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Interview'd, third time's the charm

In this third response to five questions from Matt Hulan (don’t forget, you can claim your five questions from Your Humble Blogger by shouting “It ain’t rocket psychiatry!” into a metal pail, or by asking nicely. Or why not go to the source?), Your Humble Blogger was given a choice of recounting the sweetest story of either the birth of the Youngest Member, the birth of my Perfect Non-Reader, or the story of how I met my Best Reader. The first two are properly my Best Reader’s stories to tell—that is, I was there and all, but if I leave out all the medical details that are properly hers to decide to reveal or not, there isn’t much to the story at all. Those who really want to know might enjoy the blog of the Punitive Sibling.

The story of how my Best Reader and I met, though, is an excellent story, and definitely worth telling. This is my story of it, of course, and will differ in some particulars from hers.

It begins with my arrival at college. Well, no, I tell a lie, it begins with the next day; people traveling a long way were allowed to arrive the night before the dorms officially opened, and I got in late (particularly with a three-hour time difference) and tired and pretty much collapsed into bed. I met my roommate the next day. We got along very well; Cigus Vanni, erstwhile Swarthmore Dean and Jeopardy! champ, had done quite a good job of putting us together. We fell out, later, which happens a lot, but I imagine we were both fairly difficult roommates, and we did OK.

And now I’ll go back even further, to explain that I am one of those people that is simultaneously extroverted and shy. When I am feeling comfortable, I enjoy “working a room”, but toss me in a room full of people I don’t know, and unless I’ve got some sort of structure or scheme for getting comfortable, I’m likely to stand off to one side and never meet anyone. In high school, it had taken me a long time to achieve a sort of comfort with my classmates. I never became popular, in any sense, but I became high-profile, which suited me as well; I rarely went into a room full of people I didn’t know, and often went into rooms full of people who knew me and were happy to see me. Or so it seemed to me, I suppose they may not have been. Anyway, when I arrived at a campus I had never seen before, and at which I knew no-one whatsoever, I was determined that rather than stand off to one side and never meet anyone, I would face the matter bravely and meet as many people as possible in that first orientation week, and get it the hell over with.

I managed to convince my roommate to go in with me on this, as it’s easier to be socially brave with two than one, particularly since we had hit it off very well on that first day. So we happened on a maneuver that worked well for us: we would walk up to clusters of other lost-looking freshman and introduce, not ourselves, but each other. Hello, I would say, this is J---. Or the other way around. We met a lot of people that way, both people we became friends with and others that we didn’t. I should add that our college class was around 300 people or so; what with all the orientation activities, it wasn’t that hard to meet a high percentage of them in a few days.

One of those orientation activities was the Mugging, which I believe still occurs. The Alumni Office begins their relationship with us alums-to-be by giving us each a mug that says I was mugged by the Alumni Office, and hosts an afternoon party. That year, the Mugging was on the lawn in front of Parrish Hall. My roommate and I were walking around together, as we were in the habit of doing already, and I saw a woman sitting on the steps of Parrish Hall all by herself. We went over to her, one of us introduced the other, and we started chatting. She turned out to be quite nice. In fact, within, oh, five minutes or so, we were fast friends, and have remained so (brief quarrels notwithstanding) for twenty-one years come September.

And that’s the story.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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