In my first part of my story about memories of Fall 2004, I left us “hanging” at the point where I had just finished assembling my lunch at the cafeteria. For some reason, as odd as it may seem, when I think back to this day of touring the Lindenwood campus with my cousin, I usually reconstruct it from lunch. Maybe that says something about my stomach's worldview.
At any rate, as I recall, Amelia went off somewhere, probably over to the condiment area, I'm rather unsure what she had for lunch, it was either a burger or spaghetti, I believe. Either way, Amelia was momentary away. Walking just into the room, I ran into a friend from Brit Lit I. The cafeteria had seemed almost empty — a ghost town, really — but my friend had apparently already been sitting behind one of the large columns. This was a friend that I, as you may have guessed, did not remember the name of. I had come to know this friend earlier in the year not in class — we sat about halfway across the room from each other — but in a small reception for the honors college in which we had been assigned to the same group. Each group was to discuss what interesting things we had learned that day, and true to my normal retention abilities, I recalled that she had talked about the two language classes she was in (and that she knew five languages), but the name was gone. Unfortunately, the reverse was not true — she remembered my name.
These are the kinds of times a guy like me fears: introducing people. Like I said in the first part of this story, I'm bad with names. The best thing to do, usually, is for me to wish that either the person I am with will momentarily be busy with something else (as Amelia was) or the person who has just come up will not be around long enough for that awkward wait for an introduction to occur. That pause of expectation is like a drink from the river Lithe for me, if I didn't already forget one of the two people's names, I will often do so at this point.
I talked to my classmate for a moment about class, all the while hoping Amelia would not return before I had finished the conversation. But, Amelia came up from behind when, to my surprise, my nameless friend exclaimed, “Amelia, what are you doing here?” Now, that was not what I was expecting! “Hi, Alex,” Amelia replied. I didn't learn the details until one day the next semester when Alex and I got to talking, but they explained to me that Alex too had been a student at the Lutheran high school that my cousin was still attending. At that point, I explained to Alex that Amelia was my cousin and that she had come to get a feel for LU and sit in some classes (including Brit Lit I). Alex remarked that she had not yet had time to read that day's assignment (this was about an hour and a half before class) and that she had better go read it fast, so she could “say something to sound intelligent” in class.
We ended up sitting at a large round table near the windows overlooking the football field. As I recall it, I spent most of lunch quietly tending to my food while Amelia and Maggie talked. Maggie was talking about some career choices; at one point Amelia provided a bluntly honest remark about the one way Maggie was leaning, and Maggie remarked that Amelia's honesty was one of the things she really appreciated about Amelia. I, of course, did not disagree, for my cousin would have likely hit me if I had — she's always been that way to me (I can only hope Amelia does not read this, or… gulp Ouch!).
All kidding aside, it was a nice lunch. With plenty of time to spare, we left the cafeteria and traveled up the hill to the dorm located directly by the local AutoZone. This was Maggie's dorm, and she offered to give Amelia a tour of it. Since I could not join them (obviously — it was the ladies' dorm), I took to leaning up against a column of the building and reading the next reading for Brit Lit. It wasn't a very comfortable column; it was rather slick and its tall foundation only offered enough ledge to barely allow me to pretend to sit. Time passed for what seemed like an eternity without so much as a sign of life from inside the building. Periodically, I checked my watch only to see that “plenty of time before class” start inching toward “not so much time.” After awhile, an acquaintance from another class came out; seeing me just leaning against the column, she asked if I was waiting for someone. I said I was and talked for a little bit; at first she offered to go in and see what had become of my cousin and Maggie, but since she did not know Maggie or what part of the building she lived in, that wasn't really possible.
Finally, about ten or fifteen minutes before class, the two missing members of our happy little trio reappeared. Amelia had not been feeling too well, and had been sitting down for a bit. Fortunately, she was feeling fine now. We parted company with Maggie, who had other places to go, and headed a little less quickly back across campus to Brit Lit. We got there in plenty of time and made our way in. I usually sit in the front row of a class, but since there was not a second front row spot available, I opted to lead us to seats further back. One thing I recall was how much blander and dirtier the back of the room seemed. Maybe that's why those who sit in the front row are statistically said to do better… well, probably not. I offered Amelia the extra bottle of water I had somehow managed to get stuffed in my satchel along with my books — she didn't want it, so so much for my amazing feat of fitting it in — and then busied myself getting my mind ready for the always possible pop quiz, a quiz which did not appear that day.
At any rate, I was disappointed that this class was not among the most interesting of the Brit Lit I sessions I had been in hence far. We looked at a text on literary criticism (I believe it was by the ever relevant Samuel Johnson) and then finally got to something I hoped would show off my professor's talents a bit more: the great metaphysical poet John Donne. We moved quickly and covered a number of Donne's works, including the rather amusing “the Flea.”
After class, I introduced Amelia to my professor, Dr. Glover, and then slipped out of the room toward the room down the hall that had the next stop on our tour. I was a bit dejected. There is nothing worse than telling someone how great something is and then it being less than exciting when that person actually is around to see the thing in question. That had been Brit Lit. Dr. Glover is an amazing professor, but it just had not been the best day. I was pretty sure the next class would be much more successful, and it was. This next class was Philosophy of Religion and our topic was the problem of evil.
We walked in the room, and I was about to again find a seat in the back, when I heard someone call my name. Alex was at the door. Alex and I sometimes chatted and joked about literature on the way out of class, but that day, as I said, Amelia and I had quietly and briskly left the room. When I came over, Alex had thought of a clever play on words from Donne which she presented to me. We talked for a few moments, until my professor, Dr. Meyers, arrived and I returned with Amelia to staking out a good seat. With it a fairly cool temperature outside, it was a good day for Amelia to be visiting — the room this class was in was often miserably hot, but was tolerable that Friday.
A few of my friends were in the class, and a couple that were on the side of the room we ended up on (the opposite that I normally was on) were among those I introduced Amelia to. JonPaul was one of them, and while he was yet another fellow I was unfortunately unable to name at the time (I may forget names, but once they stick, I do remember them), but somehow I fudged the introduction and all was well. A few other friends, whose names I did know were on the other side of the room, and I simply never got to introduce them to my cousin, which was a shame. Amelia is the type of person who people always want to be introduced to; I recall as late as last semester, one friend from that class who I had failed to introduce to Amelia inquired to me about who that was who had been with me that day in Fall of '04. That was not an isolated incident, either.
By this time, it was already 2:00, but there was still more to come in our little adventure. I will detail the conclusion another day.