It’s a late spring Saturday afternoon on a small college campus. A pretty freshman girl in a bikini—a modest one, sewed by herself from a Simplicity pattern—is sunbathing on the lawn by her dorm.
Along the nearby sidewalk strides the football coach, towing two high-school seniors, potential players he is recruiting. The coach veers off the sidewalk, with the boys trailing along like baby ducks behind their mother, and approaches the girl.
She knows the coach, partly because she took his biology class last semester—yes, the college is that small—and partly because she has a campus job in the admissions office. Still, she’s surprised when he comes over to ask her a question related to admissions. Especially since she knows perfectly well he knows the answer as well as she does.
She’s also somewhat annoyed. It’s Saturday. She isn’t working in the admissions office; she’s reading, and the coach has just interrupted her for no apparent reason. Plus she feels uncomfortable lying there on her towel in her bikini being loomed over by three tall guys.
But the girl doesn’t know what else to do, so she answers the coach’s question. He introduces the boys. After a short interval of awkward conversation, the coach and his prospects resume their campus tour. The girl briefly wonders what that was all about, gives a mental shrug, and goes back to her book.
The girl was about 35 before it dawned on her what that had been all about.
Granted, I am a smart person and was a smart person when I was in college. I also may have been just a teeny, tiny bit naive back then. I didn’t figure out the equation: “Football prospects + (attractive girl sunbathing x introduction and mild flirtation) = slight improvement in ratio between skill of said prospects and chance of their choosing tiny South Dakota college.”
Of course, the coach had a few problems of his own with that equation. He thought the “flirtation” part was a constant and didn’t realize it was actually a variable.
I have no idea whether those two boys enrolled in our school, though I doubt that their brief encounter with me had any bearing on their decision. For all I know, they showed up and became campus athletic legends. I might even have typed term papers for them, as I occasionally did for clerically-challenged students. (I charged by the page, faithfully transcribing any errors in grammar or spelling because editing someone else’s homework would have been unethical.)
Or maybe they went someplace where the girls were friendlier. Sorry, Coach.
Except, looking back now, I’m not really sorry. It’s been decades since I sunbathed, and I haven’t worn even a modest bikini since I was blessed with children and stretch marks. But if I did happen to be lolling in the sun these days, I still wouldn’t appreciate being interrupted and loomed over. Especially not by guys assuming any female in a bikini would find them more interesting than a good book.