This week we peek into the mind of Amber, a Classics major at Parnell State University. Amber has some homework to do for her course on human sexuality…
- Amber Gets Serious
In ancient Rome, a man who bombed at getting girls into bed was called an exclusus amator: a shut-out lover. I’m here to tell you how you can become this loser’s exact opposite: the man who gets in every time. Skeptical? Try these tips and watch the girls open up to you. On this tour through the hidden recesses of the female psyche, I shall be your intrepid guide. Call me Inclusus Amator.
— Amator’s Art of Seduction: Bagging the Parnell Girl.
Amber Bartlett laid down her sociology textbook and rubbed her eyes. It had been a long week, and she badly needed a break from the punishing schedule of work and study that she’d set for herself. Amber’s high school years in Haddonfield had been a carefree time, except for her growing awareness that her parents’ marriage was crumbling. Giving little thought to her own future, and ignoring her mother’s periodic attempts to address the topic, she’d partied regularly with a group of fun-loving friends, and found it easy to maintain a B average with minimal attention to schoolwork. She was a voracious reader, but preferred Middle Earth, Pemberley, and Dune to the tediously dull landscapes of her textbooks.
Then, when she was a senior, reality set in. Universities had become highly selective, and she didn’t have the GPA to get into an Ivy, nor even one of the prestigious private colleges, like Bowdoin, that her more industrious friends had aimed for. She realized that she had no goals, no plans, and no enduring interests, other than a fascination with Latin, which had been her best subject in high school. The economy was still tanking, and she’d heard endless scary stories about unpaid internships that led nowhere, and young people with Master’s degrees moving back home to live with their parents. It was time to get serious.
Amber wasn’t interested in teaching Latin, the most obvious career option, but she was attracted to rhetoric and law. She had good comprehension and writing skills, the fruit of her mother’s habit of reading to her from infancy, and her own practice of keeping a journal, which she obsessively rewrote, trying to make it sound less like the musings of an average Jersey teenager, and more like the private diary of someone clever and sophisticated, like J. K. Rowling.
Fortunately for Amber, her mother was now a professor of history at Parnell State University, which offered its employees and their dependents the fringe benefit of free tuition. At Parnell, she would have another chance to prove herself. College was at once more difficult and more satisfying than high school, and to her surprise, she found that she loved the academic work. In her freshman year, she made the Dean’s list, and decided on a double major in Latin and Political Science. Delighted with her progress, her parents promised that they would help pay for law school if she was accepted at Penn.
Amber clicked through a series of websites, looking for one that might fit her latest assignment in Professor Kavanagh’s sociology course, which dealt with sexual and courtship behavior in modern America. Each student was to find a site related to romantic relationships or sexuality, and analyze it according to a list of criteria. Even porn sites were not off limits, though Prof. Kavanagh emphasized that points would be taken off if students failed to fully consider the significance of such sites from the perspectives of economic impact, dynamics of gender and power, social justice, and cultural attitudes toward the internet, citing appropriate research to support their arguments. Perhaps Match.com? No, the class had more than fifty students, and others would surely choose this site. She needed something more distinctive, to set her apart from the crowd.
Amber was determined not to blow it this time. Still, every two or three weeks, she felt a balloon of tension inflating within her, and the only way to burst it, and return to her former equilibrium, was to spend an evening out with friends, do a few shots, and if all went well, hook up with a cute guy. In order not to be interrupted while studying, she’d turned her phone off. Now she powered it up, and immediately saw a new text from one of her friends, Tommy Walczak.
She wrote back. wrud 2nite?
wduthk? tullys. Tully’s was a bar near campus, beloved of underclassmen because the bartenders there were nearsighted when it came to fake ID’s. On the other hand, anyone who drank enough to stagger, vomit or pick a fight was unceremoniously shown the door, and not served thereafter. Tully’s didn’t want to draw the attention of the police, and it was a haven for those who preferred to imbibe thoroughly, but discreetly. Amber’s friends, who were mostly Classics majors, had adopted Tully’s as their hangout for sentimental reasons as well, Tully being the nickname of the Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero.
She texted Tommy: okcu, 7. She would allow herself an evening of freedom. Tommy had been hinting to her for months now that he’d like to hook up. Perhaps, if there was nobody else who turned her on, Tommy would finally get lucky tonight. Meanwhile, she had to find just the right website for her project.
Copyright 2015 by Linnet Moss
Notes: Tully’s seems to be a popular name for bars and taverns in the Anglophone world. Looking online, I note examples in Syracuse NY, St. Louis, Harford County Maryland, San Francisco, and so forth. You can also find a Tully’s in Carndonagh, Donegal and another in County Carlow, Ireland. My inspiration came from Tully’s II on good old Monona Drive in Madison, Wisconsin.
I had fun researching the texting habits of young people, which are entirely alien to me as a person who prefers email (or even hand-written letters!) and still tries to use punctuation and correct spelling. Hopelessly dated, I know… but sometimes I wonder whether the relaxation of such conventions in texting has contributed to my students’ inability to spell? In case you found the conversation indecipherable, here is a translation:
Tommy: What’s up?
Amber: What are you doing tonight?
Tommy: What do you think? Tully’s.
Amber: OK, see you at seven.
Lisa @ cheergerm said:
Highly amusing. I still remember thinking that LOL meant ‘love you lots’ when I first saw it used. I try to keep up but sometimes, I just can’t be bothered. Am looking forward to embarrassing my children in years to come. The ‘hooking up’ thing kind of disturbs me, I am not a prude but it seems to lack the excitement and hint of romance that I remember, at the possibility of an assignation. #lol #gettingold #sigh
Yes, from the descriptions I have read, “hooking up” drains all the romance out of sex. But maybe it makes it easier for some people to connect by removing the pressure and high expectations of “romance.” I think it has pros and cons, for sure…
Oh, interesting, we are getting the insights of a young woman. I like it… *sigh* I wish I was 20 again… the freedom…
I am laughing because I got my dates mixed up. This was supposed to be posted on Monday!!! I must have imbibed a little too much holiday cheer.
I wish I had a 20 year old body, but I don’t wish I was 20, because I was an idiot then. I made Amber a lot wiser, or at least more comfortable with herself, than I was at her age!
hehe, I had wondered why you had posted today instead of the usual Monday publication date, but then again – I am happy to lap this up a day early 😉
I wish I was 20 again – with the dreams and the confidence and the whole world waiting for me. Ok, and with a few insights that I have now…
Feeling proud of myself (stupid, I know) when I could read and understand the texting conversation 🙂 Texting French is also a strange language….
Same for me: I wish I had my 20’s body (maybe my 30 which was better) but don’t wish I was 20 again: I was a bit of an idiot (not too much) but I was so anxious and felt so insecure at this time!
Not stupid! I would really have trouble grasping texted French…
I was very anxious and insecure in my 20s too, something which has improved greatly with age 🙂
Hehe, figured you’d gotten the date wrong but glad to be enjoying this in peace on the Sunday rather than rush on the Monday or have to postpone it for sometime during the week 🙂
Hm, i remember that about university, the pressure to juggle all, do the studying and enjoy freedom.. though for me that came mostly at postgrad rather than uni itself. Hm wish i could go back and do some things differently, like get into sports more and just have more years to look forward to and be worry free. But, i just don’t believe my life would have turned out differently, regardless, i think things happen the way they are meant to, for good or bad. But wish i knew then how precious the years of freedom are and would have enjoyed them more, definitely not wild enough.
I really like the idea to hear from both mother and daughter 🙂
My student days were very happy in the sense that I was studying and learning so much, without the responsibilities of work. But I had a lot of anxiety about what I was going to do as a career. I wanted to be able to support myself, no matter what, and I wasn’t good at anything except reading books! I was crap at sports too. Initially I decided on law school, so that’s the plan I gave Amber 🙂
well it turned out really well didn’t it? 😉 and thank God you were spared law.. shudders! (considered that too and quickly discarded 😉
Yes, I was spared both the high cost of law school and the profession itself 🙂
Thank you very much for the text translation, although I should have scrolled down to it instead of racking my brains trying to understand (apparently I did).
Funny, I’ve just read a book dealing with Cicero, the second part of Robert Harris’ trilogy, I have enjoyed it a lot.
I just googled Robert Harris to learn about his books. Cicero is not a favorite personality of mine, but it sounds like Mr. Harris’ research is very good! In the meantime we started watching “The Borgias” and have been very impressed. The LSH is loving it, and he usually gets impatient with television.
Which Borgias, the ones with Mr. Irons or the other?
I think that Mr. Harris has portrayed beautifully those chaotic times of the end of the Republic; I have loved the scene of Catilina’s followers death sentence (when Cato decided the vote of the senate with his speech) and afterwards Cicero’s sin of egomania, boasting himself about being “the saviour of the Republic” and “the father of the nation”. This sentence is superb: “Familiarity makes even the most fascinating figure dull: one would probably be bored with Jupiter Himself if one passed Him on the street every day. Slowly Cicero’s lustre faded”
And, trust me, reading what Caesar did or said having in mind Mr. Hinds (Himself) is priceless. 😉
Ooh, I forgot that the story of Cicero would necessarily involve plenty of appearances by Caesar Ipsissimus 🙂
We are watching the one with Jeremy Irons, who is magnificent. And the fellow playing Cesare is very easy on the eyes 🙂 Peter Sullivan, who plays Cardinal Sforza, reminds me a bit of Depardieu.