We’re Dating!–No, We’re Not. Yes, We Are. ACK!–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1992, Part 4

I wrote in my diary on the 11th that “the situation with Shawn is finally clear now.  We have different definitions of terms in our own minds; to me, we’re dating; to him, we’re friends; but we both have the same idea of what it is.  We’ll have to get the word out that we’re only dating…we’re not boyfriend/girlfriend!!

“Oh, yeah.  Anna said that just the fact that I’m here at school still, and not anorexic, is a testimony to God’s strengthening power.”

The next day, I saw Shawn, and we started walking together.  I was happy.  But then he said, “This is not gonna work.”  So much for dating.

Yet, despite getting rid of the term “dating,” things still went on the same as before.  He would still come over and see me or invite me over, oftentimes every weekend, we’d watch TV or talk about all sorts of things, and he’d start kissing me and touching me and fooling around with me.

So did we really stop dating?  And were we dating or not the whole time?

He also would call me late at night sometimes and we would talk for hours.  But it seemed like nearly every time he did fool around with me, after it ended he would go on and on about how he didn’t want me, and criticize everything about me.

It also seemed far too analytical of him, making things far too complicated: Calling someone your “girlfriend” doesn’t mean you’re practically engaged.

You can just be going on casual dates with a bunch of people and call them all girlfriends.  It just means you have some sort of continuous romantic involvement (as opposed to one-night stands); it doesn’t have to be serious.

And saying that we’re “friends”–um, “friends” connotes no romantic or sexual involvement at all.  Unless you want to call it “friends with benefits,” but we didn’t have that term back then.

A few years after I graduated college, I watched a call-in advice show on MTV called Loveline, hosted by Dr. Drew and Adam Corolla, along with a woman whose name I forget.  To my surprise one night, a guy called in about the very same kind of situation:

He had started by giving “kissing lessons” to a girl across the hall; these lessons continued, and progressed so far over time that they did the same things Shawn and I eventually did, though they had not had vaginal intercourse.  He said she had feelings for him while he had none for her.  He said it wasn’t a “relationship.”

Dr. Drew said that if two people are physically intimate on a regular basis, they are indeed having a “relationship”–and it would hurt the girl to break it off.  Drew said to stop and cut off contact for a while, to give her time to get over it.

He said there’s a lot of BS going around these days, people saying “this is just for convenience, we’re not really in a relationship.”  He did say girls need to realize that sometimes guys will kiss and carry on with girls they’re not interested in.

Yet testosterone-driven Adam, on the other hand, the one you’d think would agree, didn’t buy that this guy was not attracted to the girl.  He said, “Isn’t it funny how guys’ll go and bang someone every night and then say, ‘Oh, I’m not attracted to her.'”

He didn’t believe it was possible, but that if you’re physically intimate with someone it’s because you are attracted to them in some way.

Then there was Sharon Stone’s character on Basic Instinct, who said, “He wasn’t my boyfriend.  I just f**ked him.”

And my old friend Becky from South Bend, who was still in high school, told me about guys who’d tell her, “That’s not my girlfriend.  I just f**k her.”

I guess there are a lot of Shawns out there, when I once thought there was only one.

It was hard for anyone in my group of friends, least of all me, to understand Shawn, because we thought kissing meant something and you didn’t do that to someone you weren’t attracted to.  You didn’t want to, because that would be icky.

So we couldn’t conceive of Shawn telling the truth when he said he wasn’t attracted to me or didn’t want to go out with me.

And if he was telling the truth, then why did he keep coming over and starting things with me all the time?  I normally waited for him to call me over and to start things, to let him set the pace, since he was so ambivalent.  In fact, after I graduated, one day I visited Sharon and she referred to him as “Shawn, who you were going out with.”

After Shawn called me senior year and said he hadn’t had a girlfriend in two years (ie, since he left Roanoke, rather than since he left high school), Pearl said,

“That’s fishy.  Maybe it shows there was something going on there.  Maybe now he thinks of you as an ex-girlfriend?…I always knew there was something there he wasn’t admitting to.”

And Pearl would know better than anybody else, being the confidante of us both about our relationship.

This blog post, about people confusing each other with varying definitions of the same dating terms, sums up the whole thing very well.

In September, Shawn had said, “Do you want everyone to know we’re dating?”

So, why couldn’t he just tell me to use that term (or “seeing each other”) instead of the completely platonic term “friends”?  It would have meant we were more than friends, but available to date other people, and been far more accurate.

But no, he couldn’t simplify it like that.  No, he had to complicate things by telling everyone we’re “just friends” and make me feel like some tart because “just friends” aren’t supposed to be fooling around every weekend.  I didn’t want to be exclusive; dating around was fine.  But I was not just your “friend”!

When I hear the song “Ah Leah!” by Donnie Iris, I realize that was Shawn and me:

Don’t you know we’re playin’ with the fire? 
But we can’t stop this burnin’ desire, Leah! 

Ah! Leah! Here we go again! 
Ah! Leah! Is it ever gonna end?  
Ah! Leah! Here we go again!  
Ah! Leah! We ain’t learned our lesson yet!  

Baby, it’s no good. We’re just askin’ for trouble.  
I can touch you, but I don’t know how to love you.  
It ain’t no use! We’re headed for disaster. 
Our minds said, “No!” But our hearts were talkin’ faster, Leah! 

But if he’d let me, I could have loved him.  I could easily have forgotten Peter completely in Shawn’s arms if only he would have stopped pulling me toward him and then pushing me away.

We could’ve had a lot more fun, without all the guilt and shame.  And Shawn was more like what I was looking for: similar music, similar religious backgrounds (I was Nazarene and he was non-denominational evangelical), love of sci-fi such as Doctor Who, sharing each other’s religious convictions–He even liked Monty Python, unlike Peter.


Each year in October, Roanoke held a Writer’s Festival.  This year, we had Billy Collins (poet) and W.P. Kinsella (novelist).  Two guys stopped me once and asked where Krueger Hall was.  Only later did I discover they were Collins and Kinsella.

Collins played the piano once in Krueger lounge, and Pearl hung out with him for a while.  When Counselor Dude and maybe Rachel took Collins to his room in Krueger, they found there’d been a mix-up: Some (unmarried) couple on campus had rented the guest room so they could have sex in it, which they were doing right then.

Collins joked about it, and Counselor Dude didn’t open the door.  Rachel thought it was sick.  Rachel and Counselor Dude wanted the flowers, at least, since they were for Collins.

The guy made a weird smile and almost threw the flowers at them.  Collins told Rachel to keep them, but it wouldn’t look good for the RA to have them.  He told her to come and get them later, I guess, and “slip into something a little more comfortable”–just a flirtatious joke.

So now Rachel had his pretty flowers.  Collins writes humorous poems; I could imagine him writing about this whole incident, and immortalizing RC (and maybe Rachel or Counselor Dude).

W.P. Kinsella wrote Shoeless Joe, the novel which inspired the movie Field of Dreams.  He read from Box Socials.  Every time he said the town’s name, Fark, he would pause and then say it significantly.  The readings were so funny that I bought the book from the Campus Shop, and loved it.

This, and a later presentation called “The Devil You Know,” became part of the backdrop for my story Alexander Boa, which was based on a dream.


One night, as we stood outside the suite after he had walked me home, Shawn said, “I would love to go on a date with you” (as opposed to just making out in our rooms all the time).  So one day, I went up to him in the cafeteria as he was at the salad/ice cream table where people would set down their trays before getting drinks and such.

I don’t believe anyone else was nearby, and I’d fallen behind my friends, who were leaving, so they weren’t nearby.  I asked if he wanted to go to Homecoming with me.

(Either that year or the year after, Pearl and I were talking about how we’d like to ask guys to the Homecoming semi-formal dance, and she said with a laugh, “I love you dearly, but I don’t want to go to the Homecoming dance with you.”)

He said he had to see whether or not he’d be going home over Homecoming weekend.  But a whole week apparently passed before he gave me an answer, and I believe I had to ask him for it.  He said he didn’t want to turn me down and embarrass me in front of my friends.  This is part of a diary entry I wrote about it:

I’ve never been that good at expressing myself verbally.

Maybe my status as a youngest child, not listened to as much, has caused me to concentrate more on developing my natural writing talent than on developing my speech, since on paper, at least, I can finally be ‘heard.’  [I got this idea from an article I read once on birth order, and it seemed to fit my own life.]

A pencil and paper–my form of eloquence.  Since I have a hard time organizing my thoughts, and making them understood, during conversations of an important nature, my journal is probably my best place for arguing my side of an issue, so here goes:

No matter how you tried to ‘do it right,’ you still forgot the number one rule of rejecting: a quick and painless death….

When I asked you to Homecoming, I wanted an answer right away.  Pearl had told me you like dances or dancing, and we’d agreed that we could go on dates, so I thought, Why not?  He’ll probably say yes, and we’ll have a great time.  If he says no, then so what?  If the Group doesn’t go, maybe we’ll all do something else together, or maybe I’ll do something else.  Or maybe another guy will ask me to go.  I’d just better ask him quick, before he asks someone else, or I might not be able to go at all….

You were alone; I’d fallen behind the Group while contemplating asking you.  A simple, ‘No, I don’t like dances,’ and I could stop thinking about the dance.  I wouldn’t feel personally rejected.

Why did you say you had to see whether or not you’d be going home that weekend?  Hogwash!  That just made me think, if he will, no; if he won’t, yes.  And what was the good of that?

Why do you feel you have to treat me so differently than everybody else?  A little special treatment is obvious, considering our past, but you act like I’m some bundle of neuroses, that’ll [be upset] if you don’t stop your conversation with someone else and give me attention for a while.

And the way you ‘assume’ things, just drives me crazy.  Did you think I sat with you at lunch because I have a crush on you?  I sat with you because I supposed you were my friend and wouldn’t mind, and because no one else from the Group was around yet.

I was soon quite glad I sat there, because a certain person–James–sat there that I’d been wanting to get to know.  As a matter of fact, I’d basically forgotten you that weekend, in favor of this person.

One week you said you’d love to go on a date with me; tonight, you said just the opposite, and made me feel like you didn’t even want to be around me.

You’ve confided things in me, and I’ve confided things in you; I don’t want you to blow me off, and I don’t want to blow you off.  Am I really beautiful, as you recently said, or am I totally repulsive to you?

No matter what other feelings I might have towards you that week, what I value most is our friendship.  Friends don’t hurt each other; they spare each other pain.

And friendship means I can sit by you anytime, talk to you anytime (without me suspecting or you expecting that we’ll probably end up making out), tell you anything.  Catherine made a flippant comment once about you not liking it when I talk about Peter (‘the other guy’)….

Remember, when I say I want to talk, it means I want to talk.  Making out was never my idea, even though I went along with it; you always started it.

Don’t make it into another ‘love ’em and leave ’em’ thing; one’s too much.  ‘Over’ Peter?  [Someone] told me you don’t ever really get ‘over’ someone you’ve loved.

But that doesn’t mean you’re always going to be on the rebound.  It’s been eight months, almost nine, and I’m sick of having no one to think of fondly.  It’s probably unhealthy for me to stay away from dating much longer.


On the 20th, I had a disturbing dream about a vampire, which I quickly turned into the first draft of my story Candida.


Darryl and Ned occasionally did comedy skits as “Virtual Reality.”  I don’t remember if they did skits the following semester; they did none the next year.  My friends in the Group thought they did too much Monty Python, but I loved the skits.

During a campus talent show, they did the famous Parrot Sketch from Monty Python, and a sketch about the Registrar’s office.  Ned played the guy working at the desk, and when someone pointed out that the sign was spelled “Registar’s Office” instead of “Registrar’s Office,” he said, “Well, this is Roanoke.”

Their sketch of the campus president was hilarious.  It featured Darryl playing a clueless president, constantly offering people coffee.  The “president” would get this dopey, open-mouthed grin on his face and kind of tilt his body a bit as he walked, a coffee pot in one hand and coffee mug in the other.

The most hilarious part of it was, the second time they did it, the real president was there to see it–and he loved it.  He must have been a good sport.

Also in that performance, Ned’s new girlfriend Melissa played Ned’s “Piece of Fluff,” or ditzy girlfriend.  (She obviously agreed to this, so don’t go crying sexism.)  At one point, Darryl picked up Ned’s glass of pop and noticed the backwash.  Darryl said, “I feel sorry for Melissa.”


No matter what I thought of Peter as a person, no matter if I loved or hated him, I felt he was my burden and I was supposed to keep praying for him until he finally realized that he needed God again.  It wasn’t about me so much; it was about God.  I thought he was just in a phase; I didn’t realize he never would return to Christianity.

One day, we heard a lecture on “Job and the Mystery of Human Existence.”  The speaker was impressed that Roanoke students all read Job our freshman year, so we already knew what he was talking about.

One day, Rachel and Sharon, both RAs, took a master key and got into Pearl’s room while Pearl and Cindy were gone.  They then hid behind furniture.  When Pearl came in, Rachel started lifting up a pillow.  Pearl stared with a blank look, thinking, “Oh-kaaay….”

A year or two before, this Clinton fellow seemed to have no chance of winning against the popular incumbent George Bush who had won the Gulf War.  His run was a waste of time.

Now, opinion polls showed him pulling ahead of Bush.  But I knew he would lose, because Pat Robertson had said so, along with other predictions for 1992.  He had said the same thing soon after the Gulf War.

Each New Year’s, Pat gave predictions for the year to come, things God told him during a time of fasting and prayer.  He never seemed to be wrong.

Since I taped the show, I copied down every word of what he said each New Year’s.  He and his co-host would name the previous year’s predictions, and say they had all come to pass.

The only prediction I wondered about came right before the Gulf War.  Had he really said the Stock Market would plummet, or had he said, rather, that gas prices would plummet?  Had I written it wrong?  Had he thought one thing and said another, which I often do?

Whatever it was, I wrote down one thing, another thing happened, and he claimed to have predicted what happened.

I thought MTV had gotten too political.  This, and the message that everyone should vote, wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t 1) shown political shows instead of getting back to videos, and 2) shown an obvious bias toward one candidate.

But here’s something good that MTV showed a lot that year: Joe’s Apartment, a comedy short about a guy whose apartment is overrun with cockroaches.  It’s hilarious; enjoy!

Even college students like a little trick-or-treating once in a while.  Since I wasn’t in the group who went that year, I don’t know where they went to (perhaps to houses on Prof Row).  Someone this year dressed as a mummy, wrapped head to toe in toilet paper.

The disgusting but funny antics of MTV and Nickelodeon’s Ren and Stimpy now came to MTV, and became popular at Roanoke.  We loved to imitate Ren’s “STEEEM-pee!” and “STEEM-pee, you EE-dee-uht!”

Ren and Stimpy’s song “Happy Happy Joy Joy” became popular to sing–and I believe WIXX played it.

One evening, while passing through the Campus Center lounge, I found a group of students all gathered around the TV, watching Ren and Stimpy.

This wonderful popularity, however, was shortlived: Ren’s voice changed, the cartoons began to be more for kids, and a new cartoon arrived on MTV: Beavis and Butthead.  But more on that one later.

I kept setting aside a tenth of my paycheck to be given either to the S– church, or to my church back home when I went home for vacations.  Some guy on The 700 Club (Benny Hinn) had predicted a dark economic time for the country, saying that only the givers in the church would survive.

Of course, in the fullness of time we see that though other parts of the world did see recessions in the 90s and the US went through its own recession for a time, it wasn’t so bad as all that.  Most people in the US seemed to survive, and I don’t think being a giver in the church affected that.  Heck, the 90s ended with a booming economy.

Clarissa and I heard awful stories about Krueger, that girls on the mostly-freshman third floor would get drunk and poop in the hallway instead of the bathroom, that somebody on the second floor puked or pooped in a shower stall….

It turned out that at least one of these stories wasn’t exactly true.  I believe the shower stall story (and possibly the other one as well) could be explained by someone taking peanut butter and putting it in a shower stall as a prank.

Some people didn’t even bother getting dressed for their 8:00 classes: They’d roll out of bed and go to class in their pajamas!

In high school, I had felt like an oddball for not wearing makeup like the other girls did.  That was the 80s, after all, when you were “supposed” to wear it, and lots of it.

But in college, I was no longer the only girl who didn’t wear makeup.  Rachel didn’t wear it, Catherine didn’t wear it, Clarissa didn’t wear it.  I finally felt normal.  In the late 90s, I’m told, college girls commonly went without makeup.

Clarissa and I hated it when our suitemates would hold seances in the lounge.  They’d turn off the lights and light candles, and Clarissa and I would hole up in our room until it was over, afraid to come out even to go outside or to the bathroom.  We feared what they might stir up.

We also heard that Carl, Dirk’s roommate, was a witch, and he and Dirk held a seance in their room in Grossheusch once.  Carl said he went to bed in his nightclothes.  When he woke up in the morning, his clothes were on, and all the drawers in the room were open.  (He assumed Dirk had been asleep.)


On Halloween, right before Hell Week started, Shawn called around 12:45am, asking if I wanted to watch a movie in the suite, in Maggie’s old room, which had been made into a guest room with the suite lounge’s old furniture after new furniture was delivered.  There was a big, old, comfy couch.

We used my TV and VCR.  He came around 1am, so I got myself ready for bed before he came, even in my nightgown.

We lay on the couch watching the movie, me about to fall asleep; afterwards, there was a little fooling around, though not much so I could go to bed.  He finally left around 4:30!

It was Saturday, but I had to get up in time for lunch, so didn’t get enough sleep.

It sounds very much like what a real couple would do, not just friends, just some simple little scenario of hanging out together all nice and cuddly.

Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

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: