What I initially thought was a chance encounter, turned out to be an undeniable omen that led me to Dimoni College. It was the summer before my sophomore year in high school and I faced increasing pressure from my family, teachers and counselors to decide on a career path and where to attend university.
I had no idea what I wanted to do, to be, but knew if I didn’t produce a short-list of schools, my life would be made unbearable. My parents were each lobbying for me to attend their alma maters. Both Ivy League hellholes where I knew I would never fit in and would eventually end up in the top of a bell tower taking sniper shots at classmates.
Grandfather wanted me to attend seminary. He was of a generation who believed that women had no need of a higher education since they should be barefoot and pregnant the majority of their productive years. Seminary, or more appropriately a nunnery, would sate my ridiculous desire for a formal education while still fulfilling my intended role as a wife of the church.
Even in my early teens, I recognized the potential for any religious institution I would attend to spontaneously combust. I embraced my Mean Girl persona, and had no intention of abandoning that role for one of pious sub-servitude.
My mother approached me one evening, mass-mailing postcard in hand, saying we would be attending a college expo at the community center. Based on drive-by pamphlet seizures, I would make my decision by the weekend.
In a rushed goodie grab rivaled only by Halloween candy procurement, I quickly filled a plastic bag with college catalogs, financial aid applications, administrator business cards, a few koozies and stress-relief balls shaped like footballs and caricature pencils. Unimpressed with all of the represented schools, I dreaded having to spend the weekend researching alternatives.
As I was leaving the expo, I literally ran into a man coming into the building. Dressed more casually than the other university representatives, I first thought he must be a parent. Apologies were exchanged and he handed me a business card. I assumed he was attached to one of the schools inside and simply stuck it in my bag with my other swag. Forgotten until the next morning when I started my in-depth sorting out, the card was the last thing I picked up after dumping the bag on the kitchen table.
The card was a material like none I had seen before. It wasn’t paper, but not plastic either. The embossed lettering was rough to the touch, and I still swear it was warm. I held it to my cheek to feel the emanating heat, catching a faint whiff of sulfur. I immediately remembered running into the card’s owner, Mr. Rob Goodfellow, and also quickly realized his college was not among the other schools at the event.
Pushing aside the stack of rejected recruiting material, I opened my laptop and typed in the school’s website address and knew instantly this college was my only choice.
A virtual tour of the campus showed immaculately landscaped grounds hidden among the rolling hills of West Virginia. The Renaissance architecture of the buildings both oddly appropriate and ironic. I couldn’t help but laugh at how they resembled churches more than university buildings. The photos were not high enough resolution to enlarge to see details of the gargoyles and grotesques that adorned the roof eaves, but I imagined they were particularly hideous.
I watched snippets of lecture videos, mesmerized by the session topics. I read through the list of course offerings and degree programs, stunned at what I could earn my bachelor’s in. The directory of faculty, and schedule of guest speakers, was a Who’s Who of Faustian dignitaries.
Clicking on the admissions tab, I downloaded the forms to read later. The list of course pre-requisites was encouraging. It was almost as if my high school class plans were tailor-made for this college. By the time I graduated I would have more than enough general education credits to be a qualified university candidate.
My next step was to read the application essay topics. I had a choice of relating how my friends would characterize me (I had none who truly knew me), relating how my family influenced my university selection (influenced as in where not to go), or where I saw myself in ten years. (if I played this right, ten years would be a mere blip in an eternally long life.) I had at least a year to work on the essay, by then I would have the perfect answer to any one of these prompts.
The last thing to do was to find out how to schedule a campus tour. There had to be a way to set one up without committing either of my parents to act as chaperone. I needed to persuade them I should go alone, surely something I could manage with enough lead time.
Writing out a list of schools, I included my parents’ choices, one that fit the ecclesiastical standards of my grandfather, and topping the list, my first choice – Dimoni. On a hunch, I typed the name of the college into a Google search, not surprisingly there was no item linking to the university’s website. Mysteriously, the site history on my laptop was also missing the link, making it clear that a random search wouldn’t bring any uninvited inquiry to the school’s homepage.
It wouldn’t be difficult to convince them to send me to wherever I wanted to go. The fact that I was interested in attending any college would be enough of a reason. I had a feeling that providence was also working in my favor. Meeting Goodfellow was not just coincidence. I felt honored to have been recruited for such an exclusive college. I couldn’t imagine just anyone being presented one of Goodfellow’s unique business cards.
Having made my decision I no longer dreaded the college application process. I was actually looking forward to the campus tour from hell.
*Catalan is the official language of Andorra, a small European country located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains bordered by Spain and France. From Catalan, ‘dimoni’ translates into English as ‘demon.’
Robin (Rob) Goodfellow is also know as Puck, a character in William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. A mythological creature, Puck is a mischievous elf who is also jester to Oberon, the fairy king.
You can read the answer to my challenge to Liz Culver here:“You get this fortune in a cookie – ‘Remember three months from this date!’ What happens in three months?”
Interested in joining the Challenge? Stop by Indie Ink for details.