The Day I Became a New Person

Before I went to U.D. I was a very recognizable stereotype. I was a geek two decades before geek became great (by which time I was no longer that geeky). I was a shy loner. But then came freshman orientation. One of the key facets of that orientation was that each freshman was assigned to a T-group, short for sensitivity group. Within the group we were all strongly encouraged to speak up. This was hard for me but it was Psychology and that was my major. I dove in. Our leader was another freshman who had a few days more T-group training than the rest of us. I had a mad crush on her but it felt like she had 10 years of maturity on me. Maybe she did.
But that T-group set up my entire U.D. experience and probably my life. I became Mr. Outgoing. At the beginning of my sophomore year it led me to run for Student Congress representing Founders Hall. I won when no one else ran. Taking the one step forward when no one else will has been a pretty good life strategy for me.
The T-group sessions and my excitement at being at U.D. and 300 miles away from my parents was great. A day or two before classes started I walked up to a beautiful woman who was walking across campus and started up a conversation. You have no idea how unlikely that was to happen just a week earlier.
Other “firsts” would occur during that first September. I bought beer (okay, 3.2 beer), I smoked cigarettes (didn’t like them and stopped after my second pack), and I chatted up Barbara K.
Barbara had that carelessly gorgeous look. I didn’t know her even a little bit but I screwed up enough courage to talk to her in the Marycrest cafeteria one morning. I couldn’t believe that she actually seemed to like my attention. I asked for her phone number and I wrote it on the back of that cardboard that butter patties came on. One or two days later I asked her out.
Our date was for the next Friday night. We went to a bar called Alexander’s. I don’t think it is there anymore but Flyers my age or older will remember it. It was a few blocks down Brown Street toward the city center. Recall that this was during the first week when I was smoking and drinking 3.2 beer. That’s exactly what we did. We got along great and I think things were going very well. But I was heading for trouble.
At the bar we got a table and drank beer and we both smoked cigarettes. But I was a geek with a few days of T-group training and she was Lauren Bacall. When she smoked the smoke came out of her nose. How did she do that? I couldn’t. I made up for it by drinking more beer than she did. After a couple of hours we headed back to Marycrest. But my bladder was bursting.
Today, I would not be surprised to learn that beer makes you have to go to bathroom but this was news to me at age 18 and 3 days. At the intersection near the Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant I was about to explode. I danced, I tried to think of something else, I tried to determine if I could pee a little bit and not be noticed. It was so painful. Haven’t some people died trying to hold it in?
So I walked fast and Barbara kept up. We got to Marycrest and I excused myself to go to the bathroom as soon as we got inside the doors. She sat down in the lobby and I stood in front of a urinal for about 5 full minutes. Whew. That’s better. But I was so embarassed even though I don’t think she could tell how distressed I was. And while I had shucked my shy persona, I still didn’t know what to do with a woman who actually wanted to talk to me. After a few minutes I kissed her on the forehead (hey, that took courage back then) and said good night.
Barbara and I never talked again. I saw her one day hand-in-hand with another guy and I knew that I had blown it. I don’t think I saw her after my freshman year. But that day taught me many things. First, a very pretty girl could actually like me – or least fake it for one evening. Second, smoking cigarettes might involve convincing my lungs to trust my lips. Third, don’t hold it in, not even to impress Barbara.
I actually only had one or two other dates during my freshman year. I had one or two dates over the following summer vacation (Shirley E. was another gift that I didn’t know what to do with). Then in my sophomore I would have my first real girlfriend and the next person I dated would become my wife. Not much of a dating career.

Leave a Reply


A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.