So, how did Karel and Bobbie end up making each others' acquaintance?
How about Dan and Kristie?
A few days before classes began, Bobbie was seated in Professor MacVittie's office discussing her preliminary plans for her doctoral thesis.
"I see your plans include spending some time observing and interviewing the local people on-location in," and he named named an island country which has no corollary in our world.
"Yes. I think fieldwork there will better support my thesis than most other places."
"Well, I'm not sure we can make any promises about sending faculty to supervise your fieldwork there. We may have to ask you to adjust those plans."
"I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, I guess."
"It will be easier to arrange supervision if you can combine your fieldwork with other students."
"I had assumed there would be other students to work with out in the field. But that's not guaranteed, is it?"
"No, it's not. Would you be interested in working with another student who is planning his thesis in a similar area?"
"Uhm, his? Only one other student?"
"Uh, yes. His planned thesis is in island economics, and he wants to go to the same group of islands. I'm thinking you would find quite a bit that you could cooperate on."
"You're not trying to set me up with some guy, are you?"
"Set you up? No. We don't play games like that with students' lives."
Bobbie was not looking convinced.
"This other student is preparing for admission to the PhD track program at about the same time as you, and since he plans include fieldwork in the same islands as you, ..."
"And he's a guy."
"As it turns out. Don't hold it against him. If we can't plan on the two of you working together, we're looking at you being out in the islands alone during most of the fieldwork phase. If you're alone, you'll have no one to back you up in case of emergency."
"And girls shouldn't be out in the big, wide, dangerous world all by themselves."
"Neither should guys, without preparation."
"I am a nurse. I am no longer twenty. I think I can handle myself."
"That kind of attitude can put you in serious danger."
"I don't plan on going out unprepared, either."
Professor and student eyed each other warily, not quite sure where the conversation should go from there.
Professor MacVittie decided to push ahead anyway. "Look, I haven't talked with this other student about it yet. I thought I'd suggest it to you, and only mention it to him if you agreed."
"May I ask his name?"
"Karel Pratt. He"
Bobbie cut him short. "He was a football player here about five years ago." Her expression was unreadable.
"You know him?"
"Football is another of your interests?"
"Football is applied choreography, so, yes." Bobbie laughed. "But my mother showed me a newspaper article about him a month or so ago. It seems that football players with advanced degrees are a rarity."
"He has a bachelor's in physics and a master's in engineering, played football as a walk-on player."
"So he has a wide range of interests, too."
The professor grinned. "Yeah. A wide range of interests, just like you. I never said a wide range of interests was a bad thing. Quite the opposite, really. Anthropologists need a broad base to work from. I just wanted to make sure you realized you'd need to do a lot of work before you could focus on your thesis."
"Nothing about my being a woman?"
"I didn't say that. Woman do need to take more precautions than men when working in less developed societies."
"I guess I'll agree with that."
"You could help each other, if you could ignore the difference in gender. Especially since you are both interested in so many similar things, it should be easy for you to help each other."
"Similar interests?" Bobbie laughed to herself. "I guess I'm being a little defensive."
"You could meet in my office, if you'd feel more comfortable about it."
"I'd rather not meet him where he knows he has to behave himself. If he's interested, he can contact me. I'll see how he behaves, and we can work out whether we'll work together from there."
"So it's okay if I mention this to him, the next time I see him?"
"Oh, sure, I guess."
"I'll be talking with him on the first day of classes. Will that be too soon?"
"No, that'll be okay."
Professor White was not available to review Karel's preparation for pre-PhD work, so he had scheduled a visit with Professor MacVittie on the first day of classes. During their visit, they talked about fieldwork, and the professor suggested he consider working with Bobbie. Karel said he'd talk with her and see.
The question of how he would contact her didn't really occur to him until after he left Professor MacVittie's office.
After his meeting with the professor, he went to his first class, a graduate-level cross-discipline survey of education theories and topics. It would be under the direction of a team of three professors from different departments, with regular guest lecturers.
As he entered the lecture room, Karel looked for a seat at the front. PhD candidates were expected to show leadership, and he rightly assumed that the professors who would approve his candidacy and thesis would not perceive sitting in the back as showing leadership.
Whether the supervising professors would be right in such perception is a separate topic of consideration, which we will set aside.
As he moved to the front of the room, he saw some students he knew and greeted them. He also greeted some he hadn't yet met as he proceeded to the empty front row. Choosing a seat slightly to the left of center, he laughed silently to himself at the spurious, but accurate, potential political interpretation of his choice of seat.
Political left and right seem to have about the same meanings in the world of this novel, as well.
Yeah, Karel was a little distracted. He might have had more than one reason to choose the empty front row.
He didn't notice a petite, very pretty blonde who had come into the room after him. She waited, looking around the room, as he moved to the front. When Karel had sat down, she made her way to the seat to Karel's right. Heads turned, but she didn't pay any attention.
"Excuse me, is this seat taken?"
If you called her a blonde bombshell, not many would disagree. She, herself, would. It wasn't her fault that some men gave her attention she didn't seek.
"Uhhn, no. No. Go ahead." Karel was still distracted.
"I'm Kristie Person, by the way," she said as she sat down. "I'm in the Master's program in education."
"Hi. Karel Pratt. Pre-PhD, Anthropology." After an awkward pause, he asked, "So this course is in your primary field?"
"Yes. I'm coming in from a bachelor's in PE, so my professors told me to take the survey class."
"Karel, so nice to see you here!" Karel was not surprised by the voice behind him.
"Dan! You made it." Karel turned and slapped hands with Dan.
"So introduce me to your friend!" Dan said as he sat down on the other side of Kristie.
"I just met her, myself. Kristine Pierson. Right?"
Kristie was a bit non-plussed, but smiled anyway. "Sort of. My name is Kristine, but everyone calls me Kristie. And Person and Pierson are more or less the same name in Sweden."
Karel grinned sheepishly. "Sorry about that."
"You'll have to forgive my friend. He can be a bit of a goofball at times. I'm Dan Claymount. Karel and I used to play football together. He was much less clumsy on the football field."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence."
"Oh, that's right. I remember now." Now she remembers? We'll wink at that. "Dan was the quarterback five years ago, and you were the rover who made all the big plays."
The position of rover is a difficult position, as you can imagine. A rover has to have a grasp of what is happening with three balls at once, and must be fully prescient about where he can make the most effective play next.
It's also a bit of a thankless position. Even when the big play is made, someone probably could have made a bigger play if the rover had been there for them.
"He sure was." Dan concurred with Kristie's memory.
"No, I wasn't. Coach saved me to mix things up when we got stuck. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't."
"You're just being modest. I watched a lot of your games."
"Well, so you're a fan of the school's football program, I take it?" Karel tried to direct the topic of conversation away from himself.
"Yes! Football is one of my favorite sports!"
One of the professors stood up just then and greeted the students.
"Welcome, to this year's graduate survey in education topics. I'm Professor Donival. Please check your schedules to be sure you are in the right place." And he proceeded to explain the syllabus and assignment schedule.
And all of the students in the room busied themselves taking notes.
After about ten minutes, Professor Donival shifted from the course outline to the material for first lecture.
After another ten minutes, Karel became aware that the seat to his left was now occupied, and he looked over and nodded to the woman who was sitting there taking notes. Turning back to the blackboard, he forgot for a moment to breath. Mentally shaking himself, he deliberately returned his focus to the lecture.
At the end of the lecture, Karel turned again to his left. "I have notes from the first twenty minutes, if you'd like to copy them," he offered, opening to the first page in his notebook.
"Thanks. That would be nice," she said, and started copying. We missed her reaction when she sat down by Karel, but when she read Karel's name on the notebook, she was thinking to herself something like, "Of course it would be."
"You could copy my notes back at the apartment, Bobbie," Kristie was being helpful.
"You two are roommates?" Dan asked.
"Yes, actually. If you don't have time, Karel, ...," Bobbie said, feeling, but not showing, a bit of surprise at how easy it felt to say his name.
"No problem. Get it while it's fresh."
"Well, are you going to introduce me, Karel?" Dan prompted.
"Oh. Bobbie Whitmer, meet Dan Claymount. He and I were on the football team about five years ago. Should I tell her what you are doing your masters work in, Dan?" Karel was anything but surprised at how pleasant it felt to say her name.
"Underwater basketweaving," Dan replied.
Bobbie looked up, amused. "Sports education, with a coaching emphasis."
"How did you know?"
"Read your mind. Karel's mind is not as transparent."
"I see." Dan clearly did not see. For him, not being sure of his position was a rare thing, both on the football field and off, and he felt himself rising to the challenge. "Say, is anyone going to the opening social tonight?"
"Maybe we can make it a foursome?" Kristie rose to the challenge.
What Bobbie and Karel were thinking at this point would be hard to say. For separate reasons, they had learned to go with the flow in social situations, waiting for opening gambits to play out before deciding which way to move.
And they were as surprised as I think we are at how natural it felt for them to suddenly be old friends.
"Sounds good. What do you think, Bobbie?"
[Previous versions backed up here: http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2017/02/backup-soc500-01-04-meet-each-other.html.]
[The original of this chapter can be found here: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/05/economics-101-novel-ch03-introducing.html.]