It’s the weekend before finals and tension is beginning to build. Upperclassmen tell us that we won’t be able to stand the torture that they call “The Week of Silence.” They say we’ll go screaming through the streets. I find this hard to believe, but since I’ve never gone through it, I guess I can’t judge.
It’s bitter cold here. About six inches of snow is on the ground. This is “The Snow Belt,” so I’m told, but I’m finding out that the cold winters here at Narrow Creek State College draw us closer in Somers Hall. This is the dormitory I’m staying in during my freshman year.
I’m dateless again, but spending the evening in the TV lounge isn’t so bad. Tonight, it’s full of girls. Girls in nightrobes and duster caps, their feet tucked under them as they sprawl on the sofas, writing letters to their boyfriends. Like soldiers’ wives, many of these girls are condemned to these Saturday nights because “he” isn’t there. I’m glad I’m not tied down like that. Others are doing homework. Some have term papers to do and notes and books are scattered all over tables and chairs.
I watch some girls work on wall hangings. In quilted robes and ruffled duster caps, busily weaving yarn into cloth, they look very quaint and old-fashioned.
Some girls are dressed, ready to go out and just waiting for their dates to arrive. Diane comes running through, still wearing gloves and scarf. “Who wants to go to a Theta Chi party?” she bawls out. “They need about three girls.” I’ve never gone out on this type of date because I don’t like grab-bag arrangements.
There are always enough girls in the TV lounge on a Saturday night to qualify as a world microcosm. There’s Celeste. I spend an hour talking with her. She’s so old-fashioned and unbending that I could easily get impatient with her. However, there is a streak of innocence about her that keeps her from being a prig, so I listen and hold my peace.
For some, the TV lounge becomes a place of catharsis or a form of therapy. There is this little girl whom everyone just calls “R.G.” She tells me many stories about the terrible things that have happened to her in her life. She tells everyone these stories. Nobody really believes her, but she never fails to find a sympathetic ear.
It seems that no one is entirely without friends in the TV lounge. During the bitter evenings of winter, young women come and go, taking off or putting on gloves and hats, talking about boys and parties. Because I don’t have sisters, there is a particularly warm, comfortable, and womanly atmosphere that some girls might take for granted. I like to come to the lounge if I have no date, or if I’m home early from a date, because I can always find something going on that interests me.
Dressed as we are in nightclothes, being ourselves and not trying to impress anyone, it is rather like a huge slumber party. No wonder the gossip flies and emotions are high!
The lounge is arranged in a loose theater-style, with the TV as the focal point and soft, cozy sofas all around. Coffee tables and reading desks also add a domestic touch. Vending machines line one wall of the lounge, and there are always a couple of girls burning popcorn in the oven. I often wonder how hungry you have to be to want a deli sandwich that’s been sitting forlornly in the vending machine all week. Tables for four are set up in the space between the vending machines and sofas. The laundry room lays off to the side, as does a line of coin-operated telephones.
I’ve tried doing my homework in the TV lounge, and I really enjoy doing it here because nothing ever gets done.
Most of us are watching television, with live entertainment provided in the front row. Charlene, a girl with short dark hair, has a sarcastic comment or two, before and during commercials, that always gets a laugh, although the size of her audience grows and shrinks depending upon the time of day and the TV schedule. Room is tight when “Laugh-In” or “The Smothers Brothers” is on, but Charlene is always in the front row. It gets to a point where we all think of the TV as Charlene’s: She gets the final say about what we do or don’t watch.
During mid-terms, activity does seem to ebb. My roommate plans her entire exam schedule as early in the week as possible so she can hurry back to the Valley to be with her boyfriend Pete. I’m in no hurry to leave, and am still here long after most everyone else has gone home for break. The college campus has become my world, and I’m happier here than I am anywhere else.
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