Teacher and I met 21 years ago today, and in honor of the occasion I thought I’d tell the story. Sit back, grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy!
It was Friday, October 24, 1986, and I was a freshman at Valparaiso University in Indiana. I was four hours away from my hometown in Wisconsin, on my own for the first time in my life and reveling in the freedom. Freedom to go where I wanted when I wanted, to eat what I wanted and not have to do the dishes, to use four-letter words, to stay up late without a curfew, to have a drink away from my parents’ watchful eyes… Not that my parents were overly strict, but they had certain expectations of their children and since I was the oldest they made me stick to the rules. My younger brother was allowed to do pretty much whatever he wanted, but that’s a different story…
My first week at “Valpo” was jam-packed with parties, dances, comedy shows, and other events to welcome the freshmen to campus and the upperclassmen back to school. There was at least one party or dance going on every night; many nights my friends and I visited several parties before falling into bed at the wee hours of the morning. Once classes started the parties moved to the weekends, but there was still plenty of them.
On this particular night my fellow music-major friends and I planned to check out the music fraternity – Phi Mu Alpha. The guys were performing a short concert in the small chapel then hosting a wine and cheese reception at their fraternity house. I love listening to men sing, but was more excited about the party afterward and the chance to meet new guys. I’d had a serious boyfriend for the past year and a half, but he was hours away at college in Iowa. I wasn’t looking for a date, but I wasn’t going to turn down the chance either.
I dressed in one of my favorite outfits: purple scoop-necked sweater with silver threads, pleated grey cords that tapered at the ankles, and saddle shoes. I slid about a hundred bangle bracelets on my arms and added large silver hoop earrings to match. Hey, this was the 80’s, remember? After damaging the ozone layer with a ton of hairspray and glossing my lips I took off to meet my friends.
We snagged seats near the back, I was the last on in so I had a great view of the stage area. During the concert I scanned the guys’ faces; looking for ones that were cute and ones that weren’t so I’d know who to try to meet later and who to avoid. At the end of the concert the fraternity president invited everyone to the frat house for a “wine and cheese reception.” I was impressed, thinking that these guys had more class than the other fraternities I’d been to. Little did I know – when we arrived at the frat house it turned out to be wine-in-a-box and processed cheese. But hey, they tried more than other frats.
I filled my plastic cup with wine, moved near a wall by my friend Gretchen, and scanned the crowded dining room. Sipping the wine I felt a thrill of forbidden pleasure – I had never gone drinking in High School; the only alcohol I’d had besides communion wine was at special holiday dinners with the family.
Over the din my ear caught the sound of male laughter and I looked around the room to see where it came from. Through a break in the crowd I spied the most gorgeous guy I’d ever seen in my life! He had dark brown eyes with incredibly long eyelashes, tousled brown hair and a face that was rugged enough to be manly, but not too chisled. Broad shoulders and a solid chest filled a navy t-shirt, and worn jeans covered one of the cutest tushes ever. (Sorry if this is TMI for family members, but it’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.) One finger sported a shell ring and the opposite arm wore a cuff of thick braided rope – the kind that tightens when it get wet so you have to cut it off. My breath caught in my throat and I choked on the wine I’d been swallowing. “He’s really cute” Gretchen said, staring at the guy I’d just been drooling over. “Yeah” I stammered, hoping she wouldn’t call dibs. While I was figuring out how to approach him another guy came up, said something to the gorgeous one, and they both left the dining room.
This is where a romance novel heroine would have made up a reason to follow the hero and throw herself at his feet. I would like to say that I followed him and finessed an introduction, but that would be a lie. I’m here to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. What really happened was that I stayed where I was. With Gretchen. By the wall. Sipping wine-in-a-box and nibbling processed cheese.
After meeting just about every member of the fraternity except the one I was looking for, I saw him later that night. I was talking to a fellow freshman music student in a little alcove that connected the dining room, bathroom, and two studies. Brad was kind of cute and I would have gone out with him if he’d asked, but at the time he was looking for advice about another girl. There wasn’t much chance of an invite from him. “Excuse me…” said a male voice as someone carrying stereo equipment brushed past us. My eyes widened and my heart went pitty-pat – it was the gorgeous one! I watched him walk away for as long as I could without obviously leaning and craning my neck while making “uh huh” noises to Brad who was still talking. “Excuse me again…” the gorgeous stranger walked back into the study to pick up more equipment. He went past us several times; each time I watched him from the corners of my eyes, Brad almost forgotten. Suddenly he stopped in front of us and I stopped breathing.
“I don’t know you, who the hell are you?” he asked with a cocky grin. “Uhhhh…” I stammered, looking into his brown eyes. Oh gosh he’s right here looking at me. Say your name, stupid, say your name! “Ummm…” Brad came to my rescue and introduced us. It turned out that Brad was his fraternity “little brother” so the three of us chatted a little longer. Eventually Brad left to find his girl and I was alone with my heartthrob. He looked at me and I almost drowned in his eyes. He was a little taller than me, but not so tall that I’d have to crane my neck to kiss him. Kiss him? Why was I thinking that? I just met him, I have a boyfriend, he probably has a girlfriend…
“Want a tour of the house?” he asked.
To be continued…