9: Freshman Nuptials

9: Freshman Nuptials

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles

Freshman Nuptials

Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everybody else.

~George Bernard Shaw

By the end of the first week of college, I already had five different husbands.

Sure, we weren’t really married — and only one or two knew my name — but my hypothetical marriages kept me awake in my classes, and that was good enough for me.

The whole five-husband business came about as a way to contain my initial crushing. I figured that if I chose a boy from each of my classes I would not spend so much time scoping the student center or library for other potential boyfriends. Though in hindsight, I still found a guy to gaze at nearly everywhere I went on campus.

I had this theory going into college that every boy I met would be worth marrying. I chose a small private school which, according to my naïve, freshman mind, meant that every boy I met would be a good one — one who my parents would approve of, one who would have the same interests as me. But that wasn’t always true. Finding that husband was a lot harder than I had imagined.

I got sick of most of my “husbands” by the end of week three. My Speech husbands (I had an extra one as a backup) both had serious girlfriends. My Gen. Ed. husband reminded me too much of my ex-boyfriend, though he was the most intelligent of the five. My News Writing husband looked like a younger version of Mulder from the sci-fi classic The X-Files, and the spare husband I passed on the way to class (husband five-point-five) turned out to be a racist. The only husband that stuck was Caleb, my Communications husband, who already had a girlfriend. He was my favorite.

Caleb lacked one attribute that all my other husbands seemed to have in overwhelming amounts — arrogance. Caleb was your typical sit-in-the-back-of-the-room, carefree, bearded junior college guy. He didn’t pretend to know all the answers in class; he accepted whatever came his way. Even when my professor patted him on the backside to teach us about inappropriate nonverbal communication, he barely cracked a smile. I liked this guy.

Most of the time, I crushed from a distance. Meaning I would give him a half-smile if we made eye contact, or I initiated small talk if I deemed it appropriate. When I was really desperate, I would simply observe him through the reflection on my laptop screen in class — he only sat two rows behind me. But one morning I made my presence known to him more than I wanted.

On a Friday in October, our university had a special choir and band concert to replace the typical chapel service. I left my dorm room to meet a friend at the fountain in the middle of campus before heading to the concert. I went out the back door and followed the sidewalk to the fountain. The sidewalk connects to another pathway in the middle, and that pathway happens to lead to a boys’ dorm. But not just any boys’ dorm — it was Caleb’s hall. Just as I neared the intersection, Caleb exited the side door of his building. I noticed he was wearing a three-piece suit, clearly a member of the choir or band, on his way to perform. My gaze shot to my feet and I dawdled.

Maybe we won’t meet up. Maybe his pace is just fast enough and mine is just slow enough that we’ll miss each other completely.

Caleb and I met side by side.

Of my five husbands, Caleb is the only one with whom I’ve exchanged words. So, if I ignored him while meandering down the sidewalk, I would have seemed like a jerk or just terribly shy. I’m neither. So I said something, the only thing that seemed to fit the occasion: “Lookin’ good.” I turned to him and awkwardly smiled.

He looked back at me and said thanks matter-of-factly, as if I’d just complimented his shoes and not just revealed my secret attraction. My eyes found the ground once again. We crossed paths, not saying another word.

After that, I expected Caleb to mock me in class or ignore me completely. But nothing happened; he must have forgotten it had occurred. We still made small talk and I occasionally caught a distorted glimpse of him through my computer monitor, but the luster faded and my heart moved on. I began searching for husband number six.

Okay, so I’m starting to realize that college isn’t all about finding the one I’m going to marry. That may seem very obvious to most people, but after meeting numerous married college sweethearts, it’s hard to believe otherwise. Maybe I will meet my “real” husband here, or maybe I won’t. But I know that a relentless search is not worth it. College presents numerous opportunities just as important as a male-female relationship — friendships, parties, road trips, education, freedom. I’d miss out on a lot of those if I had a guy glued to my side.

So for now, and for the rest of my college career, I’m not going to care as much about locating my next husband. Now I can wear sweats and watch movies all Saturday or spend hours studying for an exam with no distractions. And I’m okay with that. Husbands number seven, eight, and nine can wait.

~Lauren Sawyer

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