Shawn Makes His Move–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–February 1992, Part 2

One of Candice’s friends lost her own roommate somehow.  The school gave her a list of new roommates to choose from so she wouldn’t have to pay for a single room (double price).  Unfortunately, she either didn’t know or didn’t like anyone on it.

Since she was a senior and didn’t want major disruptions, she asked Candice to room with her.  Candice didn’t want to move, but wanted to help her friend.  By the way, just before she left, Candice said I was a good roommate.  So don’t think it was me.

To the shock of me, Candice, and probably everybody else in the suite, E– began visiting Latosha’s room–and she didn’t turn him out.  I don’t remember if they argued, which they probably did.  Latosha often giggled.

Sometime during Spring Semester, on a Sunday, I turned to Masterpiece Theater on PBS.  The movie that night came from what they called a Gothic novel from the 18th century, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson.  I hadn’t heard of it before, but wanted to check out those old Gothics, after reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

Unfortunately, I only caught the second half of Clarissa, a two-parter, so I didn’t understand everything.  Alastair Cooke explained in the beginning what had happened in the first part, so at least I wasn’t totally lost.  One kind of Gothic novel, especially in those days, dealt with a girl being locked up, and that’s what happened to Clarissa.

The movie enthralled me; the ending almost brought me to tears.  This movie, by the way, was British; Lovelace was played by Sean Bean–now known to many as Boromir in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.

And this book was referred to in the notorious French novel Dangerous Liaisons.  There are many similarities between DL and Clarissa, though Clarissa was not married and never, ever gave in to Lovelace’s desires.  Clarissa inspired DL.

Sophomore year I read the (abridged) book; in 1996, I finally found my own, unabridged copy in Barnes and Noble, and read all sorts of things which I missed the first time.

The story of Clarissa–paragon of virtue but treated as undutiful by her family for not marrying a lout with money, and then mistreated by a man who claimed to love her–touched me deeply.  She became my favorite heroine of all time.


In the New Group, life centered around meals, at least for us.  We’d meet at the cafeteria or go there together.  We’d sit around chatting until we all had classes or got tired of sitting in the cafeteria, so after dinner we could be there for quite some time.  It was a fun group, too, often breaking out in uproarious laughter.  Rachel and Catherine soon joined this group, bringing their own demented humor to it.

The jocks sat together at a long table near the doors, acting obnoxious.  They were usually the ones who clapped when a glass was dropped–this we didn’t mind–but also, at least once, one of them burped loud enough to carry across the room.  “Oh, lovely,” I muttered.

Pearl often talked about a friend named Dave O’Hara.  I may have met him once freshman or sophomore year.  I think he was skinny, with blond hair and blue eyes.

We didn’t talk much–Pearl was talking to him in passing–but I remembered him because he was also Peter’s friend.  I don’t know what half truths and lies Peter might have told him about me.  I hoped Pearl would tell him the truth.

Early in the Spring Semester, Sharon and Pearl began talking about joining a sorority.  They finally decided on what I thought were the Phi-Dells.  (It was actually “Phi-Delts,” Phi-Delta-Omega.)

Then Sharon and Pearl went through pledging and Hell Week and getting initiated.  I’m not sure what “rush” means at other colleges, but RC sororities had nothing called that.  You just came to a little party and decided if you wanted to pledge.

Pledges were people who wanted to be members; actives were members.  Hell Week was when pledges of frats and sororities had to act like “evils” (members of the opposite gender) didn’t exist, and do whatever other forms of initiation the actives wanted them to do.

Shawn Makes his Move

On Leap Day, I dreamed that Peter and I were talking amiably, but he kept trying to get me to go somewhere else.  Eventually, a beautiful blonde holding a drink walked into the room.  She was the reason he wanted me to go elsewhere: He didn’t want me to know they were dating.

In real life, a short time later, I discovered that he had a new, blonde girlfriend.

On Leap Day, things turned weird:

It all started at lunch.  I sat with Julie and Dan, and we were soon joined by Shawn and Steve (the guy who dressed like Satan for Halloween, but normally looked like Jesus with his long, brown hair).  We all had lots of fun, then Julie and Darryl left.

Shawn asked if he could eat some of my fries because the cafeteria had run out of everything he wanted before he got there.  He chatted with Steve for a bit, then we all left the table.

We were supposed to put our trays in a window to the dishwashing room.  It was closed by then, and I stood pondering whether or not opening it would cause Steve’s tray to fall on the floor.

Shawn walked up and saw me.  He led me around into the dishwashing room and put his tray down on the other side of the window, then started walking away as I put mine down.

I turned around to leave: He’d turned to see if I was coming.  I thought he just wanted to make sure I found my way out.  Maybe he did, but he also wanted to find out what happened between Peter and me.

We started talking about it, and ended up standing at the bottom of the Campus Center stairs for a while.  As I watched his blue eyes, I detected a tenderness, though I wasn’t sure what kind.

He asked me if he should talk to Peter if he ever slowed down from all his busyness, and I said, “If you think it would help.”

He said he would tell him, “I got you two together.”  He asked me how I was doing; I said I still cried every now and then.  He offered a listening ear if I wanted to talk more in some private place, which I didn’t at that time.

He asked if I needed a hug, and I said, “Every once in a while.”

As I smiled at him, he said that with my big brown eyes, I reminded him of a deer caught in headlights.  I laughed.  He was about to go, and spread his arms, but I glanced at the lounge doors, and he said someone could walk in on us.  We said good-bye, and I went to pick up a Mirror (which I’d helped lay out), feeling good.

I decided I wanted to talk to him again later, in my private room, since he had a roommate and Candice had already moved out.  I thought about this as I swept up all the dust bunnies under Candice’s recently vacated bed, and about things I wanted to tell him about.

An earlier fantasy probably came to mind, even though I didn’t plan on such a thing ever happening: A few weeks earlier, I imagined Shawn coming to my room to talk with me and comfort me, and kissing me.

I didn’t dare expect him to make a pass at me.  All I really wanted was to talk to a guy about the whole thing, and especially him, since he was the devoted Christian I’d admired all year.  I wanted a guy’s perspective, especially a Christian guy’s.

After dinner, I hesitated.  I told myself, “I’m sure his offer still stands.”  I called him up and asked him to come over.  He said he’d be over in a few minutes.

I hung up and prepared the room for a visitor.  I decided against chewing gum just in case it would look suspicious; after all, how could I talk with gum in my mouth?

I had so much to say, but when he came in and sat on a corner of Candice’s old bed and I sat hunched over on mine, I began to blank out, not knowing where to begin.  The discussion started out slowly, Shawn constantly looking at his watch and making me wonder if he was pressed for time.  That only increased the pressure on me, which made it even harder to think of words or to speak.

He finally had me sit beside him, which made it somewhat easier for me.  We had a much better discussion, me finally discovering what kinds of things could’ve been going through Peter’s mind.

All of a sudden, Shawn had me sit in front of him, me facing out, with his arms around me.  “This is an interesting position,” I said, trying, unsuccessfully (I thought because of his silence), to make a joke.  He said certain kinds of physical contact make it easier to talk.

I talked about the misgivings I’d had about Peter.  There were still a few silences, especially when things got stranger:

Shawn began to stroke my hair and nuzzle the top of my head with his chin.  Once he asked me if I was ticklish, and proceeded to find out where.

Shawn asked if I knew how to give a back rub, said he’d been looking for someone to give him one, and then gave me one.  He even rubbed my neck.

He asked if I was blind without my glasses, and took them off.  He took off his own glasses, looked through mine, and said, “You are blind!”

He said he’d like to know how I’d look in a fishtail or bun, and piled my hair on the top of my head.  He bent to look at me, said “Nah,” and let it fall back down.

He began to stroke the lower side of my cheek and chin.  Was my fantasy coming true?  To encourage him, I said I wondered if I should start dating again.  He began rubbing his cheek against mine.

“Who would you date?” he said.

“Anyone who’d ask me, I guess,” I said, then, “With discretion, of course.”

He bent down to the right to look at my clock, which was set on military time, taking me with him.  He moved his head so his lips were closer to mine.  I turned my head toward him slightly.

He moved the fingers of his right hand around my mouth, touching my lips on the right side.  I was nervous.  He said, “What would you do if I kissed you?”  I said, “I don’t know.”  He kissed me then–for a long time.

I was so stunned that this was actually happening, that I could barely remember to kiss back.  He kissed me at least once more.

I didn’t know what to think of things.  If ever I looked like a trapped deer, it was probably then.

He said he was being flame-broiled by the heater, and the bar at the head of the bed bothered him, so we moved to my bed.  He said he didn’t want to be serious, and I said, “It doesn’t have to be serious.”

(I was thinking of the various dating relationships: dating but can see other people, serious and can’t see other people.)

He laid half-on and half-off the bed, and tried to get me on top of him, but I kept rolling off to one or side, and once or twice pulled my legs up so I was, as he termed it, in a ball.  He said once while I was still on him, “Now you kiss me,” but I couldn’t.  He said once, “Am I that grotesque?”  I said, “No!  I’m just used to Peter.”

I was right!  Shawn had a crush on me!  And I had a crush on him!  But he was moving way too fast!

He sat on top of me and began massaging me all over, telling me to relax.  I expected a Christian guy to stop before touching my breasts, but he didn’t, so I tried to block him.

He kept saying, “Relax, don’t worry,” and asking why I tried to stop him.  I thought a Christian should know why; I was too embarrassed to explain.

There was more massaging, more kissing, and more of him trying to touch or kiss me in that area.

Then he began doing other things, which are explicit in my diary but I won’t describe them here, you voyeurs–

“What’re you doing?” I cried.  I told him I had to go to the bathroom.

He sat up.  He tried to pull up my shirt, but my hands flew down over it.  I got up and smoothed my hair, then fled to the bathroom.

I sat there a few minutes longer than I needed, putting my head in my hands.

When I came back, he seemed to have vanished.  I looked around; he walked toward me from the corner by the closet.  I closed the door.

We sat on the bed, apart this time.  He lamented not being in control; he said he screwed up.

“What did you think it meant when I kissed you?” he said.

“I thought it meant you liked me,” I said.

“I do like you.”

We talked for a bit; we both had conflicting thoughts about each other.

I described mine as being attracted one day, then wanting to be friends the next.  He thought we were just “playing around,” “blowing off some steam,” that he was making me feel more attractive.

“You should have explained your reasons before you acted,” I said.  “When you said you didn’t want to be serious, I thought you meant you didn’t want to date exclusively.  Not, you don’t want to date at all.”

“I don’t deserve you,” he said.  “So what are we going to be: casual acquaintances, friends, or a one-night stand?”

We laughed, since “one-night stand” was a joke.  (No, no sex–don’t go there.)

We finally decided to be prayer partners, meeting every Saturday for about half an hour.  We shook hands, agreeing to be friends.  We agreed to keep this whole thing a secret.  Then he left.

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: