On Wednesday, Bobbie and Karel ended up in the same section of the undergraduate level course in island culture.
"Hello again, stranger!"
"Oh! Hi, Bobbie. We're in the same section?"
"As you see."
"Should we sit where we can compare notes?"
"Yeah. It's a shame Kristie and Dan won't be taking this class."
Karel laughed. "Maybe that'd be a bit too much foursomeness. Are you and I taking more classes together?"
"Let's look at our schedules."
"Let's sit down first."
"How about over there on the right, at the front?"
Having sat down, they got their schedules out to compare.
"So," Karel said, "we'll be in the same section of the experimental lab in ancient technologies."
"That'll be a fun class, making ceramics, ropes, cloth, much of the stuff we use every day with but with primitive technologies."
(More then just fun, that course would be a lifesaver for them, but that's getting way ahead in the story.)
"I'm looking forward to this." After a little more checking, Bobbie continued, Well, that looks like all the classes we have together this semester."
The professor came in about then and introduced himself, and started talking about the class.
"We'll be covering about ten differing island regions," he said. "Many of them have had fairly advanced cultures during their histories, and there is quite a lot of material to cover. We won't be able to cover it all in class, so you should plan on having and doing a lot of homework, and also plan on forming or joining study groups.
"Remember, the most valuable material you will study for this class will not be covered in any of the lectures."
After the lecture, Bobbie and Karel agreed to take the professor's suggestion, and talked about when they could meet in the library to study together. Several other students heard them talking and asked if they could also join them. Before long about a half the class were gathered around, discussing times and places.
Tuesday and Thursday evenings seemed to work best for the study group Karel and Bobbie ended up putting together, and several other groups had shortly formed and decided on times and places to meet.
Our four friends were together again for the interdepartmental education class on Thursday. After the class, they talked about studying for the class.
Karel said, "Bobbie and I are thinking we'll get together in the library with some of the other anthropology students to study together."
Bobbie added, "We thought it would be a good idea for this class, too."
Dan and Kristie were both interested.
Kristie asked, "When are you getting together?"
Bobbie answered, "For now, we're thinking of Tuesday and Thursday evenings."
"I could probably do those days," Dan said.
"Me, too," said Kristie. "What time? Where in the library should we meet?"
Karel said, "Tonight, after I finish eating dinner at the dorm cafeteria, I'll run up to the library's first floor study area and check on available study areas, and then we'll figure out where from there."
"Two different study groups at the same time?" Bobbie asked.
Kristie suggested, "Tables near each other might be okay."
Dan joked, "And you guys can be butterflies."
Kristie gave him a sharp look.
"Or the groups could meet at different times," he added.
Karel said, "I think we can work the details out tonight when other members of the group come."
Bobbie nodded. "Okay."
"So, between six thirty and seven, tonight on the first floor of the library?" Dan asked.
"And see where it goes from there," replied Karel. "I need to get to my next class."
"Which way are you going?" asked Kristie.
"I'm going the same direction."
"Let's walk together."
"How about you?" Dan asked Bobbie.
"I'm going to study at the library for about an hour. Are you going that way?"
"Maybe. Yeah! I don't have a class now, and I probably should park my books somewhere and figure out what I need to study."
And they all left together, in two different directions.
About 9:30 that evening, the four of them walked back to the girls' apartment together, discussing Plato and Locke in relation to education as they went, with Karel tossing in ideas from Von Neumann and Turing, just to keep the discussion lively.
Bobbie was unimpressed. "Quit dragging engineering stuff in."
"But this is about machines that think and learn. It's not the same as humans, but there are some similarities."
Dan sided with Bobbie. "That's science fiction."
And Kristie defended Karel. "Maybe for now, but science fiction seems to predict the future a lot."
And Karel said, "It's not the technology. It's the math."
Even Kristie didn't know what to say to that.
Bobbie changed the subject. "Plato and Locke are alright, but what do you think of using dance in teaching children?"
Dan replied, "Sure. And how about in teaching adults?" And the conversation bounced around some more.
At the apartment, as Dan and Karel were about to leave, Dan asked, "Does anyone besides me like to dance?"
And Bobbie replied, "Does a duck like to swim?"
Karel and Kristie admitted they enjoyed dancing, too.
Dan explained, "Our stake is having a back-to-school dance on Friday night. Should we all go together?"
Again, I'm mapping terms from the world of this novel to our world. A stake would comprise several smaller congregations of the Church, roughly a thousand students, total. Not all of those students, of course, would attend the dance party.
"Sounds like fun." Everyone agreed.
After Dan and Karel left, Kristie expressed some anxiety. "Bobbie, who is going to dance with whom?"
Bobbie turned to her and smiled and said, "I think we'll all just have fun with whoever is handy at the moment."
Which was how it worked out.
When they arrived at the dance, it was Karel who suggested that they not be exclusive. They all thought that was a good idea, so they danced with many of the others who came, as well as with each other.
Bobbie seemed to be interested more in the faster dances, especially where they could do formation dances in groups of four or larger. Not to say that she didn't enjoy dancing ballroom style on the slow dances, but she sometimes sat them out to talk.
When asked for a slow dance by someone other than Dan or Karel, she would usually suggest that they just talk. If she felt comfortable about dancing with him after talking for bit, she would suggest that they could dance. Even if she didn't feel comfortable enough to dance with him, she would thank the man for his time.
Kristie danced almost every dance. On one occasion, she interrupted the dance, saying she needed to rest, and suggesting politely that her partner find someone else to finish the dance with.
Bobbie was dancing a waltz with Dan, and she noticed and told him to go talk with Kristie. Then she went over and offered to finish out the dance with the man who had offended Kristie, and discretely made him aware that what he had done was not appreciated.
Dan caught Karel's eye and Karel took a little more lead than usual, maneuvering close to Bobbie in case she needed help. She didn't.
At the end of the dance, the man came over with Bobbie and apologized to Kristie. She forgave him, but suggested he not ask her to dance again that night. The man seemed to take it to heart, and behaved himself with decorum the rest of the night, taking it upon himself to warn some of his friends not to take liberties with the women.
Karel also danced almost every dance. Some of his partners complimented him on his ability to dance and talk at the same time. But neither Kristie nor Bobbie commented on that, being much too busy seeing which dances, styles, and steps they could do with both him and Dan when they were dancing with them.
At one point, when everyone was dancing a formation dance that was similar to the Charleston, the four were together, and Kristie and Bobbie got a little winded and sat out while Dan and Karel finished it out together.
About eleven o'clock, Bobbie said, "I've got work tomorrow, so I'm going to turn into a pumpkin early.
And Kristie said, "I should probably turn in a little early, too, so I can work on my homework tomorrow."
So Karel and Dan walked them back to their apartment.
While they were walking under the light of the near moon, Dan said, "You know, they have ballroom dance classes here."
Karel said, "Sounds like a suggestion. We could join a class together."
Kristie concurred. "I think that would be fun."
And Bobbie also agreed. "Let's do it."
The next Monday, the four of them were in line together at the registrar's office to add one more class, ballroom dance.
During the semester, the four of them would regularly be seen together, studying, dancing, attending football games and other events, participating in service projects, and so forth.
You might think it too much of a stretch to understand that there was, in the world of this novel, a country quite similar in constitution and history to the Soviet Union. Furthermore, at the time of this novel, the two countries were in a state of opposition, not formally at war, but very much working against each other.
Some political leaders who wanted relations between the two countries to thaw out a bit talked of the principle which, in our world in a similar stage of history, would come to be called "détente".
Some of the more politically inclined students used this same word to refer to our group of four friends, much to their amusement.
They didn't seem inclined to do much pair dating, and when they did, it was usually outside their group. They really didn't want to risk splitting their group of four up.
[Backup and edit history here: http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2017/02/backup-soc500-02-04-studying-dancing.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.]