I’ve been away at college for two weeks. I’m waiting for something to happen, for the great adventure to begin. My roommate is a freaky rich Jewish girl from Texas whose father owns a woman’s clothing line. I don’t like her; she doesn’t like me and worse still, she’s taken up smoking. I’d specified a non-smoking roommate, and here’s Ellen, smoking. Not because she likes smoking but because the older girls are cool and flick their ashes into the little hole in the top of the Coke can.
It’s announced in a dorm meeting that the school is holding a “mixer” with Regis College, a men’s college. This is how we were supposed to meet boys and date and fall in love and get engaged and get a ring so we could have a “ringing” ceremony. This is an event in which a girl orders a candle and corsage (or the dorm does it, I don’t know) in her favorite color. There is then a small party with cake and everyone sits in a circle. The ring is slid down the candle and the candle, corsage and ring are passed from girl to girl so everyone can see the ring. Even at 18 the phallic allusions are completely obvious to me. To them?
Anyway, I dress up for the mixer — cute tweed jumper made by my mom. Shades of green to bring out the color of my eyes (they are green), and go with my suite-mates and evil roommate. I’m nervous and irked. Something doesn’t feel right to me; I don’t think anyone will ask me to dance; I’m not looking for a boyfriend. I’m looking for adventure and change and action. I have already suffered my first real broken heart and boys are scary. I also don’t see me going through the process and ending up at a “ringing”. I am simply confused.
The mixer is in the college dining hall — where we also had our formal dances. It is a beautiful room, in fact the college is beautiful. After I leave, I’ll realize what I left behind.
The girls stand around and the boys stand around. Back then boys looked like young men and girls looked like young women. Today, it seems, girls often look like experienced hookers and boys look like eighth graders. Sure, the counterculture is alive and well, but not everywhere and certainly not at a Catholic men’s college where the boys come from nor at my college. The “kids” are well-dressed, clean, attractive and shy. It isn’t quite high school, but it isn’t quite NOT. There is no alcohol served (it is a Baptist college) and few people in that milieu use drugs. The only ones I know are two girls from California, from LA, Palos Verdes Estates. In the heart of Colorado these girls insist California skiing is better. Sacrilege. I’d gotten high with them a couple of times, walking down the street to Stapleton Airport, sitting in an empty field and watching the airborne planes change color as the sun set.
In the corner, on an elevated stage is the band, a local band. Sugarloaf. They have a decent kit — the best I’ve seen, anyway in my no-rock-concert adolescence. As for the band? Not Steppenwolf, Tim Buckley or The Moody Blues, but the best I’ve seen so far. And, you know, their one hit is about a lady with green eyes. That would be me. Is it me?
I won’t dance. I am short, dark haired. I wear glasses. I do not look like the girl a guy would walk into a room and dance with. At least (at most?) I don’t think I do. My California friends get bored and leave, stopping to ask me if I want to get high. My roommate finds a nice Catholic boy to dance with and I see him, later, lighting her cigarette. My suite mates vanish at some point, but later I will help one of them puke out her first Boones Farm overdose. At a certain point in this, my first college mixer, I realize that the best thing there, for me, is the bass speaker. I sit down as close to it as I can. I try to look as if I am in love with the band (I can hardly stand them) imagining that if I look like a groupie I might become one and my adventures would start.