None of Us Took Any
Suzanne Lamb

We called ourselves the Catholic Girls, granting honorary membership to Laura, who was Episcopalian. The four of us—Laura, Jessica, Steph, and I—had been assigned to the Holmes Hall basement, a moldy zone used for freshman overflow. Friday afternoons we'd track down an upperclassman headed to Liquor Barn and place an order for a liter of Jim Beam, which we mixed with Diet Coke and drank from plastic fast-food cups. Before heading out we reapplied lipstick and danced to Billy Joel, committed ourselves to further corruption. The girls who stayed in to watch movies were the targets of our scorn.

We collected souvenirs from the frat houses—things like a mini-stapler, a six-pack of Dial soap, an institutional-sized bottle of strawberry jam. We didn't use these things but kept them in a box under my bed. It was kind of like stealing except we weren't thieves but cute freshmen with shellacked bangs and Gap jeans. One night Steph took a shirt from some guy's closet, and the rest of us agreed she'd crossed a line. Steph wouldn't take it back, though. It was a Corona beer t-shirt, and she wore it to bed, like it was her boyfriend's or something.

It was a Presbyterian college, but they let Father Rick say mass in the chapel. Sunday evenings he drove over from town, toting a tabernacle and a linen vestment with a thick rope sash. He was in his thirties, darkly handsome, and probably gay. Steph had spotted him coming out of the Super Tanz next to Big Lots. Only a dozen students attended, so he liked us to encircle him while he consecrated. At the sign of peace he hugged each of us, and we could smell his Obsession. We bowed our heads and chanted, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed."

I'd spent my savings on Jim Beam and beer, so Christmas break I took a job hawking cheese and sausage at a mall kiosk. My supervisor kept sending me on sample duty. I stood among throngs of shoppers, holding a knife and an enormous beef stick. Some guys took samples then asked for blow jobs. A lot of the women said my samples were too small, but I wasn't supposed to cut them any bigger. The kiosk also sold wine that went on clearance the day after Christmas. I asked a co-worker to ring me up a dozen bottles, which I took back to school with me.

The letter in my mailbox said I'd made the dean's list. I was invited to a reception at the president's house. My friends received a different letter, one saying they'd been placed on academic probation. I felt bad for them, but I went to the reception anyway. There I sipped Sprite and nibbled Triscuits, got asked out by my sixty-something art professor from fall semester. Afterward I got drunk with my friends, even though I had an eight o'clock lab the next morning.

When Jessica's pee stick showed a plus sign, we all tried to stay positive. We road-tripped to Louisville, where Jessica handed over a wad that included half my Christmas earnings. Steph, Laura, and I sat in the waiting room, reading back issues of Glamour and pink pamphlets from Planned Parenthood. A basket of free condoms sat on the coffee table, but none of us took any. Finally Jessica emerged on the arm of a nurse, who had instructions and needed a signature. There was a pause before I grabbed the pen, wrote my name in a script that was illegible, even to me.

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