I found myself reminiscing about my rather eventful youth the other day. I had occasion to reflect upon the different ways there are to break up with people.
First of all, let me say that there really doesn’t appear to be a Really Good Way to break up. No matter how careful you are, someone’s feelings are bound to be hurt. The whole concept of “breaking up” implies that there was some sort of relationship to break up. Otherwise, it would just be a mutual parting of the ways.
I cut a rather wide swath when I was in college. I admit this freely, having decided long since there was no way I would ever be able to run for political office since I have been unashamedly sexually active, I inhaled with gusto, I partook of a certain white crystalline substance which, in retrospect, was probably foolish but did me no lasting harm, I enjoyed certain mind altering substances in moderation, and only drank to excess a few times because I wasn’t that fond of headaches.
I used to tell people that the best defense against blackmail was to not feel guilty about what you did, and to try to make sure that you didn’t do things you felt guilty about. I do not feel guilty about any of those activities. Sometimes when I look back I think that probably I should have cooled it a tad sooner than I did, but what the heck. I really had a very good time, and now that I am old I don’t have to wonder what I was missing. To be totally honest, I didn’t miss much, actually.
I had a great imagination, and every time I met a really great man, I would start imagining my life with him. I once read an article that claimed that women always imagine what it would be like to be married to every man they go out with. I don’t know about other women, but I certainly played that game. The thing was, Alaska was supplied with a large quantity of very nice, very intelligent, very eligible gentlemen.
I felt it was my duty to take a large sampling of the available talent before I decided to settle down. I wouldn’t say I was a one-woman sexual revolution, but I did like being a member of that generation. I was very good at falling in love with the guys that were most satisfying in the rack and had the bad habit of playing the game of “Life” with them in my head.
Because of that predilection, I participated in break-ups several times. Sometimes I was dumped, sometimes I was the dumper. Some of these breakups were quite notable.
The first guy I fell in love with was enrolled in the Engineering program. He was working on his Master’s degree, and was several years older than I was. He was extremely intelligent and perhaps just a little too creative, which accounted for why he was enrolled in school at Fairbanks and not somewhere else. Early in our relationship he told me a tale (which may be apocryphal) about why he had to transfer to our school from the rather large and prestigious school he had been attending previously.
It seems that he was enrolled in a fluid dynamics seminar. He and his fellow students were supposed to devise a project that showed what they had learned about the subject, and to that purpose they had been provided with maps of the sewer lines on the campus. I believe that a large quantity of beer was involved in their choice of project. At any rate, the college they attended had several large dormitories arranged in a very attractive crescent above a sort of bowl. There was an attractive sloping lawn from the buildings down to a parking lot and street area. Apparently, the inebriates noticed on the schematics that the sewer lines from the five or six dorms that were arranged around this bowl all sloped down to the parking lot where they met and dumped into a larger line that carried the effluent off to the sewage treatment plant miles away in the distance.
They were sitting in their rooms looking down on the spot where the junction was, and they began to speculate about what would happen if all the toilets in the dormitories were flushed at once. Each dormitory was about 5 or 6 stories tall, and each floor of the dorm had around a dozen toilets. Without wasting a lot of time doing calculations, they decided to make an empirical test of the question. I have no idea how they managed to convince enough people to join forces in order to do the experiment, but their enthusiasm resulted in the marshalling of an army of assistants. They got all their watches synchronized, and at the appointed time, all the handles on all the commodes in all the dormitories were operated in unison. Then everybody ran to the windows to see what would happen.
Imagine their elation when the sewer junction at the bottom of the hill erupted in a huge fountain, blowing a good sized hole in the parking lot and sending the manhole cover several dozen feet in the air. Their elation was followed by chagrin and fear, which was compounded when the water lines, which also happened to be in the area, broke as well, and the fountain continued.
The authorities were not amused, and my boyfriend was eventually named as the conceiver and ring leader of the experiment. Apparently he also received a failing grade on his fluid dynamics project, based on the professor’s opinion that not enough calculation had been done before the experimental design was decided upon. The college and my friend’s parents all agreed that perhaps it would be better if he continued his studies elsewhere.
We ran across each other in the library, where we both earned a meager pittance shelving books, working at the circulation desk, and in the reserve room. After a certain amount of conversation, followed by a lot of flirtation and teasing, we began to go out together. It wasn’t long before we were spending quite a lot of time together, and needless to say, we hopped into bed with great gusto. Things began to progress rather well, we liked each other a lot and we began toying with the idea of getting married.
I thought that I could probably be quite happy with such an intelligent guy. We laughed a lot, we fit together well in bed and out of it, everything was just hunky-dory. I did not go home for the summer that year, but stayed in Fairbanks where I had a job full time at the library. When I wasn’t working at the circulation desk, I was up in the stacks working on the shelf-reading project. The people in cataloguing and the administration wanted every book in order on the shelves so that they could be inventoried and accounted for. It was truly shocking how many books had been stolen, and this project resulted in the installation of a security system.
My boyfriend and I spent a lot of time together that summer. He had a motor cycle, and we tooled around on that Honda all over the place. We went up to Circle Hot Springs, and Chena Hot Springs, up to the tops of Murphy Dome and Ester Dome, out to Harding Lake. Everywhere we went, we engaged in torrid sex. At the end of the summer, he went home to visit with his parents for a few weeks before the beginning of the fall semester. Before he left, we discussed our future, and he told me he thought the time was right to bring my existence to the attention of his parents.
Well, he returned from his vacation right at the tail end of registration. We didn’t get together right away since we both were rushing around getting our class cards and seeing our advisers. After a few days, we managed to find time to enjoy a passionate reunion in his room. We were lying back, catching our breath, when he informed me casually that he was engaged to a lovely girl.
My heart caught with excitement, and in my naivete immediately started making plans for our wedding. He was shocked that I assumed he was referring to me, and gently let me know that the girl was a suitable girl from his home town that his parents had picked out. His father was in construction, her father owned a quarry and a cement mixing plant, and the alliance was going to be very good for business.
Until that moment I had thought that that sort of thing only happened in novels, but what I didn’t know about the traditions and habits of the South was a lot, it turned out. I was pretty upset with him, especially when he informed me that he really didn’t have any choice, the date was set and the announcement was going to be published in the local newspaper in a couple of weeks. But, he assured me, this did not mean that we could not be together. While I wouldn’t fit in in the elevated social circles that this suitable young woman would, I was not to think he did not love me. He did, to distraction. And he was going to be quite rich, and he would be able to set me up in a very nice establishment and keep me in fine style, and we would have a great time. It wasn’t uncommon for people to even have children together in such arrangements, I should just relax.
In this case, I was the dumper rather than the dumpee. I rather haughtily arose from the bed where we were lying, and proceeded to get dressed. “What are you doing? Where are you going? I haven’t finished showing you how much I missed you yet,” he exclaimed, displaying a rather definite sign of his affection and passion to me as he spoke.
“Oh yes you have. You have showed me exactly how much you love me, and also just how much you respect me. I hope that you enjoyed our little sexual encounter tonight, because it will be the last favors of mine that you sample,” I told him as I left the room.
Good enough to be a mistress for life, but not wife material. Hmph. After I got over being furious, my heart was broken. But it was not so broken that I yielded to his cajoling to at least think about it. He pursued me for a couple of weeks before he finally got the picture.
And so, that is the first of my tales of love and heartbreak in the not-so-frozen North.. Stay tuned for future installments.