“Hi! So, your names rhyme, too? Did you notice the sign they placed on our door?” The two heads turned to look at the open door.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Jeri laughed at the sight.
“What are the odds of that?” Kerry agreed. Somehow, the powers that be assigned me to a room with a girl whose name rhymed with mine, though it was not nearly as common as her two friends’ first names. I felt like I was part of some vaudeville act whenever the four of us went anywhere and had to introduce ourselves. Of course, the other kids just thought we were making them up ,and even went so far as to suggest we should have matched all four of them, not just settle for pairs of rhyming names.
There were no cell phones in those days so answering the phone in our dorm room usually sounded something like, “Did you want the girl whose name starts with a ‘C’, as in ‘cat’ or the one whose name starts with a ‘d’ as in dog’?” As you may have guessed, this was all-too soon shortened to the following: Hi! Is the dog there?” Good thing we had healthy egos to start with, eh?
Truly, the four of us had a great time those first weeks of university. Sadly, my roommate became ill and had to drop out during the second half of the first quarter. I was allowed to stay in that room for the remainder of that quarter but would have to move in to share a room with someone else for the second quarter. Okay, well I’d cross that bridge when I came to it and would have a blast with Kerry and Jeri in the meantime.
One of the last assignments in the huge Sociology 101 class we three attended was a research project of our own design. It was hard to come up with something original that would be fun, too. At 18, fun was a major component in any project they allowed us to design, of course. Lots of kids were choosing something related to winter and snow, since it was closing in on December and snow had been falling most of the last two months already. Then, Jeri and I decided on an experiment we thought would be unique and would take advantage of Kerry’s striking beauty at the same time. I must admit, it did take a bit of convincing Kerry she would enjoy it, too, but she, finally, did agree. The last minute touches were put on the plan and the specific grocery stores targeted.
We had never imagined the day would end up to be one of the coldest so far in the season and worried that it might be too cold. Kerry, however, was pumped to proceed so we did. Kerry entered the huge grocery store wearing tall, spiked heels and her bikini, while sporting a lovely smile. We had checked ahead of time to know just when the store would, normally, be the busiest so Jeri and I were thrilled to see the aisles full of gawking shoppers. We split up, notebooks hidden in pockets of our warm winter coats. As soon as Kerry rounded the end of an aisle, one of us swooped in to make a comment about the bikini-clad teen, which always prompted a remark from the customer. These were, then, recorded in our notebooks as the shopper wheeled the cart away.
The older female shoppers usually said something like, “Humph, I didn’t think it was that warm out today.” The younger gals said something such as, “Oooh, I wish I had her courage to do that; but, man, she has to be freezing in that get-up.”
The guys, well, to a man—regardless of age, said an unsurprising, “Hubba-hubba, think I’ll go find my swimming trunks and follow this little lady home!; or, “Uh, you have any idea what her name is? It’s hard to approach her without, at least, calling her by name. She’d never believe I had met her somewhere if I didn’t even know her name, right?” We usually just agreed with them and never gave the guy her name. Jeri did let the elderly males know that their arthritis would probably act up a lot if they wore a swim suit on such a cold day.
When Kerry saw us slip out of the store at our designated time to depart, she made her way to the fast lane check-out with her two items and was met by us holding her winter coat as soon as she left the building. The experiment was a success even though we had to drop the last store off the list; Kerry was getting too cold to look natural in the bikini. It was a really fun way to spend a winter Saturday, doing homework.
When the next quarter began, I was living on the 8th Floor of the dorm, very near Kerry and Jeri’s room. My roommate was the daughter of a well-known political figure in the State. Sadly, I never really got to know her. My only recollection, other than her name, was the way she just loved to eat chocolate chip cookie dough out of the tubes found in the dairy case at the grocery store. Often it made her ill by the time she got ¾ of the way through and she complained of having the “flu.”
By the final quarter of the regular school year, I had to move again. Jeri was too lonely for Darrell so she wanted to move back home and go to a local university. As for Kerry, she would be traveling for that spring quarter so had dropped out during spring break. Apparently the pageant judges had agreed with the abovementioned men’s opinion, as Kerry was crowned Miss Montana-USA very shortly after this project. She would compete in the national Miss USA pageant and spend the next 12 months representing Montana in a variety of opportunities for the reigning beauty queen. Not sure what happened with my roommate; maybe she just wanted a single room so I needed to move? Could be.
In any case I spent the Spring Quarter on the 10th floor, rooming with the cousin of a girl I had met during the Winter Quarter. Hmm, I don’t even remember that girl’s name so, obviously, I lived in that room only because it was an available place. I don’t actually recall her being in the room often, though, so may have had a boyfriend occupying her time. In any case, her cousin and I had a lot of things in common and enjoyed studying and hanging out. By the end of the school year, we had already decided to spend summer in Eastern Washington, hopefully, finding summer jobs.
Looking back on what could have been, I am so grateful to the Lord for providing me with good friends that first year away from home. The girls were not interested in illegal consumption of alcohol or drugs; they just enjoyed what used to be called “good, clean fun.” Until that last quarter, I didn’t have a friend who would go to mass with me on Sunday, but I still enjoyed attending church. Clearly, God was answering my prayers both for academic success and helping me to fit in socially in a place where I had not known anyone.
I learned that God would help me to resist temptation at crucial junctures, after having let peer pressure lead me into dilemmas I should never have encountered. God understands that to grow up, one must be given a choice to make mistakes, too. However, God is right there to help us, if we will take the life-preserver he is tossing out to us!
****First-Year University: Mistake and Rescue… Coming Tomorrow (unless too much rain)