Economics 101, a Novel, ch_06 pt_3 -- More of 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:

In part two, we get to watch them make some adjustments as they date others:

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

Somewhere during the second semester, each of our four friends got used to the idea of being just friends with each other.

It's said to be a hard thing to try to balance romantic interest and close friendship. But it seems to me to be an even harder thing to keep a relationship when the romance is gone and there's no friendship to hold it together.

And it's said to be a hard thing to shift from a romantic relationship to a mere friendly relationship. But I think there is something wrong with the word "mere" in that sentence. It shouldn't be there. Friends should have adventures together, and we shouldn't ask all our adventures to be somehow related to sex.

Or even most of them. Even between spouses. And especially between people courting each other. Get the sexual aspect untangled from relationships, when there is no marriage covenant for the sexual aspect to be meaningful in, and all sorts of courtship problems are much easier to solve.

But this novel wasn't supposed to be about psychology. Sorry. Back to the story.

"So, tell me again how these grammar rules are actually numbers." Dan was not satisfied with Karel's analysis of some of their linguistics homework.

Karel scratched the back of his head.

Bobbie said, "You're going to go bald back there if you don't quit scratching."

"I'll scratch if I want!"

And they all laughed, but Karel did put his hand back on the desk.

"There are parts of mathematics that are not numbers. Think about set operations."

Kristie looked up from her book. "I was really surprised that logic operations are directly corollary to set operations."

"And binary math on small numbers." Karel replied. "Does that help?"

Mike complained. "And what is this you say about binary math? Numbers go from one to ten, not from one to two." There was a chorus of complaints from the two tables where the study group was gathered.

"I'm sorry I brought it up. If it doesn't help, let's just let it alone. This course doesn't really go that far into theoretical linguistics. I just thought it would be easier."

Dan laughed. "And you think using calculus to get the volume of a cone is easier, too."

"You don't have to memorize so many rules." Karel was feeling defensive.

"But you have to remember how you get to the rules," Bobbie pointed out, "and, for many of us, memorizing the rules is easier."

"Okay, okay, I'll shut up."

Ruth said, "No, I think the abstract math is interesting. But we do need to move ahead on the homework tonight."

There was a chorus of "Yeah!" and "Right on!" and "Amen."

"Well, someone else needs to pick things up here. I'm lost without the math."

Bobbie suggested, "Charles, you had an interesting table. Can you explain how you remember which languages take which classes of grammars?"

It just happened that Charles was in both the physiology survey course that Bobbie was TAing and the linguistics class that our four friends were taking together. Lately, Trisha was there in the study groups with him, studying by herself and sometimes listening.

Charles dug out a table he had drawn up that arranged several languages according to the grammar classifications they were studying, and showed it to the group.

Trisha took a look at it and started working out some symbolic math on a piece of scratch paper while the rest discussed his table. After a minute, she redrew the table in a simplified form and gave it to Charles.

"Okay, I give. Language is math." And he showed everyone the simplified table.

"Trisha, can I see your math?"

"Sure." And she gave her scratch sheet to Karel. He wrote in a few corrections in her assumptions, and she nodded and reworked the math. "Sorry. That table won't be very general. You should use Charles's table instead."

While the rest of the group continued discussing the Charles's table, Karel and Trisha passed scratch paper back and forth, filling it with symbolic calculations. Their curiosity piqued, Charles, Bobbie, Kristie, and Dan watched them while the conversation continued.

"Got it." Trisha finally said, and showed Charles a new table.

And Karel said, "I think that one is the one the professors want us to make, but you guys will need to figure out why. Trisha and my explanation is going to have a lot of math in it."
It took another half an hour for everyone to find a way to complete the assignment in their own words, and then they relaxed for a few minutes and talked about who would be able to go to the temple later that week.

And someone brought up weekend activities around campus.

Ruth said, "There's an all-campus St. Patrick's dance at the student union building. Anyone going?"

Karel said, "I'm game."

Meg said, "How about you, Dan?"

"Sure. Why not? How about you, Charles?"

"Trish says I have to help her with some engineering project she's working on."

Everyone laughed.

"Well, if you don't want to, ..."

"Trish says I want to. Ouch."

And everyone laughed again as Trish tickled him.

Piers asked, "I think I'm going to go. Kristie, Bobbie?"

Kristie said, "I've been invited to try out for the folk dance team, and they're practicing."

Brian said, "I think Joel was asking you to be his partner, not inviting you to try out."

"Whatever." Kristie refused to be baited.

"So, Bobbie?" Piers pressed.

Bobbie said, "I've got evening shift that night in ER."

Mike asked, "Are you doing anything Saturday?"

"Studying, I think."

"You fly, don't you?"

"Well, yeah, why?"

"Me and some of my friends have arranged for towing planes and we're going to go up and look for thermals to ride."

"Oh! That sounds interesting."

"Gotta flaunt it, huh?"

"Can we all come?"

"Well, I can't guarantee air time, but if you're interested in helping us spot, I think you'd be welcome."

Kristie and Joel and other members of the folk dance team were cooling down in the gym after a hard session practicing.

"This is fun!" Kristie said. "It's almost as much fun as, ..." and she trailed off.

"As what?" Joel asked.

"Never mind."

"Now you really have me curious."

"Yeah, if there's something more fun than folk dance, we want to know about it."

"Maybe there is, maybe there isn't. So why isn't Kelly on the dance team any more?"

Joel looked at the floor.

Ralf said, "Members of the dance team really shouldn't date each other."

"Yeah." Joel's mood had suddenly gone from high to low. I was selfish."

"So was she." Phyllis shook her head. "And I think she was the right one to quit. I warned her."

"It takes two to tango." Joel was clearly not wanting to assign blame.

"Error of judgment," Craig gave his opinion. "But I don't think you should just let her walk away from both the team and you."

"I don't know how she could ever figive some of the things I said."

"I need a break." Kristie stood up and went to the women's locker room.

"So. My replacement."

"Mmm?" Kristie looked across the locker room. "Are you talking to me?"

"Damn right."

"You would be Kelly?"

"You would be the other woman."

"No I wouldn't, but you might want to talk."

"Not to you. Bitch."

Kristie looked at her steadily. "I am not a female canine, nor do I have the habits often attributed to them."


"I am apparently in the middle of something pretty heated. I would like to know about it."

"Don't play innocent. I've heard about you."

"So, what have you heard about me?"

Now Kelly was stuck. She'd heard lots of things about her, but one thing she had not heard was anything to the effect that Kristie might seem interested in breaking up other people's relationships."

"Damn you."

"I came to try out for the folk dance team. I heard exactly five minutes ago that Joel and you were having some sort of fight."

"I suppose you're going to blame me for that?"

"It's hard to blame anyone for falling in and out of love."

"Now you're playing the sympathy card."

"Are you really in love with Joel?"

"What do you care?"

"I have learned enough about Joel in the last hour and a half to think whatever happened between you two probably could be fixed."

"He called me a slut!"

"Okay, maybe not. Do you mind? I need to relieve myself."

"Oh. Sorry."

Kristie closed the stall door behind her, but Kelly asked through the door, "Do I look like a slut?"

"Hang on. Let me finish up here and take another look at you."

She finished and came back out to wash her hands. Looking at Kelly, she wrinkled her brow. "Right now, I couldn't imagine why he would have said such a thing. Maybe he's a jerk. Why did he call you that?"

"I don't know."

"Did you ask?"


"Let's go ask."

Walking back out into the gym, they found the rest of the team had left. Only Joel remained.


Kristie said, "You should have warned me there were people with hurt feelings."


"Why?" Kelly almost screamed at him.

"Why what?"

"Why did you call me that?" Her voice was more controlled, but sounded no less dangerous.

"Call you what?"

Kelly shook her head and turned to Kristie. "Well, I guess I can't compete with you, anyway."

"She says you called her a slut. And I'm not sure why she thinks she would have to compete with me."

Joel sat down on the floor suddenly, as if he had had the wind knocked out of him.

"So can you two figure this out without killing each other?"

"I was listening to things my friends were saying. I need to get new friends. Kelly. I'm sorry."

"That is a wonderful word. Now you probably need to let her know what it is you think you're sorry for."

"I don't know why I said that. I didn't mean it."

"What did you mean?" Kelly asked.

Joel couldn't answer for a minute or so, and Kelly and Kristie waited.

Finally he said, "I just couldn't stand your jealousy."

"Hmm. Maybe the other team members are right and you should quit dating each other, and Kelly shouldn't leave the team."


"No way. Why would we do that?"

"To learn how to be friends first. Romance is not the ultimate goal, anyway."

Kelly blinked. "It sounds like English, but I have no idea what you just said."

Joel scratched his ear, then stood up and walked over to Kelly and took her hand. "Friends now, and we learn how to not be jealous of each other."

"Don't patronize me."

"I just figured out why I called you a slut."

"Give me my hand back." She pulled away, and he let her. "Okay, tell me."

"I was. No, I am jealous, too. And I need to figure out a better way to communicate with you."

For three or four minutes, no one said anything.

"Well, I have a suggestion. Just Plain Hugs are wonderful. I'm selling hugs. You two want a group hug."

They didn't argue, so Kristie put her arms around both of them. And they hesitantly responded and had a three-way hug.

Holding both of their hands, she said, "Now, I pronounce you friends." And she put their hands together. "You may talk with each other rationally until the end of the semester."

Joel laughed. "That is so corny."

Kelly's voice sounded almost normal. "Corny. It might work. I'll try if you will."

Joel thought. Then he said, "Okay, I'll try too, but we'll need some help."

"We'll help!" Ralf called out from behind the bleachers.

There was a chorus of agreement as the other members of the team came out from their hiding places.

"What the ...? Are you guys still here?" Joel was not happy.

"That's not nice." Kristie said.

"If it could destroy the team, we think we have at least a little right to know what's going to happen." Phyllis said.

Kelly just turned away.

Tom said, "I have a suggestion. We're getting stressed out. We need back-up members -- alternates. Kristie, you and Bobbie and Karel and Dan are basically a foursome, you're good at this stuff, and you seem to understand how to be friends when you want to be more."

He stopped.

Cherise said, "You didn't need to say that last one." And she turned to Kristie. "But we could definitely use some backup to take stress off individual members. Could you talk to your friends?"

Kristie hesitated.

Kelly turned around and said, "Kristie, I need, ... we need someone to show us how."

"No promises, but I'll ask."

Karel walked Ruth back to her apartment after the dance.

"You are a really good dancer, Karel."

"Thanks. I think it's all the folk dancing."

"Fat chance. You've been dancing for a long time."

"Well, it is fun."

"Sure is."

"You do a bit of dancing, too, I think?"

"Yeah." She laughed.

There was a lull in the conversation as the walked across the quad.

"Is that Mars?"

"No. Mars would not be there. I think it's Arcturus."

"Are you into astronomy?"

"Just my memories from Boy Scouts."

"They're beautiful."


"So you used to be an engineer."

"Yeah, I guess. I got kind of burned out on the management side of things."

"What happened?"

"Had to watch a genius burn up a company he founded because of arguments about money and science, when no one seemed interested in the human side of things."

"Wow. What do you want to do with your doctorate?"

"I want to research some better bases for management theory. How about you? What are your plans?"

 "I'm thinking I'll teach math for a few years. Not sure what after that. Sometimes I think engineering might be fun, but it seems like there aren't many women in it."

"Well, I'm not going to say it would be easy, but I think there's room for women in the field."

Somehow, the conversation just kind of drifted along until they arrived at her apartment.

"Well, thanks for walking me home."

"Sure. Thanks for walking with me."

"Good night."


Dan walked Meg home, but we aren't going to talk about that.

"So are you going to coach when you get your doctorate?"

"Right now, I'm only planning on getting a master's. But, yeah, I'm pretty much planning on coaching. Maybe a few years in college, and then in junior high or high school."

Oh. So I guess we are going to tell how it went, after all.

"I used to be a cheerleader in high school. What do you think? Do I still look like a cheerleader?"

"I think I'm going to pull a Karel and say that's not a fair question."


"You're cute, sure. But I don't know you well enough to appreciate the inner you. I can't believe I said that."

"I can't believe you said that!"

"But Karel's right. Real beauty has nothing to do with looks."

"So I'm ugly."

"Not to me."

"I think you mean that."


And she responded by planting herself in front of Dan. "Give me a kiss."

So he kissed her.

"Okay, I can tell you belong to someone else."

"Yeah. Probably."

"It's not fair. I mean, you're available, but you're not. You're an attractive nuisance."

Dan burst out laughing. After he controlled his laughter he said, "I'm going to remember that one."

Meg laughed, too. "I guess that's a mixed message."

"But very clear. Sorry I can't do anything about it right now."

"What happened?"

"I just fell in love with two women who both need a little time to figure things out. All four of us seem to be in the same boat, though."

"No cracks in that wall?"

"Not that I can see from here. Sorry."

"No need to apologize. I hope I can find someone who feels that way about me." And she changed that subject. "Some people don't think cheerleaders are useful."

"I could understand that."


"It's definitely done wrong sometimes."

"Hmm. But it can be done right, then?"

"Sure. It's a form of dance, and leading cheers lends itself to learning useful social skills."

She wrapped her arms around Dan and gave him a hug.

"You're a good guy."

"So what got you interested in cheer leading?"

"I thought cheerleaders got all the real guys. I learned better than that pretty quickly."

And they continued talking.

When they got to her dorm room, she said, "I shouldn't ask for a kiss."

"Up to you."

And they shared a good night kiss, and Meg went inside and Dan walked home.


Bobbie got up early after her late night at work, to get ready to go with Mike to fly in his glider. On the spur of the moment, she grabbed her pilot's certification.

Kristie heard her moving around and woke up.

After a few minutes staring at her roommate's preparations, she remembered.

"Bobbie, ..."

"What's up?"

"The four of us, Karel and Dan and you and I, have been asked to become alternates for the folk dance team."

"Sister Cherry would have had a fit last semester. This semester, she's using folk in her modern choreography. Why not?"

"We'll be pretty busy."

"I'll have work a lot, but when I'm off it might work. We'll talk when I get back."

"Have fun."

"Mixed feelings, huh?"

"I think I'm going to get up. My alarm's going to ring in a half hour anyway."

After seeing Bobbie off, Kristie headed up to the library to study. When she got there, Dan and Karel were already there.

"I saw Bobbie off. Mike picked her up."

"Maybe we should have all gone."

"Gliding would be fun."

"And we've all been invited to join the folk dance team as alternatives."

"That could also be fun."

"Let's see if we can squeeze it in."


Mike got out of the driver's seat and waved at his friends gathered around the airstrip, working on their gliders. "Hey guys!" he called out. "I have another pilot for the tow." He ran around to open the door for Bobbie, but she was already climbing out.

"That was not what you told me."

"Of course I'll let you take the controls of my bird, too. You won't mind running a few tows, 'though, will you? We all take turns."

"Of course not. But I might have forgotten my papers. You should have mentioned it."

Charles and Trisha climbed out of the back of Mike's car.

"Okay, how do we do this 'spotting' thing?" Charles asked.

"Gerry, do you have the spotting logs?"

After a bit of explaining and showing, Mike and Bobbie took pilot and copilot seats in the two plane and made two towing runs. Gerry and his copilot, Bill, also made a couple of towing runs, and all four returned to the airstrip.

The six of them watched the four gliders in the air, taking logs, and talking with them by radio, as they hunted out thermal updrafts for an hour. Then the first four came back in, one at a time.

While the first four were checking their gliders, Gerry and Bill towed Mike and Bobbie up in a two-seater trainer, and Bobbie took a turn at the controls, for practice.

Then Gerry and Bill took their birds up. And Mike let Bobbie fly his bird while he took Charles and Trisha up one at a time in the trainer, to get them some time in the air and let them try the controls.

Then they had lunch and took more turns, Mike getting one turn solo in his own glider.

When Mike dropped Bobbie off at her apartment, he said, "I must say, I envy Karel. And Dan."

Bobbie laughed. "And what am I supposed to say to that?"

Mike laughed a little ruefully. "But thanks for coming."


He thought for a few moments. "See, now I can tell my grandkids that their grandmother wasn't the only good-looking pilot I ever let fly my bird."


"And now I can tell Ruth I really don't need to look any further than her."

"Ah. Well good for you." Then she gave him a kiss on the cheek and said, "And now you can tell your grandkids that the second-best looking pilot also gave you a kiss and wished you well."

"Thanks. Don't tell anyone, yet, 'though."

"Mum's the word."

"Hi, Bobbie."

Bobbie turned around. "Melissa! You're not in the office."

"I get out sometimes. I'm taking some documents to administration. So, who are your friends?"

"Dan Claymount." Dan reached over to shake her hand. "Nice to meet you. And ..."

"I'm Kristie Person. And you are?"

"Melissa Burns. I work in the anthropology department office."

"She helps us with things like getting our reports ready for our supervising professors."

"Where's Karel?"

Kristie said, "He's probably in the library. We're heading there now. Have some big tests to study for."

"Oh. Okay." She sounded relieved.

"Guys, go on ahead, okay?"


"Sure. C'mon, Dan."

Melissa and Bobbie watched them walk toward the library.

"Okay, what's on your mind?"

"I was just concerned that after we talked last, something might have happened between you and Karel. Maybe I shouldn't have asked about that stuff."

Bobbie impulsively gave her a hug.

"Not to worry. Thanks. How's Winn?"

"Oh. He's fine. One of the missionaries baptized me last Saturday."

"Ohh, ..." Bobbie looked a little disappointed and worried.

"And Winn confirmed me."

"Oh! That's great!"

"Yes, it is. We thought about having Winn do both, or having the bishop do one, but it seemed like a nice thing to let one of the missionaries get some experience performing a baptism. And Winn gave me such a spiritual confirmation blessing."

"That's so wonderful! Can I tell Karel?"

"Sure. Say, when are you two going to get married?"

"Oh, I'm having to take my time. Don't worry about us. Things'll work out, one way or another."

"Well, okay. I don't guess it's my place to say so, but I don't think I'd want to ask him to wait too long."

Bobbie gave her another hug and said, "Thanks. I'd better go or they'll get started without me. And, congratulations!"

"Thanks. See you in a week."

"Take care."

Bobbie set her books on the table by Kristie and sat down. So far it was just our four friends.

"Talked to Melissa Burns just now."

"Dan said you'd stopped to talk with her."

"She said I could tell you she got baptized."

"Great! Did Winn do the honors?"

"One of the missionaries baptized her and Winn confirmed her. She really appreciated the blessing he gave her in the confirmation prayer."


"Winn?" Dan asked.

"Her husband."

"Way cool."


Dan said, "Well let's dig into Lectures on Faith. Have we read the first one?"

The other three nodded and said they had.

Other students started joining them.

"So what's the first Lecture about?"

"Faith is belief that moves people to do things."

"And it is what makes the world go 'round."

"What's the difference between faith and entropy?"

"Karel!" Dan complained.

"Aren't they like, opposites?"

Trisha was there at this point, waiting for Charles to come. She said, "Well, actually, faith sometimes works a lot like entropy."

"What are you talking about?" Kristie was lost.

"Entropy is like water flowing downhill," she began. "Water is up in the tops of the mountain, and gravity pulls it down. Once it's down, it doesn't go back by itself. You need the sun to evaporate it and then it rains and snows."

"She's oversimplifying entropy, but that's a good example. Now, I'm going to propose that a guy following a cute girl around is kind of like entropy."

Charles came in about then. "I'm like entropy?" he joked as he sat down by Trisha. She poked him in the ribs. "Ouch."

"Couldn't it be faith?" Kristie asked.

"Faith would be asking her out. Or asking her to join him in a service activity or something."

"Hmm. And it's only real faith if the girl is also interested in the guy." Bobbie was feeling insightful.

"I have faith in you, Trisha." Charles said.

Trisha turned a little pink and there was a chorus of "Woohoo!"

Then Mike said, "But does Karel have real faith in Bobbie?"

Karel didn't miss a step. "I have faith in all my friends."

Ruth laughed and said, "I wouldn't say this if I didn't know you guys have pretty thick skins, but you four aren't being fair to each other, and you really aren't being fair to people who would be interested if you weren't already spoken for, either."

Everyone was uncomfortable for a moment or two.

Kristie decided to defend her friends. "Please don't judge what you don't understand. Things aren't always as simple as they seem."

And then Dan spoke up. "I'm not sure I really understand this entropy vs. faith discussion, but it seems to me, given certain things only the four of us know about, that pairing off at this point would be entropic more than faithful."

"Dan. What you said." Karel was impressed.

"Heh. I can say things I don't really understand, too."

"You righteous-righteous. Just for that, I'm going to ask Ruth to the dance this weekend instead of Kristie." But Mike was grinning.

Bobbie looked at Mike and raised her eyebrows in approval.

"I'll take you up on that, Mike."

Everyone laughed.

"Proof that unfair is sometimes more fair, I guess." Mike grinned. "But seriously, I don't see how you four can stand it. Not that I need to see it, really. More power to you. Charles, move over, I'm going to sit by Ruth tonight."

And there was another chorus of "Woohoo!" as Charles and Ruth made room.

At this point, they shifted to studying for the linguistics course.

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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