College Learning Put to Use

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

College Learning Put to Use

Dating is like trying to make a meal out of leftovers. Some leftovers actually get better when they’ve had a little time to mature.” -Lisa Kleypas

Joel thought Trisha was pretty cute.  Everything about her was round.  She had round eyes, round cheeks, and a rounded off chin.  If there was anyone that had soft features and an attitude to go with it, that was Trisha.

Trisha in return often told Joel how much she appreciated his attentiveness.  Trisha was always the caring one, the friend who took care of everybody else.  For some reason, Joel took it upon himself to take care of Trisha.  He was liked by their fellow church members, he hugged when asked, but he did not actively seek to help out anyone except Trisha.  He ended up sharing a pew with her in church one Sunday, held the hymnal for her, and his willingness to support her sprang from that.

Thus began a rather pleasant friendship.  The two shared conversation time after church, though both would have been quick to say that no profound topics had been discussed.  When two teenagers have active social lives, homework, and a family to ride home with, it is hard to dive into every aspect of the other person.  They each thought the other was fine, and they were fine with that.

Many high school friends drop out of touch when college life begins.  Trisha and Joel were no exception.  They had expected to keep in contact, but they had both underestimated how busy they would be.  E-mails went unanswered.  Whenever one was home for holiday or summer break, the other was off on some wild trip or simply working a few extra shifts to pay for the increasing cost of tuition.  The two friends that had once been quite cordial eventually lost touch entirely.

Joel kept very busy.  Nicole saw that as her mission.  She found Joel sitting in the back row of their Advanced Applied Chemistry class and decided on the spot that she had to have him.  Nicole was not the sort of person that sat around and mulled over cause and effects; she had enough of that in class.  In life, when Nicole wanted something, she went after it with all the gusto she could muster.

Joel had to admit that he found the attention very flattering.  He had never been doggedly pursued before and he rather enjoyed it.  He did not think that Nicole was someone he would have selected as his “type”, but she was certainly attractive.  The multiple nose and facial piercings had given him pause, especially when paired with a head that was shaved off on the right side with bright pink spikes on the other.  However Nicole was adventure personified and Joel found the ride to be fascinating.

To say that their relationship was wild would be understating it.  Joel found himself trying to recuperate after each outing.  But Nicole would always grab him by the hand and yank his arm, along with the rest of him, off to some epic trip.  There was the time that Nicole hopped onto the field during a baseball game and Joel spent three hours trying to get her released from jail.  The Great Grand Canyon Adventure taught Joel what it was like to be lost in the wilderness for three days with no compass and not nearly enough food.  The howling animals at night and his fear of snakes had not helped matters any.

Joel’s logical side constantly warned him to turn and flee in the other direction.  Then there was the other side, the side that most college fellows listen to quite often.  That was the part that Nicole nudged along every time she offered to reveal a new tattoo.  Their own personal chemistry was beyond anything that Joel learned about in class and the two had some rather steamy nights.  The whole thing should have been tremendous amounts of fun for Joel.  However, after almost a year of being sucked into the force of nature that was Nicole, Joel finally figured out what the problem was.

Nicole was always the one in charge and Joel did not mind that.  However, in her eagerness to try new things and perhaps get a few new bumps and bruises, Nicole never consulted with Joel.  He was often too tired to care where they went and Nicole had a long list of things that she wanted to do while she was still young.  The result was that Joel never felt like himself.  He was the “plus one” in the relationship.  Nicole suggested something then he went along with her.  As that year came a close, Joel felt his identity slipping away.  He did not like it.

The break up took thirteen hours, none of which Joel thought went well.  They started out in a greasy burger restaurant.  Joel told Nicole that he felt she was overpowering him, overly reckless, and therefore their relationship should be over.  Nicole responded by over-reacting.  Dishes were thrown across the dining area and they were asked to leave.  The yelling started on the way back to Joel’s place.  For the rest of the night there would be apologizing, making out, fighting, and more yelling.  When it had all wrapped up just after sunrise, Nicole was off to go steal a motorcycle and Joel wondered if hiding under his bed was allowed.  His fear of further retribution proved to be unwarranted, but with Nicole one never knew.

Playing Pool by Kristel Rae Barton

Joel spent the rest of college being single for the most part.  He would go on a date or two, but nothing really clicked.  There were the nice gals that were uninteresting and the darker gals who had heard about him and Nicole.  Neither scenario ended with Joel feeling like himself or caring deeply for the other person.

Joel focused on his studies.  He worked on the school’s grounds crew to help with tuition.  He studied until his eyes were red.  And after many hours of lectures and tests, he graduated.

Summer came, final transcripts were printed off, and Joel found himself heading back home.  He did not have a job yet, but he felt that he was capable of being hired soon.  For a few weeks Joel just wanted to relax.

In all the years of college and all the nights out with Nicole, Joel had never once played pool.  In the back of his head he always pictured playing pool with a glass of beer nearby to be part of the college experience.  That was why, a month after he returned back to the town he had been raised in, Joel walked up the stairs of the town’s only pub and made his way to the pool table on the second story.

When he found the pool table, he saw that it was occupied by a single player.  A woman whose back was turned to Joel was muttering to herself.  Joel watched as she talked to the table, re-aimed the pool stick a few times, and finally bounced the white ball along the red-felt surface until it struck the nine-ball.  The end result was that the nine-ball ricocheted off of the side of the table and then rolled to a stop just short of the pocket.

“Close shot”, Joel commented.

“Thanks”, the woman answered without turning.

“Would you like someone to compete against?  Although I should probably warn you I’ve never actually played pool before.”

The woman turned around, a smile appearing slowly on her face.  “If that is the voice of Joel Braden, then I would love to thwomp you soundly.”

Joel had to look, and then look again to confirm what he could scarce believe.


The two hugged and laughed at finding each other.  Apologies for not keeping in touch were made, memories were recapped, and degree information was soon exchanged.  The two lingered near the pool until they picked up their pool sticks and faced off.

Joel watched Trisha play and found himself feeling captivated with her.  He remembered Trisha as having lots of nice curves in her face.  Yet now he realized that the rest of her features followed her face’s lead.  As Trisha leaned and maneuvered around the table, Joel wondered how his hormonal high school-self hadn’t seen what was so completely obvious.  Trisha was unequivocally stunning.

“What shall we do when we finish off this game?”

Joel found his train of thought interrupted by Trisha’s question.  “Did you have something specific in mind?”

“Oh, you know me”, Trisha replied.  “I always have a few fun ideas up my sleeve.  But what about you?  Surely there is something that we could both enjoy?”

With that gesture of consideration, and with the way she kept running her fingers along his arm, Joel was quite taken.  For some couples, love at first sight works out fine.  With Joel and Trisha, a double-take was more their style.


About Cosand
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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