Memories with Richard Bleil
Were I to meet my wife in college, I think it probably would have been Marci. I met her my freshman year. She was also a chemistry major, and, yes, if you’ve been reading my posts you won’t be surprised to hear that she was just gorgeous. She had jet black hair, and eyes bluer than the ocean. We also had a lot of fun together. With a tomboyish streak, we would walk in the park and play, at least as much as appropriate. As chemists, we would have intellectual conversations, not about homework but we would discuss, for example, ramifications of quantum theory and the concept of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle on free will. But I’m afraid I was blinded by my own eyes as I was enamored with another woman, and never thought of Marci as anything more than a friend, being the fool that I was.
I still think about her from time to time, wondering where she ended up and hoping she is having the great life that she deserves. We used to sit together in general chemistry until she met him. Then she would sit four rows behind me with him. That was the beginning of the end of us. She would periodically tell me that I could sit with “them”, but no, that’s not how men work. She made her choice, he won, I lost.
He won so completely, in fact, that when he moved to another university, and changed his major, she moved with him, changed her major to match his, and moved in with him. Now, Marci and I, as much fun as we had together, never crossed that sex barrier. Heck, I never kissed her for that matter, although I wish I had. But that wasn’t the end of our story.
See, I used to warn my students not to follow their significant others if they move. It’s important to remember that in the college years, typically eighteen to twenty-two, the brain is still forming. It is considered fully developed around age twenty-five, in fact, and in college people are still changing. It’s important to follow your own dreams, develop your own interests, and stop doing things just to be with someone else. If you end up together, that’s fantastic, but your brain is changing, as is your significant others, so it’s not uncommon to end up in a divergent relationship as, apparently, Marci’s was about to at this point in the story.
A few years later, I graduated with my chemistry degree and was working as an analytical chemist at a painfully small private laboratory. On a day off, I decided to go get a frozen treat for myself at a favorite local iced creamery shop in Cincinnati when, much to my surprise, there was Marci in line behind me. I hadn’t spoken with her in many years, and let a few people go ahead of me in line so I could chat with her. We decided to share our ice cream together and catch up.
As it turns out, she hadn’t slept with her newer and better boyfriend either when they moved in together. Eventually, as so many men do (especially at that age with their developing brain), he began giving her that old ultimatum, “put out or get out.” So, she put out, and he told her to get out anyway. Deciding to have sex to save a relationship is probably the second worse reason to do so, although deciding to have a child to save a relationship is worse since it will involve another human being when the relationship falls apart anyway. Sex, and children, are the icing on the cake, but not the critical substance.
As it turns out, she had moved back to Cincinnati, and felt adrift. She wasn’t there very long, but she found a job and a place to live but wasn’t making enough to fulfill her dream of returning to college. I wouldn’t take this as an answer. She was too smart not to have her dreams come true, so I took a vacation day from work and took her by hand to the campus to seek out the financial assistance office. I was giddy with anticipation for the possibility of rekindling our relationship now that she was back, and hoped she was interested. Unfortunately, helping her get back into education would be my downfall.
Although we had a few dates after that, in college she met yet another boy. Again, she changed her major to match his, and they moved in together. Now the story will again sound familiar, as she kept her first job she had when I had met her, but the last time I spoke with her, she had started a second job although he was not working at all and was planning to quit college so she could get a third job to support the both of them.
This is the end of the Marci saga. Although it centers around me and what I could have offered her, it’s also a story of mistakes that are all too common in college, and I’m sad to say, especially for female students. I hated seeing these mistakes repeat themselves when I taught, but what can you really do as a professor? If I had a daughter, I would work hard to teach her to be independent, and to pursue her own dreams over a relationship. Once established in the life she wants, it would be so much better to find a relationship that fits that lifestyle, rather than trying to carve a niche out for herself in some other guy’s life.