The Novels

Economics 101, a Novel (Rough Draft) -- My first sustained attempt at a novel, two-thirds finished in rough draft, and heading a little too far south.
What would you do if you and your study partner, with whom you had been seriously discussing marriage, suddenly found yourselves all alone together on a desert island? Study economics?
Sociology 500, a Romance (Second Draft) -- The first book in the Economics 101 Trilogy.(On hold.)
Karel and Dan, former American football teammates and now graduate students, meet fellow graduate students Kristie and Bobbie, and the four form a steady study group.

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Sociology 500, a Romance, ch 1 pt 1 -- Introducing Bobbie

TOC Well, let's meet Roberta Whitmer. Bobbie entered the anthropology department office and looked around. Near the receptionis...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sociology 500, a Novel, ch 3 pt 5 -- Random Dating


We don't really want to bother with the dating they did with others during the first semester, do we?

We do?

Well, if I tell you about that, there are a few things about the world of this novel that I can't postpone explaining much further.

In this world of our vanities, we talk about "alternate history" fiction and such. In one sense, it is second guessing God to make up such stories.

In another sense, according to Mormon belief, God has made a great number of worlds. (See, for instance, the LDS scripture, Pearl of Great Price, Book of Moses, first chapter.)

Our modern scientists have estimated the number of stars in the billions of billions. Maybe you haven't decided whether you believe there is life elsewhere in the universe, but Mormons have reason from their scripture to believe that a great number of those stars harbor, have harbored, and/or will harbor, planets carrying intelligent life similar to our own in many ways.

Maybe it would be unreasonable to consider that none of those have histories that are similar to our own in any respect. Nonetheless, fantasizing about them is no small conceit.


So, the world of this novel is a little piece of my conceit. I'm playing God.

Just in this novel, okay? I mean, isn't that what authors of fiction do, in a sense -- play God in the little worlds of their novels?

In my conceit, the world of this novel includes some continents, countries, governments, cultures, languages, literature, peoples, etc. that parallel those of our world. (It's a lot easier borrowing from worlds that exist than trying to make your own from scratch. 8-*)

It also includes a few continents, countries, governments, cultures, languages, literature, peoples, etc. which do not parallel those of our world at all. And even where the parallels exist, all of the details differ, of course. Just like each individual person is unique, so is each world.

For instance, Karel's real name happens to mean something like what "Karel" means in our European/American context. And it happens to be pronounced sort-of similarly -- maybe I could Latinize it as "Kurh-ih-lha", or maybe as "Karxla". But without a lot of explanation you would read in incorrectly, either way. I can't even pronounce it right.

As you know, I borrowed names for countries and languages, and I'll have to be a bit more circumspect about that from here on.

I'll be introducing a lot of people, and they need names -- Piers, for example. I could have called him "the guy that offended Kristie at that first dance", but that kind of reference really gets in the way of the story. The actual name does not sound like "Piers" at all. (More like "tsih-luh-nuhk".) There is a connection in meaning, perhaps, but a thin one. I picked a name by literary or aesthetic sense -- mostly, he reminds me of some of the characters the actor Pierce Brosnan has played in movies in our world.

So, you should expect the mapping of names to characters you meet in this story to be rather arbitrary and whimsical.

And I've mentioned religions, already, history, also, in oblique ways. All of the mapping has been more than a little arbitrary. I'll need to clarify some of that as I go, but I'm meandering, and this is getting in the way of the story.

So, with that said, I'll tell you something about how things went during the week or so after Melissa Burns asked them about the temple.

That Friday, our four friends were together in Bobbie and Kristie's apartment with their roommates, Piers, and two of Dan's roommates, playing a game similar to Monopoly.

The board arrangement was similar to Monopoly's, but it included alternate paths to make things a bit more interesting. There was also some similarity on property names -- Corollaries to Boardwalk and Park Place were among the properties. The dice were cubes, of course. Cubes are simple. And there were fines and fortunes cards, etc.

Bobbie's shift that weekend was on Saturday, so they could all play until curfew.

(Curfew? It wasn't strictly enforced, but it gave the landlord a reason to call the police when necessary. And it gave the police a legal reason to take a date or friend who refused to go home down to the station for some cooling-off time and maybe a little quiet discussion with a bishop or other clergy of choice, or with the justice of the peace on duty that night, as appropriate.)

"Oh. Saint Harry's Avenue. I own that road." Piers was only gloating a little. "With two duplexes, it'll be 250 WEU."

WEU are Work Equivalent Units. The Union of Independent States in which this is novel is set had completely decoupled currency from connection to arbitrary scarce minerals, and replaced it with a flat fiat definition of one hour of work getting one hour of pay. I'm not going to tell you how they got it to work, but human nature being what it is, it really didn't make that much difference in the stability of the economy.

"Ouch." Kristie laughed. "How did you jinx these dice?" she asked as she passed him the play money.

"Special secret. I hypnotize your hands while you aren't looking."

General laughter and complaining.

A few plays later, Piers landed on New Yancy Boulevard, which Bobbie owned and had placed a hotel on.

"Well, I seem to still be mesmerized," he joked.

Nervous laughter.

Bobbie and Kristie shook their heads. Dan and Karel rolled their eyes. Wendy bit her lip and looked down.

Michelle said, "Nice line, if your aim's a bit off."

Piers dropped his head and chuckled in chagrin. Then he shook his head and looked back up. "I guess I'm really out of my league, here."

Joy dead-panned, "No, we just have four people from Venus playing with us."

For some reason, they called the planet one closer to their sun by the name of one of their mythological goddesses of love, so "Venus" works okay here.

Everyone laughed and the game went on.

Later on, Wendy mentioned that there was a new movie at the International Cinema. Piers picked up on that, although not in the way Wendy had hoped.

"It's a Spanish movie." Well, it was from the country we've been calling Spain. "It's a drama about a matador who was successful in fighting bulls, but unlucky in love until a bull gored him."

Michelle said, "Ouch."

Jennifer asked, "Then what?"

Piers continued, "I haven't seen it, that was just what the synopsis had to say. But the school's ad doesn't mention any explicit love scenes to be careful of."

Nervous silence. Then Bobbie said, "Well, I'm glad the censorship committee won't have to burn any brain cells overtime on it."

"Do you think you'd be interested, Bobbie?"

"Let me think about it. Anyone else interested?"

Wendy was, but she thought patience might be the more salient maneuver and kept her silence. Everyone else said they were busy.

Joy asked, referring to the movie that Bobbie and Karel had gone with Piers to see, "Why did they allow that movie, uncut?"

Jennifer answered. "There were several professors who planned to use it in their classes, and they felt that it would not serve the purpose with the explicit scenes cut out. The nudity really wasn't all that prominent, anyway."

Karel said, "It's not the nudity, it's what was portrayed. I'll agree that the violence inherent in prostitution was clearly portrayed, for people reasonably sensitive to it. It's just that so many people still don't realize that using passion against people that way is violent, and won't see it even when it is clearly portrayed."

Bobbie added, "And if you come right out and say, 'This is violence!' many critics complain about the producer hitting the audience over the head."

That required a bit of thought on everyone's part before the game continued.

The game broke up about midnight, and as they cleared things away, Bobbie quietly asked Karel, Dan, and Kristie if they would mind if she went with Piers. She had thought it out and prayed about it and felt God had said either way would be okay. They all said they agreed with God, it was up to her.

As Piers turned to the door, she said, "Oh, Piers, I didn't answer you about next Friday."

Piers stopped. "Never mind, it's out of my place to ask."

"No. That's okay. I'll go."

"You're not just being charitable?"

"That kind of charity isn't charity." She tilted her head and asked, very slightly pointedly, "But it's not like you're planning on making a pass at me, now, is it?"

Piers chuckled in chagrin again. "No. I think I've repented of that."

Dan was on the activities committee for his ward, which was meeting the next day to make final plans for a ward dance on the next Saturday.

A ward, by the way, is a congregation. I'm borrowing again from the terminology of our world. It's a reasonable translation, anyway, the word in the world of this novel being also used to indicate a subdivision of a city or a subsection of a hospital (or even a person someone must take responsibility for).

Ordinary wards in the world and time of this novel would have had from three to eight hundred members. But their student wards numbered between one and two hundred student members of the Church.

But that's not what we were going to talk about. We were going to talk about the activities committee meeting that Saturday afternoon, and in particular one of the ward sisters on the committee we shall call "Kelly". (Did I mention that members of a ward tended to call each other brother and sister? The ward is all one big family.)

After the meeting, Kelly stopped Dan and asked, "I hear you and some of your friends are taking ballroom dance."

"Oh, yeah. Non-credit. We like to dance, we're just taking it for fun."

"Do you like folk dance, too?"

"Oh, sure. Folk is much more interesting. I'm going to suggest that we take folk dance next semester."

"So why do you like dance?"

"One of my friends, my football buddy, introduced me to dance. He said dance was a lot like the plays we use in games, where you have set places to go and set patterns to get through."

"Really? Do you think so, too?"

"Yeah. Learning the dance steps and routines actually helped me remember the plays better. Helped my coordination on the field. You're grilling me about dance."

"I'm in the folk dance club. Dance is pretty much my favorite thing to do."

"Do you like ballroom, too?"

"I know some. Could we go through some dances before the dance next Saturday? A lot of the ward is shy and won't dance even when they come. It would help if we could lead out."

"Nothing better for getting people dancing than showing them how. I've got time now, how about you?"

"Yeah, I've got an hour. Let's go find an open studio."

So Dan and Kelly practiced a bit of ballroom that afternoon and made a few more plans for their own part in the dance on the next Saturday.

Karel was in the lunch line on Saturday afternoon and noticed a particular student behind him again. He had noticed her behind him in line three times that week, but their eyes had never met, and they had not said hello or anything.

From her features, she might have been from the country I'm equating with Japan. Anyway, if you saw her, you might get the impression she was oriental or Latina.

Since she was behind him again, he thought he might try talking with her in the language that he guessed was her mother tongue. (You won't mind if I substitute Japanese here for effect?)

「この時間帯はよく来ますね。」 ("Kono jikan-tai wa yoku kimasu ne." => "You come here regularly at this time, don't you?")

She started, looked carefully at Karel, then laughed lightly. 「びっくりしました。私の国の言葉がしゃべれましたか。」 ("Bikkuri shimashita. Watashi no kuni no kotoba ga shaberemashita ka." => "This is a surprise. You speak the language of my country!")

「少しだけです。一年ぐらい伝道しました。」 ("Sukoshi dake desu. Ichi-nen gurai dendō shimashita." => "Just a little bit. I was a missionary there for about a year.")

「一年だけに綺麗にしゃべれますね。」 ("Ichi nen dake ni kirei ni shaberemasu ne." => "For only a year, you speak well.")

「いやいや、耳障りでしょう。」 ("Iya iya, mimi-zawari deshou." => "Not really, I'm sure it sounds pretty bad.")

「とんでもございません。」 ("Tonde mo gozaimasen." => "Not at all.") She smiled appreciatively.「そのどこにいらしゃいました?」 ("Sono doko ni irashaimashita?" => "Where did you stay?")

Karel named a city in the southern part of the main island and another in the center, and a small town in a prefecture on a major southern island.

She said she was from a city in the north of the main island, and introduced herself. 「真理恵と言います。」 ("Marie to iimasu." => I am called "Marie.")

That would be "Ma-ri-eh" if it were really Japanese, but, as I say, it is not. In fact, the pronunciation was quite different. (Something like "Sien-hluh-ki".) And the ideographic characters used in her country are not, of course, the Chinese pseudo-ideographic characters we are somewhat familiar with, although they appear similar in construction. But the meanings of the characters with which I have written her name are similar -- "graced with truth and reason".

「Karel です。」 ("Karel desu." => "I am Karel.")

I suppose that's enough for effect.

Karel waved her ahead at the cash register. After she paid for her food, she waited for him. So he indicated some open tables near the windows with his free hand and suggested, 「窓際に座ると思いましたが、…」 ("Mado-giwa ni suwaru to omoimashita ga, ..." => I thought I'd sit by a window, ...")

She replied, 「ご一緒とさせて頂きます。」 ("Go-issho to sasete itadakimasu. => "I'll let you cause me to join you." Or, really, "I'll join you."

When they sat down, she shifted to the language more commonly spoken, the one we have been pretending is English. "So, what is your major?"

"I'm studying anthropology in the PhD program."

"I'm impressed."

"I've been working as an engineer, but we had management problems. So I want to be able to explain to managers why they are wrong."

"Oh! That's quite ambitious. Wouldn't a management program be better?"

"I've looked at management programs, and I don't like what I see. It's kind of new territory, and all of the current theory seems to be oriented towards top-down management."


"Where the guys at the top make all the decisions. I know that's the theory in your country, but it only works their when the guys at the top listen to the people at the bottom, and vice-versa."

"How can a manager become a manager without learning to listen?"

"It happens in this country all the time. What're you studying?"

"I'm a graduate student in literature and drama."

"How did you get into that?"

"I took my undergraduate degree in literature back home. While I was working on that, I was a member of the drama club, and I wrote a little play. My club performed it twice, and then someone suggested I re-write it in English."

"So you were pretty good with English then, too?"

"Not really. Is my English okay?"

"Just fine."

"When I went looking for someone who could help me with the English, I met the missionaries."

"I've heard that story before. Taught a bit of English myself."

"My parents didn't want me to join the Church, but I just knew it was right. Anyway, I got a short-term job and studied English while I saved money so I could come here and learn real, vernacular English."

"How's it coming?"

"You tell me. Would you like to read my play? Or come watch us practice?"


So Karel spent Saturday afternoon with Marie and the students that were preparing to perform her play. When the practice time ended, they returned to the dorms together, talking as they walked.

"I know it's a kind of ulterior motive, but Church helps me a lot with my English."

"Definitely. There's no problem with that."

"But I'd like to find more opportunities to absorb non-church English. Do you have any ideas?"

"A bunch of my friends have a study group going, and you could sit in and listen. Are you free Tuesday and Thursday evenings?"

"What time?"

"It ends up being pretty much from dinner until the library closes."

"Can I join you?"

"I don't think anyone will mind."

OHU student wards have something called student families, intended as a partial substitute for the families that the single students leave behind. The grouping is rather arbitrary, but they are asked to befriend each other and take an hour or so out of each week, preferably on Monday evenings, to get together to talk a little about the gospel and have a little fun together.

(Those familiar with BYU will recognize this as essentially the family home evening groups.)

These groups are not enforced, of course, just encouraged. Force would destroy the entire meaning of it. But they are strongly encouraged.

One of Kristie and Bobbie's student family brothers was a man we shall call Joel. (No, this is not a proxy for me. At least, I don't think it is.)

This particular Monday, during home evening, he overheard Jennifer and Michelle asking Bobbie and Kristie what they had learned at the last week's ballroom dance class. So he decided to ask them about it.

"So, you two are taking ballroom dance."

"Yes," Kristie replied, "We have a couple of really cool partners, and the class is pretty fun."

"Do you like to dance?"

"Definitely. It's wonderful. And Bobbie's got her masters in dance."

"Wow. I didn't know that. What kind?"

"I focused mostly on modern dance, which is a bit different from ballroom."

"Modern dance is kind of like ballet, isn't it?"

"Yes and no. We borrow from anything, including the martial arts. It's mostly about using the body to move through space, and to express yourself."

Yes, they have all these forms of dance in the world of this novel.

"What do you think of folk dance?"

Kristie said, "It looks hard, but I'd like to try it sometime."

And Bobbie said, "My compositions often borrow from folk. I think folk is much more interesting than Ballroom dance. Ballroom is way too formal, way too stiff."

"You didn't like ballroom?" Kristie was surprised.

"Oh, of course I enjoy ballroom, but I prefer folk."

"I'm on the folk dance team, myself."

"Oh! And I didn't know that." Bobbie laughed.

"Are you two going to the ward dance on Friday?"

"Just me." Kristie replied. "And Jennifer and Michelle, too, I think. You'll go, won't you, Jennifer?"

"I think so. You're not going, Bobbie?"

"I'm on duty Friday night at the hospital."

This is getting a little long for the blog system. I'll tell you more in the next part.

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[Backup and edit history here:]

[Chapter 3 part 5 is original to the second draft, and is not found in the first draft.]

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