Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chapter 17, part 1: Recruiter

When I went to put the deposit for the trip on my credit card the following week, it turned out to be a moot point anyway.
“Sorry, Miss Gottlieb, but there hasn’t been much interest in this trip. I think it might be canceled.” Dr. Eberhardt said when I approached him after class.
“Canceled? Why?”
“You’re actually the first student to commit to going, and if we don’t have at least four more definite commitments by the end of next week, we can’t go. I knew it was a gamble to announce a trip this late in the year. Too last minute to get a good response.”
“But if at least five students sign up by the end of next week, we can still go?”
“That’s right.”
“Okay, so why don’t you take my deposit now, and I’ll work on getting some of my friends to come along.”
“I like your enthusiasm, Miss Gottlieb. I suppose we can try that. I don’t see how it would hurt to take your deposit now. Worst case scenario, you’ll be the first one signed up for next year’s excursion.”
Despite my bravado with Dr. Eberhardt, I tried and failed to think of four people I’d feel comfortable inviting to go. Any time I thought of an acquaintance who might be interested, I imagined the conversation and thought of all the reasons they’d say no. They might even think I was weird for bringing it up.
That Friday just before dusk, Brad and I walked hand in hand off campus for a date.
“Look, there’s my friend Ian,” I told Brad. “I’ve been wanting to introduce you to him.” I called Ian’s name.
“Hey, Gigi,” Ian said when we caught up. “Brad, heard about your grand slam at this afternoon’s game. Awesome.”
“We’re headed to the Shake Shack to celebrate with an ice cream. Want to join us?” Brad asked.
“Have to take a rain check, bro. It’s almost sundown. Ice cream is great, but fellowship of believers on the Sabbath is even sweeter,” Ian said.
A twinge of guilt shot through me as we said our goodbyes. Since I started seeing Brad, I’d missed a few CSF meetings. Last weekend I even missed church with Lacey after a Saturday midnight movie in Avondale kept us out until almost 3:00 a.m.
“Sabbath? Is he Jewish or something?” Brad asked after Ian turned onto a side street.
“Not exactly. It’s hard to explain,” I said. I wasn’t really in the mood for a spiritual conversation just then, so I quickly changed the subject. “Hey, remember that trip I told you about? It’s probably not going to happen. I’m so bummed.”
I explained the minimum attendance requirement. As far as I knew, I was still the only one interested .
“That sucks. I wish I could tell you I’d go just to make you feel better.”
“I sense a but coming …”
“But, what about the unrest in the world right now?” He knitted his brow. “Is it even safe to travel? And what if we get picked for one of those random enhanced patdowns? I don’t know if I could deal with someone — I mean some guy — touching my junk.” He winked.
Those issues had never even crossed my mind. “I guess I didn’t think of it like that …” I trailed off, lost in thought. Daddy said it was a waste and Brad just said it was dangerous. Was I being foolish to even consider the trip? But then again, a freak accident could happen to us at any minute. I didn’t want to miss out on a chance to see the world because of fear. “You may have a point, Brad, but--”
“Aww, Giselle, I was kidding. Sure, all the craziness in the world does freak me out a little, but … Well, the truth is, it’s just that I can think of other things I’d rather do with my summer – like go to Indians games. My dad has season tickets and I’ve kind of made it my personal goal to attend all the home games I can. Isn’t there anyone else you can ask?”
“That’s the thing. It’s probably stupid, but I’m afraid to bother people or seem pushy by telling them where to go and what to do.”
“You don’t have to be pushy, just bring it up in conversation, you know?”

“That’s worth a shot, I guess. I’ll try that.”  

I mentioned the trip to Ian the next time I saw him, but he said that though it sounded fun, he couldn’t miss his family’s annual trip to visit his grandparents in Michigan the first week in August. Lacey still wasn’t speaking to me, which made it hard to bring up the concept of traveling together to a remote location in casual conversation. Maybe Breanne?

I walked over to her room, planning to join her for dinner. I knocked and pushed the door open.

She was on the bed making out with someone with long dark hair.

“Excuse me, I didn’t know I was interrupting anything,” I said as I quickly backed out of the room.

“Oh, Zella, it’s you. Come on in.” Breanne turned to me. “This is my girlfriend, Lori.” She stood to reveal a small brunette woman who I recognized from the grocery store on Main Street. She looked to be at least 10 years older than us. “She’s the reason I missed the movie the other night.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said, shaking her hand. So the rumors were true. How could I not see it?

“Zella, I’ve heard so much about you,” Lori said. She looked at me appraisingly. “I can see why Breanne was crushing on you last semester.”

“Uh, thanks,” I said. Did she say crushing on me?  How dense was I?

I didn’t know what to say so decided to change the subject. “I was actually headed to the dining hall to eat. Want to join me?” I asked.

“Dinner time already? Whoa, we really did lose track of time,” Lori said, winking at Breanne. “You know how it is when you’re in love,” she said to me.

“I’m starved.” Breanne said. “But, um, could we go some place off campus?”

“Sure thing, love,” Lori said. She turned to me, “We were in the dining hall yesterday, and this couple comes up to us and asks us if we know that queers will burn in hell.”

“That’s awful. Who would do that?”

“I hate to tell you this,” Breanne said, “but it was your roommate.”

“Lacey said that to you?”

“Well, not exactly. Her boyfriend did all the talking.”

“That Rob! He’s awful. I’ve never liked him — an intolerant, arrogant jerk.”

“Just like every other Christian I’ve ever met,” Lori said.

“I’m a Christian,” I said quietly.

“Zella, you’re different,” Breanne said quickly. “I don’t know why, but you are. You and Phoebe. Before I met you both, I felt just like Lori, that all Christians were hateful bigots. But if all Christians were like you, maybe I’d even want to be one.”

“Come to CSF with me some time,” I offered. “You’ll find out there are a lot more people like me and Phoebe there than people like Rob.”

Breanne and Lori giggled and flirted with each other over dinner. It made me uncomfortable at first, but then I saw how happy Breanne seemed. Weren’t they just like any other couple newly in love? Did gender really matter?

When the Religion 101 professor had ranted about the irrelevance of the Bible to modern-day sexual ethics last semester I’d flatly dismissed his arguments as heretical, sacrilegious, blasphemous. Now, faced with a real-life example of two people condemned by Biblical standards, I felt less certain. Slavery was allowed in the Old Testament and outlawed today, same with polygamy. Maybe homosexuality was an example of something outlawed then that was permissible today?

When I got back to my room, I realized I had completely forgotten to ask Breanne about the trip to Germany.