It was a warm day in August, I had left Walter’s hall and headed to my 10:15 class at the Moore Building. It was a short walk I recall seeing the colors in the trees start to change as I passed a few friends and sorority sisters along the wide concrete sidewalks. I opened the front door of the Moore Building, it was the science building you know where all the smart people went for class.
I walked into my Bio 211 class wearing white jean overalls and a black shirt underneath. I carried my yellow Alpha Gamma Delta bag with pride. Those greek letters were red with white polka dots trimmed in navy blue, it was a bag that let everyone on campus know I belonged somewhere. Belonging was so important at a young age. I entered the room and briefly scanned it, cream colored concrete block walls with auditorium style seating. Aesthetically I would say the room was clean and cold. But up in the back 2 rows from the top I noticed a guy with a tan hat on backwards and a white sweatshirt turned inside out.
Dr. Cupp entered the room and began his introduction. He passed out a syllabus and gave his expectations. I continued to be mentally distracted by the guy in the back and inadvertently tuned out of the course introduction. Dr. Cupp adjourned. I gathered my belongings and put them back into my yellow belonging bag and waited to follow the guy out. I don’t recall saying hello or making eye contact with the Bio 211 guy but the rest of the day he was all I talked about and thought about. Bio 211 would meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 and we had a Monday night lab at 6 pm. I eventually lived for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Monday nights.
I was a golfer in college, I attended Eastern Kentucky University on a full athletic scholarship, back then it did not seem like a big deal but now I realize you were basically an employee of the university. I loved my college job. I loved practices and training. The only misfortune I had was having to take all early classes in college. We had to be finished before 1 pm with all our class work. Practice was between 1-2 daily.
Our daily routine was class, practice and then play a round typically or at least 9 holes. Golf takes time, my teammates and I had hours to chit chat between shots. We strolled down the green fairways talking about our day, occasionally our future hopes and dreams but typically it was about our up coming test or some guy we liked or hoped to meet up downtown with at the clubs on Thursday night. Thursday night was a special night, it was going out night. EKU was a suitcase college, the campus was pretty close to a ghost town by Friday at 6 pm.
I still did not know the name of the Bio 211 guy, I just knew he was tall dark and handsome and wore a tan hat backwards pretty much every Tuesday, Thursday and Monday evening. My teammates also knew him as the Bio 211 guy and continued to taunt me with their giddy sarcasm. Who is he? Come on does he really exist? Practice usually began with “hey, Erica tell me what that Bio 211 guy looks like again”. I still remember vividly what he looked like and where he sat in the classroom.
The days, weeks and months passed, I continued to talk and dream about the Bio 211 guy. I am really not sure what I learned in that class, but I remember how much I prepared my appearance and how much I looked forward to going to the class.
I remember my hair, makeup and clothing were on point. I recall I would not dare miss the class or the lab unless of course Golf called me away. When you are a collegiate athlete especially at a D1 school the only reason you ever miss class is for matches or games.
I missed my first Monday night lab. We returned late from Tennessee Tech and I could not make the class. The following Monday in lab I decided to muster up enough courage to ask the Bio 211 guy what we did in class the previous week.
I still remember the sick feeling and the butterflies I had in my stomach. The stickiness of the of my sweaty palms and my heart beating in my neck, it was a near death experience I think. I cannot to this day recall his words back to me, but I do recall the look on his face. He looked at me like I had three heads and shot my courage down with a nuclear missile. The Bio 211 guy replied back, “ask someone else for help, I can’t remember”.
I left the lab completely mortified. I walked out with a friend of mine who played on the baseball team. Luke had missed as well, he was a handsome fella and luckily he had sweet talked a girl into given him the assignment. Meanwhile, I was sick from embarrassment and realizing I lacked the charm necessary to swoon the Bio 211 guy into conversing with me. I needed a Plan B.
I headed into Tuesday with less pep in my step on the way to the Moore Building. Today was Bio 211 lecture and for some reason my yearning to get there was a little less after the nuclear attack on my heart and soul in lab the night before. I stepped up the courage entered the door and he was always there, next to the back row right in front of the professor, hat on backwards. My heart was once again in my neck. What a feeling.
I finished up classes that day and headed to practice. I spent about an hour on the range. Quiet time for me. Then headed to play nine holes with some teammates. During the round we could chat between shots. This was competitive time but fun as well. Golf is one of those games where you can maintain focus and still have a little leisure conversation from time to time. We walked and talked about all that was going on in our classes and social life. As usual Beverly and Melissa poked me with their comments of my Bio 211 guy. I told them once again, I had no idea who he was. Looking back now, I would have been fortunate to have had the Gram or Facebook. Be grateful.
Thursday came and went. I saw him again. He still did not notice me. The Moore Building had suddenly become my castle and prince charming was in my class. I continued to have my heart in my neck every Monday at 6, and Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30. He never missed class, he was always early and usually prepared. I never once beat him to the classroom. I never missed because I wanted to see him, looking back he never missed because he wanted to make the President’s List, 4.0 GPA.
I missed a few more classes and labs because of my golf team obligations. I am certain he never missed me. But I still missed him. I knew from the time on my watch and the day of the week where he was at that time.
In early to mid October we had a quiz, somehow I sat in the row that he had to pass his paper up the row, this was purely unintentional but I used my investigative brain and made a discovery. When the papers were passed in I could see the names on the sheets. Dr. Cupp called for them to be passed up and I strategically and secretly flipped through the papers, I saw Turner.
I waited to exit class until he had packed up his backpack and I followed him out. I had now entered stalker mode. He did not acknowledge me or even make eye contact, but still yet I was not discouraged. Crazy but not discouraged.
I went to practice that day and we were warming up for our qualifying round for the Murray State Invitational. I told the girls on the range I had finally discovered the Bio 211 guy’s last name. They all laughed and rolled their eyes, but Beverly ask what his last name was. I replied Turner. She replied, “oh my gosh”. I replied with a “what”. Beverly said “you said he was tall and had dark hair”. I said “yes”.
Beverly knew him or at least thought she did. I was about to tee off to qualify for my spot on the travel team and all I could think about was really I had a connection! Finally I might have a connection and finally I might talk to him.
Over the next four and half hours Beverly and I chatted as I played one of the best rounds of golf I had ever played at our home course. Focused, happy and relieved that is what I was.
The round ended and Beverly and I had planned our attack. She was going to call “Turner” and maybe find out at the very least if he was seeing someone. I waited merely sick for a couple of hours. My dorm phone rang and she said “he is seeing someone”. My heart sank just a little farther than it did the time he shot me down for the assignment in lab class. Then Bev said the words I still remember today, “he knows who you are”. I melted, he had noticed me. I am not sure what the exact words were after this but Beverly implied that he knew me as a sorority girl who missed class. Great impressions and great assumptions. I look back now on the situation and think about the movie Dumb and Dumber. “So you are saying there is a chance”.
Turner and I would later meet at the library to study. I was the sorority girl and he was the study guy. I look back on this and realize you should never assume. I was far from the typical sorority girl and apparently he had worn the party hat himself for so long all he focused on was Biology now.
We studied on our first “date”. We went to Taco Bell and ate. We were pretty much inseparable after that day. It is so funny when I look back on how I felt about him, before I actually knew him. I loved him before I knew him. I loved his tan hat. I loved his walk. I loved the fact that he really did not even notice me.
Sometimes you just know when things are right. You listen to your gut. You don’t give up. When you have your heart in your neck you know there is something bigger than you touching and molding the situation you are in. When you have that feeling you have to be courageous enough to seek it out. Hunt for it. Go after it.
You cannot allow a feeling that special and that intense to leave you. You know it is right when the feeling never leaves you. Negativity may surround you but the feeling stays. I know in order to live your life on full you must always follow the feeling that leaves your heart in your neck. Nearly 25 years later, I still feel all the feels when I think about that tan hat turned backwards.