My mental life has become more painful than a root canal. I am an expert on pain. My profession is dentistry. Looking back over my life, I was more advantaged than most. My father was a successful lawyer and my mother was a podiatrist. I attended a private elementary school. The high school I attended had a higher tuition rate than many colleges. There were only ten students to a class. When it came time to go to college, I was prepared. I applied and was accepted into an Ivy League institution. I was on my way. Or at least, I thought I was. The day I entered college the course of my life was set.
My father accompanied me to the campus and helped me unload my things into the dorm room. Due to my excellent secondary education grades, I was put into to what was called the “Honors Program.” My dorm building was coed; it housed some of the brightest and affluent students in the country. They had been prepped for their futures. They were determined to achieve their goals. Sometime during my junior year in high school, and after a lot of coaching from my parents, my selection was dentistry. I knew that it was going to be a long road to travel, but I was going to put it in high gear.
Now, like most young men my age, I thought about sex a lot. I was still a virgin, but I was determined to do something about it. The young women I knew in high school were very conscience of their moral standing. The last thing that they wanted was to be labeled was “floozy.” I was prepared to have sex with one of these nymphs and practice discretion. I was not out to ruin anyone’s reputation. But after several attempts, I could not find any interested parties. I was determined to take up this challenge in college.
After everything was unloaded into my dorm room, my father gave me some last minute father son advice. He encouraged me not to get distracted from my studies. “Your mother and I are sending you here to get a good education. Remember, it is not intended to be vacation,” he said. He told me that looking back on his own college experience, there was a lot of bumps in the road. “The most important thing is when you hit a bump and you will, don’t break your springs,” he reminded me. He shook my hand and left. I was now on my own. I was going to be the master of my own fate.
I had in hand my curriculum for the first semester. Classes were not scheduled to begin for two days. That was going to give me some time to get oriented to the campus. A list of the courses that had been previously sent to me had a building and room numbers listed. My goal for the rest of the afternoon was to locate those buildings and rooms. I did not want to leave that task for the day I was scheduled to begin classes. I was also curious to learn the location of the dining hall. I had a prepaid meal ticket for three meals a day.
As I left my dorm room, I began walking down the hall; the door to the room next to mine was open. I noticed a young woman unpacking her suitcase. I stopped and introduced myself as her neighbor. Her name was Greta. She was an average looking young woman in appearance. She was very friendly. She seemed to have an extensive vocabulary. Of course she was intelligent, I thought. One must be in the upper percentile in intellect to get into this university. After a brief conversation and an exchange of pleasantries, I continued on my way.
As I left the dormitory, I took note of the landmarks. I did not want to be embarrassed when I returned and could not find my residence. The weather was one of those sunny warm days in late August. There was a touch of coolness when I would wander into the shade. It was a hint that autumn was not far off. There was a certain excitement about being on one’s own for the first time. From this day on I will be making most of my own decisions. I will decide who my friends are going to be, when I eat my meals, when I study and when I go to bed. There were limitations of course. I had the responsibility of attending my classes and to get the grades that I was capable and expected to attain.
For the next three hours, I circumnavigated the campus. I walked by the football stadium. I observed the team practicing. Maybe I will volunteer; I thought maybe I could become a manager or some position where I could make a contribution. I walked down on the field and struck up a conversation with one of the assistant coaches. I gave him my name and my room phone number. He said that they were looking for some sideline personnel. He further said he would check with the coach to see where they could place me. As I was standing there watching the practice, a group of young women came running onto the opposite end of the field. I asked one of the players standing next to me who they were? He smiled and said, “Those are our cheerleading squad. We have the best looking cheerleaders in the Ivy League.” This was going to be another advantage of being connected to the team, I thought. These ladies will be standing on the sidelines and I will have an opportunity to meet them. I was also told that they will be traveling with the team. I was pretty confident that I would be as well. After about an hour, I decided to leave and continue my tour. The last thing I wanted to do was to wear out my welcome.
I walked by the “Edwin Booth Fine Arts Center.” The door was open and I decided to take a look. There was a large lobby. About halfway down a hallway there was several open doors. I could hear voices coming from inside. I walked down and looked in. It was an auditorium with a large stage. About fifty students were sitting down in front. On the stage there was a woman sitting at a table off to the side. She appeared to be in her thirties. I assumed she was a facility member. I walked in and sat in the back. The woman on the stage noticed me and she said, “Are you here to audition?” At first, I did not realize that she was addressing her question to me. Then she said, “If you are here to audition, come down and sit in the front.” All of the students turned in my direction to see who she was addressing. I suddenly became self conscience. In a nervous voice I said, “I’m just watching, thank you.”
One of the students down in front stood and began to walk in my direction. She had a clipboard in her hand. I was sitting on the aisle. She handed me the clipboard with a form attached. She requested that I fill it out. She said that she would come back in a few minutes and collect it. I looked at the form. It requested answers to all kinds of questions. The first few lines were the standard inquiry questions, such as name, dorm address, phone, male/female, etc. The next few questions were more exploratory, such as roles you have played in the past, theatrical training and when and where did you study. It also listed a group of other interests, such as stage manager, lighting and sound technician and so forth. The form prompted to circle one or more. I thought about it for a minute and circled “stage manager.”
The woman on the stage was calling names. She was inviting them to come up on the stage. She was handing them scripts and assigning them parts to read. About the time I had finished filling out the form, the student came back to where I was sitting. She took the clipboard from me.