The "Jenny" situation

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 26, 2014, 11:11 PM | comments: 0

OK, time to share one of those college stories. This one is about a girl, who was not actually named Jenny. I choose the name more because it's very common among women my age. Oddly enough, I've had many friends named Jennifer, maybe close to a dozen, but I have not ever seen any of them naked. I don't think I've even kissed a Jennifer.

The start to my sophomore year was kind of rough. Actually, the whole year was rough, for a lot of reasons I'm sure I'll write about eventually. It started about two weeks before classes, as I arrived for residence life training. I was going to be an RA in a building that had a poor reputation (which is relative, as Ashland University is hardly known as a party school), and as a sophomore no less. The circle of people I knew my first year wasn't one I was really tight with, so in some ways I felt like I was starting over. About that time I also learned that my upstairs neighbor, who was something of a best friend, announced she wasn't coming back. It was just a pile of uncertainty that my highly emotional self wasn't ready for.

During RA training, we went off to a camp for an overnight. The residence directors and ARD's got to do a bunch of cool ropes courses and stuff, but the rest of us were doing the usual emotionally intense team trust building exercises. As you probably know, some of that stuff is nonsense in the first place, so I was not interested and not feeling it. I had a mini-breakdown because I didn't feel like I was up for this. I ended up having a confessional of sorts with the director of res life. He was kind of a tool, as I recall, but he gave me a pep talk and I moved on.

As that day began to wind down, I started talking to one of the RA's from an all-women dorm. She was a senior, and for whatever reason, we hit it off. She was extraordinarily driven academically, and I was honestly a little intimidated by her. If that weren't enough, she was also a serious distance runner with all kinds of school records. She was in amazing shape.

My fellow staff all kind of dispersed to the cabins, but I continued to hang out with "Jenny" under a clear starry sky. As you might expect, this led to a great deal of making out. At this point in my life, I was not particularly experienced with women, and I don't know if I was keeping up. Truth be told, I've only been that jacked up on hormones a half-dozen times in my life. I didn't get back to the cabin until around 3 a.m., and I had "the pain."

Back on campus, the next few days, we spent some evening down time together, mostly in her room. I remember watching Arsenio Hall on her TV in her dark room. This was very much a trial by fire affair for me. I hadn't spent a lot of horizontal time with any girls, and there I was. I had no idea what I was doing, or perhaps should be doing. All I knew is that I was making out with this beautiful woman who, the way I remember it, would likely be someone that any heterosexual male would enjoy being with in this situation.

The school year started, and this continued for a few days. We had even settled into something of a serious dating routine even, eating together when possible. Then there was a pivotal event that I was completely oblivious to. In one of our late night make-out sessions, one of her breasts "accidentally" came out of the tank top she was wearing. I was completely clueless. I didn't think it was intentional, but she wasn't in any hurry to correct the situation. It's embarrassing to even think about how oblivious I was. She was coming on to me in a significant way, and I didn't respond.

I don't remember if it was that night, or the next night, but she was a little more direct about my intentions. For reasons not entirely clear to me at the time (and completely regrettable), I told her that I wanted to wait for the "right situation," something that I would later learn did not exist. At that point, she figured that it wasn't going to work out, and she was probably right.

It's easy to see now that I had my head up my ass. I don't think negatively about her intentions or character, because she really was in to me. But given her driven personality, and a lot more experience, she also had pretty clear expectations for a relationship, and wasn't willing to settle for anything less. I respect that.

I would later learn from a friend who had dated her at length that she was essentially a good person, and her sex drive was a component of who she was. It made sense that my hangups were not going to appeal to that part of her requirements. For me, I can't believe how silly I was. There's no question that she would have caught me up on years of inexperience, and I might have been better off for it. It wasn't even the only opportunity I would have like that during that year.

The "Jenny" situation was not one of my stronger college moments, to say the least. The things I learned from the encounter wouldn't actually be obvious to me until many years later, after my divorce and during my dating years. Put simply, everyone has a certain view on how they integrate sexuality into relationships. No one is right or wrong (though one could legitimately argue that some people exhibit unhealthy behavior), but it's critical to communicate those standards and decide whether or not they're compatible for you. Building a relationship can be hard, so why make it complicated by requiring a lot of guess work? "Jenny" did the right thing, even if her efficiency sounded a little cold.


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