Thursday, September 30, 2010

In which Calvin, the boyfriend formerly known as R.M., and I - you know

Note that I have changed R.M.'s name to Calvin simply because it is easier to type.

You had to know that two college students who had been dating for a while would be tempted to break any vows of chastity, no matter how good an idea such an intention seemed at the time.

Remember I am the one who told my father, the night we were packing the car to drive to Houston the next day to deliver me to college, after he told me, "Now if you're going to get laid, use protection," that "Dad! You know I don't believe in pre-marital sex!" My dad rolled his eyes and said, "It's going to happen. Don't be stupid about it."

And Calvin was a stoic or something silly like that. So we were sure that we were inviolate.


We were also normal college students. What can I say? We held off just fine for the first few months of dating, mostly because of intent but also because our roommates never left our rooms. Rene.

We probably would have broken them sooner if Calvin had not spent the summer out of town working.

I wondered about my freshman year roommate, Gloria. She was a Southern Baptist. I am Catholic. I know many fine Southern Baptists, but anyone who knows anything about S. Baptist theology with respect to Catholicism, at least back in the late 70s and early 80s, knows that there is not a lot of intersection in the beliefs. As in, Southern Baptists, I have been told, think Catholics are all going straight to H-E-L-L, that the Church is the Whore of Babylon, the Pope is the antichrist, blah blah blah.

I don't worry a whole lot about what anti-Catholics think because there's nothing to be done about it now. We'll find out when we're dead, right? If the atheists are right, then whatever. I wasted time going to church. If the Baptists are right, then I guess I won't be shoveling snow any more. But there's no point in arguing with someone about religion and faith. Have you ever changed anyone's mind? I haven't. It's better to avoid the topic altogether.

Although I can talk about religion a little bit with my friend Patricia, who is Baptist. We had to attend a funeral - a Baptist funeral for the wife of a friend. Every time we started another song - and there were many and they were the good songs because Baptists don't play - none of that Marty Haugen Gather BS - I would hold the hymnal up to share with her.

She would give a tiny little shake of her head. Knew the song by heart. After the third time, I whispered, "Do you know all the songs in here?"

She rolled her eyes at me. "Of course," she said.

Patricia also knew just about every verse in the Bible, so arguing with her about chapter and verse was pointless. Baptist vs Catholic on Bible quoting? Baptist wins hands down every time.

Gloria told me anyone who wasn't baptized was going to hell, even people who had never heard of God, which I can say with confidence is not the Official Catholic Line.

That conversation was the last one we had about religion. Actually, it was one of the last conversations we had, period. We were roommates because - we were both blonde.

Yes, that's right. The elaborate roommate-matching process based on the three-page questionnaires we had completed before the school year?

Reduced to, "Hey! Let's make a suite of all blondes!" by the upperclassmen who made the freshman rooming arrangements.

Other than our hair, we had almost nothing in common, except, perhaps, the intention to remain virgins until marriage. Not that Gloria and I ever discussed our sex lives or lack thereof with each other. The closest we came to a conversation about it was that I walked around the room naked after a shower because I knew it bothered her. I am not a modest person, so it didn't bother me at all.

She would get into the shower fully dressed. We would see her clothes come flying over the curtain rod. Then she would finish her shower (after washing her hair with the bar soap because she had run out of shampoo and was using mine and our two suitemates' shampoo, so we started to hide it) and her hand would snake out from behind the shower curtain and grab her nightgown. She would emerge clad in her nightie, then sleep on her wet hair so in the morning, it looked as if she had put her finger in an electrical socket.

I knew, though, that she was facing some struggles because I had heard that she and her boyfriend Tad, a senior, a member of the church group with Gloria, and five inches shorter than she was, had been found in the basement fully clothed but in compromising positions. And I accidentally saw them kissing goodnight once, which was almost enough to make me lose my supper, which might not have been such a bad idea because boy, did I eat freshman year.

I wondered if she and Tad ever surrendered.

I am going to say no just because I do not want that image in my mind.

It would have been very very easy to resist Tad. If you know what I mean. Gloria was not particularly physically attractive and she didn't have a nice personality to make up for it, so it's not like she could do much better. (Yes, I know I am being mean here but the truth hurts. Listen, though. If you had a roommate who thought she should be given part of any care package sent by a roommate's mom but wouldn't share her own goodies, wouldn't you think less of her?)

Unlike Tad, Calvin was a hot hot hottie and he smelled fabulous. To this day, a whiff of Polo makes me swoon. Impossible to resist for long, even though we both were adamant that sex was for marriage and we were going to wait. We were!

Then we spent the summer apart, writing letters and making occasional phone calls. Long distance was expensive back then and I was making just a little over minimum wage as a lifeguard and a swimming teacher. I couldn't afford to talk to him that much and he couldn't afford to call me. He did, however, write really nice letters. I wish I still had them.

When we got back to school, we resumed our habit of late-evening walks and necking.

We were going to wait. Calvin claimed he wanted to wait for moral reasons, which I didn't quite get as he and his family were not churchgoers. I think it was more his desire to be stoic and resist his desires. And that he is just a tiny bit of a control freak, maybe? He and his wife, who was one of my suitemates my sophomore year, did wait (I heard from a third party which is odd because really, who talks about this sort of thing?) until their wedding night. Why on earth would anyone but the two of them know this? But yeah - that was the gossip.

I, however, was counting how long before we could be married. Two more years of college. Five to seven years for a PhD.

I had no interest whatsoever in waiting seven to nine years to consummate this relationship.

I began a campaign of "We're going to be married anyhow so it's OK it's just a timing issue."

That was a hard sale.

I finally convinced him.

It took a couple of months.

And then?

I'd been reading romance novels since I was in eighth grade. In ninth grade, I read "Sweet Savage Love" by Rosemary Rogers.

Let's just say these books give female readers the wrong impression. Not what I expected at all.

Still, I was ready to give it another chance. But guess who was the one who was guilt ridden over the experience?

Not me. I was not the one who had to be talked down from the ledge on this.

Eventually, I convinced him. Although even when I had my own apartment off campus, he never spent an entire night with me. Never.


  1. Could it, that Calvin was a teeny bit of the gay persuasion, but didn't want to admit it to himself? I only say this because I went to school with a few guys like that, who dated girls but ended up coming out of the closet eventually. It just seems that a hetero guy (who wasn't trying to live up to some religious proscription against pre-marital sex) wouldn't have to be convinced to do "it." Just a thought. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here.

  2. Ima, I'm not sure. He did overcome his reluctance and seemed enthusiastic, if you know what I mean, but always felt guilty.

    I hope he's not, simply because he's been married for 18 years and has three kids. If he is and comes out, it would hurt a lot of people! I'm talking to YOU, JIM MCGREEVEY who didn't have to resign because he was gay but because he put his lover in a high-security level position on the state payroll.

  3. Anita, definitely shy and reserved.

    And I meant to write, "I'm not sure about that," not, "I'm not sure." He was very straight physically - it was more his mental state that was the issue, which confused me, because once I decided to take the plunge, I was IN.

  4. Eighteen years and three kids, that's pretty good for anybody! I stand corrected. Perhaps, as you say, it was his moral convictions that caused his reluctance. If I'd have had strong ones like that maybe I wouldn't have gotten knocked up at age eighteen! :)

  5. Ima - it wasn't a completely crazy idea. I did date that guy in high school who turned out to be gay!