Friday, February 13, 2015

Dear Jane

Valentine's day is an appropriate time to tell the story about the most painless break-up ever.  In fact, it was so painless, it was like we never dated.

My first semester of college, I was so grossed out by the food at the dormitory cafeteria menu, I spent a lot of time at the salad bar.  One time, I was surprised to see a male hand piling the raw spinach and alfafa sprouts on his plate.

It's a good thing I spoke to the hand before I followed the hand up the arm to a drop-dead gorgeous guy.  If I had seen him in the entirety, I probably wouldn't have made a friendly remark about the dreadful hot entrees; I'd have been too tongue-tied.

I kept running into him at the cafeteria and he invited me to sit with him and his friends.  It turned out that they were all varsity rowers.  We talked about the normal things that people just meeting each other in college talk about--our majors, home towns, and cultural stuff we were enjoying like books, movies, music, lectures, art shows, etc.  (This was Berkeley.  The football team was terrible and I liked that.)

We also discussed what we had done to deserve a spot at the most coveted dorm.  At that time, UC Berkeley had a student housing shortage.  Students were assigned priority numbers and the more desirable dorms were filled mainly with varsity athletes (him) and academic scholarship students (me).

I learned that he was a bit older than the other students because he had deferred college to travel the world as a print and runway model.  A model scout approached him in high school.  Modeling paid better money than the near minimum-wage jobs that most HS students can obtain.  All he had to do was stay in shape, which he would have done anyway.   Then there was the prospect of international travel.  Why not?

He and his modeling agency had a falling out when he thought it was time to go to college and they thought it was time for him to go to Paris or Milan.  (Models start out in smaller markets to gain experience.  Smaller markets are more diverse and interesting to intrepid travelers; luxury hotels in major cities are more alike.)

One time, he said that he and a teammate were going to rush through dinner so that they could walk down to Telegraph Avenue and look at books.  Did I want to go with them?

Photograph of Moe's Books via Telegraph Ave.
Yes! I love browsing bookstores on Telegraph "Ave". In fact, I used to drive to Berkeley from my suburb as a high school student to enjoy the bookstores of Telegraph Ave. I didn't feel safe walking at night to the bookstores on my own, so the offer of two very large and muscular companions was irresistible.

Photograph via Telegraph Shop
In the following weeks, he sometimes stopped by my dorm room to walk to dinner together.  I did wonder a little why he was passing by my room when his room was on the other side of the cafeteria.  Once, I saw that he wasn't in the cafeteria and went to his room to find out why.  He had fallen asleep after practice and thanked me for making sure he didn't miss dinner.

I remember being surprised when he casually undressed and changed in front of me.  I figured that models must be used to undressing in front of others.  I shrugged it off and we walked to dinner.

A short time later, I found a letter under my door.  He wrote that he was dating two women and things had progressed to the point where he would feel like a heel if he didn't make a commitment to one.  The other woman was older and the femme fatale of the dorm.  They were both older and hot; of course they were a match.

Wait, he was dating two women?  Were we dating?  Did I date a male model and not even realize it?

Years later, I leafed through Let's Go USA and under "Berkeley nightlife" it listed going to bookstores as a popular courtship activity.  I didn't know that my first semester at Berkeley.

A couple of years ago, when I was doing serious self-study about data analysis in the social sciences, I read John Molloy's Why Men Marry Some Women and Not Others.

I was surprised to learn that very attractive men often feel like they are not taken seriously for their intellect.  Many of those men prefer to date and marry very intelligent and ordinary-looking women in the belief that others will project that intelligence to the gorgeous partner.  John Molloy's advice for intelligent women was to approach gorgeous men because we were more likely to be successful in capturing their attention than most women.

So I did date and get subsequently dumped by a male model.  And that's why he would slip in a reference to the scholarship that got me into the dormitory when he introduced me around.

The femme fatale dumped him shortly after that.

When I met Bad Dad, I invited him to go to bookstores with me.  We've been traveling the world and reading together ever since.

Happy Valentine's Day.

* A Dear Jane letter is the female version of the Dear John break-up letter.

1 comment:

  1. I love your story Grace. Thank you for sharing it.

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