Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In which my college boyfriend tells me he loves me and I don't know what to say back because he got me out of bed (I was skipping statistics)

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

I went back to school after Christmas break. I had a boyfriend. I guess. I had won my bet. I had gotten him to kiss me. Was that enough? Or did I want to keep seeing Calvin?

I must have, because we did indeed date.

"Dating" meant going to the movies at the Chemistry lecture hall on Saturday nights for a dollar. Or going dancing with a group of friends, most of whom couldn't have cared less about the liquor we were not legal to buy - we were at the Winchester Club to two step and polka.

Primo thinks country western dancing is dumb, but that is because Primo thinks he cannot dance and has never tried to two step. Primo might have had a better shot at getting laid in college if he had spent more time dancing than drinking. And if he hadn't been obsessed with a crazy (seriously) girl who used him. Just saying.

He will learn to dance this winter, though, when we can't play tennis any more. He promised. We dropped in on the polka class at a festival and he did just fine, as I knew he would, because he is a natural athlete with a good sense of rhythm. The teaching at the salsa classes we took last year was not so good. Polka Society teachers, though, are about 80 years old, patient and encouraging. One teacher helped Primo get the knack of it and told him, "Youse are generally doing pretty good today," which made Primo say that maybe dancing wasn't so bad after all.

His dancing with me is my Christmas present from two years ago. Last year, his present was that I do not have to visit his mom and dad with him, although how will I ever get enough material for a good tell-all nasty out-law memoir if I don't spend more time with them? Am I willing to make the sacrifice to get that bestseller and the condo on Key Biscayne, just five miles down the road from Palacio de Jugos with its lechon, arepas and batidos de guayaba?

Yes. I think I am. If I can get more drugs. Did you know I had a migraine for 12 straight days last year in anticipation of the visit and during the visit itself? I need painkillers and preferably something that will let me sleepwalk through the experience so instead of getting mad and arguing with his dad, I just smile beatifically and say, "That's fantastic [how you were never held accountable for your performance and held the taxpayers of your state hostage to your union/tenured demands]!"

By the middle of sophomore year, we could all get into bars without fake IDs because we were finally 19, not the 18 we had been the year before when we had to borrow IDs from upperclassmen. Karen, who was 5'1" and brunette, had borrowed an ID from Bea, who was 5'10" and blonde. The bouncer just looked at it and grunted. And took Karen's two dollars.

Still, the upperclassmen hadn't always wanted to lend their driver's licenses to us, so during our freshman year, my friends Anita, Heather, Rene and I were forced to go to the flea market held every Saturday to get fake IDs. Someone knew someone who sold IDs way in the back of the market, past the bright cotton Oaxaca dresses, the serapes, the counterfeit Long and Silky shampoo, the tamales and the used auto parts spread out on a blanket on the ground because when I need a part for my car, the flea market is the first place I think of.

Our fake IDs did not look remotely like legitimate driver's licenses, what with their greenish cast, but they had the right birthdates on them, as in, making us each ten believable years older.

It's not like the bars cared, anyhow.

Calvin and I went to movies and danced and ate at the gyro place and at the empanada place right across the street* and took long walks around campus in the evening, which you can do all year because there is NO SNOW and talked about whatever two horny college sophomores talk about when they are not necking, which was our favorite activity and which we usually did in the physics lab or on top of the geology building, as both of us had roommates who did not leave the room enough.

He was usually late to pick me up, which annoyed me to no end. I hate it when people are late and I especially hate it when it is Saturday night and the reason they are late is because they were helping Jim or Scott or Bob with the physics homework.

It's Saturday night.

Tell them to wait.

The kissing made up for it, though. For a guy who had never kissed a girl before, except one little kiss from Candace Allegra C., Calvin's big high school crush, who, I am sad to say, is showing the effects of never having used sunblock on her face her entire life and I know this how? Because I am a googlestalker with way too much time on her hands and I remember names.

Wear sunblock and a hat. This is what I am telling you. Do you want to look like an old lady when you are only 46? No I didn't think so. Heather's mom tried to warn us when we were in college and would sit on the sundeck but did we listen to her? No I did not and I regret it now.

Also, take the stairs as much as you can when you are young before your butt starts to fall. Better to keep that from happening in the first place than to try to fight gravity once it's too late. You can thank me later.

We had been dating for a couple of months and things were going swimmingly. I had some status now as a girl with a boyfriend. Not that it was so hard to get male attention at Small Private School: the male students outnumbered the female students two to one. Still. I had a boyfriend. I wasn't thinking any further than the next weekend.

A few months into the semester, I was sleeping late and skipping class, which was my wont, which goes a long way to explaining my college GPA vs my grad school GPA. Did you know that if you prepare for class, go to class, sit in the front row, and ask questions when you don't understand something that you do a lot better on tests than if you 1. don't do the readings and 2. don't attend class?

I had a huge misunderstanding of what a roll was. I thought it was a class so easy that you didn't even need to attend to get an A.


It was a class where it was easy to get an A if you prepared, attended and asked questions.

Who knew?

I thought I was so smart taking probability and statistics for academic majors (as opposed to P&S for science and engineering majors). I'd already taken calculus and differential equations. Shouldn't P&S have been a piece of cake?

Well sure.

If I had gone to class. And when I took P&S in grad school, I did very well. I had learned my lesson.

But as a college sophomore who had just changed her major from electrical engineering with a concentration in biomedical engineering so I could go to med school and then design bionics to English, I was not so clueful.

Hence, the skipping class.

That morning, I heard a knock on my door, which annoyed me as it awoke me at the crack of dawn hour of 9:15.

It was Calvin.

Now that I think about it, why wasn't he in class? He never skipped. People borrowed his notes. They went to him for homework help.

He had something to tell me, he blurted out.

Not until I've had a shower, I told him.

I made him wait while I bathed and wondered what on earth he could be so nervous about. Was he going to break up with me? Would I be upset if he did?

I emerged from the bathroom, dressed, I suppose, because we were not at That Stage. We were still at the hand-holding, kissing, and touching only above the neck stage. Yes, it is completely possible for college students to be virginal. We were of the No Sex Before Marriage group, remember?

And he told me he was in love with me.


Nobody had ever said that to me before. Nobody who wasn't a relative.

I had no idea what to say to him.

So I told him I had to get to class.

As soon as I could, I called my mom and dad. What am I supposed to tell this guy? I demanded.

They laughed. Whatever I wanted to, they told me.

I thought about it and a few days later, as we took a late-evening walk through the quad, I told him I loved him, too. Then we talked about getting married because that is the logical progression for two college sophomores in love, one of whom plans to get a PhD and would not be ready to support a family for many years.

* Note to self: get a dozen empanadas - cream cheese and blueberry, pizza, banana and dulce de leche - when Primo and I go to our 25 year reunion next month.


  1. Hey, you ought to head on up to Fredericksburg for Oktoberfest when you're in Texas.

  2. IJP, I would love to go to Oktoberfest. I used to have a lot of fun at Wurstfest in New Braunfels.

    We also have to get kolaches.

    I miss Texas. When Primo dies, that's where I'm going.