I went to a women’s college. I wanted to go to a co-ed college but I didn’t get in to any of the ones I wanted to attend, so I went kicking and screaming to an all women’s college.
I loved it.
My high school had been very crazy. It was in a university town so the school population was a lot of unsupervised faculty children with way too many bad ideas. Going to an all women’s college was restful and restorative. It was deeply innocent in some way that is probably not possible in 2013 but was possible in 1975.
Almost no gossip. Really.
No one paid any attention to anyone else’s social life, although there was one exception to this. When I was a freshman, one very proper senior named Irene stirred our imaginations. During the week Irene behaved as if there could be no more exciting an activity in her life than ironing her pinafores. Yes, she wore pinafores. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. And she ironed them. Often.
However on the weekends Irene had an endless stream of extremely attractive men coming and going from her room. The Friday guy would be leaving on Saturday morning just as the Saturday guy was being buzzed up. She timed them so precisely that they almost crossed in the halls as one left and the next guy arrived. As freshman, we never had anything more pressing to do on a Saturday night than sit in the hall and eat popcorn. But with Irene’s bustling social life, this was more exciting than popcorn at a movie theatre.
One Saturday night, a young man who had also attended my crazy high school dropped in to see me. My friends and I were baking cookies instead of popping popcorn. For some reason this freaked out my visitor in a big way. He made it clear he thought our harmless baking was weird even perverse. He left as fast as possible but not before he wondered aloud why we weren’t out at some mixer getting drunk on garbage pail punch. What was WRONG with us?
He was SO worked up that he got himself a newspaper column on his college paper and wrote a number of articles about me and that evening. Using my given name, he entitled his articles, “Lady Margaret Entertains.”
Really. I kid you not.
Anyways, all these years later, I still don’t know why cookie baking struck him as so creepy and elitist but it did. He now writes for TV shows in Hollywood. I figure I gave him excellent practice for this work since I offered him one of his first opportunities to spin drama from nothing.
More recently a college friend wrote a memoir about our college years. We lived in the same dorm for three years, and since we were both English majors, we also took a lot of the same classes. Let’s just say we ate a lot of popcorn together. I don’t know what I expected from her memoir but once again, I was painted into another strange corner.
In her present day life as a newspaper columnist, my friend has become known as someone who feels marriage is a prison that stunts women’s growth. In her memoir I was featured as the poster child for this issue, a soon to be stunted friend who was headed for a desperate life in an early marriage- a marriage that would keep her from self actualizing.
I have many flaws. My dentist tells me I don’t floss enough and for all my talk about clean closets, I still haven’t tackled the nightmare one filled with all my sewing crap. I still eat too much popcorn and bake too many cookies. But honestly, I feel pretty self-actualized. I haven’t done everything I want to do yet, but I am content with the dreams I have fulfilled.
The Angels have this expression, “Dogs but no dogma.” This is how I have always tried to live. I try to go with the genuine not the imposed rules of the social group I am in. It seems to bother people. A lot. I don’t exactly understand why.
So I was 18 and there were raging parties just a few miles across the Pioneer Valley at other colleges. Still not sorry I stayed in the dorm and watched Irene manage her men queue.
So I could have lived all the eras of my life in a more politically correct order and had some big enormous career before life in the country with Jim and the kids. Not sorry I went with the flow.
I know I should end this with a quippy quote, but it’s time to go make some popcorn. Or maybe some cookies.
Me circa 1975 not thinking about popcorn.