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A Time To Speak

He mentioned the connection between us. He identified with me. These are the things that many people want to hear, that most “normal” people want to be able to truthfully say, but almost no one can.

Rasmenia Massoud, Human Detritus


Chapter Five

In which all three connect on Facebook

John

Victors

A fun place to reminisce, recall, and re-connect with other alumni! Sit down, settle in, and make yourself at home—there's always room here for people who survived Foothills Christian University!


That was the message I saw when I clicked on the link Win sent me one day. It was a Facebook page called Foothills Christian University Victors. She told me she'd been posting on it for a week or so, and she thought I'd like it better than the super-promo-never-say-anything-bad-about-the-school site.

I followed the link and looked around the page a little bit, and I liked what I saw. There were a lot of people here, and they were talking about real things. It wasn't just a public image page—this was run by people who had actually been students at the school and were willing to really talk about it. There were FICs here, too—there was actually a debate going on in one thread about pre-millennial versus post-millennial eschatology, which made about as much sense to me as debating when Elvis was really coming back. But there was also a thread titled, "Stupidest Rule at FCU", and another thread on "What You Wish Incoming Freshmen Knew About The School."

Oh yeah, this was going to be fun.

Victors

Introduce yourself!


John

My name is John David, and I went to Foothills from 1986-1990. I finished four years with absolutely nothing—no degree in anything (that was my choice), no good friends, no memories of a normal college experience. I didn't even leave with a girlfriend—she got expelled for drinking six months before I graduated. Anyway, it's nice to see other people who came out of this weird environment and went on to have normal lives. Looking forward to talking to everyone here.


Win must have been watching that thread. She posted right after me.

Win

Winifred Larramore Hendricks here, 1985-1989. Majored in elementary ed, minored in creative writing. Good to see everyone.


I was surprised, a day later, to see Alecia's name posted too.

Alecia

Alecia Grace Harrington. I attended from 1986-1990 as a music education major, then went on to earn my master's as well. I have been teaching at Foothills ever since, and I surely look forward to "meeting" my former students and classmates.


I was pretty sure Alecia wouldn't want to meet all of her former students.

For example, it turned out there was a big group of gay alumni out there. You can bet your ass I didn't know much about them when I was in school, but here they were, an entire group of them, being all loud and proud about themselves, even talking about forming an undercover support organization for gay students still on campus. I thought the best thing they could do to help those kids was to get them out, but whatever. One of them had actually written a petition to the school, demanding that the university publicly recognize them as gay alumni.

Not a chance in hell, buddy.

There was another group of atheist alumni, which I'm sure the school didn't exactly highlight at their alumni class reunions either, and still another group of alumni who were hell-bent on making sure the school never, ever did a blatantly racist or sexist thing again. There was another, equally outspoken group that seemed determined to prove that racism and sexism had never, ever happened at the school, or even if it did then it really wasn't as bad as everyone thought. There were political threads and threads about current events, and even an occasional sports post.

But even with all the different groups, everyone seemed to be having a good time, no really nasty comments being made or flame wars starting up. Once in a while someone got on someone else's case, and somebody else would step in and tell them to knock it off. It was crazy, and kind of cool, that we could be such a mixed group of people and still mostly get along.

Best of all, I didn't have to explain my college experience to anyone here. When I bitched about having my dating privileges suspended my sophomore year because I'd been caught holding some girl's hand in Vespers, I didn't have to spend an hour explaining what dating rules were like at this college or what Vespers was. I didn't have to describe the humiliation of being shamed for holding hands with my girlfriend under the table, when college kids everywhere else were having sex. We could all laugh together when someone said their wildest college memory was hiding out in the closet of their dorm room so they could skip a Sunday morning church service.

I also understood the people who said that, even today, they didn't want to criticize the school openly because of what they would face from their families if they did. I totally got that. My parents and I never talk about the school.

Two days after I found that site, I tripped and fell while I was out jogging. Broke my ankle in two places. I had to work from home for three weeks, and Janna was visiting her family in Arizona. After I logged in my required hours of work each day, I had nowhere to go, and absolutely nothing to do. The FCU Victor's page became my entertainment. I started hanging out there every day.


Win

As time went on, more and more people joined Foothills Victors. Most of them introduced themselves on that one thread but to be honest, I didn't think of many of them by their real names very much. I came up with nicknames, instead, that reflected their personalities or something memorable about them. It was just easier for me that way. I always did enjoy creative writing, after all.

One person who stood out pretty quickly was named Katrina, but I secretly thought of her as Fido, partly because of her profile picture, which was always one of her many dogs, but more because of the way she howled about anything wrong that the school had ever done to her, which according to her, must have happened pretty much every day. I had a feeling she was right. The school could be pretty awful to certain people sometimes.

There was another woman I named Rad, for Radical, because she always liked to post political stuff in the middle of every thread. Her politics were way to the left. She was very, very concerned about the role of Israel in the world, and somehow, whatever post was most popular right then, she would get in the middle of it and say something about Israel and their lack of true democracy. (I could have just called her Hi for Hijacker, but given her middle eastern appearance, that would have been mean.) Finally someone thought to ask her when she graduated from Foothills and she admitted she had never been a student there, she just wanted to be on this site to talk about Israeli atrocities every day. Bye bye, Rad.

There was Regina, who had been a well known student on campus and later joined the faculty, but was now openly hostile to the school, and Mitch, who had been a prayer group captain on campus but was now very gay. He made his living as a model for cross-dressing fashion magazines. Starr was a grad who was still a practicing Christian, but she adored tarot cards and gave online readings to anyone who would ask. I gave a guy named Peter the nickname of Hoot, because of the wide, perfectly round eyes that always showed in his profile picture and reminded me of an owl. Craig ran his own blog recalling his personal history of teaching at the school, and often posted links to it in the group, along with some very funny stories about things that had happened to him there. Faith was an older member of the group, a true believer in the Lord, the school, and school president Seth Thomas, in that order, and she did her best to convert every atheist on the page to all of the above.

With such a wide range of personalities and viewpoints all interacting together, there were some memorable moments on the page.

Victors

Confession is good for the soul. What's the worst thing you got away with on campus?


John

I can't answer that unless this becomes an X-rated site.


Regina

LOL!!!


Mitch

Ditto. And I plead the fifth.


Peter

I once drank a fifth out on the athletic field. Does that count?


Mitch

You stopped at a fifth? Lightweight. I used to drink a whole bottle, right at the start of Bible Conference week. It was the only way I could handle the preaching every day.


Starr

My roommates and I played poker in our dorm room every Friday night, with real playing cards. A girl down the hall turned us in to the hall monitor. Turned out the hall monitor could play better than any of us!


Katrina

I was terrified every moment I was at the school. I came from a background that wouldn't allow me to have any kind of fun without feeling guilty about it, so breaking any rule at all was horrifying for me. If I did break any of them, even by accident, I would cry about it for two days.


Regina

(((hugs)))


Win

One whole semester, I used a tanning spray on my legs so that they looked completely dark, and I went to class every day that semester with no nylons! I even sat in the front row of some of my classes, and nobody ever noticed! I was just so tired of wearing nylons every day.


John

I noticed. *wink*


Craig

Is this where the x-rated portion of the thread starts? I'm all in.


Artist Series was a very formal production on campus half a dozen times a year, usually an opera or a Shakespearean play, and of course we were all required to go. Depending on your taste, an Artist Series could be one of the most enjoyable nights of the semester or a four hour exercise in new levels of torture. If you liked dressing in a tux or a floor length formal and sitting around for an entire evening enjoying the opera La Traviata, or maybe a group like The Ten Tenors, then it was the place for you. If your idea of a good time was to hang out at a bar, trading shots and trying to pick someone up, well, it could be a long night.

Victors

Your most memorable Artist Series:


John

God, I hated AS. I can't tell you a single second of any AS I ever went to. If I didn't have a date, I'd skip out at intermission and sneak off campus to that Dunkin Donuts that was on the corner. Nobody else from campus was there, and I'd sneak back on around 10:30 or so. Never got caught.


Win

John, shouldn't that go in the thread about things you got away with? LOL! I loved the school's production of Aida. They had real animals on stage! Horses, camels, and lots of others. I went back and saw it a second time.


Neville

The school did a fair job, I suppose, when they brought in outside talent for their bigger productions. It wasn't nearly as well done as anything you would get at a secular school, however.


Neville was a former art major on campus and now an activist for all things gay. In fact, he seemed to think he was an expert on a lot of things.

John

I don't think it's fair to compare Foothills's productions to those done at schools that receive thousands of federal dollars for the arts, Neil.


Neville

John, it's Neville, please, not Neil. The school says that it sells a superior product. I'm just saying that they ought to be able to back up their words with real deeds.


Katrina

Aida wasn't bad. I liked Romeo and Juliet more.


Peter

I remember the one where a bat flew into the auditorium during one of the numbers. It was some boy's choir singing that night, and the girls screaming from the balcony sounded just like some of the singing I was hearing.


John

Okay, so there's one.


Regina

Macbeth? Anyone remember Macbeth?


Stan

I remember Macbeth. My date that night looked just like the first witch.


Stan was Neville's twin brother, also gay, but he had been a music major. He had only come out of the closet in the last six months and was looking for a new, more progressive church that would be more affirming than the moderate Methodist church he had just left. He liked to post a story each Monday about the church he had visited the day before, reviewing it the way the editor of a food magazine might review a new restaurant.

Stan

Yesterday, I visited the Glorious Church of the Divine Light in beautiful downtown Hicksville, just minutes from beautiful downtown Gooberton, where the people were informal, friendly, and in desperate need of a good proof reader. The bulletin handed out in church had at least three spelling errors. The service was on time and friendly. The ambience was quiet and restrained except for the main sermon, which was delivered with a strong side of brimstone served on a bed of pure hell. For this reason, I did not leave a tip. If you decide to go, make sure to take advantage of the visitor parking spaces close to the entrance. Overall rating: two stars out of five.


Faith

Which version of the Bible did the preacher use for the sermon?


Win

Your church reviews always make me laugh. I wonder what you would say if you came to our church for a visit. We have visitor parking spots too!


Neville

I could never go to a church like that, even to try out. The rites of high church, the litany, the Eucharist—they have all have come to mean so much to me since I left the church of my youth and discovered the True Church.


Peter

Your church reviews are usually better than the church services themselves.


Mitch

How would they feel if I showed up with my partner?


Stan

I'm pretty sure they wouldn't like that, Mitch. Their name was ambiguous enough that I decided to give them a try, but they are not a progressive congregation at all. They would probably ship you and your partner out the door about as fast as you would get expelled from Foothills. Besides, they had some literature in the lobby from a conservative home-schooling group.


Regina

Now don't go knocking home-schooling. That has nothing to do with it. It's a conservative church in the middle of the Bible belt. Would you expect a welcome wagon for a same sex couple?


Neville

I would expect the love of God to be extended to everyone, Regina, no matter what their orientation, especially in church.


Regina

You don't need to be offended, Neville. I'm just saying that it's not surprising that a conservative congregation in the south would not be affirming and welcoming. You have to pick your battles.


Neville

I'm not offended, Regina, I'm just responding to your question.


Regina

Well it sounds like you're offended.


Katrina

It's easy to be offended when you've been abused your whole life. Just walking into a church like that would be enough to make me see my therapist for a week. I could never even look at one of their church bulletins without worrying about being triggered.



Victors

Things you would never be expelled for at any other college.


Mitch

The time I peed into my roommate's iron, so all his shirts would smell like piss when he was in class.


Regina

That is so funny! But I thought you graduated from Foothills? You were expelled?


Mitch

No, I was never caught. He figured out what I did, but he could never prove it.


Craig

They wouldn't have expelled you for that. If you had peed on a picture of the founder, maybe. Good idea for pissing off a pissy roommate, BTW.


Peter

They would definitely have expelled him for peeing into his roommate's iron, even if they couldn't prove it. None of the admins there had any sense of humor. They lived to expel everyone they could. That's all they ever wanted to do.


Katrina

Remember when they found bear claws that had been skinned and left out on top of one of the pianos in the practice studios? They thought they were real people's hands, and that a Satanic group was performing human sacrifices on campus, so they called in the FBI. They expelled the student who did that, even though it was a harmless prank.


Starr

What morons. There are no human sacrifices in a real church of Satan ritual. Everyone knows that.


Faith

Yes there are! My pastor preached about this just last week! They happen all the time, especially at Halloween! And there are more and more of them taking place every year. We really do live in the end times, and we can expect things to get worse and worse until the Lord comes back.


Alecia

That was a horrible prank, and it had a lot of people really scared.


John

That was an awesome prank, especially to play at a seriously paranoid place like FU. Wish I'd thought of it.


Alecia

John, I really wish you would refer to it as FCU, not FU. "Christian" is an important part of the school's name.


John

FU is the best name for a Christian college ever. Go FU!!!!


I'm pretty sure Alecia blocked John for a week after that.