Trapped in the Virgin Vault

When I started college at Austin Peay State University there were two female dorms referred to as “Virgin Vaults.” We called them this because, unlike any of the other dorms in which women could live, these had few exterior entrances and added levels of security. To get to any of the rooms other than the first floor Resident Assistant, you had to enter through a lobby. These dorms also had very specific hours for male visitors and even required them to not only sign in at the front desk ( staffed nearly 24 hours a day), but also surrender their student IDs before they could enter (I should note that you did not really even exist on campus without your student ID). If the desk worker was particularly mad with power, a driver’s license and possibly car keys could be required. All items were returned only on sign out. This was obviously quite a bit of bother in and of itself (I’m sure by design), but was further complicated by the requirement of having a resident to not only escort the visitor, but “authorize” the sign in/out process (meaning she had to be there to say it was OK for him to sign in). After signed in, men were not allowed, under any circumstance, to walk the hallways of the multi-level dorms unescorted. If a guy was caught wandering those halls without a female escorting him the punishment would be severe. In summary, whenever I wanted to visit my girlfiend (that’s not a typo, it’s . . . a story for another time) at the time I had to go to the lobby, wait for her to meet me so we could both go to the desk, sign my name, surrender at least my student ID, and remember we would have to do a similar process just for me to get my stuff back before I left. I should have remembered all of this the afternoon we were in her room and I decided we should break up.

On that afternoon, a completely officious student worker was staffing the desk. I handed over my student ID and was about to sign my name when she asked ,”Did you drive our walk over here?”

I thought about lying, but it’s not really in my nature, so I told her I drove even though I knew what would happen.

“I’ll need your license and keys,” she said.

“What am I going to do? Drive my truck on the third floor?” It seemed a reasonable question to me.

“No, but I could just ban you from visiting.”

“You can’t do that! You have no authority to . . .” I looked at my girlfiend. “Can she do that?”  My girlfiend just shrugged. We finally decided it wasn’t worth the effort or chance that I could be banned, so I handed over my license and keys. My girlfiend escorted me up the stairs and down the hall to her room and I didn’t give it any more thought, though I really, really should have.

We had a pretty normal few moments in her room before our conversation went from pleasant, to heated, skipped annoyed, got straight to angry, and finally settled with both of us ready to call in the air strike. Basically we were breaking up . . . again. I stood up and nearly yelled, “This is insane! You’re insane! I can’t take this anymore and I don’t have to! We’re through.”

With that, I turned on the spot so she wouldn’t see the tears forming in my eyes and yanked open the door to leave. As I was passing through I realized that for the first time in my life, after all the times of being broken up with, dumped, and pushed aside, I had done the breaking up. I had initiated break ups before in other relationships, but only when it was obvious it was going to happen anyway (and whomever i was with usually looked relieved). It hurt, but I felt a confidence beyond my experience.

I slammed the door behind me, greatly satisfied at how loud the sound was in the empty hall. I stood for a moment, enjoying the echo of my slammed exclamation point. But as the sound faded, a sense of unease began to creep over me that strengthened with each reverberation. It became very quiet as I slowly looked left and right. Empty hall. I was alone. Unescorted. Trapped.

I took a deep breath and realized I knew a Resident Assistant on the floor. She was only a few doors down. I quickly went to her door and knocked. And knocked. And KNOCKED. She was not there. I started knocking on a few other doors thinking maybe someone would take pity and escort me back down to sign out. Most rooms were either unoccupied or the occupants chose not to answer the door when a random, unescorted guy was knocking on them.

When I finally did get someone to answer, she looked suspicious but a little amused and asked, “So what’s the story here?” I explained everything essentially as it happened. I ended up with a door shut in my face. Apparently an all-girls dorm is not the place to get sympathy after breaking up with one. Who knew?

Panic set in, not because I didn’t know what to do, but because I knew exactly what I was going to do. I slinked back to my girlfiend’s door and sheepishly knocked. As she opened the door, I fantasized that she would be dissolved in tears, or at the very least stewing in the anger in which I left her. But it was as I knew it would be, no sadness, no tears, no anger, not even any bitterness, just loads and loads of smug.

“Forget something?” she asked.

“Something like that.”

“Want me to escort you down so you can get out of here?”

“Yes?” I hesitantly replied, thinking is it really going to be this easy?

“OK,” she said, “On one condition.” No it was not going to be easy. “You have to take me out and give me one date to convince you we should stay together.”

With that, we were essentially back together for the time being. I knew it, and more importantly, she knew it. It wouldn’t last (and I think we both knew that as well), but for now the status quo returned.

She escorted me down to the lobby with a huge grin (winning does that for people, well, that and spite – I’m pretty sure this was a mixture of both) as I signed for and received my belongings. I walked out of the dorm into a warm and beautiful afternoon. She smiled and gave me her adorable (infuriating!) little wave. I had escaped the Virgin Vault, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was still very much trapped.

© Leighton Brown and Stories Now Told, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Leighton Brown is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leighton Brown and Stories Now Told with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information, please see the Copyright page.

On that afternoon, a completely officious student worker was staffing the desk. I handed over my student ID and was about to sign my name when she asked ,”Did you drive our walk over here?”

I told her I drove knowing what was about to happen. “I’ll need your license and keys,” she said.

“What am I going to do? Drive my truck on the third floor?” I asked. It seemed a reasonable question to me.

“No, but I could just ban you from visiting.”

“You can’t do that! You have no authority to . . .” I looked at my girlfiend. “Can she do that?” I asked. My girlfiend just shrugged. We finally decided it wasn’t worth the effort or chance that should could ban me, so I handed over my license and keys. My girlfiend escorted me up the stairs and down the hall to her room and I didn’t give it any more thought, though I really, really should have.

We had a pretty normal few moments in her room before our conversation went from pleasant, to heated, skipped annoyed, got straight to angry, and finally settled with both of us ready to call in the air strike. Basically we were breaking up . . . again. I stood up and nearly yelled, “This is insane! You’re insane! I can’t take this anymore and I don’t have to! We’re through.”

With that, I turned on the spot so she wouldn’t see the tears forming in my eyes and yanked open the door to leave. As I was passing through I realized that for the first time in my life, after all the times of being broken up with, dumped, and pushed aside, I had done the breaking up (I had broken up before, but usually if it was this dramatic, I was the one broken up with and left to figure out what just happened). It hurt to be sure, but I felt a confidence beyond my experience.

I slammed the door behind me, greatly satisfied at how loud the sound was in the empty hall. I stood for a moment, enjoying the echo of my slammed exclamation point. But as the sound faded, a sense of unease began to creep over me that strengthened with each reverberation. It became very quiet as I slowly looked left and right. The hall was empty. I was alone. Unescorted. Trapped.

I took a deep breath and realized I knew a Resident Assistant on the floor. She was only a few doors down. I quickly went to her door and knocked. And knocked. And KNOCKED. She was not there. I started knocking on a few other doors thinking maybe someone would take pity on me and escort back down to sign out. Most rooms were either unoccupied at the moment or they chose not to answer the door when a random unescorted guy was knocking on them.

I finally did get someone to answer. She looked suspicious but clearly a little amused when she asked, “So what’s the story here?” I explained everything essentially as it happened. I ended up with a door being shut in my face. Apparently an all-girls dorm is not the place to get sympathy after breaking up with one.

Panic set in, not because I didn’t know what to do, but because I knew exactly what I was going to do. I slowly walked back to my girlfiend’s door and sheepishly knocked. As she opened the door, I fantasized that she would be dissolved in tears, or at the very least stewing in the anger in which I left her. But it was as I knew it would be, no sadness, no tears, no anger, not even any bitterness, just loads and loads of smug.

“Forget something?” she asked.

“Something like that.”

“Want me to escort you down so you can get out of here?”

“Yes?” I hesitantly replied, thinking is it really going to be this easy?

“OK,” she said, “On one condition.” No it was not going to be easy. “You have to take me out and give me one date to convince you we should stay together.”

With that, we were essentially back together for the time being. I knew it, and more importantly, she knew it.

She escorted me down to the lobby with a huge grin (winning does that for people. Well, that and spite. I’m pretty sure this was a mixture of both) as I signed for and received my belongings. As I walked out of the dorm into a warm and beautiful afternoon she smiled and gave me her adorable (infuriating!) little wave. I had made it out of the Virgin Vault, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was still very much trapped.

© Leighton Brown and Stories Now Told, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Leighton Brown is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leighton Brown and Stories Now Told with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. For more information, please see the Copyright page.
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About leighton

I could be considered a true Renaissance Man after having a long and storied (seriously, people actually tell stories about it) college experience and varied careers. I am also a shameless self-promoter (who did you think was writing this anyway?) who is prone to flights of fancy, an abundance of passion on any given subject, ,obsessive behavior, spontaneous storytelling (whether anyone listens or not), and making parenthetical references. I would also be thrilled if I heard someone use the word "raconteur" to describe me.
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5 Responses to Trapped in the Virgin Vault

  1. Adam Fowlkes says:

    I really enjoy your stories Leighton. “girlfiend?” I can’t wait to hear that story.

  2. tulisha says:

    May I tell a small story?
    Satisfaction
    Last night as I made chicken cacciatore (from the back of a shake ‘n bake box), a friend of Brian’s came over and joined us for dinner. Now last week I made pesto, and Brian wasn’t thrilled with it, although he did eat some of it. Last night, however, he got seconds, which I was glad to see because the dish had zucchini in it and I was afraid Brian might not like the zucchini.
    After everyone finished, the 2 guys were still talking, so I cleaned up the dishes. Our friend had left some vegetables still in his dish, but he said he was finished, so I scraped the plate in the trash and washed up. Later that night, I found out how Brian felt…
    “I was mad when you scraped the vegetables into the trash.”
    I was shocked at being blamed for cleaning up!
    “Well, I wasn’t really mad,” he continued, “but I didn’t like it. Those were really good vegetables. They shouldn’t be wasted. I thought about telling our friend that he needed to finish his vegetables. Or telling you not to throw out good food, just add it back to the leftovers!”
    Satisfaction. Brian was well-satisfied with the meal. And I was satisfied with the compliment to my cooking.

    • leighton says:

      I love it! I really wish I had journaled more when Chrisie and I first got married. Little slices of life such a the one you describe produce extremely fond memories!

  3. Pingback: The Breaking Point | Stories Now Told

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