Remember me telling you about the absurdities of a small Christian college? One of those is this often joked about “rule” that if you walk around the campus with a guy so many times…you’re engaged. But. It’s one of those jokes that’s funny because there’s so much truth to it. You see, at our school, guys and girls had completely separate dorms, and never the twain shall meet except 1)Each dorm had a lobby and there were certain “lobby hours,” during which members of the opposite sex could enter, and 2)Open dorm nights. I think these happened about once a month, and meant that for about three hours a month, you could have a guy in your dorm room. Never fear, though, your door had to be opened, and both persons’ feet had to be on the ground at all times.
Hanky panky was strictly forbidden.
As such, if you were interested in a guy or girl, but not quite ready to do the official asking out on a date – your only real option to get to know them was to go on a walk around campus together. If you were seen walking around campus several times in one week…well then…it was just assumed that you were starting a relationship.
Believe it or not, you actually need this background information to understand why it was such a big deal when Preacher Man called me one evening to ask if I wanted to go for a walk, and I answered a quick, “Sure.”
I guess we officially met each other during RA training week (my junior year, his sophomore year). Beyond the “no way is that guy going to fit under the jumprope” incident, my only other memory of him is as we were waiting for the freshmen to arrive to help them unpack. We were chatting, and I have no idea what led us to this point, but I distinctly remember Preacher Man telling me that he wanted to marry a girl with a “good” name. When I asked him why, he went on to tell me that he just couldn’t imagine waking up in the morning and saying, “Morning, Gertrude…or Helga…or Hildred.”
Romantic beginning, huh?
So once the freshman arrived, the RAs were split up into groups and assigned a group of freshmen to show around campus, talk about the rules, get to know, etc. Preacher Man read his group The Berenstein Bears “Messy Room,” which – if you know him – is just about right. He ended up deciding to have an ongoing Bible Study with his particular group of freshmen, so they started meeting once a week. By chance (*cough* God’s plan *cough*) most of the females in his group were in my dorm. So once a week, they met in the lobby of my dorm to do their study.
Now this was my first year as an RA, and some genius decided to place me as the Head RA of a dorm full of freshmen. I can’t lie, my co-RA and I were scared out of our minds. This was no ordinary dorm full of freshmen. One of the girls one night decided to tie everyone’s door knobs together so that when they all woke up the next morning – nobody could get out. Two of the girls had a bet that they wouldn’t shave their legs for an entire semester (and insisted on showing anyone who would look – it was not a pretty sight). And then they decided to do the inaugral shaving in the school’s hot tub. We had a mudfight in front of our dorm one particularly rainy day that included lots of sliding down the large hill out front, and they declared Mondays to be “Mismatched Mondays,” which meant wearing the most ridiculous get-up they could find and parading around campus like they didn’t look strange in the least. They were regularly making up raps, making messes, doing experiments, and well…just being fun. Despite their mischievousness, I loved those girls. If you can believe it – they had even more passion for God than they had for finding ways to get into trouble – and that has made for some awesome women of God.
Preacher Man’s section, on the other hand, was comprised of several guys with whom he’d lived the year before. They were good guys, they loved Jesus, and his biggest problem was having to remind them to flush. Me, on the other hand?
I was having to talk the Dean of Women out of expelling my girls because their semester long leg hair clogged up the hot tub.
Apparently Preacher Man took pity on my co-RA and me, and came over to hang out a couple of nights a week. He usually ended up doing stuff like fixing the thermostat, getting rid of a mouse, and laughing at the girls’ latest shenanigans, but we just felt better having someone else around. At first, Preacher Man and I didn’t really talk much. Until he called me. To go on a walk.
I said “Sure,” without really thinking, to be honest. Even as I was throwing on a hoodie and putting my hair up into a ponytail, the thought of this being anything significant didn’t dawn on me. Until… I walked out of my room, where a few of my girls were watching TV in the lobby. “Where’re you going?” they asked. When I said I was going on a walk…with Preacher Man…the room was suddenly filled with, “oooh!” “a walk with him?!” “hoooow romantic!” My heart stopped cold.
Dang it. He wanted to go on a walk. Freakin’ eh. What if he asked me out? What if he told me he liked me? Man – I’m gonna have to just tell him as gently as possible that I’m just not interested. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll just tell him that I’m not really looking to date anyone right now. Geez. Hopefully we can still hang out and it won’t be awkward.
So with new found nervousness, I met Preacher Man outside, and we began our first ever walk around campus. We started off making small talk, I’m sure, and after we had walked about a half a mile, we sat down on a bench. I kept trying to talk about anything I could think of…just to avoid the awkward moment where he reveals his feelings for me, and I have to break the poor guy’s heart. Preacher Man wasn’t messing around though, and he dove right in.
“So I actually had a reason for wanting to talk to you tonight.”
“Oh yeah?” Great, here it comes. There’s no way out now. Just keep your poker face. Ugh, you have a crappy poker face. Okay, maybe if you don’t look him in the eyes…
“Yeah. See…I know this is kind of weird…”
Augh! Don’t say it! Don’t say it! Do NOT say I have feelings for you, Jen! DON’T say it!
“I was helping out at this church last weekend with worship, and there was this girl there.”
He’s going to say it! Oh geez! Oh…wait…church? helping? I don’t….remember…being….
“And I was just kind of watching her, and was just kind of amazed by her. I know your good friends with her, so I was just wondering what you could tell me about your friend, Candace.” (name changed for privacy)
Ummm….what? Candace? But that’s not my…You mean you haven’t been secretly falling in love with me? You haven’t noticed my contagious smile, my sense of humor, or my sky blue eyes? HAVE YOU SEEN MY SKY BLUE EYES??
And so, relieved – but a little offended – I went on to tell Preacher Man about what a wonderful girl my friend Candace was, but that I wasn’t in the business of match making, so if he were interested, he’d have to ask her out himself.
That settled that business, and we continued our walk around campus for another couple of hours, talking about school, families, RA stuff, faith, and well…just life.
And so – a friendship was born.
I actually decided to blog about our love story so that Bug, Bear, and other future potential children would have it in writing before Preacher Man and I get senile and started making up details. Because of that, I may well have it break it up into a few more different posts, if you don’t mind.
So are you dying to find out what happens next? Did Preacher Man marry Candace? Did I get fired as an RA because my girls went too far? Did Preacher Man stop hanging out in our dorm, and did the thermostat remain broken forever???
Can you handle not knowing?!