While Mary was a constant presence for the rest of my sophomore year, she had broken up with me and it was time to move on. First I developed a crush on a senior, Cesiah Ramirez. She was a short, shrewd, alluring great girl with so much personality. She would sit and talk with me at the fountain, showing an inch but not much more interest than Francesca had. She did, however, agree to go with me to the Christmas Banquet (in case I haven’t explained yet for the non Adventist school types, Banquets were like school dances except without the dancing. It was mostly performances and people sitting around and talking). People were performing and I got hit by a little piece of wax from one of the candle center pieces. A few moments later I got hit with another one. I was convinced that Cesiah was messing with me so I took up a whole bunch of little pieces of wax and threw them back at her. It got in her hair and her dress and she gave me the biggest look of shock and asked why I had done that. I told her because she’d been throwing wax at me so I was playing back. She responded and said that she had not because she’d been watching the show. I felt horribly guilty and apologized profusely but it was clear that I had ruined the date. I never got a second one. I felt mortified about this forever and Cesiah would bring it up every so often just to tease me. At the end of the next semester, after I hugged her to congratulate her on her graduation, she whispered into my ear, “Actually I did throw the wax.”
Shortly after that, Jesse broke up with the third girlfriend he’d had in high school, this time junior Jennifer Conway. On what can be generously described as a lark, I started pursuing her. I can’t honestly say that I ever had super strong feelings about this Jennifer or vice versa. I think we were both amused at messing with Jesse. Jennifer was the definition of an east Texas girl. She spoke with the accent and came across as what can be described as a country girl. She was pretty enough and actually shortly after we started dating she gave me the copy of the key to Jesse’s mustang that he had given her. It was a huge temptation to take it and drive it but with a little bit of thought I realized that would be just asking for trouble. I wrapped it up in a gigantic box with all kinds of stuffing and wrapped with plenty of paper and gave it to him. We lasted a few weeks and I actually took her to the Valentines banquet. Actually, I did the write up for the yearbook about the Valentine’s banquet which seems only appropriate considering how quickly and how many girls I went through that year (if you count Mary each time, it almost doubles). I accidentally called her Mary once. She was mad at me for quite a while and once I finally got her to get over it, I actually accidentally said well I’m glad that’s over Mary.
Just in case you’re curious, I don’t think she changed her name but she also did not return to VGA the year after dating me. I sure was inspiring. At least it made it to where I could start without any ex-girlfriends each school year.
That also didn’t last. I don’t know how to decipher that every girl I ever dated or was ever interested other than the one I eventually married was older than me. There was another Junior that year I also had a crush on. This one didn’t come close to panning out and that was a very good thing. It was Carmen Calle. She was actually the girl, the person who I had been friends with the longest in my life at that point and this one. Our mothers have been friends for decades now and we had known each other since I was eight and she was nine. We saw each other quite frequently. Far too many people commented on how they thought we would grow up to be married someday. One time when I was ten and she was eleven, I was spending the night at her house because my mother was there for some reason. I had been put in her room and we spent a good two to three hours tickling each other in the middle of the night but that’s as close as we came to being childhood sweethearts. She actually dated my roommate Mike for a while this year. She also had a pattern of going from one boyfriend to another and so it was going to be hard enough to find a time when we were both single. There was one though, and we talked about it, ultimately deciding against it. Now quite a while later, we have both attended each other’s wedding. I actually was extremely sick when I went to hers but swallowed it up and made a day trip when I would much rather have been laying in bed. She and her mother all but ran my wedding a few years before so it was the least I could do.
I could continue and tell you about each girl that crossed my path that year like the girl I met at a Music Festival wh,ere several academies attended or the one that I never even met but just corresponded with and talked on the phone through a mutual friend at another academy, but I think the pattern is fairly evident at this point.
My father came to visit in the middle of all this among one of the times I was dating Mary, the second or third time that year. He pointed out that I was in love with being in love. He hinted that it wasn’t that different from his own experience and that I would need to learn to do it better or prove to have a hard life. I think he understood that I was a hopeless romantic but it seemed that maybe I would just turn out hopeless.
My friends like Ellen, Alycia and Josie tried to get me to be smarter about this. They were concerned with the fact that I’d gotten put on social with Cesiah, Jennifer, and Mary all in one year. I had a few conversations with a quiet freshmen about it, Gil Cayabyab who with dry wit and a soft spokeness pointed out that this couldn’t possibly be good for any one. Jeremy Friesen used to talk to me a little about it until he started dating my ex-girlfriends. Only two faculty members said anything to me. One of them was Fred Esquivel, the men’s dean. He was an athletic guy and the father of three daughters. He talked to me about valuing myself and the fairer gender. The one that probably made the biggest impact was Kelly Aylward, the assistant chaplain and assistant dean. His young Asian wife, also a teacher there was very good looking and al the teenage boys always gawked at her. He had a great sense of humor about it and when he would advise me on how I needed to clean this up, he’d even throw in jokes that if I did, I could end up with a good looking wife like he had.
The culmination of his advice came one Saturday night when while flipping through tv channels on a quiet night in the dorm we started listening to an Enrique Iglesias concert. He played a song call “Una Experienca Religiosa.” The basic tone of it is that being with you (in reference to a woman) is a religious experience and adds that kissing your lips deserves a hallelujah. I translated it for him and he could not stop laughing. With my overtly religious tone and having been associated with so many girls that year, he was beyond convinced that I should sing it or at least lip-sync it at the school talent show. It didn’t happen but that idea was hilarious and also hurtful at the same time.
My girls or girlfriends were such a running joke that people wrote in my yearbook “I don’t judge you for your girlfriends” (be assured anytime anyone starts a sentence with I don’t judge you for, they are judging you) and someone else wrote “don’t give up on your dreams but you should probably give up on girls.” These are some of the great examples of sardonic wit at my school.
Despite all of that, at the end of the school year it came time for the student association elections. I ran for the office of religious vice-president. It was the position that arranged many of the spiritual activities around campus. I was already so heavily involved that unless I remember wrong I ran unopposed. I had big dreams about how we would have more active Sabbaths and more effort into the worship programs.
The amusing thing about this office is that it was referred to as religious vice. Even then I thought it was more than a tad poignant that I would get to be the religious vice of the school. I felt like I was going to be able to succeed at both halves of the title.