“Promise you won’t tell Mom and Dad,” I said for like the seventh time since packing my bag to go home between semesters.
Anne, never the most patient person, just rolled her eyes. “Why would I?”
“I don’t know. Just don’t, ok? I mean, they don’t have to know about it. And I’ll turn it around next term. I know I will.”
“Rachel. Relax. I won’t say anything. And I know you’ll turn it around.”
I nodded, trying to assure myself more than my sister. I knew I could do it. I had to do it. Oh god! I was such a mess, such a failure!
Just a few days ago Anne came into our room with our exam results. I was still in bed, which was unusual because it was Anne who was the night owl. She threw my results at me and then opened hers.
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “I’m so awesome! I aced all my exams!” Anne started dancing around the room in her jubilant excitement.
I got out of bed, reluctant to see just how badly I had done. I knew it wouldn’t be pretty. I had never been a good student. I just didn’t want to fail or get kicked out. I crossed my fingers as I opened the envelope my sister had given me. “Please pass, please pass,” I muttered under my breath.
But I hadn’t.
The letter went on to say that I was now on academic probation. If I didn’t fix my grades, I’d be kicked out.
“Let’s just go,” I sighed as I hefted my suitcase.
“Rachel, you worry too much. Mom and Dad aren’t going to find out. And even if they did, what will they do?”
“I don’t know! That’s why they can’t find out. Just don’t tell them!”
When we arrived at the University, both Anne and I were excited to make new friends and experience college life. We were living in a dorm. Dad offered to get us an apartment off campus, but Anne talked him into letting us do the dorm.
“I want to experience everything about college,” she said to him. “I want to eat dorm food and go to the student union building, and have roommates,” she said.
I wasn’t as sure about the situation as my sister. Dorm food sounded awful and sharing a room with anyone but Anne was repellant to me.
“We’ll have to share a common bathroom and shower,” I said to her.
“So? It will be great fun! Live a little!” Anne exclaimed.
Eventually I gave in as long as Anne agreed to be my roommate and not some stranger. She compromised since I was willing to endure sharing public bathrooms with complete strangers.
Dorm life ended up not being too bad. We made friends pretty quickly. Well, Anne made friends with them quickly. I tagged along and they eventually got to know me.
Anne developed a crush on one of our dorm-mates named Shayne Scraggins. She thought he was dreamy because of his long hair and leather jacket. I questioned the reason why he always wore a hat if he hair was so awesome and why he needed a coat when the weather was nice.
“What’s he hiding?” I whispered to Anne at night when she was going on and on about him.
“He’s not hiding anything, and did you see his freckles! They are so adorable.”
“Adorable,” I agreed sarcastically, but Anne ignored me and continued extoling his virtues.
Eventually she got him to go with her to the quad to play Frisbee or something. Another of our dorm-mates, Bill Todds, wanted to come too, so Anne insisted that I go with them.
“It will be like a double date,” she whispered to me. I told her I didn’t want to play Frisbee, but Anne glared at me and I eventually agreed.
“Sure, Frisbee sounds great,” I said to Bill and Shayne.
If only Bill and I had hit it off as well as Shayne and my sister. Unfortunately, Bill was more interested in Anne than me. It was just too bad for him that she had fallen for Shayne and his ridiculous hat first. Honestly, Bill wasn’t that bad.
So how did I end up on academic probation if things were going so well at the University? Well, it happened sort of gradually. I swear I really tried to do well in my classes.
But I really hated them.
Instead of reading my text books, I spent my time reading cook books. Instead of doing research for my papers, I’d look up new recipes or read cooking blogs.
In lectures, I couldn’t help it. I frequently fell asleep and Anne would have to poke me with her elbow to keep me awake.
It didn’t help that Anne was so popular that she got invited to frat parties. The first time we were invited over for the Lambda Chi bonfire party, Anne insisted that I come with her.
I wasn’t as keen on going somewhere and poking at fire, but I agreed to go because several others from our dorm were also going.
My first clue not to go should have been finding out that Shayne was going, but I went anyway. Anne abandoned me pretty much as soon as Shayne arrived. I was going to just go home, but Bill saw me and invited me to play Gnubb with him and some friends. Arielle, who was also in our dorm, asked me to be on her team so we could play boys vs. girls.
“I suck,” I warned her, but she didn’t listen. When we lost, she stomped off, mad at me.
“I told her I was terrible at Gnubb,” I said to Bill when he patted me on the back.
“That’s ok,” he said. “Let’s go inside.”
With nothing else to do, I went into the frat house. I saw my sister dancing with Shayne. She smiled and waved and I waved back. Several frat kids were down in the corner standing around a keg. They were all talking and laughing. Bill grabbed us a drink and then led me down to the lower level.
“I hear they have a table here. We can play juice pong.”
“What’s juice pong?” I asked.
Juice pong, apparently, is a drinking game. Unlike Gnubb, I turned out to be pretty good at it. I beat Bill and then some other guy, one of the frat boys named Mohamed–Mo for short, took his place.
Mo was better than Bill. By the time we were done, I was pretty juiced. We both were. I think I might have won, but I couldn’t be sure.
“You’re a pretty fun girl,” Mo told me, smiling. I grinned back. He had fascinating eyebrows. They were so thick and dark compared to his dyed yellow hair.
“Want to have more fun?” Mo asked me. Liking the way those eyebrows raised when he asked a question, I nodded.
“Sure.” He thought I was a fun girl! No one had ever called me that before.
I followed Mohamed upstairs and back outside. Bill came with us, I think, I seem to remember him vaguely coming up the stairs behind me. I was paying more attention to Mo.
“Do you think you can do a keg stand?” Mo asked me.
At that point I was so juiced, I thought I could do anything. My normal skepticism and fear was gone, so I nodded eagerly as Mo led me toward one of the kegs. He explained what I would have to do, and then grabbed me around the waste.
After the keg stand, things were a little blurry for me.
I remember feeling woozy and having Mohamed escort me back inside. Anne saw me and insisted that we go home.
The next day, I swore I would never get juiced like that again. I felt awful. Anne, who had held my hair back as I threw up all that juice, just laughed at me.
“I wouldn’t have done it this time,” I insisted, “except that that guy, Mo, had such expressive eyebrows!”
“He was cute,” Anne said. She sat down across from me with a hotdog from the dorm kitchen. I wrinkled my nose at the smell. I was eating a salad. It seemed less likely to end up coming back up again.
“He was sort of cute,” I said. “I suppose I won’t see him again. He probably thought I was some idiot drunk girl at the party.”
I was wrong about Mohamed. He called me later that day to make sure I was feeling ok.
“How’d you get this number?” I asked when he told me who it was and I’d assured him I was feeling just fine (he didn’t need to know how much I’d thrown up that day!)
“You gave me the number,” he said. “Don’t you remember?” I didn’t.
“I was pretty juiced.”
Mohamed laughed. It was throaty sound that I liked. I couldn’t believe he’d called me. And it was even more of a surprise when he asked if he could see me later that night. He said he had a late class and could come over after it was done.
What was I going to say? No? Of course I agreed. I had never had a boy ask to see me. Boys liked Anne. I’d always been the chubby sister that had to be set up with a friend so a guy could ask her out.
Mohamed and I had several dates after that frat party. Eventually he asked me to be his date at the Lambda Chi annual “Brotherhood Dinner.”
This was a more formal party than the bonfire. Mohamed wore a suit. I didn’t have anything extremely fancy, so I almost called him to tell him I couldn’t go to the party. Truthfully, I thought all of my clothes made me look fat, but Anne eventually convinced me that I looked really nice in my lavender sweater and white ruffled skirt.
“It’s not that formal,” she insisted. “It’s not a cocktail party or a ball.”
I knew Anne had chosen well when Mohamed smiled at told me I looked lovely. He said the purple sweater made my eyes look bluer.
Even with Mohamed’s compliments, I was still pretty nervous. I had sworn I wouldn’t get juiced again, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t have a drink to calm my nerves. Mohamed got me a cup, and I clutched it like a life-line as he introduced me to all of his frat brothers.
I swear I had no intention of staying the night with Mohamed. When he asked me up to his room, I was nervous and embarrassed, but I went anyway. He lay down on his bed and motioned for me to join him.
“Ok,” I gulped and sat down gingerly, stretching my feet out. There was about a foot of space between us. Then Mohamed scooted toward me and put his arm around me.
“Relax,” he whispered in my ear. “We’re only going to make out.”
“Oh, ok,” I whispered back. Making out was good. I could make out.
Well, making out turned into heavy petting. Eventually I pulled away and admitted to Mo that I had never had sex before.
“It’s ok,” he told me. “We won’t if you don’t want to.”
“Ok,” I said, relaxing.
“But…” he leaned in and kissed my neck just below my ear.
I tensed again. “I don’t think I’m ready,” I said. Mohamed said Ok again, but pulled me closer.
“We’ll just lay here,” he said. “Relax.”
So we did, and I did. And then we both fell asleep.
Eventually I got up and eased away from Mohamed who grumbled a little in his sleep. I slipped out of his room and managed to get out of the front door with none of the other frat guys seeing me.
I snuck into our dorm almost as easily. I figured I’d be able to get to my room and crawl into bed without Anne being any wiser to the fact that it was almost 5am before I got home.
No such luck. I came into our room and saw her sitting on the floor sketching.
“What are you doing up?” I asked.
“Sketching,” she said. “And you?”
I blushed. Anne raised an eyebrow at me. How could I stand against such interrogation by my sister? I collapsed on my bed and told her everything!
“You should have done it,” Anne told me as I finished explaining that I hadn’t slept with Mohamed in “that” way.
“No really, you should have. Who cares about your virginity? It’s not the 18th century. Be a modern woman. Do it if you feel like it. Just go for it!”
“Have you and Shayne…?” I asked, when I got over my shock at my sister’s comments.
She shook her head. “No. I think we’re done.”
We spent the next half an hour talking about how Shayne never took his coat or hat off. I guess all of my little comments had gotten Anne thinking about it and his strange habits were no longer endearing.
“Is he bald under there?” Anne asked and we both started giggling.
Eventually Anne sighed. “I just don’t think Shayne’s the one for me.”
“Well, it’s not like I think Mohamed is the one for me!” I said. “Would you have slept with Shayne if he’d taken the hat off?”
“Maybe. But most likely he’d have left it on ‘cause that would have been really sexy.”
“Next time,” I told Anne, “If Mohamed still wants to, that is, I’ll just go for it. Then I can go home as a non-virgin and you can be happy.”
“Well one of us has to get laid. That’s what college is all about.”
Mohamed wasn’t happy that I had slipped out on him and gone home while he was sleeping. “I wanted to wake up with you in my arms,” he told me.
Is there any question as to why I continued going out with him when he said things like that to me? Still, I wasn’t serious when I told Anne I’d go all the way with Mohamed the next time he asked me. The thought of it had me nervous. I didn’t feel sexy, and deep down I thought there was some mistake about him wanting me in that way.
But then he told me he wanted to wake up with me. I was flattered. And then he convinced me to attend a hot-tub party at the frat house. I didn’t want to go and be seen in my bathing suit, but he told me he wanted to see me half naked. He made it sound like it was the best treat he’d ever have.
I told him I only had a one piece, not a bikini like my sister, but he said that meant it was one less piece of fabric between us. What a line that was! But I blushed and eventually agreed to go to the party.
“You look hot,” Mohamed said when he saw me in the swim suit. I couldn’t look him in the eye, I was so embarrassed, but he seemed sincere. “Let’s get in,” I said.
He got in first and I hesitated. “Is it really hot?” I asked. “I mean, I don’t want it to be cold or anything.”
“It’s perfect,” he said. “Come in.”
So I did. It wasn’t so bad. I actually felt more comfortable in the water. It distorted my features and covered me. I started to feel almost sexy as the bubbles tickled my skin.
“Kiss me,” Mohamed pulled me close to him so that we were cuddling. I grinned and complied. Our kisses grew more heated. Mohamed’s hands started traveling all over my body.
The more he kissed me, the more relaxed I felt. When I noticed that he had eased my suit down so that my bosom was exposed, I only felt a momentary pang of embarrassment. Then he pulled my suit completely off.
“Wait,” I murmured. “Won’t people know what we’re doing out here?”
“Maybe,” he said, pulling off his own suit, “but no one is looking at us. The gate is closed. We’re the only one’s here.”
I gulped. Was I really about to do what I knew he wanted to do in a hot tub? Seriously? I think Mohamed knew I was about to say no, so he pulled me over to him.
“You’re so beautiful,” he told me. “I’ve wanted to do this forever,” he said. His words flattered me and his hands on my body relaxed me. Then his mouth was on mine and all protests I might have made were silenced.
“You’re kidding?!” Anne screeched when I told her about it afterwards. She had demanded all of the details and I couldn’t keep them from her. We were twins. If I didn’t tell her, it wouldn’t have been real, right?
“Did it hurt?” Anne asked after I swore that it really had happened exactly like I described it.
“I guess,” I shrugged. “I don’t know. It was hot in the water and there were all those bubbles. Maybe it would have hurt more if we were dry?”
“What happened next?”
“Nothing really. Mohamed helped me get my suit back on and then we got out of the hot tub. He got me a robe and we went into the frat house. I thought everyone would have known what we’d been doing, so I was really nervous, but no one seemed to. Mo got me a drink and asked me if I was feeling ok. I said I was. We danced a little bit, and then he brought me back here.”
“He didn’t ask you to stay the night?”
I shook my head. “He said he had an early class tomorrow, but wanted to meet me after.”
“Are you going to do it again?” Anne asked eagerly.
“I don’t know. Maybe?”
“Maybe! What do you mean, maybe!? Of course you are!”
“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I thought it would be…I don’t know…sort of life-changing I guess. But it wasn’t. It was ok, I suppose, but mostly it was embarrassing and awkward.”
Anne threw up her hands in disgust. “Just do it Rach. It was your first time. That’s why it was so awkward.”
Anne convinced me that I should give sex with Mohamed a second chance. He invited me over for dinner at the frat house and I agreed to go.
“I know it’s not much,” he said when he served me a plate of Autumn Salad. “I’m not a great cook. Next time you’ll have to cook for me. I know that’s your major.”
“It’s ok,” I said and dug into my salad. It wasn’t that bad. Sometimes the simple meals were the best, which is what I told him.
Dinner was more strained that any of our previous dates. I could tell that things had changed between us. I suppose we were both thinking of sex in the hot tub. I was trying to come up with a way to leave early when Mohamed asked if I wanted to come to his room with him after we ate.
Well, sex the second time wasn’t much better than the first. I still felt weird about the whole business. Mohamed asked me to stay the night, but I said I had to go home.
“So are you going to break up with him?” Anne asked me the next morning as I was making pancakes. I’d told her all of the disappointing and awkward details.
“I don’t know,” I said. “It’s not that I don’t like him, but I just don’t think it’s meant to be.”
“It’s early in the relationship,” Anne said. “So he isn’t good in bed. Maybe you should tell him what would make it better for you.”
“And what would that be?” I asked, stirring the batter. “I’ve had sex all of twice. Isn’t it the guy’s job to figure out what a woman wants?”
“Not always,” Anne said. “Maybe you need to take charge. Be on top, as it were.”
“What? That might be all it takes. You set the pace. You be on top. Guys like that.”
“Whatever,” I said, dropping the subject.
I should never have listened to my sister. What the heck did she know about sex? She’d never been with a guy, so how would she know what would make sex better?
I as on top the third time Mohamed and I were together. It was awful. I felt like a huge mountain riding a tiny donkey. All of my fat was exposed and available for him to touch, and I just couldn’t get into it. Eventually, I gave up and moved off of him. We were both unsatisfied.
Once we were dressed, I told Mohamed that things just weren’t going to work out between us. “It’s not you, it’s me” I said, uttering the most cliché of clichéd break up phrases. “I’m just not ready for this kind of relationship,” I said.
“You need to loosen up, Rachel,” Mohamed said. “If you weren’t so tense, you’d enjoy it.”
“No, it’s not that,” I said. “I just don’t think we’re right together.”
Mohamed was not happy to hear this. I could tell he was getting madder the more I tried to explain myself.
“Look, I’m just going to go,” I finally said, giving up reasoning with Mohamed.
Mohamed’s expression turned cold when it finally sunk in that I was breaking up with him. “You know Rachel,” he said in a voice lacking emotion, “You’ll never find a guy as good as I am.”
“Well, what other guy is going to look past the fat and see the girl underneath it? It’s not my fault that you are uncomfortable with yourself.”
“I am not uncomfortable with myself!” I said, though I knew there was some truth to what he was saying.
“Sure. Whatever. You know, the guys here dared me to go out with you? You were the designated fat girl at our first party. Anyone could have earned 100 Simoleons if they got in your pants that night.”
I couldn’t believe what he was saying. I gasped in horror at the awful words coming out of his mouth.
“I could have won that bet that night. You were wasted. But I liked you. I let you go home and asked you out again. Everyone made fun of me, but I didn’t care.”
“Aren’t you just the saint!” I sneered, insulted. “You decided to go out with the fat chick. Do you congratulate yourself for being such a do-gooder in waiting to get me into bed?”
“It wasn’t like that!”
“Sure it wasn’t. And now that I’m telling you that the sex sucked, now you’re telling me I was a pity fuck?”
Mohamed took in a shocked breath. I hadn’t told him the real reason I was breaking up with him. He looked hurt at my words and that made me feel even angrier.
“You can take your pity and shove it!” I screamed as I was leaving. “You were lousy in bed. Hopefully the next guy who fucks the fat chick will do a better job!”
I slammed Mohamed’s door as I left and then ran down the stairs. Several of his frat brothers stopped to watch me leave but none of them said a word.
When I got back to my dorm I ran up to the room I shared with Anne and threw myself on my bed.
School just wasn’t the same after breaking up with Mohamed. Any motivation for studying or attending classes that I had, which was admittedly not much, declined even more.
Anne, who told me I was an idiot once I explained the whole thing to her, tried to cheer me up, but I didn’t care.
“Our whole relationship was based on a bet!” I whined. “I was the designated fat girl.”
“You said that they made that bet for the first party. If he did it for a bet, he didn’t have to go out with you!”
“It doesn’t matter. I was just a pity date.”
“Rachel, you were not a pity date. He liked you. It’s just too bad that he was terrible in bed.”
“What if it was me that was bad in bed? I’m just that fat girl who sucks at sex!”
“You’re being ridiculous! I’m going to the library to study. You should get out and do something fun. Stop feeling so sorry for yourself.”
Well, if only it had been that easy. Instead I refused to leave the dorm except to go to class, but even then I hardly paid attention. When I took my last exam I knew I had failed. It wasn’t until I got my report card that I really understood what it would mean.
“I should just quit school!” I wailed when I read that I was on academic probation.
“What are you talking about?” asked Anne. She grabbed my results out of my hand.
After reading them over she just tsked at me. “I told you you should have studied more.”
“I know!” I cried.
“But that doesn’t mean you should quit. Just work harder next semester. And swear off boys. Don’t let them distract you.”
“Believe me, I’m done with boys. I will never go out with a boy again!”
“Now you’re being overly dramatic. Just get a grip and next semester won’t be as bad.” I nodded, hoping Anne was right. Next semester wouldn’t be that bad. I could do it. But then I had another thought…
“Oh my Sims! What will mom and dad say?”
“We just won’t tell them.”
“No. I won’t. I promise. And you won’t, so they’ll never find out.”
I should have known that my parents would find out. Who was I kidding.
“You look sad, sweetie,” Daddy said to me when Anne and I came in the door to the house. “What happened?”
“Nothing happened, Dad,” Anne said coming in behind me.
“It’s nothing,” I said, but then I couldn’t stand it anymore. I started to hiccup and felt a tear fall down my face.
“Oh baby! Don’t cry!” Daddy said. “Is it a boy? Did a boy make you cry? Just tell me his name and I will have someone kill him!” he joked lamely, but it just made more tears fall.
“It wasn’t a boy, Daddy!” I said, but I let out a sob. Unable to hold it in I wailed, “I’m on academic probation!”
“What!?” Dad asked, looking confused. He looked over my shoulder at Anne. “Is this true?”
“She broke up with this guy and then her grades sort of dropped,” Anne tried to explain.
“So it was a boy,” Mom said.
“No,” I cried some more. “It was me. It was all my fault.”
“No dear,” Mom said coming over to me. “It’s always the boy’s fault. Trust me.” She pushed dad away and took me into her arms. I really started bawling then, but I knew that somehow everything would be all right.