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post #264
bio: stu
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6/10/2009
02:56

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If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On
My second college girlfriend was an even bigger mistake than the first. Jen was a Catholic Electrical Engineering Major. I was an Atheist English/Humanities Double Major. We met through my friend and next door neighbor, also an EE.

When I met Jen, she was still seeing a guy from back at home, doing that long distance relationship thing that underclassmen often carry on with, hoping it'll work out despite the odds. Jen and I started hanging out under those pretenses, thinking it would just be a casual friendly thing. In a move that would repeat itself again years later, however, a couple weeks after we started hanging out she dropped the bombshell that she'd broken it off with her long distance boyfriend, and then she kissed me, and then we were dating.

Our relationship consisted, in my memory, of kissing and Calculus. I don't remember much beyond that. I'm sure there must have been something else, but beyond the distant memory of a couple bad movies I saw at the dollar theater with Jen, nothing remains of our relationship. We lived in different but identical dorms, and we had the same room number and the same room location. We fooled ourselves that this was somehow significant, but it wasn't. The vast majority of our relationship was lost when ICQ crashed on me a decade ago.

I was taking a Calculus class for my requirements, and we spent many an evening with her "helping" me do my homework for that class, even though I was more than capable of handling myself. After all, in high school, I was ranked 8th in the great state of North Dakota at math. I had math skills. I didn't have girlfriend skills, and I was working at it.

Catholic girls start much too late, and Jen hadn't started yet. My relationship with her was even less adult than my relationship with Amy.

A couple of months into our tentative relationship, I tried out for my one and only mainstage play in college: Shakespeare's Tweltfh Night. I had an abnormally good audition, and while I didn't get the part I wanted--Malvolio, the prudish villain of the play--I did get a nice bit part: Sir Andrew Aguecheek¹, a guy foolishly in love and a drunk, to boot. It's the type of role that actors love, if they can't get a starring role: one of those roles that, if done right, can be more memorable than the lead. These roles were my bread and butter as a young actor.
¹Amazingly, spellcheck here accepts "Aguecheek" as a word. Apparently, Firefox spellcheck has been populated by characters from Shakespeare. Oddly enough, it doesn't accept "spellcheck" as a word.

I was good at it. I'd acted in high school, and starred in a play or two, despite my limited range², and this character was tailor made for me. He's manipulated by another drunk, fooled into bankrolling a long series of drunken nights in the hopes that eventually the mistress Olivia will choose him to be her husband and lover. He never has a chance.
²I can handle gruff authority figures, pompous fools, drunks, and foolish lovers, and that's about it. Comedies are good for me, dramas not so much.

I don't know if you've spent any time with theater folk, but other than the high drama, they can be quite fun to hang out with. So that's what I did. I spent my time with the Twelfth Night cast. We drank a lot. We turned Trivial Pursuit into a drinking game³, and it wound up with a messy night of singing and dancing outside of a dorm, which itself turned itself into a scene from the play. Wheels within wheels. Mad craziness, in the best college sense.
³This is an awesome drinking game. The rules are simple. Turns go to the left. You ask the person to the left all six questions on a Trivial Pursuit card. Three answers is the baseline. If you get two right, you drink once. If you get one right, you drink twice. If you get none right, you can either a) finish your drink or b) drink three times, depending on how cruel you are feeling. If you get four right, though, everyone else drinks once. If you get five right, everyone else drinks twice. If you get all of them right, everyone either a) finishes their drink, or b) drinks three times. It's better than it sounds, and it's simple, which is important in a drinking game, especially as the evening goes on.

It was much better than dating Jen, I'll tell you that. I developed mad crushes on half the cast, so even though I had no chance with any of them, a couple of nights before opening night, I went to tell Jen that I didn't think it wou;d work out between her and I.

"Jen," I said, "I don't think this is going to work out between you and I."

"I agree," Jen said.

"I mean, you're a Catholic EE, and I'm an atheist English maj..."

"I agree," she interrupted.

"I hope we can still be fri..."

"I agree," she interrupted.

"Okay, then," I said. I wasn't intentionally quoting Raising Arizona, but I did.

I walked out.

We never spoke again.






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