the way I was, the way I was born.  (Because of this, I can understand the feelings of people who say they were born gay.)

Peter Turns the Screws

On November 18, Memadmin called me in because Peter told her I was spreading rumors about him.  It was all a lie.  I was not going around telling people that we were getting back together.  Why on earth would I tell people we were back together unless he came to me and said he wanted me back?

I didn’t even want that anymore, because Peter disgusted me.  I wanted Shawn, Mr. Octopus–annoys everybody–drives me crazy with analyzing–gorgeous-blue-eyed Shawn!  Peter even told Memadmin that my stories about the Mental Link were rumors, that I was making it up!

Whatever drove him to tell her this, it hurt me deeply.  Memadmin said, “I don’t believe he has the ability to hypnotize.”  But as I’ve said before, I’ve had a professional do it, so I could recognize it.

She said that Peter wasn’t accusing me of “lying,” that he said I probably believed what I was saying was the truth.  But that contradicted what she had only just said.

“Is it because I went to the Zeta party?” I said.  “I just went there to see the movie.”

“I don’t think so,” she said.  “I got the impression that his Zeta brothers have been teasing him about the Link.”

“Why didn’t he come to me and talk to me?”

“I think he’s afraid you’ll think he wants to date you again.”

Excuse me?

I figured the real reason was, he wouldn’t come up to me and tell me I was lying, when he knew I was telling the truth.  Over the past months, Peter had lied to and about me, even when he knew I knew the truth.

What could I possibly have done to make him hate me so much and tell lies about me to other people, to even try to get me in trouble with Memadmin?  And why did he act like we were friends again in September and October, greeting me kindly whenever he saw me, only to turn around and be my enemy again when I tried to be nice and show him no hard feelings through my note in October?

Two people told me that note sounded like a good idea, and there was nothing in there but an offer of future friendship, no professions of love or wanting to get back together, and I only sent it after he showed definite signs of wanting to be friends again.

How could he accuse me of spreading rumors, when I only told the truth and my future hopes for reconciliation, while he was the one spreading rumors?

Even when I dated him, I knew he often lied to people, though I never thought he’d lie to or about me.  I strongly suspect that these rumors are one reason why nobody asked me out for quite some time.  (Either that, or they figured Shawn and I were together.)

I suspect that they were spread among his fraternity brothers, his girlfriends, and anyone who would listen; who knows where they went after that.

The following year, I discovered that he had carried his rumors and warnings to a new friend, Phil, who wanted to date me–and to Phil’s mother.  Phil did not listen, but had to deflect the vicious comments made by his brother Dave O’Hara and the ignorant ones made by his mother (who kept asking if I was doing “marriage talk” yet).  Was I not allowed to date, while Peter went from one girlfriend to another?

With the way the rumor mill went at Roanoke, it’s quite possible that people had twisted things around and it got back to him like that.

But why would I say we were getting back together when he was treating me like crap, I was angry with him, and would stare him down if I saw him look my way?  Why would I say this when Shawn was the one I really wanted, when things kept getting so hot between us?  When I also had a crush on James?

I only sat next to Peter by accident, and if my friends were at the table; I didn’t go out of my way to sit near him.  Pearl had called me “obsessed” with Shawn back in September, before she knew what had really been going on between us for many months.

I no longer longed for Peter to come back to me, and at some point started fantasizing that when Shawn left Roanoke to go to Madison, we would exchange letters and one day Shawn would send me an engagement ring.

Even my friends could see that I had accepted the breakup, contrary to Peter’s belief.  As I wrote in my diary after seeing Memadmin, “I’d rather kiss a frog than go out with [Peter].  He’s scum.”

I spoke to Steve about it.  I said, “He knows [the Link] happened, I know it happened, and he knows I know it happened.”

Steve seemed more inclined to believe me than Peter, who had just gotten in trouble with the frat for some misinformation he’d given, and soon got into trouble again.  I’d already heard about this from Darryl.  I didn’t want to talk to Peter, but Steve wanted to try, himself.

This left me in a bad humor, and a sad humor.  The next evening, I went to a David Meece concert with Pearl and another friend, at a college in or by Milwaukee.  Pearl said she was going to see her “man.”

After the concert, I got a shirt and CD.  The concert was just David and his piano, no band, but that was plenty.  He sang heartfelt Christian contemporary music.  At least once, I quizzed Pearl on the music, since we were both in Music History, and he incorporated classical music into his songs.

He was stand-up comic and serious by turns, telling us his life-story, and what God wants us to do when we’re going through hard times–just the things I’d been doing, such as praying and communing with Him.

I began to get teary-eyed near the end, as things he said hit home and reminded me of Peter’s harassment.  Pearl saw that, but I think she thought it was over Meece’s own story.

Afterwards, she had to go “meet her man” and have her picture taken with him.  He put his arm around her as she stood, and he sat on the edge of the stage, the top of his head to hers.  (She was short.)  She smelled Polo cologne for the rest of the night.  She told him her plans to get him to Roanoke.

My turn came, and I said his speech had touched me.  I was shy about it, of course, but I told him I was going through hard times and I’d been doing what he’d said to do.

He asked me where I went to college–Roanoke, which was on my key ring.  I said it was by S–, and someone in the line cheered.  I gave him the travel time from Milwaukee.  He said we should get him out there, that I should come along when they pick him up at the airport, and I should tell him my story.  David Meece wanted to hear my story!  Maybe he even remembered me in prayer sometimes.


When Dad came to pick me up for Thanksgiving Break on Friday the 20th, I was at work, so he went to Nancy.  He was impressed when she said, “Oh, she’s one of our best workers.”

Thanksgiving Break was full of homework.  I think there was rarely a minute, other than sleeping or eating or showering or going to church, when I wasn’t doing homework.  If I took any breaks, it was to celebrate Thanksgiving, and even then I probably had a textbook with me on the couch while everyone gathered in the living room after turkey lunch.

But I also listened to B96 from Chicago, now a dance station, and made a tape of the songs.  Then I played the tape for Clarissa, who would sometimes say, “I wanna hear some techno!” so I’d play it again.

On our way back to school, my parents and I stopped for lunch in Marc’s Restaurant in S–.  There was Julie with her parents!  Julie and I laughed.


I got the idea of Clarissa and I enjoying books together, and since she liked the idea, began reading Clan of the Cave Bear to her at specific times each week.  But though the book was excellent for reading by yourself, for reading out loud it was a bit dull, so she asked for another book.

I chose Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, a hilarious book by Douglas Adams which I had read in high school.  She loved it.  I loved reading it out loud, and doing accents and maybe even some voices.

A current song was “Please Don’t Go” by Double You.  It was catchy, a dance song, and part of it went, “Babe, I love you so.  I want you to know that I’m gonna miss your love the minute you walk out that door.  Please don’t go.”

There was also, “Please don’t go, don’t goooooo, don’t go away.”  Sara, Tara, Carol and others in the Group liked to sing it differently: “Please don’t stay, don’t staaaaay, don’t stay here.”  And, “Babe, I hate you so.  I want you to know that I’m gonna have a party the minute you walk out that door.”

Admittedly, this was far more fun to sing than the song itself, and I could never hear the song after that without thinking of it.

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: