Kristie and Bobbie are not talking about fire drills. Or are they?
Kristie looked at her reflection in the mirror, holding her hair up and letting it fall, trying to decide whether to put her hair up for the graduate students' opening social or leave it down. The mirror she was using was the full-length mirror in the living room that they shared with the four other women in the apartment.
"Do you think the guys find me attractive, Bobbie?"
"Hunh? What?" Bobbie was sitting on the floor in hers and Kristie's room, checking her textbooks.
"I always worry about whether the guys find me attractive."
Bobbie leaned sideways and looked at Kristie's back through the doorway. "So you did just ask whether I thought the guys found you attractive."
Bobbie got up and came into the living room and stood behind Kristie and put her hands on her shoulders. "Kristine Person, ..." Then she examined Kristie's hair and her face in the mirror, shaping her hair and lifting it in various styles, letting Kristie look at the effect. "... you know that's not the right question. What do you think of this?"
Kristie shook her head. "No that's not me. Too exotic. Not the right question? Well, the Sunday School teachers always said we shouldn't worry too much, but how are we supposed to find a husband if we don't make ourselves attractive?"
"Okay, picking a wrong question to answer first, yes, the guys find you attractive. But which guys? How's this?"
Kristie's face clouded. "That's not fair, asking which guy. No, I'd feel off balance with my hair up that high."
"I didn't say which guy, I said which guys. As in, I would bet Karel and Dan will both find you quite attractive enough, even without you doing your hair up, or even using makeup. How's a tight bun, like this?"
"That's nice of you to say. Maybe, but not today. It'd take too long to do it right."
"I don't think you should worry about guys who don't find you attractive. They don't really matter to you. Have you ever bobbed your hair?" Bobbie cupped her hands under Kristie's hair and lifted it close to her ears.
"They don't matter? Really? Don't you worry about it? I mean, sure, you're the kind of girl just about any guy would find attractive. Yes, I have, but that's so, what? like a tom-boy. I bobbed it in high school."
Bobbie smoothed Kristie's hair out and took her by the shoulders and turned her around to face her. "So are you. Half the guys on campus would kill to get a date with you, and the other half would die for you. And these two guys, Dan and Karel, I think, will behave themselves nicely, instead of any of that. ... I wonder, though, have you never wished certain guys wouldn't find you attractive?"
"You mean, guys who try to push themselves on you?"
"Yes, I guess I have." Kristie's face clouded again, in mixed emotions.
"Once, when I was a freshman," she continued, "I was walking alone on a road off-campus, and a bunch of creeps came up behind me in a car and started whistling and howling and stuff. They tried to get me to get in the car with them."
"Oooh. That's terrible. But just once?"
"No, it happens every now and then." Then her face cleared. "But this one time, this really cool guy came along and told them, 'Get out of here!'. And they did. He walked me the rest of the way to campus to make sure I got to my next class okay."
"I didn't find out who he was until later."
"You didn't ask his name?"
"I was a freshman. He was a grad student. I was too awestruck, I guess."
"But you did find out who he was?"
"It was Karel Pratt."
"When I found out who he was, I started going to all the football games to see him. That's how I got interested in football."
"So, you've had a crush on Karel for a while?"
"I've been in love with him for six years! I was disappointed today that he had forgotten me, but here he is in the same class with me! You won't take him away from me, will you?"
Bobbie blinked. She thought for a moment, and said, "Six years to think you're in love with someone you don't really know is a long time -- long enough to develop a lot of wrong ideas about him. He might not be your white knight after all, ..."
"I went on a mission partly because I heard he thought it was okay for women to go if they wanted to teach people about Jesus."
Something inside Bobbie was crumbling. She'd known various kinds of disappointment before, and, somehow, she had been almost expecting disappointment this time, too. But facing this kind of internal conflict was going to be awfully hard. The dreams she had been thinking she might be ready to permit herself would have have to be postponed for a while.
The nurse inside took over. "Well, like I say. Don't worry about your looks. The guys that are important will like you anyway. At least, that's what my mom says."
Mary Whitmer had not always said such things. But she said such things now, and it was more important for Kristie to hear the conclusion than to hear the history of how Bobbie and her mother had come to such a conclusion.
"In that case, I think I'll just be lazy and go with my hair down."
"Good idea. I think I'll do the same. It's getting about time to go, anyway. The point is, real love takes time to negotiate. There's lots to learn about each other."
"Yes, patience, but not passive. Gotta have fun with people."
"I think I can do that."
[There are no previous versions.]
[The original of this chapter can be found in the first draft, here: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/05/economics-101-novel-ch04-going-by-four.html.]