What am I doing here?
I'm way out of my depth writing about social events like this. Avoid them like the plague.
Give me a dance, where the conversation can ride the rhythm of the music, or a football game, where the ball drives the progress of the game and the talk.
Oh, well. None of the characters in this story am I, and all of the characters am I. This is my first novel. Let's see what I can do with it.
Karel was a little early. He had a class until 5:30, so he skipped dinner and walked down to the president's residence, arriving before six. He was among the first to arrive, and, as is typical among E-P-ists, he got drafted to help.
He found himself at the front sidewalk, passing out ditto copies of the ice-breaker list of scavenger hunt questions when Bobbie and Kristie arrived.
"Karel! Are you on the committee?" Kristie asked.
"Nah, I got here too early and got drafted."
"How long are you going to be passing those out?" Bobbie asked.
"I guess until I run out of these or someone relieves me."
"Well, let us help you."
So Karel shared his stack of the questions with Kristie and Bobbie.
Kristie suggested, "We can do one of these as a group, and ask people questions as they come in. I'll write the answers down."
Dan joined them a few minutes later, and the four of them passed out the scavenger hunt questions, demonstrating the hunt by asking faculty and other students the questions from the list as they arrived.
They had finished the list twice and were working on a third time through about an hour later when a couple of committee members relieved them, thanking them for helping get the festivities going.
Having already finished the scavenger hunt twice, they weren't feeling like doing yet another one. Besides, for them, the ice was already broken. So they continued, sans hunt, with the basic social activities we sometimes call networking -- wandering around together, talking with each other and with the professors and other students, and eating refreshments.
At one point, Karel got involved in a mock debate the Young Democrats and the Young Republicans were having, joining on the side of the Democrats. Bobbie then joined the Republicans. Dan and Kristie joined the small crowd of spectators, laughing when someone said something humorous, applauding when someone said something meaningful, and trying not to look bored when the discussion heated up.
After about a half an hour, when the debate was clearly heading around in circles, Karel and Bobbie decided they'd had enough and excused themselves. By this time, all four of our protagonists had been invited to join in the campus political organizations.
About eight thirty, Karel said, "Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm hungry."
"Your treat, Karel?" Dan joked.
"Now, Dan, there's no call for that!" Bobbie chided with a laugh. "We'll go double Dutch."
"Quadruple Dutch?" Dan suggested. "Anyway, I know a good burger shop below campus that makes a decent cheeseburger for a pair of dimes."
Dutch, hamburgers, dimes, Texas -- again, the world of this novel had much that was similar to our world, so you'll pardon me if I just map the cultural features to the words we are familiar with, I hope.
Kristie said, "My friends would just say 'Dutch'. But if we're going to eat someplace, buying our own is fine by me."
Karel said, "I was thinking about the cafeteria in the student union. Since I'm living on campus, I can get a discount and Dan and I could split the bill. But hamburgers sounds good to me, too, if everyone's okay with that. It'd be a shorter walk for everyone."
And that's what they did, talking about classes and university life, religion, family, things they believed in, and a little about future plans, while they walked to the hamburger shop. If I reported it here, I don't know that we would find it all that interesting. Their interest in each other gave the conversation the spice we would miss.
One item only, I will report.
It was Dan that asked, "So you and Kristie first met when you were looking at the apartment?"
"Yeah. We talked for a good hour that day," Kristie replied.
Karel asked, "What did you talk about?"
Bobbie laughed. "What are we talking about now?"
"How did you and Dan meet?"
Dan replied. "I was throwing the football with some of my receivers the day he walked on to the team. I called him scrawny and questioned his ability to catch the football. He said, 'Give it to me when you think,' and took off running. I threw it when he was fifty yards out. He took it on the run, turned on a dime, and fired it back. Nailed me in the gut."
Bobbie laughed. "That's pretty good."
"I was just goofing off."
"And you could tell it." Dan grinned. "You have to like a guy like that."
Kristie smiled happily. "We had the best team with Karel and Dan."
She was going to ask how Karel and Bobbie met, but they arrived at the hamburger shop.
Are you curious about what they ate? No?
Yes, you are, if you are familiar with certain dating traditions about the relishes ordered with food, ...
"What c'n we do ya for?"
The owner was running the grill and taking orders that evening. He was originally from the state corollary with Texas. Everything about that state could be called Texan, and no one would notice the difference.
So the theme of the shop was Texan, and the service was Texan. And the burgers were a decent size, not the bite-size you might expect for twenty cents.
And Texans deliberately play games with grammar. (We seem to think it makes life interesting.) Which is a lot to tell you, just to explain the owner's greeting.
Dan said, "Women first."
Kristie asked Bobbie, "What are you going to get?"
"I'll have just a single paddy, with onions, lettuce, and tomatoes."
"Got that. What'll ya have ta drink?"
"Just water, please."
"How 'bout you, Miss?"
Kristie said, "Same for me, but with a lemon soda."
"And y'all guys?"
Karel said, "I'll have a cheeseburger, with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. And a cherry root beer."
Yes, they have plants similar to cherry and sassafras.
And Dan said, "I'll have a cheeseburger, with pickle relish and ketchup. And water."
Karel said, "Yes."
And Bobbie said, "No, we're buying our own."
But Dan insisted, "The guys are treating. Karel and I'll split the tab down the middle."
And Kristie said, "It's okay, Bobbie, isn't it?"
And Bobbie laughed. "Sure. Just this once."
And they continued talking while they ate and while they walked back to the girls' apartment under the far moon.
After Dan and Karel said goodnight, leaving separate directions, Kristie and Bobbie went inside.
"So, did anybody get any lip?" their roommate Wendy asked.
Kristie replied. "We just met them today. Give us a break."
"So it was boring." Wendy was insistent.
Bobbie said, in a slightly pedantic tone, "These socials are for meeting the professors and other grad students. It's not supposed to be especially exciting or romantic or whatever."
"You're just jealous, Wendy, leave it alone," said Jennifer. "You guys can give us a play-by-play when Wendy isn't around."
"No, really," Kristie responded, "we didn't plan on this being romantic. If it goes that way, it goes that way. If it doesn't, you know, it's nice to have friends." It seems that Kristie had taken Bobbie's lead.
Joy, who was curled up on the sofa reading a romance novel, complained, "You two are just too cool to believe."
Michelle, in the kitchen, asked, "So which of you is angling for which of them?"
And Bobbie said, "To be honest, I'm not sure right now which one I'd rather start taking an interest in, if I do. I'm just going with the flow."
After a few more tries, the roommates gave in and let it alone for the night.
After the lights were out and prayers said, Kristie whispered from across the room. "Bobbie?"
"It was nice not having to compete."
"One step at a time, Kristie."
"One step ...?"
"I'm not exactly yielding the field, just not jumping any guns. Everyone needs a fair chance. Dan's a pretty decent guy, too, you know."
"That's true. Anyway, thanks."
What each said in their own prayers is their own business, but I'll note that all four of them mentioned gratitude for a wonderful group of new friends in their prayers.
[Previous versions backed up here: http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2017/02/backup-soc500-02-03-social.html.]
[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.]