Economics 101, a Novel, ch_07 pt3 -- Stormy Fourth Semester, Summer Calm

(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 five parts of the last chapter, we get to watch them get serious about life in their second semester as graduate students:

In this chapter, we watch them work through their second year.

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

The fourth semester had a rather awkward start.

Other than that, there was much that was the same.

Karel had a new bishop, and the new bishop invited him in for an interview.

"Bishop South?"

"Ah. Brother Pratt, right?"

"Karel Pratt."

"Well, come on in and have a chair. Oh, close the door, will you?"

Karel closed the door and sat down.

"I suppose you're wondering why I asked you to come in."

"Not really. I assume you're getting to know the members of the ward."

"Well, yes, but I have a specific favor to ask of you."

"What's that?"

"I feel I have been inspired to call you as my first counselor."

"Bishop's counselors are usually married."

"And that's the favor I have to ask. As I understand it, you have a pretty steady relationship with a very good woman which has been continuing for some time."

"I assume you mean Bobbie Whitmer."

"Would there be any others?"

"It's not that simple." Karel thought over how things had been over Christmas, so close, and then suddenly so far. And he was regretting the impulse kiss on the plane.

"What isn't simple?" Bishop South was about to continue, but checked himself.

Karel closed his eyes and thought, and prayed a little. He wanted some direction, but, just as when he was on his way home after meeting Bobbie for the first time, what he seemed to be getting was an open line. A light came on in his mind and finally he understood. He didn't need any more guidance than what he was getting, he just needed to sail the course which God had given him.

And keep that line open.

Bishop South was a busy man. You'd have thought that he'd have had a bit more patience for the man he was asking to be his counselor, but, then again, we really shouldn't judge a man who is starting out with a new and heavy responsibility.

Being a bishop isn't easy.

"Is there some worthiness issue?"

"Not that I know of."

"May I review the temple interview questions?"


And they did so. Bishop South was impressed that Karel was sincere and honest in his answers, and there was nothing that he seemed to need to focus on.

"Okay, may I ask more about Bobbie?"

"I'm not sure I can answer, but if you feel inspired to do so, go ahead."

"You love her?"

"I want her to be happy."

"Do you want to be part of her happiness?"

"Well, yeah. But I already am. Sometimes."

"How do you mean?"

Karel relaxed and told him about how they worked together, and about going to visit all their families, and kissing Bobbie on the plane, and about her avoiding being alone with him all the rest of the break.

"Women sometimes don't know what they want."

"You don't know Bobbie."

Bishop South thought for a minute or so.

"Would she be inclined to accept a proposal if you told her you were being called as my counselor?"

"How is that different from you telling her who she should marry?"

Bishop South had to think about that.

"You have asked her?"

"She stops me."


Karel thought about that, and realized he was not at liberty to speculate for the bishop's benefit.

"I couldn't say."

"Are you sure she knows what she is stopping?"


After more thought, Bishop South asked, "We're not getting anywhere today. Can I meet with you tomorrow?"

"Please don't ask me to do something God has stopped me from doing."

"You're sure it was God?"


"Then why was I inspired to call you to be me counselor?"

"That's not a question I can answer."

"You do want her to marry you, don't you?"

"Well, yes. But not if she thinks I'm pushing her into it."

"Could you ask her if she knows that you want to ask her to marry you? And we could meet later to talk about this again?"

Karel really didn't want to start out so at odds with his new bishop. "I'll see."

"Can you call me?"

"Uhm, okay."

Bobbie and Dan and Kristie had already finished eating, and were talking in the cafeteria, when Karel arrived the next evening. He had barely been able to concentrate on his first day of classes. Luckily, it had all been syllabus and business. Even so, he had had to spend some extra hours trying to get information he had missed.

And he walked entirely around the campus twice before he went to dinner just before the cafeteria closed. He saw his friends and thought about avoiding them, but they waved. He couldn't just ignore them. He waved back, got in line, got his dinner, and brought it over to where they were sitting.

Dan asked, "What's wrong? I haven't seen you look this confused since the day coach called you in to let you go."

"Bobbie." Kristie looked at Bobbie and Bobbie nodded.

"We're gone." Dan didn't wait for any further word. He stood up and patted Karel on the shoulder.

Kristie squeezed Bobbie's hand and left with Dan.

Karel ate in silence for a few minutes.

"What happened?"

"New bishop."

Bobbie waited, but he didn't seem to know how to continue. She prayed in her heart for her friend.

Finally Karel looked up. He couldn't look her in the eye, so he looked back down. "Bishop asked me why I am still single."

Alarms went off in her head, and she had to pray, to calm herself. "He didn't."

"He did. He's putting pressure on me to ask you to marry me."

Suddenly, Bobbie felt calm. "Tell him to stay within his stewardship."

"I promised him I'd ask you if you know that I want to ask you to marry me."

"Tell him that I told you plainly that I know, and I don't want to turn you down. And I can't say yes yet."

"Thanks." There eyes finally met, and the honesty was good. Not hard to bear at all.

"I'm sorry I keep asking you to wait."

"I'm sorry to let my bishop push me to ask you when I know you're not ready."

"It's okay. He's a new bishop. You yourself would tell me to give him a break."

"I've got a feeling he's not going to let me alone."

"Talk to your stake president ahead of time?"

"Maybe I should."

He didn't have a chance. Bishop South visited him at the dorm that night. Karel let him in his room and shut the door, and they sat down.

"Is this the chair where students on your floor sit to talk with you?" the bishop asked with a grin.

"It's hardly ever used. Somehow, I haven't had to call students in here very often."

"Did you ask her?"

"Just an hour ago. She knows. I knew she knows, and I let you push me to ask her if she knows. But she was okay with my asking her about it."

"She said yes?"

"She said she still isn't ready. That's the best I can do. You'll need to look for something else to ask me to do."

"Could I meet with the two of you together?"

"I'm not going to ask her to do that. If you think she needs to talk with a bishop, contact her bishop. She's got a good relationship with him."

"Well, I know why I want you to be my counselor. You answered that just now. You have a good rapport with the students."

"If I were married, I couldn't live here. I would no longer be with them every day. I'd lose the basis for that rapport."

"I guess I've got to rethink things."

"Let me introduce you to the guys on my floor."

After introducing the bishop to the students who were there, he took him to the other floors and introduced him to the two other RAs for the floors in the ward, and the bishop met more of the students.

The next day, he met the bishop again and took him to meet the dorm Mom, and the RAs for the three women's dorm floors that were in the ward.

For the first week, Karel acted as a sort of bishop's liaison. Bishop South suggested calling him as an "acting counselor", but the stake president agreed with Karel that it was not a good idea. It would be an unusual calling, not part of Church policy, and it would put pressure on Bobbie that she didn't need.

Ultimately, Bishop South called Karel to be his secretary, which made the liaison status more-or-less official.

Coincidentally or not, Dan was also soon called to be the bishop's secretary in his ward.

And Bobbie and Kristie were called as secretaries to the Relief society presidents in their wards.

"Relief Society" might seem an odd name for the women's organization in the Church, I suppose. But it points to the idea that some use when explaining the Priesthood.

It's not about authority. It's about service.

Jesus himself said He was here to serve, not be served.

And men seem to need more obvious excuses to get involved in service activities than women do.

(If there comes a time when woman need to be ordained to the priesthood, I think we will know without a doubt that the world is in a dire situation.)

Just to keep us up to date, Melissa's pregnancy was progressing well, and Winn's job had no more trouble for a while. When Bobbie and Karel met Melissa in the department office, she would tell them about things like the temple preparation class and the visits to the doctor. And it was fun to talk.

The folk dance team was also on track, and our four friends toured with them once so they could provide proper backup. They even performed at one venue.

Joel's new partner was a good dancer, but no romantic sparks flew. It wasn't that Joel discouraged her. They worked well together, but they weren't interested in each other romantically. And that really isn't all that unusual.

Kelly wrote about a man who had followed her to church one day, who was studying with the elders. (Mormon men who are missionaries are called elders. Young elders. There is a reason, but I won't go into it here.)

He was apparently more interested in her than in the gospel.

Joel and Kelly's mother helped her figure out a way to help the man divert his attention to the gospel. Later, he got baptized. When Kelly left the area, he had begun courting one of the local members of the church there.

In fact, that happened four more times over the course of her mission, and Kelly was able to believe Joel when he told her that she needn't any more worry about her looks. But that's another story.

Trisha and Charles were happy together, and joined one of our four friends' study groups again. This one was another religion class, I forget which.

There was another gliding day at the airport, and Karel went ahead and got a student certificate beforehand so he could start logging his flight experience.

Mike and Ruth were also expecting their first by this time. Ruth stayed on the ground, because she was right at the time when morning sickness is hard to deal with.

Karel started talking with people at Berkeley and some other schools in the west about the possibility of an assistant professorship there.

Bobbie focused more on Harvard and schools back east.

Bobbie and Karel also began making arrangements for the fieldwork.

Dan and Kristie had already made arrangements for teaching summer school again in their hometowns. Connections through the summer school led to arrangements for their first year student teaching in their hometowns, as well.

Our four friends went to the temple each week, at least at first.

And the young students in the dorm kept our friends pretty busy when they weren't busy with other things.

About two months into the semester, our four friends were in the cafeteria again. Karel was looking a little confused again.

"Now what?" Dan asked Karel.

"Bishop South seems to have thought up a new idea to motivate me to get married."

Kristie shook her head and Bobbie laughed.

"I'm laughing 'cause it hurts." Bobbie said. "What's the new scheme?"

"I should refrain from temple attendance and pray every night for a miracle to occur."

Now Bobbie was shaking her head.

"Isn't that sort of inside-out?" Kristie asked.

"He means well. I don't think he understands that some things just can't be pushed."

Bobbie thought for a moment. "Well, maybe I do need a miracle."

Kristie had an odd suggestion.

"Maybe we should re-think things. When we first met, I had a terrible crush on Karel. Dan idolized Bobbie. Maybe we should try that again."


All four of them were flabbergasted. Yes, flabbergasted. Even Kristie had to admit that the idea was crazy. Even Kristie was flabbergasted that she should propose such an idea.

After their study group, and back in their dorms that night, each of them prayed for a miracle.
Back in their dorms that night after study groups and finishing their own studies, each of them prayed for a miracle.

Back in the cafeteria at breakfast, the four of them agreed to try Kristie's crazy scheme.
In the cafeteria again at breakfast, the four of them agreed to try Kristie's crazy scheme.

Kristie and Dan threw themselves into it wholeheartedly, kissing, hand holding, hugs, dating every day, everything that was on the safe side of heavy necking and petting. Kristie and Dan threw themselves into it wholeheartedly, dates every day, kissing on any excuse, holding hands and hugging all the time, everything they could think of short of necking and petting and other unsafe behavior. Bobbie and Karel just tried to keep up.

When Karel quit attending the temple with them, they assumed it was because of the Bishop's odd instructions.
When Karel quit attending the temple with them, the other three assumed it was because of the Bishop's unusual instructions.


And they prayed for a miracle every night.



But after a couple of weeks, Dan admitted that it wasn't making Bobbie happy, so he cooled it a bit. Even so, Bobbie found she was relaxing a bit about kissing.

Kristie also figured out that she was being a little too physical with Karel, and she cooled it a bit, too.

It was sometime during this experiment that Karel and Bobbie met with Professor MacVittie and he questioned whether they were cooperating sufficiently. (Remember that from the framing story chapter?)

Still, after more than a month, nothing obvious was changing.

Dan and Kristie weren't really mad at Karel and Bobbie, just frustrated, when they had a meeting in the cafeteria and decided the experiment no longer served any purpose.

And then it was time for Dan and Kristie to get ready to graduate.

All four sets of parents came, and some of their siblings came as well, to the graduation exercises. Before Kristie and Dan left, they had a picnic in the canyons together.

Sheliah was bored by Commencement, but she had a good time plotting and playing with Kristie and Bobbie and sometimes Dan and Karel. She seemed more sure of her new sisters than they were, themselves. Her enthusiasm helped them forget the frustrations of the experiment.

And then Dan and Kristie and all their families were gone, and Bobbie and Karel were left to try to untangle the threads they were left with.

They were both attending summer courses this time. Bobbie took on some weekend hours at the hospital again, and Karel had his dad's company send some theoretical work which he returned with solutions and billed for time.

But their focus was preparing for the fieldwork.

They met in the cafeteria after seeing their friends and family off.

"Can I ask a question?"


"Why haven't you been attending the temple?"

Karel looked down.

"Stress got to me."

Bobbie's lower lip slipped between her teeth and she bit, trying to read Karel's mind. It sure was not easy like it used to be.

"Should I ask what that means?"


When she had a chance, she met with her bishop and asked him some questions. Bishop Graystoke sympathized, but he wasn't Karel's bishop. But he did encourage her to keep encouraging Karel.

Karel discussed things frankly with Bishop South. Bishop South was not sure that Karel should be so hard on himself, but he didn't want to make things worse. So he mostly quit giving advice and started just listening.

For much of the summer, they avoided each other. Too much pain, too many expectations. When they did meet, they kept the conversation safe, and Bobbie focused on trying to help Karel think positively.

Letters from Dan and Kristie helped. So did the folk dance club. This time, Bobbie and Karel were brought in to replace a couple of graduating students, and several weeks were taken up in touring.

Then, one day late in summer, at the temple.


"Hi, Bobbie."

"I'm so glad to see you here." She said in a whisper that held a lot of heat for a whisper.

"I've gotten back on keel, I guess. And the bishop asked me if I hadn't been staying away from the temple too long. I'm glad you're here, too."

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

(The chapter index is here:

Popular Posts