“I can’t believe he’s not in rocks for jocks” muttered Gretchen Hollings, my best friend, roommate and all around study buddy. We were taking our dreaded science elective that every freshman took but that Gretchen and I had managed to duck until our second year when our advisor, Dr. Highsmith, told us to get it over with or he would drop us. I think it was an empty threat but we both loved him as our academic advisor, hideous sweaters and tendency to spit and all. Dr. Highsmith was considered one of the foremost economic thinkers in the country and his chair was endowed by some bigwig alum who credited his post college success to theories that Dr. Highsmith taught.
Rocks for jocks is Geology 101 and it was nicknamed because all the athletes took it to pad their GPAs. It was commonly known that Bio 101 was harder but at least you avoided constant spitballs being hurled across the room and being suffocated by the smell of gym socks and sweaty jerseys.
It was a surprise to see Bo sitting in the front row of Bio 101. First, he was a senior and second, while he didn’t play a sport at Central, he was a jock. More of a jock than the non scholarship lacrosse players that walked around campus like they were Trojans at USC. I had never seen him fight but Gretchen went with one of her boyfriends once. She reported it was as bloody and frightening as we had all suspected but also strangely exhilarating. She said that the sex between her and Tim that night was off the charts. They broke up shortly after that because, apparently, the sex was never that good again. Bo, the relationship wrecker.
Gretchen and I were late to the first day of Bio 101 having stood in line far too long at the Starbucks wherein we belatedly discovered that they were training a new barista and it was taking them twice as long to deliver everyone’s order. Classic supply and demand was supporting this shitty coffeehouse. Everyone on campus needed coffee. There was only one Starbucks which limited supply thus enabling this particular Starbucks to do insanely frustrating things like training a barista during the first week of classes.
Because we were late, all the seats in the back were taken and as we walked down the bowl to the front, the only seats we could see were two next to Bo. I guess the freshman girls hadn’t caught on to Bo’s hotness or perhaps they couldn’t see from behind. Ordinarily, Bo was still surrounded by a bevy of young woman all ready to drop their panties with the right encouragement.
I stopped walking and swept the auditorium. It looked full. When my gaze swung down to the empty seats, I noticed Bo staring at me. A challenging look. “Ladies,” he said, “I saved these seats just for you.” Smirk.
I hated guys who smirked but there was nothing to do about it. I marched over with Gretchen behind me and we plopped down next to Bo. Because I was behind Gretchen there was no way to avoid sitting next to Bo unless I embarrassed all three of us. No thanks. Not even in front of the first years.
I wondered if Bo knew who either Gretchen or I was. Neither of us moved in his circle, and we had not scored an invite to a Woodlands party. Woodlands was where Bo lived with four other guys. I’m not certain the story behind the house or who actually owned because it was a house in a gated community about twenty minutes from campus. Getting an invite to a Woodlands party was the goal of every student of Central campus, no matter what social group you belonged to. The parties were epic. Lots of booze, great music provided by one of the house member’s bands, and the eye candy was incredible. Or so we’ve heard.
The parties happen about five times a year and the members of the house come to campus about two hours before the party starts and hand out invites which are those paper bracelets except these are white and apparently have a message written on them in ultraviolet. They actually make you put the wristbands on in front of them. There is no replicating those bracelets I guess.
Needless to say, we didn’t warrant an invite but I guess in all fairness, we’ve never asked for one. The girls and guys will mob the Woodlands members when they appear and it always wreaked of desperation to run after them. And, I wanted to stay away from parties like that.
For some reason, I found myself incredibly nervous. Did I say hello and introduce myself? Would he think I was hitting on him? Was it rude to sit here and not introduce myself? He hadn’t introduced himself. God, what a jerk, did he think he was so famous that he didn’t have to introduce himself? And breathe.
This class was going to be a disaster if I wound myself up like this every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for fifty minutes. Not to mention the labs.
Before I could say anything however, the professor walked in and began telling us how a typhoon would swallow us up eventually or that the sea level would rise gradually such that all the land would be eroded. Nice. I could see Bio 101 was going to be swell.
I took out my laptop and started taking notes. I noticed that Bo was a lefty and that he took notes the old skool way. By hand. With a pen and paper. Insane.
On my right, I felt a nudge from Gretchen who had turned her laptop toward me. Her instant messenger program was open
Gottalaugh212: “I’m switching to rocks for jocks!”
“What?!!!” I typed back.
Gottalaugh212: “There’s no way I am going to sit here and be depressed for a semester listening to all the ways I can die in a biological disaster.”
“Like rocks for jocks will be better? You can die from a mudslide or avalanche or other geological disasters. Global warming, anyone?”
“Rocks do not cause or are not related to global warming.”
“I’m pretty sure the class is more than about rocks.”
Gottalaugh212: “Clearly not or it wouldn’t be rocks for jocks.”
And with that Gretchen slammed her laptop shut, picked up her backpack and loped out of class. I was so astonished that I hadn’t noticed that
Bo had moved my laptop and was now reading my entire IM conversation with Gretchen.
“Nosy much?” I said, pulling the laptop back, my anger and surprise overcoming my initial nervousness.
“Sorry, couldn’t resist” drawled Bo. Rumor about Bo being a southerner? True. His drawl was like honey. Ah gods, why were some people blessed with so much and others so little.
“Why are you even here? Aren’t you a senior?” I hissed at him. It was hard talking to someone in the front row but the professor was on the other end of the stage, making sure that everyone in the room was sufficiently depressed with their dim prospects of survival.
“And I’ll be a senior forever unless I get my science prerequisite out of the way.” Bo said, unperturbed. His quick trigger was apparently not set off by snippy girls.
“Why are you here?” he asked. “You seem,” and he paused to look me over “like a responsible person who would have taken her science elective in her first year.”
“How do you know I’m not a first year,” I whispered back.
He looked at me disbelievingly. “Because you were a sophomore when you sat behind me last semester in advanced economic theory, Marie Halloway”. He emphasized my name. It was my turn to be disbelieving. I could not believe he a) knew my name and b) knew I sat behind him in class last semester.
I did not have a chance to respond because the professor had strolled back to our side of the auditorium and was directing us on how to sign up for a lab partner.
“The TAs will be handing out sign up sheets. If you know someone and have arranged to be their lab partner, please indicate that on the sheets. If you don’t have one, one will be assigned for you at the end of today, randomly. 35% of your grade will depend on your lab work. Choose your partner wisely.” The professor announced.
The TA handed Bo, sitting at the end, a sheet and he scribbled his name and another. I wondered who he was partnering with and why he wasn’t sitting next to that person. I didn’t know if I should write Gretchen’s name in and hope for the best but Bo didn’t hand me the sheet when he was done and instead leaned over past me and laid it on the far side of the empty table where Gretchen had sat to the first year male who grabbed it and started writing.
“Hey,” I said, trying to grab for the paper but Bo grabbed my hand and jerked his chin at the first year to go ahead.
I rounded on Bo “I didn’t get to write my name down.”
“You don’t have to” Bo said, still holding my hand in his. “We are going to be lab partners.”
“We? As in you and me?”
“That would be the correct composition of individuals making up the ‘we’ in my sentence.”