I think between my dad and John Hughes my idea of men has always been completely off. I had unrealistic expectations, you know? I expected there to be respect and chivalry and friendship and grand romantic gestures (Hello! Jake Ryan at the end of Sixteen Candles!) and that just is not what life handed me.
A little background on me, maybe? I have a Master’s of Science degree in Counseling and a Bachelor of Arts in English Education, both from the University that is across the street from me. But I don’t consider that the REAL place I went to college. It’s where I finished after I married for the second time and had a baby, but I started at Concordia University, Chicago and when I say “when I was in college” that’s where I’m talking about. That’s where I had all the usual college experiences: first keg party, first time getting drunk, first hang-over, first sex, first and only marijuana use. I found out later that most people did those things in high school, but I went to a religious boarding school so that’s not how I rolled. I had some not so usual college experiences there too. I was engaged to not one, but TWO different guys, and then eloped with a third. ( You could say I was after an MRS degree.) I was raped in college, which unfortunately isn’t all that unusual, but IS unexpected at a Lutheran college. Actually the first man I was engaged to, and the one I eloped with, both turned violent, so that’s not something you expect from a man raised in the church and attending a church college either. It’s interesting, or maybe ironic, that my parents felt very safe sending me from my small hometown to school in Chicago because it was a Lutheran school. Ultimately campus was probably one of the least safe places in the city for me, but that’s not really the school’s fault. I made some pretty poor choices in who I spent time with. I was suffering from the delusion that every bad boy had a heart of gold underneath it all (curse you John Bender!). I was really naïve about boys and their motives, and like my parents, I trusted people because they went to church.
I should clarify that I did date in high school, it wasn’t an all girls school or anything. But I dated the same guy from my Sophomore year until my Senior year. He used to say “expectation is the greatest predictor” and I would have to say that I got did get VERY realistic ideas about relationships–or my future relationships anyway– from him: He taught me how to put up with shit most of the time because once in a while something good might happen. I think at first he thought I was someone whom he could enlighten with his wisdom and occasionally make out with more than he thought of me as a girlfriend. Our relationship was odd. Honestly, there were a lot of times he wasn’t very nice to me. BUT, once in a while, out of the blue, he’d get the perfect birthday present, or look absolutely stunned when I came down the stairs for prom, or show up to surprise me, or send the cutest anniversary poem. And when we were apart during the summers he wrote me a letter EVERY SINGLE DAY. Every one. They weren’t mushy, “I miss you” letters, just this-is-what-I-did-today letters, but they were funny and thoughtful and the best part of my day all summer long. He had some hang-ups, though. For example: when I visited him at his college he had his own room and the opportunity to have sex presented itself; I was MORE than willing (three years is a LONG time!) and he absolutely refused. He made me feel like there was something wrong with me for wanting to sleep with him (even though our many, MANY make-out sessions rarely left him “unsatisfied”). I don’t really know why I thought being considered less worthy and less intelligent was ok. I suspect because I was always waiting for that flash of “good stuff” that was hiding underneath, and because I thought back then that every relation ship would ultimately be like the fairytale I imagined my parents had. I blame my dad and John Hughes.