8. Tales of a Student Nurse: Extracurricular Lessons

According to plan, we all gathered at the door at ten-thirty and made it back to the Residence before eleven pm. As we got out of the car, Alice asked me quite genuinely if I’d had fun. How could I tell her this night had been a terrible disappointment for me? I lied and told her I had and thanked her for taking me with her and her friends. She smiled, gave me a hug, took my false birth certificate and wished me good night. That was the last time I ever went to Hank’s Place, but a four-year period of underage drinking experiences had just been initiated.

The final extracurricular lesson I learned was even more painful than the underage drinking experience had been.

“Barb, we’re going to a party at Rob Jones’ apartment and you need to come along. Mary’s boyfriend, John, is his buddy and you won’t believe what a doll Rob is! All the girls are crazy about him: he’s about twenty-three, is already out of university, has a great job and he lives in an apartment downtown.”

It was quite an honour to be invited to this party, it seemed to me, after listening to Alice’s classmates ooh and ahh about the handsome and unattached Rob. This invitation seemed a lot more exciting to me than the Hank’s Place invitation had been and I didn’t need to worry about getting caught drinking underage in a public bar. What could go wrong at a house party? I had no hesitation this time and was delighted to be going.

We student nurses all piled into John’s car on the night of the party and away we went. I thought back to the time we had gone to Hank’s Place and about how nervous and sick to my stomach I’d been in the back seat of that car. Not tonight; tonight I was very happy about going to this party, a house party was an experience I’d had many times in the past and I felt no qualms about attending this one.

When we walked into Rob’s apartment, several young men who were obviously his friends, were already there in the living room. We were the only female guests to arrive . Introductions were made, drinks were offered and this time I had a vodka and orange juice. No more awful beer for me. Alice and I sat down side by side on the couch and watched as John sat down in the corner easy chair and stretched out his arm for Mary who, with a giggle, sat down on his lap and snuggled in to his body as he wrapped his arm around her. Within minutes, the two of them were necking in full view of the others at the party. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable but could hardly take my eyes off of them. Thankfully, someone had turned on the hi fi, and as the music played two of the student nurses got up to dance. They were quickly joined by two men as Dreamy Rob made his way across the room in my direction. Was he going to ask me to dance?

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Barbara Tiessen is a retired RN who lives with her husband in southwestern Ontario but winters in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. She researched her genealogy, wrote and self published The Schoenfeld Russlaender: A Mennonite Family's History in 2015. More recently her interest have focused on writing short stories.
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