Friday, August 11, 2017

Frat Boy: Kerry - Part 1

Click here for link to my other posts about my college fraternity life.  And that time Kerry and I “cooked” thanksgiving dinner: part 1 & part 2.

I wasn’t fully asleep when the phone rang. Even though most people in college went to bed around midnight, it was rare to get a call this late night especially on a weeknight. After the first ring, I didn’t move, but then I panicked.  Maybe it was my mom and that there was some kind of family emergency. After the second ring, I rolled out of bed, stumbled to the phone at my desk. At the other end, it wasn’t my mom.

It was Kerry.

She was angry, sad, confused and in disbelief. Kerry’s boyfriend had just broke-up with her. When you are on the other end of a line when someone is in this moment, part of you is glad from the feeling your friendship affirmed. However, the rest of you, most of you, feels powerless, frustrated at that the fact that while you are there over the phone, you can’t physically be with them in person.

I listened to her, trying to make sense of the situation between her sobs and as soon as the story became clear, I got angry. Her boyfriend Josh told her that he wanted to break up with Kerry because he was into another girl. Josh wasn’t just some other guy he was my fraternity brother. The crude saying “bro’s before ho’s” seemed more hollow than ever.

Kerry was part of our marching band, PMA, and SAI social group. I don’t remember how we first became friends. It may have been through Molly who took me in and took care of me who was one of Kerry’s best friends. Most likely, we were sitting at our social group’s lunch table and I said something sarcastic, Kerry as she often does, probably complemented my comment with a her own layer of wit and flash that smile at me.

Kerry had a beauty that reminded me of Audrey Hepburn, with a gentle curve of her cheekbone and her intelligent eyes. This combined with the directness and the intelligence of Holly Hunter’s character from Broadcast News fascinated me.

 (BTW y’all, people really need to this movie).

Kerry loved being Kerry and she embraced facets of her life that didn’t go along with people’s expectations. She had no shame of her love of the greasiest Philly Cheese steak sandwiches and Bugle corn snacks. Kerry freely mixed expletives in her sharp comebacks and commentaries.

Kerry wasn’t fake. When we were eating lunch and someone said something that was offensive or stupid, while everyone else at the table was processing how to react, I would look over at Kerry and without fail, her face would express annoyance, disbelief, or disgust that would confirm my own feelings and make me laugh. Some people may have seen this as being rude; I saw it as being real.

As Americans we are conditioned to smile no matter how we feel on the inside. I’ve found that the women in my life who defined what it means to be a strong women don’t give out their smiles for free. It’s about not compromising one’s own feelings for the sake of making other people feel comfortable. Kerry didn’t smile all of the time, so when she did smile to me, it was significant.  Her smile was an affirmation of that I meant something to her as she meant something to me.

I remember her smiling when she taught me how to take a shot of alcohol. It was Southern Comfort, straight. Then she handed me my second shot of alcohol, another shot of Southern Comfort. At this point she was laughing uncontrollably as I steadied myself against the wall

I remember her smiling when she came to my room as the beer fairy. A couple days earlier a guy who liked Kerry, who she only liked as a friend, asked her what she was up to the next night. Kerry said, “nothing.” So when he invited her out to a movie, she had no way of rejecting him. While Kerry was direct, she was very kind. So she accepted his invitation.

A couple hours later Kerry pulled the same line on me. When I told her I wasn’t doing anything that evening, she invited me out to a movie and even though I had no plans, I told her no. I had homework to do and I didn’t feel like going out on a weekend and I wasn’t interested in seeing the movie she suggested. Kerry sighed and explained her situation and pleaded with me that I go out with her and this guy so it wouldn’t be a date. I hesitated, and then she said that I would get a visit from the beer fairy if I agreed to go. So I sat awkwardly between her and this other guy in a half empty theater. I don’t remember what we watched, but I remember it was long. I’m not sure if the beer was worth it.

I remember her smiling through the crowd in that ballroom.  Even though Kerry was away on her internship she decided to fly in and come to her sororities formal.  As Kerry walked into the ballroom disheveled and carrying her luggage, her sorority sisters huddled around her, screaming in delight to see her and giving her hugs.

I stood back from the group, giving her space to have a moment with her sisters. I was about to walk away, and then through a gap in the crowd she caught my eye. She opened up her arms to me, smiled, and we embraced.

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