Economics 101, a Novel, ch_06 pt_5 -- Heading into Summer

(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 parts two through four, 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:

All these things going on during the second semester. And we've just barely gotten beyond the halfway point. Were they really so busy?

They've known each other for a few months.

Sure, they had some really special experiences before this semester began, but the special experiences don't really determine anything. It's what they do next that starts defining the paths they take.

So it's kind of natural that this semester has a lot to talk about.

Isn't it?

"Keh-lee-ee!" There was an accusatory tone in Joel's voice.


"What, uh, ..." But he decided to think his question through first. "So you thought you'd join their study group, too?"

"You're not studying what they're studying, either."

"Hi, guys." Bobbie put her books on one of the tables. "You decided to visit?"

"Is it okay?" Kelly asked.

"I don't think of a reason you couldn't," Bobbie replied.

"Just don't expect to be able to follow everything." Kristie added. She had already come in and had her books out.

"I guess I should sit over there," Joel said, yielding the field, so to speak.

Dan and Karel came in together.

"Hi, guys." Both put their books down, but not together and not particularly close to Bobbie or Kristie. They had gotten into the habit of not sitting too close together in the study groups, so they could help other members of the group join in.

Dan said, "I'm thinking of living on campus next year. Thinking I need time for studies."

Kristie said, "You and Karel can be roommates?"

Karel replied, "Actually, I've been invited to be a resident assistant next year. RAs don't have roommates."

"Well, that's a posh job," Bobbie joked. "Are you taking it?"

"Thinking about it. There's an RA on each floor. They say they want stable older students who can help the younger students. And they hinted that my 'friends' would be welcome, too, by the way."

Dan looked up. "Meaning us?"

"Meaning you guys. We seem to stand out."

Bobbi and Kristi looked at each other. "We'd miss our roommates, but some of them are moving out anyway," Kristie said.

"One more thing, however," Karel added. "They seem to be planning on spreading us out in separate buildings, so we can each help more younger and less experienced RAs."

"Without even asking us first." Bobbie sounded a little put out. "I suppose the four of us should go talk with whoever's in charge."

"It might not be a bad idea."

And more of the group came in. Mike and came in after Ruth, but sat down beside her. And Trisha came in with Charles, as usual.

And everyone got started studying.

Joel was walking to class the next afternoon, lost in his own thoughts.

"Hello, Joel!"

He turned around. "Oh, Bobbie! I didn't see you. Thanks for letting me and Kelly study with you guys."

"It's not like we're going to throw you out of the library," she joked. "Were you able to get any studying done with all the noise and chatter? Sometimes I wonder, that the staff doesn't come by and tell us to be quiet."

"I didn't actually end up studying. Watching you guys is a different kind of education."

"That sounds scary."

"Lots of things surprise me."


"Trisha and Charles, for instance. Clearly, they are together, but they don't even hold hands, at least, not very much."

"Hard to hold hands when you're studying."

"And Mike and Ruth are, like, staying under the radar."

"They would be disappointed if we noticed, so we don't."

"I've been thinking about my relationship with Kelly. I don't really know why I date her."

"She's cute?"

"But every girl in your group is beautiful."

"They would like to hear that more often, I'll bet. But what does that have to do with Kelly?"

"She's not the only cute girl on campus."

"True." Bobbie paused. "I'll tell you a great secret, if you promise to use the knowledge wisely."

"You sound mysterious."

"Actually, it's no big deal. Just want you to think about it carefully."

"I'm listening."

"Beauty, cute, attraction. There are many things that go into the mix. Conventional good looks like what Kristie and I have are completely arbitrary inventions of society. And they can be a curse, more than a blessing."

"Wow." Joel had to stop walking. "That's, ..."

"Mind bending?"

"I can see why you warned me."

"Oh, I'm not done yet."


"Anything that moves by itself is attractive."

"Now I'm lost."

"Hang in there. If it moves with confidence, it is considered sharp, smart, cool, or whatever."

"Now I'm maybe not so lost."

"Someone who non-verbally asks for attention is cute."

"Kelly demands my attention. Or, until I told her we needed to try to be apart for a while, she did."

"Have you ever heard of the word 'chemistry' to describe how people relate to each other -- bad chemistry, good chemistry, no chemistry, that kind of thing?"

"As in, how well they relate?"

"Uh, huh."

"Yeah. Okay."

"Family traditions. Personal habits. Things we pick up from the crowd we run in. We each have such things."

"Uhmm, yeah?"

"Chemistry is about how that stuff mixes. How we react to each other on the non-verbal levels."

"Yeah, I can see that."

"There are two kinds of beauty."

"Wait a minute."

"Hang in there. One kind is a distant kind, often a cold kind. It's full of promises that you know can never be fulfilled. It's safe because it will never make you change. And it's attractive because you can addict yourself to it safely."

"Uh, help. I'm getting lost."

"No you're not. It seems safe, but actually it isn't."

"Why not?"

"Because you get addicted to it and it fools you into thinking it satisfies some longing when it doesn't. And it changes you, after all. Makes you complacent. Teaches you to not bother seeking the better beauty. No chemistry to mess with. That's why it's cool, or even cold."

"What's the other kind of beauty?"

"It's a warm beauty. Comfortable, because it's good chemistry. But it doesn't make you complacent. And it has the supposed down side of sometimes having bad chemistry."

"Okay, I'm having a mental melt-down. I need to get to class."

"One more thing."


"Beauty doesn't have to be sexy, if your hormonal wires aren't crossed."

"How am I going to pay attention in my next class? You are evil."

"You'll survive."

"Can you be early to the next study group?"


True to her word, Bobbie was early. Dan was, too.

Joel came in. His eyes looked a little blood-shot. "I did not sleep well last night."

"My fault? Sorry." Bobbie did not seem too sorry.

"Thinking about the chemistry thing. I got back from my mission recently."

"Where did you go?" asked Dan.

"South America. I loved my mission. If the Church would let me, I'd like to stay a missionary forever."

Dan said, "Haven't some of the general authorities been saying something in the stake conferences about every member becoming a missionary?"

I think I've mentioned that a stake is roughly a diocese-sized unit of the Church. At the time this is set in, there were four stake conferences a year. (Now we have two stake conferences each year.)

At a stake conference leaders come and talk about faith and religion and how our faith and religion should help us be better people. And they also take care of various matters of Church business.

Did I mention that stakes are so named because of the passage in Isaiah about enlarging the place of the tent and strengthening the stakes? Where is that? Ah. Isaiah 54: 2.

"Kelly says she couldn't even imagine being a missionary."

"There are many different kinds of missions," Bobbie pointed out. "Being a mother is one mission for most women."

Karel came in about then.

"Oh." Joel paused and thought. "But when I was a missionary, I was so focused. Now I'm losing my focus."

Dan said, "Now, Karel, here, would tell you that it's probably time to focus on a new mission."

Trisha and Charles came in and sat down. Ruth followed them.

Karel raised his hands in resignation. "Sorry, I'm not quite clear on what we're talking about."

Kristie came in, followed by Mike and Piers and some of the others.

Bobbie turned to Karel and asked, "Have you ever thought that becoming too focused on one thing might make it harder to see?"

"Sure," he replied. "You generally need context to understand what you are looking at, and if you're too focused, it can be hard to get yourself to look at the context."

Kelly showed up about this point, but didn't say anything. She just sat down, away from where Joel was. And although Joel noticed she came in, he didn't notice that she had come in, not from the stairs, but from the stacks, where she had been listening all along.

"So, maybe I need to focus less on, ... . I guess I need to focus on school and work, now."

"Sure. So let's focus on our studies."

But Dan announced, "Before we start, I'm in the mood for hiking this Saturday. Who's coming with me?"

In addition to our four friends, Charles and Trisha and twelve others came along to hike. (Ruth and Mike, and Joel and Kelly were among them. Chad was also there with a guy named Bruce from his ward, and Wendy and Jennifer. The other four? George, Harry, Rocky, and Roxanne, whom I haven't introduced.) Dan, Trisha, and Charles each drove a car, and they packed themselves in, six to a car.

At the trail head, they all got out and checked their preparations. Karel, Bobbie, and Kristie lead out, but Dan, Trisha, and Charles got back in their cars and drove to the end of the trail so the others wouldn't have to hike both ways to get to a car. The three of them hiked in from the end of the trail,to meet the others about halfway.

While they hiked in, Trisha and Charles decided they wanted to consult with Dan.

"You're an expert on love, aren't you Dan?" Charles asked.

"You gotta be kidding."

But Trisha insisted. "The four of you guys know everything."

"If we knew everything, why aren't we paired off and married?"

"But there is a good reason, right?" she pressed.

"Okay, I'll give you that one."

"Trisha and I are, well, we like each other."

"You make it no secret."

"But we aren't sure we really love each other."

"Uh, huh. My parents tell me, every time I call home, that you have to just close your eyes and jump at some point. Very helpful, that. At least my little sister understands."

The three of them laughed.

The trail led down a gravel slope at that point, and they focused on avoiding slipping until they got out of the gravel.

"The thing is, when Charles and I met each other, we were both, uhm, how do I describe this?"

"You had terrible crushes on Karel and Bobbie."

"Yeah. You know." Charles nodded. "Starstruck."

"The four of us still have terrible crushes on each other."

"Oh." Trisha had a flash of inspiration. "Is that the reason you don't, uhm, pair off, yet?"

"Maybe. ... Uhm, no. Crushes are not good reasons to marry. Not really relevant to the question at all. There are other things we are waiting for."

"So, Trisha and I really shouldn't worry about it?

"Just keep getting to know each other. Like this hike is great, because you've got something to do besides focus on each other."

"Like what you guys told Joel the other day, needing to see each other in different contexts?"

"Yeah. Service projects, work, study, but you are already studying together. When you two went to look at Trisha's lab work, you didn't spend the night making out in the lab, did you?"

"Well, we did hold hands a little, and we kissed once or twice when there were no other students or teachers around."

"Once or twice is not going to make you go emotionally blind, I think. Oh, and Trisha runs the lights for the dance department, and you help her with that, don't you, Charles?"

"Yeah. So, service projects."

"Like the cannery and other things at welfare square. Or going to a cemetery, with permission, of course, and helping weed and clean. Or helping at a hospital."

Charles looked at Trisha. "Cemetery cleaning?"

"Sounds scary! Let's try it."

"Not at midnight." Dan cautioned. "I don't think the groundskeepers will give you permission for that."

"Darn!" Trisha grinned.

"Not that I know anything about cemeteries at midnight." Dan said, ironically.

And they laughed at that.

He continued. "I really don't think you two need to worry. You're already doing a lot of things right."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence."

"But do be a little patient. Time is also helpful, usually."

And the topic shifted to a discussion of good places to hike and ways to prepare for hikes. And then to rock climbing and running rapids and such, until they met the rest of the group hiking up.

Back at the end of the trail, Dan's car would not start.

Trisha had jumper cables and other tools in her car, and they tightened his alternator belt and gave him a jump start.

"Before we go home this summer, we'd better give all our cars a good checkup." Karel said. "I have a friend who will lend us a bay and tools for a reasonable fee."

So the next two Saturdays turned into pit stop days, and Karel, Bobbie, and
Trisha showed Kristie, Dan, Charles, and several other students some basics in maintaining car engines -- checking the battery fluid levels (No permanent seals back then.), oil and coolant levels, fan belt etc. Karel's friend was even patient enough with them to allow them to practice checking and adjusting the spark timing.

Some time later, the four of them were waiting in an office in the school employment center basement for someone from the school standards office to interview them.

Dan asked, "So, Bobbie, you're going to work through the summer and then quit at the hospital."

"Yeah. Except they want me on call for emergencies in obstetrics. And you and Kristie have arranged some student teaching at summer schools in your home towns, right?"

Kristie said, "Yes, that's the plan for both of us. And Karel, you're going to go back home and do some contract engineering for the company your dad works for."

"That's right. We're going to suffer withdrawal pains, not seeing each other every day."

There were a few moments of uncomfortable silence. But it didn't stay uncomfortable for long.

"We're going to get together at the end of summer, just like we did for new years, right?" Dan suggested. "Oh, wait. Both Kristie and I are scheduled right up to the week before classes."

"It's okay," Karel said. "We trust God and we love each other. And we seem to need some time apart, maybe like Kelly and Joel. When we get back, we'll be working together again."

"Excuse me, are you four still here?"

"Uhm, I think we need to talk with a Brother Mackintosh. Karel answered as he stood up.

"That would be me. But what do you need to talk about?"

"We're here for interviews."

"Oh, no. Sorry. You already passed your interviews with the dorm moms, and you've finished your paperwork here. If there are no further questions, we look forward to seeing you next fall. Make sure you come a week before classes start, so you can get moved in and help the early students."

"Uhm, excuse me, Kristie and I have student teaching in summer schools right up until that week."

"Oh, well it's a good thing you stuck around. Didn't we give you your schedules? Let me get those for you. And, student teaching, yes that gets priority. Make sure you finish that properly. Will you be able to make it by the first day?" Brother Mackintosh turned and started digging through a desk.

"Oh, yes." Kristie said. "I think I can make it at least four days before classes, if I push."

"Me, too."

"Oh, here it is. I need another secretary. We're just too busy. Sorry. Here are your schedules, and here are the instruction booklets. Actually, we should have had you read that first, but I'm sure you four will have no problems. Here's the rest of your information. Why don't you read that now, and if you have questions, you can ask before you leave. And let us know when you will be coming in, okay?"

"Uh, wow. Thanks." Bobbie was voice for them all. "Is my being on call for obstetrics going to be okay?"

"That will be just fine. In fact, you being an active nurse, we're likely to depend on you a lot. We assume you understand that we aren't well budgeted, and the guidance we operate under is rather flexible for a reason?"

"Inspiration?" Karel asked.

Dan rolled his eyes.

"Exactly. We do not want the dorms run like military barracks. As much as possible, we want the students to be on their honor. The dorm moms said you guys would understand that."

"No problem," said Dan. And they all nodded.

"One more thing. If you cease being single, give us a little advance warning, okay? Highly recommended, that ceasing being single thing." And he disappeared.

They looked at each other with surprised expressions. "We'd better read."

When they finished reading, they found a secretary and told her they thought they understood. She reminded them of the training sessions during the week before school. And then they left.

"So, this job is, like, we are supposed to be human stand-ins for guardian angels." Dan said, as they walked together to the library.

"Maintain ourselves able to receive inspiration at all times, and be guided to find the students that need help." Karel quoted from the mimeographed pages they had just read.

"Not to punish, but to rescue," Kristie said quietly.

Bobbie looked a little shell-shocked.

"Bobbie?" Karel asked.

"Are you okay?" Kristie asked.

"I'm going to be fine. God seems to be making sure I learn how to forgive. I am a little worried about Karel, though."

"I know how to leave things between students and their bishops."

"This is a really important job, and it's really important to do it right." Dan said.

And there was a chorus of amens.

"Is anyone besides me and Ruth going to the temple this week?" Mike asked.

It was the week before finals.

"Heh heh. You and Ruth. Should we tease them?"

Ruth grinned. "And just what would you tease us about?"

Piers turned and looked at them. "Uhm, are you asking for witnesses? I mean, for real?"

Mike said, "Yah."

And Ruth nodded. "You guys are among our good friends."

Trisha exclaimed, "The week before finals? Are you guys crazy? I mean, we kind of suspected something was going on, but, ..."

"We've known each other for years. We both live with our families, and I'm just going to stay with Mike's family for the first week or so. Mike's new job starts right after finals, so now seemed to be the best time."

There was a chorus of congratulations and volunteering to be witness for the wedding and complaints about no time for a wedding shower.

And Ruth explained that a wedding shower didn't seem to be necessary. They already had pretty much all the things they needed to get started, and it would just be more things to pack for the move.


Less than half the group went to the temple that week. They were busy preparing for tests and the end of the school year.

Mike and Ruth's parents and other family members joined them, of course. Our four friends were there, and, while Kelly couldn't yet enter the temple, Joel was there.

A temple marriage is pretty simple. Some Mormons who want fancy weddings think they are too simple. The nature of the ceremony is not such that you would necessarily notice anything different from many Christian ceremonies if you weren't looking. You might notice that the person performing the marriage says something about time and eternity instead of "until death separates you."

After the ceremony, Joel was listening when Mike said something to Ruth about her being the most beautiful woman in the world. Trite words, maybe, but Joel had something more to think about.

I won't tell you whether Bobbie and Karel were listening, or what they thought about it. I mean, they did steal a glance at each other. Looked away, and then their eyes met again. And Karel blinked, and looked at the floor. But we won't talk about that.

And Kristie bit her lower lip and squeezed Dan's hand, and he squeezed hers back.

At the last folk dance team practice before summer, Kelly had an announcement.

"I've received my mission call to South America. I'll be leaving towards the end of summer, so I can stay with the team until we're done for summer."

Joel was floored. Everyone else was just surprised. And they all offered congratulations, and some promised to write.

Bobbie promised to be there to help when she went to the temple for the first time sometime during late July or August.

And Joel promised to be there, too, to show his support. [JMR201608101235: Like the rest of the team, except for the three of our four alternates, he was staying for summer classes.

Bobbie took some time off and borrowed her dad's company plane during late May for practice. Karel took some time off, as well, and Bobbie taught him how to fly the plane. He didn't get certified, but he learned enough to be useful as an emergency co-pilot, practicing taking of and landing several times.

Together, they took Joel and Kelly with them and to Kelly's home to visit her family. They tried to encourage them to support Kelly about going on her mission, telling them some of their good mission experiences and such, but both of Kelly's parents were against her going.

Kelly waited until almost the last moment, in mid-August, to go to the temple for the first time. She wanted her mother to be there, but her mother wouldn't get herself ready. So Bobbie and some of the Relief Society sisters in Kelly's ward who had been helping her prepare went with her to help her on her first time through.

And Joel and some other members of the team were also there to encourage her.

When it was time for Kelly to start her mission, Joel and Bobbie and a couple of other members of the team went with her to the Language Training Mission. (Or was it the Missionary Language Institute? I don't remember. This novel is fiction, right?)

Joel gave her a hug, but, by prior agreement, they did not share a goodbye kiss. And we won't try to get inside their minds or hearts. I just don't want to go there today.

Dan and Kristie had a fairly uneventful summer, so to speak. Well, they had lots of fun with their students.

All four had opportunities to date people I won't bother introducing. Interesting people, but not relevant to the plot of this story. All we need to know is that none of them were sitting still.


The link to the second year of the characterizations will be here when it's ready is here:

(The chapter index is here:

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