Economics 101, a Novel, ch_06 pt_2 -- Dating Others in the Second 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:

And the trip back to school for the second semester was important, too. Don't skip that:

In part one of this chapter, we get to watch them get serious about life as their second semester as graduate students begins:

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

While it was easy, it was easy. Now it begins to get hard, but they remain good friends.

"What do you think of this abstract painting by Lee Krasner?"

"Lee Krasner? Who is he?"

Trisha looked at Karel. "She. You don't know Lee Krasner?"


"It can be forgiven." She turned back to the painting and waved her hand in front of it. "So what do you think of it?"

"I'm wondering if maybe she'd been seeing semiconductor layouts in her nightmares."

"You have no artistic soul!"

"Just kidding. But doesn't it remind you just a little of a bunch of transistors on a silicon wafer?"

Trisha looked at the painting and thought about it. "Okay, I'll give you that."

The women in my family seem to work in the graphical arts.

The men in my family lean more towards dynamic arts -- engineering, mechanisms, electronics, computer programming, physics, dance. (Well some of us like to dance.)

So I'm not going to spend a lot of time trying to make you think I know anything about the art that Trisha and Karel looked at.

Oh, and, yes, the art museum at Orson Hyde University is often open rather late on Saturday nights, specifically to give the students worthwhile things to do on dates.

As they left the museum, Trisha caught Karel's hand. He resisted for a moment, then relaxed.

"You're a complex person. I take back what I said about you not having an artistic soul."

"Thanks, I guess."

"I mean, your joke about the silicon wafers. There is something artistic about wafer layouts."

Karel grinned. "Actually, I can't take all the credit for that. When I showed my mom a scrapped wafer from work under a microscope, she said it looked like modern art. But I think there is a lot of art in wafer design, too. After I got used to inspecting them, I could usually tell the bad wafers by the patterns and the way they reflected light. I had to test, of course, but looking at the patterns as I set the test equipment up kept me interested sometimes."

"How did you get into semiconductors?"

"I'd done some solid-state work in classes, and I just thought it was fun. Someday, we're going to put whole computers on a wafer, I think."

(Forgive me for making him prescient there, okay?)

"Do you think I'd like it?"

"I'd have to get to know you better to be able to say one way or another. Lots of boring stuff to it -- you have to use calculus to prove that certain arrangements are worth experimenting with, and use more to design the tests and analyze the results. And the fabrication equipment is expensive, so management wants to keep it running as much as possible, and they want to hire semiskilled technicians to run the lines, to cut costs. Hard to get time to get your hands into things."

"Sounds exciting."

They walked in silence for a few minutes.

"I imagine a fabrication line, and I think it might look like a kind of slow-motion dance."

"Heh. Where did that come from?"

"Are you interested in dance?"

Karel chose his words carefully. "Some friends and I are taking a folk dance class."

"Are you interested in modern dance?"

Karel had to let go of Trisha's hand. "Yeah. Sure."

Trisha seemed not to notice the sudden distance. "I'm working on the lights for the modern dance concert next month. I could get you backstage, if you're interested."

Karel was trying to think of a way to refuse, but Trisha talked excitedly about the lights, the control panel, the wiring, the math for setting things up, the timing, and so forth. He was caught up in her enthusiasm and did not realize until she kissed him that they were not just holding hands, but that his arm was somehow around her waist as they walked.

I'm not going to even try to describe the conflicting emotions he was feeling. He did agree to go with her to the modern dance concert. But he was wondering whether Bobbie would be there, too.

"So, who do you think is more important, Isadora Duncan or Loie Fuller?"

"I have to make a choice?"

"Just trying to think of something to talk about. Do you know any of the dancers?" Bobbie looked at her program.

"Sure. They're all friends. In fact, I was kind of drafted to bring you here."


"You're famous. The poster from when you came for your master's project hung on the wall in the office up until recently. Half of the teachers say your workshop several years back is what inspired them to continue."

Bobbie hung her head. "No way! That poster. They took it down, of course?"

"Sister Cherry, the department head, was so upset that you were taking ballroom dance instead of something of substance that she tore it down. I rescued it."

"What have I wrought?" Bobbie said under her breath.

"What? I didn't catch that."


"Your technique is so free! You wouldn't be willing to do something impromptu tonight, would you?"

"Charles. Mmm, You said you prefer to be called Charles."

"I wouldn't really mind if you wanted to call me Chuck."

"No. Charles is probably what I should call you." Bobbie glanced sideways. Charles was beaming, seeming not to be in the real world. She felt a sudden resentment that she should be held responsible for his choice of idolatry, but she also didn't want to just throw him emotionally off a cliff.

He seemed to want to say something, but did not dare, and his expression took on hints of the tragic.

"Charles, were you among the students who joined my workshop?"

"Yes, I was!" he said eagerly.

Now she felt a little embarrassed. "I'm sorry I don't remember you. But you should understand that the woman who gave that workshop no longer exists."


"She never did, really. She was a slave to a lot of things, and dance was her only outlet at the time. Not free at all. If she looked free, I would have to assume it was because she was trying so hard to be. But she was not."

Charles's face clouded in confusion and Bobbie decided against burdening him with anything beyond that. But then his face cleared and he came down to earth a little.

"Okay, so you've given up dance, ..." He said, a little sadly.

"Not completely. I still dance for exercise pretty much every day. But other things are more important now. I definitely don't keep much dance vernacular in my head any more."

At that, he brightened considerably. "Well, even so, you have to come backstage afterwards. Everyone will be so disappointed if you don't."

"Okay, I'll join the party after. So you're performing, too?"

"Yes. The second number after intermission. I hope you'll tell me where I can improve."

"We'll see if I have anything useful to contribute." She smiled at him, and he became positively radiant.

After the last number and a curtain call, the audience left, except for a few who were friends and relatives of the students who had performed. Bobbie followed Charles through the curtain to the stage area.

Several students gathered around immediately, and Bobbie had to recall their performance and offer her impressions. As she did, more students gathered, and she offered her impressions of each number performed that night, congratulating the students on their work. She had a policy of never criticizing a performer, and saw no need for exceptions this time.

Teachers also gathered around, and soon there was clamor for an extemporaneous performance. At first, she demurred, pointing out that it had been several years since she had performed or produced any choreography.

But Sister Cherry, who preferred "Sister" to "Professor" or "Dean", said, "Once a dancer, always a dancer! And dancers are always choreographing in their heads. Life is a dance and choreography is breathing. You, yourself said so."

So Bobbie was prevailed upon. She improvised a series of dance impressions from the performances, which was well received.

Sister Cherry seemed to have wanted more, but she refrained from pushing Bobbie.

On the way home, Charles chatted happily, and Bobbie, borrowing from her nurse self, stayed with him, keeping her internal conflicts out of sight. He seemed satisfied to shake her hand at her door, for which she was grateful.

"So how was your date with Trisha?" Dan asked.

Karel was a little evasive. "Nice girl, but it seems like we don't really connect. Guess I learned a bit about modern art."

"So you're probably not dating her any more?"

"Actually, she wants me to take her to the modern dance concert next month. She seems to think she can instill a love of art in me. I always thought I liked art just fine."

"Are you going to take her?"

"Unless she changes her mind, I guess."

"Don't do this to yourself. Or to her. Let her find someone else to take her."

"I tried suggesting that she would be fighting an uphill battle with me, but that didn't discourage her."

"You're doing it again."

"Huh? Strange behavior on the playing field?"

"Exactly. You might as well have waved the red cape at her."

"Bulls are male."

"Doesn't make a bit of difference. Some women go crazy when offered a challenge."

"Oh, dear."

"So, is Charles going to be a better guy for you than either Karel or Dan?"

"How would I know yet? He is awfully young, 'though. He's asked me to join him for the modern dance concert next month."

"You accepted." And, yet, Kristie's tone was not accusative.

"Yes." Finally, she let just a little of the internal conflict out. "Oh, Kristie, I wish I knew why I think I have to do this."

"Maybe the last few months have been too easy."

"But I thought you and Dan were married!" Claudia was being her typical melodramatic self, and other students in the classroom looked up in surprise.

"We're just friends." Kristie looked a little flustered.

"Good friends," Dan clarified.

"You're not dating?" Kirk asked. And, without waiting for an answer, continued. "Do like baseball, Kristie?"

"Anyone in this room who asks me for a date fails the class." Kristie declared.

There was laughter and complaining as the male students returned to their studies. Some of the female students were whispering and looking at Dan.

"And the same goes for Dan!" Kristie added.

Dan laughed a little ruefully. "Not that I think anyone is going to ask me out, but, yeah. Not while we're your TAs."

And there was more laughter and complaining.

"But you're all welcome to join us this Saturday, when a bunch of us go up in the mountains for some more snowshoeing and winter park maintenance," he added. "Lots of work to do."

Dan and Karel had made acquaintance with some local Scouters, and had arranged for a joint service project in a couple of remote mountain park areas. The maintenance was primarily aimed at keeping some of the wilderness areas accessible and checking up on the winter wildlife population.

Some thirty students joined the project for the day, including a number of former Scouts and some active Rovers and Explorers. After meeting the Scouts and their leaders, they split into five groups and snowshoed in to their respective areas. Each of our four friends went with a different group.

After four hours or so of work, they met in a clearing and built snow forts and had several snow battles. Our four friends would often single each other out for attacks, or gang up three against one, or go two-on-two, before suddenly laughing and all four turning on anyone else who happened to be nearby.

Then they took down their snow forts, scattered the snow evenly around the clearing, and trekked back out.

Again, the students met at a cafe on the road back for hot cocoa and (non-alcohol) cider. And our four friends met back at the girls' apartment to say goodnight.

The next week, they made time for a visit to the temple, and some of the students in their classes and study groups joined them.

The following week, they spent Saturday helping at the hospital. Again, students from their classes and study groups joined them.

For two weeks in a row, Karel and Bobbie spent almost all their spare time studying together for their island cultures class. Bobbie had weekend graveyard shifts at the hospital again, but this time Karel went to the hospital and did some volunteer work. During breaks, he and Bobbie would test each other's memories on their homework. Sometime after midnight, Karel found a place to sleep, and he drove Bobbie home in the morning so she could shower, and on Sunday Kristie could take her to church.

Sometime during all of this, Valentine's day passed without a date, and Bobbie and Kristie's roommates tried unsuccessfully to tease them about it. The following Sunday, Karel and Dan came over in the afternoon to make chocolates for all the girls in the apartment.

"Hi, Trisha."

Trisha was not sure exactly why Karel had not canceled their date. That was not surprising, since Karel wasn't sure, either.

"Hi Karel. Are you ready for this?"

"I don't know. Anyway, let's go. It should be interesting."

At the theater in the PE building, neither Karel nor Bobbie sat in the audience. Karel stayed backstage and helped Trisha with the lights. Bobbie was also backstage, making herself useful with props and costumes and a little last-minute coaching.

Kristie and Dan, on the other hand, were in the audience.

Somehow, between numbers, Bobbie managed to sneak into the lighting booth with Charles, and Charles met Trisha and Karel.

And Trisha showed Charles the control panel while Karel took over getting the lights ready for the next number.

After the concert, Karel and Trisha joined the dance students, where Bobbie and Charles organized a spontaneous "happening" style improv, at Sister Cherry's urging. Karel found it interesting and even enjoyable, but Trisha was enthralled to be able to participate.

At Trisha's dorm, she thanked Karel for the fun and unusual date, and they promised to keep in touch.

Similar things were said between Charles and Bobbie as they said good night at Bobbie and Kristie's place.

Mind you, this was not deliberate match-making on Karel and Bobbie's part. It just happened to work out cleanly.

Not all the dating that the four of them did that semester ended so cleanly.

"Chad, what are you waiting for?"

"Well, I don't know, Kris. I guess I was kind of hoping for a little something to remember the night by."

Kristie, for some reason, did not like to be called Kris, but she did not say so. "I think it has been sufficiently memorable, don't you?"

"Can I call you again?"

"Well, I don't know why you should. We don't seem to be able to find much in common."

Chad seemed to crumble.

Kristie took him gently by the shoulders and tried to get him to look up. "What's wrong?" (How she knew this would work with Chad and not result in even worse problems, well, God knows. But she was praying.)

Chad couldn't answer.

Just then, Bobbie and Dan came back. Kristie dropped her hands, and Chad tried to put up a brave front.

Bobbie and Dan stopped on the sidewalk and said goodnight, giving each other a mock salute, and saluted Kristie and Chad, too. Kristie had signaled them with her eyes, so they refrained from hugging, and Dan just left. And Bobbie went inside.

Then Karel came out. He had been lazy about getting a date, so Bobbie and Kristie's roommates had invited him over to play Monopoly. He shook Kristie's hand and then Chad's hand, and left.

"You have a lot of friends."


"Could I be just a friend?"

"If you can be 'just a friend', sure. We do a lot of group activities, and you're welcome to join. If you don't mind being just a friend."

"That's all it would be, isn't it?"

"That's not a fair question to ask at this point. I can't swear nothing would ever change, but you have to assume for now that nothing would ever change. If you hope something will change, you'll just be disappointed."

Chad's face did crumble.

"Life is like that. You have to invest in a lot of different low yield stock. The one that ends up being worth more than the rest is not always the one you wanted or expected it to be."

"How can you know that?"

Kristie shook her head. "From experience."

Chad looked up at her. "I don't believe you. What sort of guy would break your heart?"

Kristie laughed softly. "That's not quite what happened. But I had a crush on a guy for more than five years. He happens to be one of my best friends, but we probably won't end up getting married. I think he sort of belongs with another of my best friends."

Finally, Chad could make some sense out of what she was saying.

"Could that happen to me?"

"It could happen to you, if you make the small investments in the friends you have. And listen when you talk with God."

He straightened up for real and smiled. Kristie could see that he was fighting back tears, and her eyes were moist, too.



And they said goodnight, and he left.

Well, that one eventually worked out. Chad came over to play Monopoly sometimes, and two of the roommates went out with him on different occasions. And Dan and Karel and Bobbie made friends with him, too.

He eventually got up the courage to start hanging around with students in his ward at Church. It was one of the tougher student wards, with a prevailing cynicism. But he was able to make some friends, and, at least for him, many of the barriers disappeared. And that is another story that might deserve to be told sometime, if I ever have a chance.

Oh, and, yes, our four friends did somehow find time for a little fun and games, once they got a good start on the studies.


"So far, our mission experiences are keeping us from having to work too hard for religion credit." Kristie was feeling a bit better about the Doctrine and Covenants class by this time.

"An hour a day studying the scriptures isn't too bad, and that includes writing." Bobbie was also pleased with the course. "I'm getting a bit more confident about my understanding of things."

"And with Karel getting revelations for us all the time, we all have top grades." Dan grinned.

"If I were getting all the inspiration, I don't think any of us would be getting the extra credits. We're all working hard and listening to the Spirit." Karel was serious. "Working with you guys can be pretty inspiring."

"I have a question about the agreement thing in Sections 41 and 42." Bobbie said. "Karel said, in class, that we didn't have to agree on everything, and Professor Trilemma said maybe. What is that all about?"

"Well, Karel?"

"Well, yourself, Dan. the prof stopped me on purpose. That'll be cheating if I tell you guys. Besides, you know the answer to this one."

"Not that I particularly like it."

"Sure you do."

"But how are we guys supposed to be the ones in charge if the woman can disagree on the answers?" Dan grinned.



"Answers?" Bobbie asked.

"I think," Kristie said, "that the point is to agree on the questions when we pray together."

"Maybe I can see that. That would allow us to get personal instruction, while helping us to keep together."

"Good point, Bobbie. I hadn't really put that part into words for myself yet."

"See, with Karel around, we don't even have to bother stopping to pray."

"Well, I just said a little prayer of thanks in my heart."

Dan turned serious. "Yeah, Kristie, that's part of the reason we find it so easy to be together."


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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