Today is a special anniversary for Frog Hair and I. Allow me to take you back to 1989. I was a freshman in college, and some friends and I had connected on one of the first weekends with a group of other students who were upper classmen that we hadn’t already met at all of the freshman events. As is typical of teenage girls, at least that’s what I tell myself, we all scoped out the guys to see who we might be interested in. One guy really stuck out to me, so I couldn’t wait to tell my roommate about my discovery. When we got back to the room, she dramatically fell back onto her bed and proclaimed, “I think I’m in love!” In the interest of politeness, I let her go first, deciding to tell her about my interest after she told me about hers.
“His name is Walter Ballou!” What? Oh no! I guess I would have to just pick someone else, but it really didn’t matter, because I did not plan to do any flirting or anything. I picked The Guy from the Cigarette Commercial. We had nicknames for everyone that only we knew about. We could discuss The Guy in the Pink Shirt, Q-Tip, and several others without anyone else knowing who we were talking about. As the days passed, I learned some things about my roomie. She could flirt like a professional! This stood out to me because I had mastered the art of being a wallflower. We found out where his classes were and “happened” to walk by the building at the end of class for each class that we could be available. Of course she couldn’t walk by the same building every 3 minutes by herself, so I was with her almost every time she saw Walter. We checked our mail 7 times a day just in case he might be in the student center playing ping pong. We went to the cafeteria as soon as a meal started and stayed until the last person left hoping he would come in while we were there. I’m telling you! It was masterful! This shy girl learned so much, and I’m convinced that this story would end here if she hadn’t pushed me to get to know him by being with her. She asked Walter to Sadie Hawkins that fall, and he told me years later that the guys in the dorm gave him a hard time about whether I would be going on their date with them since she and I were always together. That was as mortifying as it sounds! He called our room to talk to her one time, and I answered. He provided multiple suggestions of who I should ask to Sadie Hawkins. Gasp! Like I would EVER ask a boy out. Not happening! Now I realize he was probably just trying to make sure he didn’t have to take both of us.
Things were on again off again in her interest in Walter, but I was so careful not to let anyone know that I liked him until I knew that she realized she didn’t like him anymore. I decided it wasn’t worth the tension in our friendship to complicate matters over a guy, even one that I was pretty sure I had been praying for since I was about 10 years old! I discovered a secret to help me stay sane. I had given some thoughts to the verse, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I reasoned that if my desires matched God’s will, I could avoid a lot of heartache in my life. I began praying that God would change the desires of my heart to match His will. I knew that if Walter Ballou wasn’t part of His will for my life, He would be faithful to take away my desire for him. By that summer, I was able to tell a few friends of my extreme infatuation with Walter. One of my friends spent a lot of time in Harleton, where he was a youth minister, because her boyfriend coached basketball in the same town. She spied on him and let me know who seemed to be coming to his softball games and who showed up at church. I may have written him one letter that summer because we had become friends over my first year of college. I couldn’t be too forward, but I prayed like the persistent widow for God to show him I was the woman of his dreams. Evidently other girls had an interest in him, and some of them could probably do a better job of getting his attention.
When school started up again in the fall, we found ourselves spending more and more time together, taking walks around campus, sitting at the student center and talking, and eating meals together in the cafeteria. I rushed to finish my assignments for my classes just in case he called and wanted to meet somewhere and hang out. When he called and asked, “What are you doing?” I couldn’t say, “Waiting anxiously by the phone.” So I told him I was cutting out light bulbs, which is what I actually was doing the first time he called. I didn’t realize that he thought of that as a brush off, similar to “I need to wash my hair” or something. That became a joke every time we got together about me needing to cut out light bulbs when I really just wanted him to leave me alone. As if I ever did. By the way, the light bulbs were for my first mini lesson about inventions. Our friendship grew and grew, but part of me still wondered if he would ever want to be more than friends. On a small campus where the motto is “ring by spring or your money back,” people noticed the time we spent together. I loved that other people thought we would be perfect together, but I still thought Walter was going to have to realize that before I could start planning how many children we would have. Then in early October, he asked me to go with him to visit his former pastor who had moved to a town about an hour away. I thought this could be a monumental visit because he had so much respect for this pastor and his wife and would probably be looking for some wisdom from them.
Because I battled nerves the whole night, I don’t remember a whole lot about dinner. However, I can’t forget an embarrassing moment driving to their house. We saw a sign not far from campus that said “Rabbit Ears for sale.” I immediately went into a tirade about the crazy things some people ate. I had recently learned about sow ears and chicken feet and chitlins and fatback. What in the world could be tasty about rabbit ears? To his credit, he didn’t pull over to laugh at me. He just kindly pointed out that the sign was written on a television then patiently waited for me to realize the sign referred to antennas for televisions. I know I would have gotten that immediately if I hadn’t been so nervous! There is a lot to be said for thinking before speaking. I’m hoping to learn that lesson eventually.
Evidently he got a thumbs up from the pastor, because when we got back to campus we had “the talk” about wanting to be more than friends. He explained that since he was working several jobs and paying for his own college, we couldn’t really do much “dating.” I am convinced that if he had finished that statement with saying, “so I think we should just go ahead and get married,” I would have agreed and started planning it for the next available weekend. As it was I floated back to the dorm and went straight to my former roommate’s room and woke her up and told her that Walter and I were finally dating! She celebrated with me, and I truly don’t think I stopped smiling for a week. Even now, every year on October 12, my heart goes a little mushy when I think about that happy day!