Economics 101, a Novel, ch_05_9 -- Heading Back for the 2nd Semester

(The framing story starts is here: If you haven't read that, you might want to. Otherwise, the rest of this may not make much sense.

Introductions and characterizations begin here:

In the previous chapter, we got to see more of the group date activities that Bobbie and Karel and Dan and Kristie participated in together:

If you don't care about characterization, you might want to jump ahead:

So I still ended up glossing over a lot of that first semester. There were just too many things going on to be able to tell them all. (At some point, I have to say, "It's done." and go back to earning a living for my family.)


But important things happened during the second semester, too, so I guess I should tell you about some of those.

Oh, but one more thing -- well, there were a few more things that happened before we pick things up in the second semester.


[JMR201606290102: (woops! not Christmas.)]

After Christmas New Year's at Dan's, they drove in caravan on the road back to school. Dan and Karel each kept company with their own private thoughts in their own cars, and Kristie and Bobbie kept each other company in Kristie's car, sometimes talking together and sometimes just thinking to themselves.

They had pre-arranged to find a rest stop and take a break every two hours. Kristie and Bobbie were in the lead when they found a rest stop for the first break and pulled off the road.

They got out of their cars, stretched, walked around and exercised a bit, and then sat down at one of the picnic tables. Dan got his water cooler out and they all drank water from paper cups and talked in the cold winter air.

Kristie asked Dan, "Just out of curiosity, what did Sheliah mean when she told Bobbie and me that we might even be as cool as she?"

Dan and Karel's eyes met, and their mouths twitched as they stifled embarrassed laughter. Dan looked at the sky and said, "You didn't really have to ask that, did you?"

Karel's face slipped into a half-embarrassed smile, and he looked away and said, "Well, Dan and I think you two are pretty cool, too."

Dan's self-control broke at that, and he buried his laughter in his hands. His shoulders shook and his voice was muffled. "You never cease to amaze me, Karel, both on and off the field."

Bobbie was trying to assume the inquisitor's expression, but she couldn't keep a straight face. "So it does mean something?" she asked.

Dan controlled his laughter and sighed and sat back, looking first Kristie and then Bobbie in the eye and said, "My little sister," he declared, "has designs on the both of you."

At this, all four of them burst into laughter. Karel explained further, "When I met Dan's family the first time, Sheliah was what? seven or so?"

Dan said, "Yeah."

"She wrapped her arms around my waist and looked up at me and said, 'I'm going to marry you when I grow up.'"

Bobbie was incredulous. "No way!"

"Karel behaved like a gentleman. He said he liked her, too, but she'd better wait until she turned twenty, to be sure. Ever since then, it has been a bit of a running joke when Karel comes to visit."

"I think we see," said Kristie.

Bobbie added, "I wouldn't blame him for robbing this cradle, she's really cute."

"Yeah. I would be sorely tempted. Fortunately for all concerned, she has since found guys her own age interesting. But she still says that I absolutely have to find someone as cool as she is or she'll stop me from marrying. And, of course, her big brother has to find someone as cool as she is, too."

Out there at that rest stop beside the highway in the desert, you could hear the sound of the breeze in the sage. Nothing else moved.

Bobbie put her hands out on the table. Kristie followed suit. Karel gathered their hands together in his, and Dan placed his hands on top.

Karel said, "I asked my father for a father's blessing, back in September, because I knew I'd need help with a decision that I don't want to make yet. He gave me that blessing while I was there over Christmas. God told me to be patient a little while longer and wonderful things were waiting."

After a few moments of silence, Kristie said, "Bobbie explained to me that I could ask my father for a father's blessing, too -- that is, even though he couldn't use priesthood authority to do it, he could still give me a blessing because he's my father, and it's a father's right. I asked him and he gave me a very nice blessing. In it, he told me that God would help us figure out who should go with whom, if so, in His own due time."

Bobbie looked from Kristie to Karel and then Dan, who spread his hands and said, "Of course I talked about us with Mom and Dad. And Dad gave me a father's blessing, too. Basically, he told me to be patient, too."

After another moment, Bobbie said, "For my part Dad was a little scared, at first, because he is not actively coming to Church, and he still complains about the leaders sometimes. But he gave me a father's blessing, too." She considered how to continue. "Why did God tell us all to be patient?"

Dan said the obvious, "I guess we all need to study this out some more before we try to make commitments?"

Karel thought out loud: "But it's not going to mess things up to start talking a little about how we feel about each other, is it?"

Bobbie said, "I still need time, and I'd like to, uhm, I don't really know why, but I need to go on single dates with some other guys. Maybe it's to prove to myself what I think I already know, but I guess I need time."

Kristie and Bobbie's eyes met.

"Whatever way it works out," Kristie said, "that will be what's right. I trust you guys and I trust myself. I trust us."

They could hear the engine of a truck in the distance. It grew louder as the truck approached, and the pitch dropped as it passed, then rose again as the driver shifted down to compensate for the change in slope.

An eagle flew overhead, then suddenly dove for its prey on the other side of the highway. What that eagle was doing so close to the highway, I don't know. It probably had something to do with the prey being so close to the highway.

In an earlier period of the Church, I think the four of them might have asked the prophet to seal them in a relationship that might be hard to explain to the modern mind. I'm not talking about what gained popularity in California and some other places shortly after the time of this story as communal marriage.

It might be as simple to explain what such a sealing would mean as to talk about young children who would each prick a finger, then press the fingers together where the blood beads on the skin, and proclaim themselves blood siblings. Similar concepts, maybe, but priesthood sealings invoke divine authority as well as approval. (And don't involve pricking the fingers or drawing blood.)

Such sealings are no longer performed. Either we don't need them in our modern culture, or they would be too misunderstood. Maybe both. Or maybe it would wear the prophet out, considering how large the Church is now (and was then).

Anyway, it's clear that these four were finding their hearts becoming knit together in friendship.

This kind of friendship is special, and it endures. 

And it gave them the courage to refrain from haphazard commitments or experimentation.

"Group hug!" Bobbie called out, and they all jumped up, and Dan and Karel ran around the table and they had a nice, big group hug. And then they got back in their cars and drove on.

Usually, Kristie and Bobbie had many things to talk about, but they were both quiet for ten or maybe thirty minutes after they got back in the car.



"Are you holding back for me?"

"Holding back?"

"You like Karel, right?"

"Don't tell me you don't like Dan."

"Yeah. Well, ..."

"We're both facing the same question. Sure, if we looked at age, you and Dan should get together, and Karel and I should get together, but age is not important."

"What's important?"

"You're asking me?"

Silence reigned for another little while, then Kristie broke the silence again. "We'll always be friends, though, right?"

Bobbie scooted over on that bench front seat of that car (It was one of those bench seats that is now considered dangerous, but they didn't really think about things that way back then. The bench seat was standard equipment for most cars.) put her arm around Kristie's shoulder and gave her a hug. And a kiss on the cheek.

It was a good thing Kristie was driving, I guess, because if Bobbie had been driving and scooted over to the passenger side to hug Kristie, it might have been dangerous. Scooting and driving at the same time takes skill. On the other hand, Bobbie, being trained in dance, might have pulled it off okay. But she wasn't driving, so we don't have to worry about that.

"Friends. Forever." she said. After a moment or two, she slid part way back, and patted Kristie's hand on the steering wheel and smiled.

Then she glanced back at Karel, driving at a safe distance behind. Karel smiled and waved.

"Karel's waving."

"So's Dan." Maybe he had been watching in his rear-view mirror. Both girls raised their hands and waved back.

In today's world, such a display of affection would have been the cause of much fuss. In those days, it was still considered perfectly normal for women to kiss each other as an expression of ordinary affection. Very few would even consider that Bobbie might have been coming on to Kristie.

She wasn't, of course, and it seems a shame to me that I should even think I might need to point that out. I suppose, even then, in other circumstances, Kristie might have been concerned. But with Bobbie and Dan and Karel, she wasn't.

So the silence that had reigned in Kristie's car was broken.

"Did we find out if we need dance costumes for the folk dance class?"

"Dan asked the teachers, and they said, no, it's not a performance class, so we don't need costumes. He actually said costumes might just get in the way for a beginners class. Other than clogs. We may want to buy clogs."

"I think this class will be fun. Have you ever danced in clogs?"

"I've tried it. It's hard work." And they talked about many things until they stopped for a break again.

At the next stop, Bobbie announced, "I'm going for a run! Who's coming with?"

This was answered by a chorus of "Let's go!" and "Yeah!" and "Oh-kay!"

And then Karel said, "But we should lock the cars, just to be safe." Which they did.

After stretching and warming up, they ran an easy pace about fifty yards ahead of the cars and back.

Unlocking the car doors, they shed their coats, and locked them again. This time, they raced for about two hundred yards or so ahead, holding back just a little so they finished together, laughing.

Then they took an easy run back to the cars, continuing on about two hundred yards behind the cars and then turning around and running back again. Then repeated the course, for a total of about a mile in about ten minutes. Then they cooled down, walking and stretching and talking.

Then Dan pulled a small practice football out of the back of his car, and the four of them tossed it around for a few minutes while they talked about the coming semester and other things.

Before they got too cooled down, they drank more water from Dan's cooler, put their coats back on, and got back on the road.

In the car again, after a little more talk, Kristie said, "I kind of hesitate to ask about this, but back last fall, I told you about when Karel rescued me that time."

"Uh, huh."

"I didn't ask you then, but I have the idea that you might have had some bad experiences with men, too."

"Yes, in fact, I have."

"Can I ask about it?"

"Well, it's still hurts a bit, but, I can talk a little about it."

"It still bothers you then?"

"Definitely. Until I met Dan and Karel, I was wondering if I'd ever meet a man I could trust besides my dad. But, now that I've been on campus a while, ... really, there do seem to be quite a few decent guys on campus."

"Well, the church influence helps, doesn't it?"

"It does."

"What happened? It must have been a bit worse than that bunch of guys in their car whistling at me."

"Outside of this campus, it seems like I get very few days without some guy or other making a pass at me -- really hitting on me emotionally, sometimes trying to get their hands on me."

"What kinds of things do you call hitting on you?"

"Well, you know how some guys use their eyes to check you out? And they make sure you notice that they're looking you over and then they get this look in their eyes like, 'Would you let me take your clothes off?'"

"That sometimes happens to me. What do you do?"

"It took me a long time to get over the reaction of just freezing, like a deer in the headlights."

"That's dangerous."

"Yeah. You don't have that reaction."

"My mother taught me a bit of non-verbal communication, but I just had to figure out how to say, 'Mind your own business!' with my eyes. And then mind my own business. Make it clear with your actions that, no matter how long they wait, nothing's happening. But you know how to do that, too, don't you?"

"Somewhat. Maybe I just attract the attention of really stubborn guys. But this campus is a relief. Not perfectly free of that, but definitely a relief."

Kristie paused, debating asking more.

Bobbie didn't make her ask. "Yes, I've had worse."

"Can I ask how bad?"

"I've been raped more than once."

"Sorry. It hurts to talk about?"

"Not so much as it used to. I've talked it out with my parents, and a little bit with my current bishop. I can trust him, of course."

"Yeah, but he's not going to ask you to marry him."

"Right. That's probably why only married men can be bishops in this Church."

"Uhm," Kristie hesitated, "how about women?"

"Thankfully, no. Uh, wait. Oh, Dear. Did I, ... ?"

"No. It's okay. I know the difference. It's because of the way you kissed me on the cheek that I feel like I can talk about it with you."

"Oh. That's a relief. Well, I'll listen to as much as you think you need to talk about."

"You'll be the first person I've ever told besides my bishop when I got baptized. He told me I didn't have to repent of something I didn't do, and that helped."

"That's so hard for some people to understand, that, even when the attacker doesn't say it, the victim seems to believe she did something wrong."

"So we're both damaged merchandise."

Bobbie laughed a wry laugh. "I said something like that to my mom, and she threatened to turn me over her knee and whip me. That got me to laugh, but then she turned serious and said that I absolutely must not think such things. If we let them tell us we're damaged merchandise, they've raped us again emotionally, and it makes it easier for them to actually do it again. That's why they try to get us to believe we are bad."

"I've never been able to tell either of my parents."

"Have you tried?"

"I back down every time I try."

"It does take a right time and place, and some parents should not be told, even though they are good parents. Not saying anything about your parents, of course, just that there's no rushing things."

The conversation continued, but we don't need to know any more details of what they talked about. The only thing we need to know is that they found a way to give each other emotional support.

At their next stop, while they were eating sandwiches they made from food packed in Dan's cooler, Dan said, "This is no fair. You two get to talk, and Karel and I have to talk to ourselves."

"It's just girl talk," Bobbie laughed.

Karel said, "Penny for your thoughts."

Kristie and Bobbie's eyes met, and Bobbie nodded after a moment's thought. Kristie said, "We were talking about rape."

Dan and Karel looked at each other in surprise. Dan said, "Sorry we asked."

Kristie decided to pursue the question a little. "So, would you guys consider a woman who had been raped damaged merchandise?"

Dan looked at Kristie with wide eyes and said, "If I hear of anyone touching either of you, I'll ...," and then he stopped and looked down. Then he looked back to Kristie and started again. "I don't know. The Lord says vengeance is His, but, ..., oh, I don't know."

Karel said, "Vengeance doesn't solve anything. But the phrase, 'damaged merchandise' reveals some things about the person who uses it. People are not merchandise."

Both Bobbie and Kristie raised their eyes. Bobbie spoke. "My mother said something like that."

Karel went on. "The real damage is what the rapist does to himself. The victim suffers, but the attacker condemns himself to hell."

Bobbie's eyes narrowed, and Kristie's eyes opened wide.

Dan turned on his friend.

"What the ..." he censored himself, "are you saying?"

"Hear me out. Rape and seduction hurt the person on the receiving end. And they need emotional support and all sorts of other help, including medical. But the victim must never blame herself, whether it was partly consensual or completely forced. That leads to sympathy for the attacker of the sort that allows the attacker to do it again. And if the attacker is allowed to do it again, he adds condemnation to condemnation, making it harder to repent."

Dan was looking confused.

Bobbie said, "Maybe I can understand what you're saying, but I still don't like it. It sounds like you're siding with the rapist."

"God wants to save the rapist, too. Salvation for the rapist includes getting him to find a better way to relate to people."

Kristie slowly nodded. "Okay, I'll accept that. It means that I don't have to hate my aunt, just see that she is never alone with me until I know that she has confessed and stopped. Maybe I can talk to my parents about it after all. Carefully."

Dan felt like his jaw must have hit the picnic table top, so he closed his mouth. "I'm sorry, Kristie." He struggled for words and then said, "I'll say it again, it makes me think no less of you." He reached out and took her hand.

Bobbie relaxed a bit and said, "Okay, now that you've said that much, I have to agree with you. My boss did repent, and I put that behind me, so I know what you are saying. My letting him repent was right. It sure saved his family, and meant that he didn't try it on any more nurses where he worked. His wife and I still talk about it sometimes, and what she tells me shows he has changed."

Karel mouthed a silent, "Oh." And then he reached out for Bobbie's hand. And Bobbie reached out for Kristie's hands, and the four of them were holding hands together across one those rest stop picnic tables for the second time that day.

Bobbie smiled. "You guys are the best."

After a few minutes they were able to clear the tears in their eyes, and someone said she was hungry, and they all finished their sandwiches and got back in their cars and continued the last leg of their trip. [JMR201606190818: And Bobbie spelled Kristie driving Kristie's car. ]

They arrived at Kristie and Bobbie's apartment after nine and got another group hug before they said good night.

As Dan and Karel walked back to their cars, Karel read the confusion in Dan's thoughts and said, "Maybe I can tell you more sometime, but a couple of close friends of mine were in an abusive relationship together in high school, and they repented and are happily married now. She had to repent of believing bad things about herself, and he had to repent of the things he did to her, among other things. And they had a bit of a wait, relearning their relationship, before they could get married, but they are good people."

"But that's different from rape."

"I can't tell you more, but I can tell you it was rape."

"I've gotta think about this. But you're still doing things I don't understand." Dan grinned and Karel grinned back, and they hugged each other and said good night.

The link to the next of the characterization chapters will be here when it's ready is here:

(The chapter index is here:

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