The Fateful First Meeting of Phil; The Birth of Dolphin Philosophy; Our Group of Friends Splits Apart–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1993, Part 2

The Fateful First Meeting of Phil

I read an article on the book The Last Studebaker by Robin Hemley in the August 9, 1992 South Bend Tribune.  Then I discovered that Robin Hemley was going to be at the Writer’s Festival, which was October 15 and 16.  Ooh, a South Bender writing about South Bend.  And now my fellow classmates could read about it!

I bought a copy of the book and went to a book signing on October 15 in the Bradley foyer.  I was there with probably Clarissa, but I don’t believe anyone else was there.

I told him I was from South Bend, myself, and had come here to the cows and cornfields of Wisconsin.  He autographed my copy of his book with, “For Nyssa, From South Bend who finds herself now among cornfields and cows.  From another South Bender.”


One evening, as Pearl and I passed by the library during James’ shift, I got into a hyper mood and made my duck umbrella “fly”: I opened it, and pulled the ring up and down to make the umbrella “flap.”  I may have also quacked.

Pearl sped up her scooter, joking about my weirdness and not wanting to be seen with me.  I laughed, and hoped James saw me through the library windows.

Then it was time for the party, on Saturday, October 16.  It was because of James and Pearl’s crush, but neither one showed up!  Still, there was a new guy there; he left the room; I asked somebody who he was; it was Dave’s brother Phil.

Physically, he fit my type perfectly: tall (a full foot taller than I at 6’5″), lanky, long nose, slightly slanted eyes–much like Keanu Reeves.  His nose was arched.  His mother supposedly was part Cherokee; his dad had was Irish.

He wore the goatee all the guys wore that fall, and I liked it.  He wore a baseball cap, but it was NOT backwards.  He had a goofy way of walking; I think somebody called it monkey-like.

When we all moved to the Muskie to play Balderdash, I sat by him and flirted with him all night.  He flirted back.

(Balderdash is a word game in which you guess the definition of weird but real words.  One word was “oom”; Phil suggested it meant “dyslexic cow.”)

Then he walked me back to my dorm.  Pearl thought he liked her, but she wanted this other guy, so I later said, “If you don’t want him, I’ll take him.”

For the next couple of months, we would keep meeting at Pearl’s parties and other things, though not very often.

Phil thought I was a freshman, I looked so young.  Who was at the party: probably several of my usual group of friends, and one or two guys besides Phil, maybe Mike S. or Dave or Steve.

Since Pearl had prayed on the 14th that I would finally meet the one who was meant for me, and on the 15th Peter called out of the blue, and on the 16th I met Phil, I considered this a sign that my future husband was one of the two.  It was the strangest timing, after all.  Now I just wondered which one it was.

Dave was a big football player with blond hair and sky-blue eyes; Phil had light brown, wavy hair, almost auburn, and brown eyes.  Dave told Pearl he had a girlfriend he was almost engaged to.  Pearl didn’t believe it, but I chose to–which was good, because it was true.  I said, “I’ll have to work on his brother, then.”


For Homecoming, InterVarsity, along with other organizations around campus, entered contests for best chalk drawing and/or best banner.  The chalk drawings were drawn on windows all around the Campus Center, including the Pub.  We put our drawing or banner in the cafeteria.

I don’t remember what our totally original banner idea was, but we soon discovered that someone else took our idea and made their own banner.  So we looked like copycats even though the other organization copied us.

The contest theme was the Magical Kingdom; the chalk drawing and banner ideas came from Disney characters.  Somebody else won the prize.  The banner competition was on October 18, and the window “painting” contest was on October 19.

Pearl and Sharon got excited about a “visitor” who would arrive soon.  Though at first reluctant to tell someone from outside the suite, they swore me to secrecy.  I couldn’t even tell Clarissa, though she found out, by either seeing the “visitor” or being told about it.

It was a male puppy.  The little puppy was cute and friendly, but only partially housebroken.  The Phi-Delts took it for walks in the grass outside the Hofer building on the side with the balconies, but the puppy still occasionally left surprises on the carpet and maybe the couch.

Since no one was supposed to have pets in the dorms, the Phi-Delts had to clean up the stains as well as they possibly could to avoid embarrassing questions.

On October 22, during Homecoming festivities, I went outside with Pearl and maybe others at about 8:45 p.m. as they walked the puppy.  We watched the Homecoming fireworks from there, but Pearl decided they would scare the puppy, so we took him back inside.

Soon after they got the puppy, the Hofer RA saw one of them walking it.  He did not tell the administration, but they had to find another home for the puppy.  I think one of the Phi-Delts took him home.


Copy of a letter written to Shawn on 10/22/93:

Things are so different now between Peter and me that I thought you’d better know.  One of my biggest problems has finally been solved!

You see, he called me up last week, admitted to being a jerk for so long, and wanted to be friends again.  I was so shocked.  He said it had taken him this long to sort out his feelings.  He said he’d heard I’d changed, and that he could tell just by talking to me.

He’s gotten better than he was last year.  He’s cut down on his smoking.  From something he said, the pot-smoking might be a thing of the past.  I sure hope so, because that stuff’s not harmless at all.  He’s only been drunk twice, and he felt so bad that he doesn’t want to do it again.

I keep hoping he’ll call again soon.  We enjoyed being together and talking together again so much.  He took me to the Pub for a Mountain Dew, and we got a couple funny looks.  I’m really confused now, though.  It’s like I’m in limbo.  I don’t know exactly what I want anymore.  I’ll see a guy I liked a lot just a couple weeks ago, and think, I don’t know.

10/26/93: World Civ is going great.  I’ve gotten a 97 and a 96 [on tests] so far–and the 96 was because I didn’t study enough!  The only way to get 100 pages behind [as some friends did] is by not reading for two or three weeks, so it’s not bad at all.

I’m glad I have Dr. Williams.  The people with [the other World Civ teacher] boast about having it better, but they’re behind us now and they have to write two papers!  When they boast, I think, Yeah, yeah, I’ll stay with Williams, thank you very much.

I foresaw this when I decided to take Dr. Williams instead of the [To Be Announced] class, and now I see I was right.  A year of World Civ doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

I love my library job.  My homework gets done, and I have more time for fun things than I would’ve had.  And I like the things I get to do.  I see people I know and they see me, not like before when I just saw them through the tray window.

I like being in Krueger, but I also don’t.  When I hear squeaky beds (with two people in them) and yelling underclassmen and radios blasting long before I have to get up, I go nuts and want to go back ‘home’ to the suites.  I’ve been feeling so ‘homesick’ lately, just walking past them….

But anyway, that’s how life is here right now–some bad things and some good things.  It’s definitely not boring.  One of my worst worries has been removed, even though now I’m stuck with a love for Peter that I thought had calmed down.

It’s bittersweet, I’ll call it that.  You’re probably shaking your head and saying ‘no, not him,’ but I’ve seen his good side, and I know God has something special in mind for him.  Please just pray for me, and I’ll pray for you.


For a short time, Jennifer’s Mike started paying quite a bit of attention to Pearl, and touching her in strange ways–massaging her neck, for example.  Sharon said to her, “You’ll be his next girlfriend.”  But despite all that, he and Jennifer stayed together for a while longer, and he didn’t go after Pearl anymore (that I’m aware of).

Around October 25, Jennifer got “deathly” sick with some awful virus, maybe mono or the flu.  She had tons of pills to take for it, and spent her days in bed.  Her Mike took care of her the whole time, making sure she got her pills and was comfortable and all that.  We kept telling her she should hold onto this guy.


Each year, one of the humanitarian organizations on campus hosted Shantytown: You’d make a cardboard shanty and sleep in it overnight, with awards given the next day for best shanty.

This year, on October 29, InterVarsity made its own shanty.  A bunch of us worked on it, including me.  It was simple and triangular, tied with ropes or ribbons, not complex and impressive like some shanties could get.  I forget who stayed in it, but Astrid probably did.

On Halloween, the Pi-Kapps held a Halloween party in the Pub.  I went to Pearl and Sharon’s room and we got into our costumes.  I forget what Pearl and Sharon dressed as, but I took a hippie-type dress Peter’s mom had once given me and a big, brown scarf, and dressed as a gypsy.  Pearl and Sharon put lots of makeup on me, including mascara, so I would look the part.  They said gypsies wore lots of makeup, especially colorful eyeshadow.

Then, for some reason, Pearl or Sharon decided to call up the Pub and ask if it was a costume party.  The Pi-Kapp who answered sounded like she thought it a weird question.  But who holds a Halloween party without costumes?

We didn’t want to get out of the costumes we had so painstakingly donned, so we spent the night in costume, watching movies in Pearl and Sharon’s room.  Some of their suitemates probably stopped by and asked what was going on.  One of the movies was Maximum Overdrive.

Several times, I’d be there visiting and Sharon would ask me to sleep on their floor.  Though the floor was hard, I loved the slumber-party fun.  Once, they even had me bring over blankets and a pillow because I’d probably end up sleeping there.


Sarah, Carol and Tara were good friends with Judy, who left to get married and never came back, except to visit.  The visits were rare, and called “Judy sightings.”  Whenever pledge month came around, Sarah, Carol and maybe Tara would cry, “Pi Joo-dy Woo-dy!”

Sarah and Carol did not like fraternities, sororities, or the annoying calls and songs yelled by pledges, so this was the closest they’d ever get to pledging.  I believe they even had “Pi Judy Woody” T-shirts made.

The school planned to build new apartments; this annoyed Sarah and Carol, who would graduate before the apartments were completed.

Once, Tara said that “Butthead’s the cute one” on Beavis and Butthead.  So everyone began teasing her, saying she had a crush on Butthead.  She didn’t; she just thought he was better-looking than Beavis, though not actually “cute.”

Tara, Astrid and Mike were all in the Roanoke Choir sophomore year; now, Pearl and Sharon joined them.  They all would burst out into song at the table or walking between buildings together.

So I knew what they were working on (“We, like sheep, have gone astraaaaay”), the choir tricks (exaggerate “oo” in “Good-will”; say “watermelon” if you forget the words), and the in-jokes (the female teacher’s little yellow sports car, the teacher dating a member of the administration).

During rainy seasons I would, of course, carry my red duck umbrella everywhere.  When IV met in a second-story room in the library, the duck umbrella went along.

Once, when Pearl was late or unable to come to a meeting, Astrid propped up my duck umbrella in a chair and proclaimed it to be the IV president.  She addressed it like Pearl, and afterwards joked that the umbrella was our president.

(One year, she even took a bear I gave her for a gift exchange, named it Nyssa, took it on the annual choir tour, and said Nyssa went with them on choir tour.)

The Birth of Dolphin Philosophy

Clarissa and I began watching the new show Seaquest:DSV.  Darwin, the dolphin, would chatter and squeak; the teenaged member of the crew translated with a device he developed himself.

Once, Darwin said, “The light is dark and one.”  I believe this meant his knowledge was turning dark and he didn’t want to die alone.

I said to Clarissa, “The light is dark and one…That sounds like philosophy…dolphin philosophy!”

We laughed, and I ran to write “The light is dark and one” on our message board along with a drawing of a dolphin playing in the water, balancing on his tail.

Thus Dolphin Philosophy was born.  Whenever Darwin said something new that sounded philosophical in one way or another, I’d post it on our board, often with a drawing of a frolicking dolphin.

Senior year, when Darwin didn’t show up as much and Seaquest turned lame, I pulled strange sayings from other sources and posted them so Dolphin Philosophy wouldn’t die.

It was selective: A saying had to be special and weird to be posted as Dolphin Philosophy.  After college, I began e-mailing it to friends.  Maybe one day I should find the old list of Dolphin sayings and post it on my blog…..

Clarissa and I also did other fun, silly things with the message board, such as Queen’s Proclamations and strange Words for Today.

One of the guys on Seaquest, Ted Raimi (Lt. Tim O’Neill), reminded me of Shawn, when he wore glasses (though Shawn was cuter).  He had a knobby nose, just like Shawn’s.  You may remember the Shawn-clone who led Anna’s Bible study freshman year.  How many Shawn-clones are there in the world, anyway?


In those days, the only dorm kitchen was in Krueger.  Not even the suites had a kitchen.  Anyone who wanted to cook something had to find a way into Krueger, which, after all the doors began to be locked all day, had to be through a resident of Krueger.  When the apartments were built, they, at least, would have their own kitchens.

The school did have a song, but no one seemed to know it.  One day, somebody pointed out what song played by the Bradley clock was the alma mater.  My choir friends learned it, but only because they were in choir.  I never did learn it, myself.  I only knew the tune.  Unless you went to games, when would you hear it, except in the occasional choir concert and on the Bradley clock?


One night soon after new phones were put in at the main doors of all the residence halls, and each Krueger girl was forbidden to let male strangers into the dorm or any male who wasn’t there to visit her, IV held a Bible study in the Krueger lounge.

A young black man from our class, an extremely intelligent guy whom I respected, came to Krueger, only to find the door locked.  Since he had never come to one of our meetings, we thought he came to visit a friend.  Pearl and others gestured to him to use the phone.

Eventually, somehow, he got in; maybe one of us went over to talk to him, or someone else came in Krueger.  He said he was there for the IV meeting.  We explained the Krueger rules.  At first, he’d thought we wouldn’t let him in because he was black; he felt much better once he knew the real reason.

During the meeting, he asked about the salvation of people in other religions of “The Book,” or the Hebrew Bible, namely, Judaism and Islam.  Pearl insisted that the Christian Bible specifically said the only way to Heaven was Christ.

But I had wondered about this for some time, if God would save even the Jews and the Muslims.  I don’t know why I said nothing; was it the lack of a biblical back-up?  I should have said something to support my classmate.

In 2005, I discovered that Catholic and Orthodox views of the Bible say that God will have mercy on whom He will; we can’t say who that will be.  But I did not have their arguments in front of me.

Once, IV advertised a meeting at which the group would discuss abortion.  Anyone was welcome, and everyone thought it would be packed with people on both sides of the issue, which they said was popular on the campus (though I rarely heard anyone talk about it).

Yet no one showed up besides the usual group.  This surprised us, and we never did figure out why.  I don’t remember if I went, or if I was bored with the whole issue: The arguments were always the same and never did resolve anything.

Our Group of Friends Splits Apart

During this time, there was a shake-up in the Group: Catherine, Rachel and Cindy had various problems with Pearl and Sharon; I think it started with one thing, and then other issues got added on to it.

Catherine thought Pearl said nasty things about her fiancé Glen, when she hadn’t: Rachel overheard something and misunderstood it.

Catherine had problems with Pearl leading InterVarsity, even though the whole group had voted for Pearl’s strict requirements for IV leaders.

In an entire roomful of prospective IV members, I seemed to be the lone voice who said that if we voted for these requirements, Christians with more liberal beliefs or questions would be left out.

(That’s why I never became a leader, despite being asked: I had questions about the salvation of non-Christians, and knew I wouldn’t qualify as a leader.)

The vote was taken, and I may have been the only person in that entire room who did not raise a hand in favor.  So blaming Pearl for the Evangelical tone of the group was not fair.

Cindy also thought Pearl was saying bad things about her.  Catherine had asked Pearl to be her maid of honor, but now unasked her; Rachel became her new maid of honor.  I don’t know how Sharon got into all this.

Since they are all still my friends, I don’t want to go into more detail.

Clarissa and I got caught in the middle, watching our group of friends split apart.  Though they later made up after Rachel sent an apologetic letter and everyone began proper discussions, the Group was now permanently in two parts.

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: