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Thursday, June 28, 2012

First-Year University: Guys

“What! Twelve minutes to eight? It can’t be?” Throwing off my blankets, I bolted for the communal bathroom of our eighth-floor dormitory. Had there been an Olympic record for length of time brushing one’s teeth, I would have broken it, for sure. Darting back in the room, grabbing a notebook off the desk, my winter boots and thick jacket, I headed for the elevator. I had eight floors to get those boots on my feet and the jacket zipped up to my neck. No time to find my gloves, which did not happen to be in the pockets of the jacket as one might have thought.

I hit the front door at a dead run and tried not to slow down when that 20-below-freezing air hit my bare legs. I really needed to turn my baby doll pajamas in on some long flannel if this turned into more than a one-time mishap. Running through the mountains of piled snow on both sides of the sidewalk, I realized I had not taken a pen with the random notebook I swiped off my desk. Hopefully, someone would lend me something with which to write, if I made it on time. The African-American instructor for the course was the university’s team trainer and talk about discipline! There was absolutely no admittance to his class once that door was closed at precisely 8 AM. Okay, I was stomping up those flights of stairs and heating up with each turn of the handrail. By the time I reached the classroom door, I had unzipped my jacket, holding it closed with one hand. The trainer was closing the door as I slipped through. The rest of the 90 students in the long, narrow classroom were staring at me and laughing. I was not all that surprised when the whistling started. It was a class made up of 88 males and only two females, one of whom had just entered the room and was side-stepping her way into the last row. As one might expect, the jacket did not stay closed and more than one exclamation followed, “Hey guys, Baby Doll pajamas! Now, there’s a fashion statement on this cold winter’s day! Must be a really hot little mama!” Calls for order from the front of the classroom took a while to get the crowd of football and basketball players turning their eyes forward again. Believe me, humiliation is way too mild a word for what I was feeling! Mr. R was not all that excited to have girls in his class in the first place, and I had just managed to contribute to his already firm belief. Not only that, but I was a first-year student and this was a second-year course. I had needed special permission to enroll in Care and prevention of Athletic Injuries before next year. My Fall Quarter Anatomy and Physiology grades convinced the powers that be to give me a chance at the course. I could always repeat it if I flunked. Fortunately, classroom attire was not part of the grading system.

“So, alarm clock fail ya this mornin’?” Chris was smiling as, hand-in-hand, we made our way down the steps of the building. “You’ll probably be wanting to go get more clothes on, so I’ll just meet up with you after Chemistry.” He would be taking some ribbing about my appearance, too, but he was being a good sport about it all.

Curt and I had broken up so I would have the rest of the school year to get to know some of the guys I was meeting in my classes. Chris and I were just in the early stages of a relationship; I loved the feeling of his strong hand holding mine. Chris was a couple of years older than me; and, other than a few classes and the love of sports, we didn’t really have a lot in common. However, his company was enjoyable, even when we were not talking.

“So, what do ya think about the Peppermint Prince Ball? Wanna go?” The other first-year students in my dorm were talking about it and making plans for the big event.

“Ball? Do ya really want to go to that formal dance? I mean, the only ball I really know anything about…”

“Oh, yeah, I know, the only ball you know anything about is one you kick. But, don’t you think it’d be fun? Because I’m a freshman, we wouldn’t even need to pay for the tickets.” I was laughing and pleading.

“Okay, okay. What day is it already?” We began to make plans for the weekend event just days away now. No mention was made of the dance after that, except with my dormmates. All the girls were so excited and I was no exception.

At last it was the day of the Peppermint Prince Ball. I could hardly wait, though I was not that great a dancer. I figured Chris wasn’t either since he was just going because I wanted to go. We’d probably sit out a lot of dances but that’d be okay. I was just heading for the showers when the phone rang, so I grabbed it up on my way through the open door. I figured it wouldn’t be for me so I would holler down the corridor for my roommate in the corner lounge when I found out who it was calling.

“Sojourner?”

“Yes, this is Sojourner. Who’s this?” It was an adult voice I didn’t recognize at all.

“This is Chris’ mother. I wanted him to call you but he’s too embarrassed. The thing is, Sojourner, he’s left to go hang out with some guys overhauling an engine at our neighbor’s.” I was so stunned, I just couldn’t believe her.

“But, he’s supposed to take me to the Peppermint Prince Ball in two hours. Are you saying he’s not coming? He’s gonna stand me up?”

“Sadly, dear, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I begged him to call you but he just walked out of the house. I couldn’t let you get all dressed up and wait for a boy who isn’t coming. I’m so sorry. He hates formal things and he’ll never go. I’m just sorry he didn’t tell you himself.”

What a crushing blow to my feminine ego. Of course the tears fell in that shower I went to take anyway. No one would hear me in the roar of the water from the showerhead, and a nice long shower was just what I needed to process what had happened to me. It took a bit of time to admit that my insistence that Chris and I would have fun at the dance, no doubt, contributed to my own disappointment. I was too dense to accept that he didn’t really want to go, but it never occurred to me that he would just not show up. I had so much to learn and not everything would come from a textbook!

How comforting are the words of Romans 5:3-5…

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." (NLT)

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