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University Library: Ted Tinkle’s Girlfriend

August 15, 2017

(image via wikimedia)

I don’t remember the last names of the guys who lived on my dorm floor at the State University.  I remember my roommate Kirk, and I think of guys like Eric and Tim and Shane, but the most memorable guy was named Ted Tinkle.  Everybody liked saying Ted Tinkle.  We weren’t making fun of him when we said his last name.  We just liked the way his full name sounded, and it fit his personality.

Ted Tinkle wasn’t dumb, but he was a little scatterbrained sometimes.  He would occasionally show up to classes on the wrong day.  One professor would shake his head whenever he saw Ted Tinkle and mutter “Ted Tinkle, Ted Tinkle.”  Ted Tinkle sometimes called his friends the wrong name.  It took him at least a month to call me Jimmy instead of Johnny.  I was willing to let it go, but my roommate Kirk usually corrected him for me.  Ted Tinkle always looked shocked that he had gotten my name wrong and would apologize afterward.

I was jealous of Ted Tinkle because he had a cool girlfriend.  She was cute, and I was the only friend of his that she’d talk to a lot.  She knew about comic books and science fiction, and she understood all the nerd references I made.  Ted was a good-looking good-natured jock, not talented enough to get any athletic scholarships but good enough to be a stud in the intramural leagues.  Ted Tinkle’s girlfriend would hang out with me while he was participating in his league games, and he didn’t care.  He knew I wasn’t going to hit on his girlfriend.

His girlfriend’s name was Paula, but I don’t remember her last name.  You’d think I’d remember her last name, especially since I remember her boyfriend’s name, but it’s been over 30 years.

Paula always wore jean skirts.  It was the mid-1980s, and it didn’t matter what the weather was, she always wore jean skirts.  Back then, I was a sucker for jean skirts.  A couple guys once mentioned (when Ted Tinkle wasn’t around) that Paula seemed to always have a jean skirt on, and they meant it as criticism, but I didn’t care.  I was a fan.

Paula and I occasionally ate breakfast together in the dorm cafeteria because we were two of the few early risers in our dorm.  Every once in a while, it felt like Paula was my girlfriend, but I had to be careful with something like that.  Looking back, she must have known that I had a thing for her, so what she did kind of ticks me off now.  But it was 30 years ago, and I have to let this stuff go.

One morning we were eating breakfast, and out of nowhere Paula asked, “Do you have a girlfriend?”

A bunch of ideas staggered through my head.  Was Paula breaking up with Ted Tinkle?   If she was breaking up with Ted Tinkle, how long would I have to wait before I made my move on his ex-girlfriend?  Would he get pissed off I went out with his ex-girlfriend?  I mean, Paula was awesome and would be worth it, but this kind of thing could be really awkward.  Then I remembered that I had to answer the question.

“Not right now,” I said.

Not right now, what a dumb answer, I thought.  I should have just said no.  Sometimes when I write about my past, I get mad at myself for the stupid stuff I did and said.  “Not right now” was pretty stupid, but this is just the beginning of what happened at the University Library later that semester

Anyway, I was trying to play it cool because I thought Paula was about to tell me something about her relationship with Ted Tinkle, and whatever it was, I was going to act like it wasn’t a big deal to me.  I couldn’t act like I was excited they were going to break up.  I had to be neutral but sympathetic.  Since I was a guy with a monotone voice, I could do neutral, but I had to be careful with sympathetic.

Paula took a breath and asked, “What do you think about Brenda?”



What a lousy thing to do to a guy, I thought.  Paula could have led off with the question about Brenda instead of getting my hopes up and then crushing them.  A woman should never ask a guy if he has a girlfriend, not unless she’s interested in him.  Back then, I didn’t think Paula knew what she was doing, but I’ve changed my mind.  That has to be a high or an adrenaline rush for a woman, dangling availability in front of a guy and then snatching it back.

Paula explained how she and Brenda, the girl who had talked to me at the University Library, lived on the same floor.  Brenda thought very highly of me, she said.  She mentioned that Brenda always talked about our conversation at the University Library. Brenda was available, Paula said.  That was it.  Brenda was available.  I didn’t really care for Brenda too much, though.

Even worse, I realized Ted Tinkle’s girlfriend was a meddler.  I knew meddlers could be trouble, but I didn’t know how bad this was going to get.  Suddenly, I didn’t like Ted Tinkle’s girlfriend anymore.  It’s funny how quickly things like that can change.


To be continued in University Library: Scooter!

And you can start at the beginning with University Library: State School .

From → Dysfunctileaks

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