A Tempering of Dreams, Chapter 6

A TEMPERING OF DREAMS is a novel: pure fantasy with imaginary characters, and no effort whatsoever at historical accuracy. It is based on remembered images of a bygone time, and has no particular purpose beyond enjoyment. It will appear serially as each chapter is completed; there is no schedule. MG,Jr.

A Tempering of Dreams, Chapter 1
8 May 2022

A Tempering of Dreams, Chapter 5
16 May 2022



“Don’t you think we should do something besides just neck?,” Angie asked while lying on top of the bed next to him in Paine-103, with her back against the wall, her head propped up resting on her left hand with her elbow next to Sergio’s head looking up into her face, while her right hand fingers toyed with his shirt buttons.
“Why don’t we trade dates. I’ll take you to a concert, and you take me to whatever event you like. Give ourselves different perspectives. I have a concert in mind.”
“Well then, I know just the right thing for you,” she replied with a conspiratorial smirk.

So Sergio took Angie to a performance of Henry Purcell’s English Baroque opera ‘Dido and Aeneas’ put on by the Music Department in Francis Hopkinson Concert Hall, sung and played by students, especially so Angie could hear Dido’s Lament, that plaintive soprano aria “When I am lain in earth.” He knew that Angie would soak in the deeply sad emotion being expressed by that forlorn woman and mythical queen. The story of the opera, taken from Virgil’s epic Latin poem, tells of Aeneas, a Trojan warrior who escaped the Fall of Troy and leads a band of survivors sailing west toward Sicily. His ship is blown off course and lands in Carthage, where Aeneas and his band rest, recover and reprovision, and where Aeneas falls in love with the city’s queen, Dido, whose court was hosting the Trojans. Overwhelmed by her love for him, Dido takes Aeneas onto herself as both husband and the city’s lord. But for Aeneas the duty of political succession demanded that he continue on to Italy to secure a Trojan colony, to have for his own domain and for his son’s lineage. Dido was so distraught at her abandonment and his betrayal that she ordered a funeral pyre built for herself and set ablaze so that Aeneas could see the smoke from his ship and know that she had killed herself. She sings her lament before stabbing herself, as Aeneas sails away. Angie held Sergio close next to her with her arm wrapped under his to pull him in tight as he walked her back to Hill House that evening.

Days later, Angie took Sergio to a packed College Hall Theater to hear a lecture by Dr. Timothy Leary, on LSD and expanded consciousness. Leary was a most amusing speaker, who radiated an infectious sense of happiness with just being alive, and a joy with being fully aware of that conscious experiential happiness. This was “the most dangerous man in America,” as President Nixon called him, an unarmed itinerant preacher of the gospel of happiness liberated through expanded consciousness, and of the wonderful gifts of mental lubricants given to us by Nature and Albert Hofmann, for unbinding the hinges of the doors of perception allowing them to swing wide open for that expansion to unfurl. But, Leary did offer some cautions. He described LSD as a substance to be used only by advanced explorers of the psyche who had been trained in its use in convivial circles supervised by older members of the tribe, and not to be taken indiscriminately by amateurs. “But grass is for everybody,” he said, because it didn’t kill anybody like the millions who had died from booze and cigarettes. Nobody in that auditorium was disagreeing with that: Leary got a standing ovation. Leary’s lecture put Angie and Sergio in the mood to do everything they could possibly do together, right away.

The radio in Paine-103 was turned on to WXPN for late night music, a pipe pulled out, and hits of marijuana traded back and forth in the darkened room. They were in the zone. Embracing on the bed, they kissed deeply and pressed their bodies into each other. This become more and more satisfying as one item of clothing after another dropped away. Angie was drawing in the warm pressure of his whole body touch, and of his knowing sensitive hands. Sergio was immersing himself in Angie’s firm luxuriant flesh, and her deeply enfolding breasts. He was engorged, he wanted it. She was not on her period, she wanted it. Sergio picked up a square foil packet, Angie nodded. He sat up on the side of he bed, ripped the foil open, and rolled on a latex condom. Then he positioned himself above Angie as she spread her legs and drew him down into her. They merged, and the animating creative forces of the universe flooded up through their quivering bodies to explode white lights in their brains propelling them into thoughtless infinities of timeless ecstasy. Then that cosmic bubble deflated into the warm dark stillness of the room, with their racing hearts thumping into each other through their breastbones and dewy pressed-together skin, while the moist puffs of his slow panting blew down onto her neck and breast, and her upwelling pulses of moist breath brushed against the side of his head and his ear. They lay that way, meshed, entwined, warm, relaxing into stillness, for a long time. Then with a short kiss to signal the end of their journey, they disengaged, Sergio getting up to dispose of the prophylactic, tearing off sheets from a roll of paper towels and handing a few to Angie, and they got dressed. He walked Angie back to Hill House, and they were both very happy.

More nights of such beautiful shared experience occurred in the following weeks of September, and on the 26th, Angie was excited to buy the Beatles’s new record, ‘Abbey Road,’ the day it was released. She brought it with her for her following weekend with Sergio. He was always excited by the anticipation of her next visit, and surprised to discover that excitement sparking his analytical mind and spurring him to get his student assignments done expeditiously, both to satisfy his academic aims and to ensure that his time with Angie would remain unclouded by concerns over unfulfilled academic tasks, or grades.

A day spent at Paine-103 meant that they would each have to go to the bathroom down the hallway sometime. Most guys in the Quad were out during weekend days, so it was easy to find times for going down to the bathroom unobserved. Sergio had a big wine-red velour bathrobe his mother had sown, and Angie could wrap herself in that instead of having to get dressed. Sergio would throw on some pants and a T-shirt, go scout out the bathroom to ensure it was unoccupied, and then quickly accompany Angie the short way down the antique warped dull polished wood floored hallway to the group wash-up, toilet and shower room on the first floor of Paine Residence Hall, and stand guard outside its white swinging wooden door to ward off would-be intruders while she occupied it. So far these excursions had all been brief and unobserved, but not today. A tall lanky long-muscled guy with shaggy straight sandy hair walked in from Quad Green through a nearby doorway, aiming for the bathroom. Sergio stopped him.

“Listen, I’m sorry, somebody’s in there, and you can’t go in for a few minutes. There’s another bathroom just down the hallway, by the next doorway.”
The guy looked at him quizzically, and asked “Well, who’s in there?”
Sergio grimaced, and understanding the imperatives of piss pressure said, “It’s, ah, a lady. You know, it could take a little bit. I’m really sorry.”
“Yeah, okay, I get it. I’ll go to the other one.”
Just then the bathroom door swung open and Angie went wide-eyed seeing this guy right in front of her, and he was also taken aback but kept his cool with a flat expression. Angie turned onto the hallway and scooted herself back to Sergio’s room.
“Thanks again, and sorry”
“No sweat,” and the two men went their separate ways. The guy had noticed that Angie and Sergio had bare feet, and that then slowly clued him into what was going on.

A week later Sergio got his reporting notice for October from the Draft Board, delivered in his Quad mailbox. As he walked into the side doorway of Paine from Quad Green to type up his usual monthly appeal hearing request, he bumped into the guy of the bathroom encounter, making his way out. They stopped to greet each other.
“Hey, I’m Fred. I live around the corner in Morris. I take this way for a shortcut.”
“Hi, Fred, I’m Sergio, Sergio Romero.”
“Yeah, I’m Fred Glowicki.” Fred was a freshman on a football scholarship from a small town deep in rural mid-state Pennsylvania. The University felt a social imperative to bring in less economically privileged students from within the state’s rural areas, to offer them better educational opportunities than they might otherwise receive in community colleges deprived of ivy-encrusted hoariness, and for that they had a special admissions program. An added incentive for bringing Fred in through this program was that he had been an awesome high school football athlete. “They gave me a scholarship, I’m a running back and wide receiver.” Fred was a coal miner’s son, and had done physical work from an early age, his muscles were not just from football training. His earnings had enabled him to buy a Kawasaki 500 motorcycle, which he had locked up in the motorcycle area outside around from the Quad. Fred was a very good-natured guy, Sergio liked Fred right away.

Angie was too busy to spend time with Sergio during early October. She was all atwitter planning with a bunch of girls for a large contingent from Hill House to go as a group to the big protest in downtown Philadelphia set for October 15, one of many such protest gatherings across the nation planned for that day by a consortium of antiwar groups known collectively as The Mobilization, or “the Mobe.” Then her Hill House group planned to go by bus to Washington, D.C. to join in the expected enormous mass protest demonstration against the Vietnam War, set for November 15 in front of the White House. Sergio planned to stay on campus keeping up his studies and mulling over his possible draft-dodging game plans, since he felt his time outside the war might be drawing to a close, and he really didn’t have any extra psychological reserves to expend on days of chanting and marching in the streets.

Finally, on Friday the 17th, Angie and Sergio were able to get together to go eat dinner and then cozy up in Paine-103. Angie had been withdrawn all evening, and was not in the mood for romance, because she was stewing about something she was not at all happy about. After sitting for a while in silence listening to soft jazz on the radio and smoking cigarettes, she let it out.
“Donnie wants to marry me.”
“Who’s Donnie?”
“He’s a guy back in Pittsburgh.”
“Well… what do you think about that?”
“I don’t want to marry Donnie, but my mother wants me to.”
“He’s friend of the family. She says: ‘Oh it be so good if you married Donnie, he’s a good man, handsome, and makes good money at the mill. He could give you a good house, where you could have a family, right here near us. Why do you want to be so far away, when you could go to school here, close to us?’”
“What does your father say?”
“He doesn’t say much, but he thinks the same.”
“So… who is Donnie?”
“Donnie Battaglia, he’s twenty-six and a foreman at a steel mill. So he’s making good money, has a big new Chevy Impala, and wants a young wife to keep house for him, serve him big pasta dinners every night, and give him babies — me! — and I don’t want to do any of that.”
“You don’t have to.”
“My whole family wants me to, like that’s the role I’m supposed to play for them. It’s not about what I want to do. Anyway, that’s why I told you not to come visit last summer. It would not have been good for you with Donnie there. He thinks he owns me. My mother’s always inviting him for dinner and saying across the table ‘look a him, you should get married, it’d be so good’ and Donnie acts so proud of himself and says ‘I’m your man, Ange’ and I can’t stand it. Like what part of ‘you don’t own me’ don’t you get, Donnie?”
She was too worked up for Sergio to try pawing her, so after she got tired of listening to the radio and smoking, they put on their coats and he quietly walked her back to Hill House, saying goodbye outside the causeway with a simple hug and gentle kiss.

Both Angie and Sergio still had classes to attend, homework to do, jobs to clock into, and exams to study for and take, so they didn’t see each other again until the following Friday. It was immediately obvious to Sergio that Angie’s mood had only darkened. She just went over and over the same things she’s complained about the last time, again and again. Both Donnie and her mother had telephoned her during the week. Sergio could understand why Angie so desperately wanted to escape from Pittsburgh, but he could not understand why she twisted herself up in obsessive melancholy and resentment, instead of just saying “no” she wasn’t going to marry Donnie and play the subservient role that her Pittsburgh people wanted her to play. She was going to have the independent kind of life and career that she wanted to have, and for which she was clearly intelligent and talented enough to successfully attain. And that’s what she was at the University for.

“If people really loved you that’s what they’d want for you,” he told her.
“They don’t want to hear that. They just want me to do like mama did, and like all the other girls there are doing.” And she looped back into the same complaints again and again, about “thinks he owns me” Donnie, about “you should live near us” mama, about “he’s a good man, makes good money” papa, aunts and uncles and all of Donnie’s friends.
“Why don’t you write them a letter and spell out how you feel and what you intend doing?”
And with that Angie uncorked her frustration at him:
“I don’t want you to solve my problem! I want to emote!”

That shut him up. Now he got it. He was not supposed to be the analytical Mister Fixit badgering her with options, he was supposed to be the silent all-absorbing emoto-kotex. After a stretch of strained silence, she stubbed out her cigarette, and said: “I want to go.”
Wordlessly, he stood up, got her navy blue wool coat from the closet and held it out for her to slip her arms into, threw on his own golden beige cloth coat, and escorted her back to Hill House in silence. After a simple “good night,” she just walked in.

The following Friday was Halloween, and Angie was unavailable because she would be involved in a big party for the girls in Hill House. So Sergio went on a slow walk to soak in the refreshing air and the cold clear lights of the night sky and of the city. He stopped for dinner at The Underground, then came out to amble about on Campus Green. Here, he came upon groups of people in costumes, as ghouls, ghosts, witches, vampires, Frankensteins, pirates and princesses, and they were goofing around on the Green between transits coming from or going to parties, the fraternities were having their usual Basement Bashes and keggers. He wasn’t in the mood for their kind of levity. He felt a bump against his shoulder, and turning to see who the annoying drunk was, instead found
“Elena! What are you doing?”
“Halloween Night, looking for stories.”
“And did you find any?”
“Let’s follow ’em and see!”
So they walked all around Campus Green, and up and down Locust Walk, watching the costumed and uncostumed partygoers going about their antics, some climbing on statues, some climbing into or out of the wide open ground floor windows of the unbearably noisy totally packed fraternity houses; and throughout Elena could not resist walking along the tops of low walls and curbs and on benches, instead of the middle of the pathway. She was shamelessly acting like a child, public opinion was of no concern.

“I need to go to the bathroom,” Elena said.
“We can head back to College Hall”
“Na, we’ll just go in this frat.” It was Iota Phi Theta. So Elena burrowed into the crowd with Sergio trailing her. Sure enough, Seth was “managing” the first floor, and he was bug-eyed leaning toward her trying to induce her to stay. She finally got directions to the bathroom — upstairs naturally — and waved back to Sergio as she climbed up the stairs, signaling with a bobbing downward-pointed index finger for him to wait. Seth came over to him.
“You know that girl?”
“Yeah, a bit, you?”
“She’s been here a few times, but she’s not a regular yet.”
“Think that will happen?”
“I’m working on it.”
“Tonight might not be right for that, it’s too crowded and noisy”
“A lot can happen with a crowd in the frat!”
“I guess.”
“She’s not your girlfriend is she? I thought you already had a girlfriend.”
“Well, yeah, but some things are more temporary than others.”
“Are you two-timing!”
“No, no, everybody just gets what they want.”
“Oh yeah!, well maybe I’m gonna’ get some of that, too!”
Elena came down the stairs, joined them for a moment and said to Seth “Thanks. I gotta keep going, I have to write about Halloween for the Campus News,” and to Sergio “Let’s go!” as she drilled through the crowd for the door. Seth asked Sergio: “What’s she like?”
“Hot, tight, sharp, wicked and fast,” and Sergio walked out leaving Seth with his dick in a knot.

Outside on Locust Walk, Sergio asked Elena “Would you ever go out with that guy?”
“No way! Total zero!”
“I’m glad you said that, because I can’t stand him. He wanted to know if we were hooked up, and I let him believe we were, to pull his chain. And… I hope you don’t get mad… I kind of let him believe you were…”
“A whore!”
“NO! But, kind of a party girl.”
“What you say?! what you say?! tell me! tell me!”
“Well… I said… you were… hot, tight, sharp, wicked and fast.”
“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!” Elena squealed hysterically with delight and it bounced off the flagstones of Locust Walk and ricocheted off the sides of the adjacent buildings. “But I AM hot, tight, sharp, wicked and fast!, and don’t you forget it!”
“Well, I’m glad you’re not mad about it, I kind of used you.”
“Only fair, I use you.”
“You’re my guy shield, when you walk with me I don’t get hit up.”
“You expect to get hit up walking out here at night?”
“Why,” and she just stood erect, threw her shoulders back and flashed him a big grin.
“Okay, yeah, I have noticed. So I’m you guy prophylactic?”
“Yip!,” and then “Hey!, you got a cigarette I can bum?”
“Oh, you. Let’s go back to College Hall and I’ll buy a pack.”
“This time I’ll put the coins in!,” and she threaded her left arm under his right, and tugged him forward, “Come on!”
When Sergio got back to Paine-103, he threw the pack on the desk, thinking “Wow, what a crazy chick,” and then he thought about his planned visit with Angie tomorrow, the Day of the Dead.

Angie was in a better mood on Saturday. They met at Hill House for lunch in its cafeteria, and then went to the Library for a few hours of research for her, while he worked on his electricity and magnetism physics problems. Then Sergio took her for a burger dinner in The Underground before they went to Paine-103. He wondered what would happen there. They lay in bed for snuggles with their clothes on, but mainly she wanted to talk about her upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. in two weeks, for “the Mobe.” He knew she didn’t want to hear about thermodynamics, or electromagnetism, and for sure that he was not going to ask about Donnie and momma in Pittsburgh, and that he was forbidden to make any practical suggestions for solving her emotional problems, and that he didn’t want to talk about the Draft.

So, what was left? “Let’s have sex” didn’t seem like a winning gambit, and trying to grab for sex in that way, with scant regard for your lover’s state-of-mind, would be a cheapening of what should be the beauty of shared love and shared joy. So Sergio decided to chat about the humorous little things he’d observed since they were last together, and that meant the mildly goofy antics of Halloween. They alternated telling about their Halloween, but it was quickly apparent that Angie’s all-girl Halloween Party in Hill House wasn’t even interesting to her. She could just as easily have done the same things with the girls in Pittsburgh. So Angie said less and less and let Sergio ramble on about his wanderings among the Halloween partygoers on Campus Green and along Frat Row. And then she had had enough: “I don’t want you telling me about other women when you’re with me.”
“Okay” Sergio thought, “another door closed.”

Ten days later Sergio got a letter from the Draft Board, and this one was different. It informed him that his hearing to appeal the revocation of his 2-S student deferment and appeal his 1-A summons to report for induction into the military, was scheduled for Monday, 8 December 1969, at 10 am at 39 Whitehall Street, Manhattan, New York City. Now he could use a million dollar lawyer. He only had about $500. The next day was Veteran’s Day, and the many TV news segments seen in the Student Lounge, showed the President or state officials or local officials giving speeches about patriotism at military cemeteries with fluttering American flags and grids of tombstones in the background. These broadcasts were not inspiring, nor consoling. Angie would be leaving on Friday with the Hill House contingent joining “the Mobe” so they got together Thursday afternoon. Sergio wanted sympathy about his Draft Board problem, and wanted to explain the whole bureaucratic mess as well as his many fears about having his desired career derailed by the military, and very likely his life violently sacrificed in a useless war. But Angie was equally distraught: she had kept getting calls from her mother, mainly, and Donnie, sometimes, arguing that she was really making a big mistake with her life, to be fleeing the familiar familial patterns her Pittsburgh people had long established. Angie was pissed off that this annoyance was interfering with her organizational involvement with the Hill House Mobe, so she was somewhat tone-deaf to Sergio’s efforts to talk about his emotions. And then he snapped: “I don’t always want to be an emoto-kotex for you!”

He wasn’t happy, she wasn’t happy, and realizing that he suggested “Let’s just go back. We can call each other after all this is over, and we can figure out how to do things together without all this other stress.”
She could tell that he was much angrier than he was expressing — emotions! — so she wanted to get away from that till he felt safer for her to be with — to use? Hadn’t they both been using each other? It seemed that each of them had slipped from their earlier Cloud Nine sense of happily being “all giving,” into a flintier attitude “making sure I’m getting my share,” which was calculated by very subjective processes of “love accounting.” Maybe they were asking for too much from each other and becoming resentful at not getting what the other couldn’t possibly deliver. To Sergio it seem obvious, they needed time to clear their minds and reorganize themselves, before they could rejoin their unencumbered hearts.

On Saturday, 15 November 1969, the largest anti-war protest in the history of the United States occurred in Washington, D.C. Sergio was in the Student Lounge watching the TV new broadcasts, and found Joe there. They then spent the weekend together, following the news, going to eat, Joe learning about the latest ominous developments in Sergio’s Draft situation, and he learning about the latest ominous developments in Joe’s Denver situation. They talked about Thanksgiving coming up in twelve days, and how uncertain life seemed for each of them beyond that point. Joe’s father might just decide to prevent his son from returning to Philadelphia from his Thanksgiving vacation, and Sergio might find this to be his last Thanksgiving with his parents for a while, or worse, ever. They talked about fleeing to Canada to escape getting inducted into the Army, but neither of them really had any practical idea about how to go about doing that. The best that Sergio could think of was to make the Canada trip after Thanksgiving, buying a train ticket at Penn Station for Montreal, and then once there just hoping that the Canadians would take care of him. But that seemed ridiculous, why should they? why wouldn’t they just put him on a train going back? So, ultimately Joe and Sergio just escaped into marijuana since everything else seemed hopeless.

Despite it all Sergio kept studying his engineering because without it he would just rattle himself to pieces thinking only about his impending doom. And that’s what Angie was doing with all her psyche papers and Mobe organizing and protesting, to keep her mind as free as she could manage, of the prospect of being sucked into a stifling eternity of homemaking for Donnie. And that is also what Joe was doing working on his economics, because being stoned could never completely remove all consciousness of deeply troubling concerns, and never be a permanent solution to solving the problems an individual has interacting with the rest of society, and surviving all the hazards and hostility that this cruel world can throw at you. Being stoned does nothing to help you in situations where survival requires that you move your ass!

On Thursday the 20th, the Cleveland Plain Dealer broke the story of the My Lai massacre, with a front page spread featuring the grisly tragic photograph of the piled bloodied and contorted bodies of unarmed Vietnamese villagers — old men, women and children — shot dead by rampaging American soldiers. The massacre of up to 504 Vietnamese rural people over the course of a few hours, with numerous rapes committed before murdering the victims, had occurred twenty months earlier, on 16 March 1968, and kept secret by the US Army. The anti-war protests that had lingered since the big Mobe of November 15, were now enflamed by the outrage over My Lai.

The next day, Friday 21 November, was the last day for many students to connect before most left for the Thanksgiving vacations “back home.” Sergio called Angie to ask that they meet before “going home.” Angie agreed, “Yes, I want to talk to you.”
As he entered Campus Green, he saw her there. He joined her and they walked slowly over the grass.
“I’ve been thinking for a long time,” she began, “about us. You have this logical way of doing everything and don’t see that people’s feeling are often more important. Because of that you can hurt people with the way you talk and act, and you don’t even realize it. But you should! It’s part of growing up. You spend so much of your energy with numbers and things that you haven’t grown up emotionally. And you should be smart enough to see that and know better. So I don’t think we should be together until you have made that growth. If you really care for me, you will, and if you can’t make that effort then you really don’t care for me. So you have to change. Don’t call me and don’t try to see me until you have.”
“What are you talking about! What kind of change?”
“You have to think about it and realize it, instead of arguing with me all the time. I haven’t anything else to say. When you have really changed yourself then you can call me, but not till then. Goodbye.”
And with that she turned away and left him flabbergasted in the middle of Campus Green. The only part of this that he understood was that she’d left him.

Sergio couldn’t even concentrate on thermodynamics, his favorite subject, so he trooped over to Joe’s room. Joe was in, the room mate was out, good. He told Joe all about Angie’s ultimatum: “Don’t come back or call me until you’ve changed.” It was way worse than just no sex, it was no girlfriend companionship, it was no love. “It’s a bitch being in love,” Sergio thought to himself, “it’s a fucking disease.” Joe was always glad to see his friends visit him these days, it broke up the tedium of his enforced monasticism. So he lent his ears sympathetically to poor pissed-off Sergio.

“What’s up?” Bernie asked, walking in.
“Woman downer,” Joe replied, “Sergio has been dismissed rather abruptly. He must ‘change’ to regain acceptability.”
“Now I’m the bad guy. A bunch of Angie’s friends from Hill, that I gave them the answers to their Spanish homework, now don’t even know me. They walked right by me at Campus Green as if I was invisible. What the hell did I do?”

Bernie leaned back lying on Joe’s bed with his knees up, elbows out, and hands behind his head, and explained: “You know, some people are still in high school. Some people never get out of high school. Some people are way ahead of high school even before they get there. They usually hate it all the way through, and flee to college, like us. Some can’t stand high school because they’ll never grow up, they stay kids. They drop out, get jobs, and make more money that we’ll ever see. One guy in my school was driving a Corvette in sophomore year from the money he was making in landscaping. He just started with shovels and a truck. No diploma for him. Still in high school, that’s your girls on the Green.”
“Yeah, but what about Angie?”
“She’s way past high school, probably always was, now she’s looking past college, husband maybe, career maybe, and maybe just all mixed up. Lotta’ people are all mixed up.”
“I really don’t understand women. And they for sure don’t understand me.”
“Well, they know you want to get laid, but that’s par for the course with all coeds. Some of them want everything safe, you won’t get anywhere with them, some are dead set on nailing down their man with good job prospects, and some want to get their kicks before getting serious in junior year. I’ve seen a bunch of them, they find you if you can give them what they want.”
“Mostly, acid for some. Some are real talkers, emotional types.”
“So you get the pick of the litter?”
“No, man, you can’t let yourself get hung up on women. Can’t get messed up, these chicks come and go. I came here because I got things I want to do with the rest of my life. Gotta’ keep your focus. Psych majors are all screwed up, that’s why they’re in psych, they’re trying to figure themselves out, which they don’t, and they then want to get paid to screw up other people to be just like them. People are weird, man, the rats in the Bio Lab are all better adjusted, they know exactly what they want and they go for it, they’re totally clear minded, don’t lie and aren’t confused.” Bernie sat up on the bed, to go.
“Heading out?”
“Yeah, gotta’ get to my shift,” Bernie was now working as an Undergraduate Assistant on a microbiology research project by one of his professors, “got to keep the agar coming.” And off he went.

“How the hell does Purple Haze Stonemaster Bernie know more about people than psych major Angie, who actually works in the psych department office typing up the professor’s notes?”
“Because Bernie just takes drugs while Angie is getting a professional education in the subject.”
“So he sees clearly just by sitting back and looking, while she’s fogged in with the cult.”
“What do you think I should do?”
“Don’t tempt me. Let’s go get something to eat.” And that was a very useful idea.
The TV news at the Student Lounge was all about My Lai, antiwar protests, American war casualties, and the sixth anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination. Joe and Sergio went back to Paine-103 and succumbed to temptation, massively, and Joe repeated the Fariña Incantation: “Immunity has been granted to me because I do not lose my cool.”

The next day Sergio took a cold day’s ride on three trains, from the underground SEPTA electric trolley station near the Quad on 38th Street, to the 30th Street Station in downtown Philadelphia, Amtrak up to Penn Station in New York, then the Long Island Railroad out to the north shore of Suffolk County, to get home for Thanksgiving. It was so good to smell mother’s home cooking again, and she’d even made blueberry pies with her own garden blueberries and with her own homemade crust. That was the kind of love he wanted, and needed.


A Tempering of Dreams, Chapter 7
21 May 2022


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