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night two

Following the events of my last entry I called Victoria on Saturday to see what she doing that evening, as she'd mentioned going to a club in Moscow (Idaho, not Russia) with Violet, Stephen, and Wendell the night before. Unfortunately, the clubs here in the United States are not the same as discothéques in France, so I wasn't sure there would be much to keep my interest, but the prospect still seemed more exciting than spending the weekend going over readings a week earlier than necessary for class.

I had also wanted to stop by Wendy's place that afternoon to drop off a couple of presents for her, but when I called to see if she was there I was told that visiting her wouldn't be a good idea, since she'd had a stomache for the past week and hadn't cleaned or done dishes during that time. We agreed to meet the next day, and with that I walked over to apartment S83 to wait for everyone to get ready. Violet was cooking pasta when I arrived and we watched Remember the Titans (her favorite movie, which was showing on television) to pass the time before we left for the club.

Our destination for the night was a place called "The Beach", and it's size and general appearance seemed to match its location within the Palouse (which is to say - in the middle of several wheat fields). We played a bit of pool, Victoria invited me to sit next to her on a few different occasions while waiting for our turn to come, Victoria and Stephen spent some time dancing to hiphop music, and we played a bit more pool before going home at one o'clock. In terms of value for money spent I would have been much better off staying at home, but hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?

Once again there were a number of people at the apartment, and when a crowd shows up at S83 it's pretty much inevitable that someone is going to break out a multiplayer video game. During our game Violet was sitting in a sofa chair along the wall, I was on one end of a couch while Derek (Wendell's brother) sat on the other end, with Victoria taking a seat on the floor in front of the couch. Wendell was talking about a physics assignment with a classmate but eventually came over to sit on the couch behind Victoria - first providing commentary on our various skill levels and then giving Victoria a backrub while she was playing.

Violet eventually offered her spot to someone else and left the room; considering the time it seemed a fair guess that she had quit to go get some sleep in one of the empty bedrooms. However, after a couple of hours she came back to the living room and, following an unsuccessful try or two, finally caught Wendell's attention to ask for a moment alone with him. They weren't gone for very long, but after they returned Violet didn't spend much time in the living room before retreating once more into one of the bedrooms. With the morning quickly approaching the majority of the other visitors left for home, which left Wendell, Victoria, and myself sitting on the couch watching Shrek and Transformers: the Movie by ourselves. During the first movie Victoria laid down on her side with her head resting in Wendell's lap, which left me feeling a little uncomfortable given how close I was sitting to the two of them. They both fell asleep during the second movie, and while I was up turning off the television (no point wasting electricity, right?) I also moved to a nearby chair to try and get some sleep for myself.

Just as I was settling down into a comfortable position Violet came out again - looking rather upset - and asked if it was alright for her to talk to me. Naturally I didn't mind and followed her down the hallway to an empty room for a bit of privacy. Once there Violet sat down on a bed and I could see a string of tears cascading down her cheeks, which immediately had me worried. It turns out that her reason for leaving wasn't from exhaustion at all - in fact, she also felt uncomfortable with how close Victoria and Wendell had been, but for a much more specific reason. And what was it that had caused Violet so much distress?

I knew Violet and Wendell had been friends for quite some time, but unknown to me until that morning was that they had been dating for two and a half years before Wendell had ended their relationship three months ago. It was easy enough for him to flirt with other girls since he no longer had any deep feelings for her, but Violet was still in love with him, which created quite an awkward situation that night. Violet told me that when she had asked to speak with Wendell earlier in the night it was to tell him how much it hurt to see him flirting so casually with Victoria right in front of her. Wendell's response was to tell Violet that she should just get over it and mind her own business rather than trying to tell him what to do with his life. It sounds like an extremely calloused thing to say, but that might just be me.

We talked about the situation for a bit, I agreed that Wendell was acting like a wanker, and we drove out to Moscow for Violet to get some fresh air and time away from the apartment. We stopped by a pet store to buy some crickets for her anoles and then went out for a latte + raspberry chai with biscotti at the local food co-op while we were on the other side of the state border. We also went to visit one of Violet's friends (Katie) from her high school in Hong Kong who is also attending WSU, and they spent an hour going over the night's developments in Cantonese while I looked on and waited for the infrequent sentence of English they exchanged from time to time.

It was decided that the three of us should watch a movie together at Katie's apartment, and while on our way to a movie rental shop Katie joked about how horrible it must have been for me to be sitting and listening to their conversation without having the slightest idea what they were talking about. Actually, that wasn't the case at all. Mimi has asked me to stay at her house for tea on a number of occasions, and this has included times when she has also had friends from Korea visiting at the same time. Quite often I can sit for 90 minutes or more without hearing a single word of English, and if nothing else the experience has given me the chance to listen to not only what a person is saying but how they say it as well. Yes, my Korean vocabulary is severely limited, but if you pay enough attention you can also pick up clues from how a person acts and how they sound when they speak - so even if you don't know the subject you can at least get an idea of how a person feels. If it works with Korean there's no reason to think it won't also work for Cantonese. [*]

Violet wanted to watch The Constant Gardener, which involved a search throughout the entire store before I found the one remaining copy plus a trip over to Wendell's apartment to grab Violet's DVD player, which they've been using since the start of last semester. Victoria was still there, and although Violet tried having another talk with Wendell it ended with worse results than her first attempt. After they had finished Wendell acted like it had been nothing more serious than a request to pick up a loaf of bread at the store, while Violet looked rather dejected and let Katie and myself collect a few of her things from the apartment before leaving. One of Violet's biggest worries at the time was that if she stopped going to S83 she would avoid getting hurt - which was good - but it would also mean she wouldn't be able to see her other friends that live at the apartment. Additionally, she had yet to spend the night at her dorm room since starting classes last fall, so the thought of lonely nights spent all alone in her dorm wasn't an idea that she enjoyed thinking about either.

There didn't seem to be much I could do to help with the first case, but for the second I offered to spend the night with Violet in her dorm room so that she'd have someone there to listen or help if anything came up. We stayed up until three o'clock on that first night as Violet examined her feelings and questioned whether she was a horrible person for telling Wendell how she felt on Saturday. After a few more tears and plenty of reassurances she eventually drifted off to sleep, leaving me with my blanket on the floor to ponder the events of the weekend.

* * * *


[*] Of course, I was later told by Violet that Wendell had a habit of yelling at her whenever she and her friends would talk in Cantonese around him. She pointed out how some of her friends understand concepts in Cantonese better than they do in English (plus, there's the whole issue of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis that goes along with this) but neither that nor the "Cantonese for Beginners" book that she bought for him seemed to make a difference to Wendell. Interestingly, I heard that he had a similar reaction when he went down to Peru - expecting the people he was with to hold their conversations in English rather than Spanish when he was present. Scary.