Parker Reade noticed his former Greenville High School Classmate Finnegan O'Rourke on the Blue County Community College campus several times and they exchanged the occasional pleasantries when their paths crossed in the cafeteria, library or parking lot, but Parker had never interacted with her much, even back in high school.
Finnegan was one of those 'pedestal' girls – to be admired and respected from afar but Parker knew a guy like him had no chance with a girl like her so he never bothered.
Now, in his fourth semester at BCCC, Parker found himself in the same class as Finnegan for the first time since high school. Human Relations and Sexuality was probably the most unlikely class for the two to end up in together and Parker felt slightly awkward and embarrassed about the course material but he couldn't control what Finnegan decided to take.
Parker was surprised when Finnegan decided to sit next to him on the first day of class when she spotted him seated alone as class participants slowly flowed into the room. It was the spring semester of their second year – late January with snow on the ground. Finnegan was wearing wool pants and a thick turtleneck sweater with a winter coat that had several ski passes tied to the zipper. Her long reddish brown hair flowed down her back and Parker saw her famous freckles now that she was seated close to him.
"Hi, Parker," Finnegan said in her cheerful voice.
"Hi, Finnegan," he replied sheepishly.
"Is there a particular reason why you took this class?" She smirked.
"I'm on a psychology track," he explained. "This was part of the progression."
"You're studying psychology?" Finnegan asked with surprise.
Parker figured that she assumed he was just some stereotypical dolt faking his way through community college.
"I hope to go on to Green College if I can afford it and get my psychology degree," he revealed.
Finnegan was clearly caught off guard. "Oh," she said, trying not to appear foolish. "Well, good for you."
"Are you a psych student?" Parker asked, mostly to make conversation and not to embarrass her.
"No, I just need some credits and this class seemed interesting," she replied matter of factly.
Parker realized that Finnegan was one of those kids hanging out at community college because she had nothing better to do and that saddened him because she had been so engaged, energetic, involved, popular and bright in high school.
Finnegan came from a well off family on Green Hill but Parker got the impression that she was 'doing her time' her time at the community college She clearly could have gone to a four-year college and Parker wasn't sure what she was doing hiding out at BCCC.
Dr. Carr, the instructor for Human Relations and Sexuality, entered the classroom. Parker had her the previous semester for Human Development II (Adolescence) and he liked the way Dr. Carr instructed which was one of the reasons why he took this course even though he felt uncomfortable with the subject matter, especially now with the lovely Finnegan O'Rourke sitting next to him.
Dr. Carr was in her mid-thirties, a down to earth Professor who related well to her students, respected for her knowledge, personality, and classroom etiquette. She was an attractive woman but she didn't let her appearance distract from her expectations for classroom conduct and performance. She was a strict grader but Parker enjoyed her presentations. She had curly blond hair to her shoulders and a slender form but she walked with a limp suffered from a childhood injury.
Dr. Carr made her introduction and she spent most of the first class discussing the course syllabus and her philosophy about class participation and assignments.
"This will not be a class for the squeamish or prudish," she warned. "We will be screening some porn. Your textbook includes some graphic images and narratives. There is a chapter on sex offenders and sex crimes. We will discuss rape and assault. We will be talking about sex. If you are particularly religious or otherwise easily embarrassed, I suggest you re-consider this choice. You still have three days to drop this class or switch out with another course selection."
Parker stole a glance at Finnegan who seemed unconcerned with the caution. He did a quick review of the students around him – of the sixteen present, about half were of the community college entrance age of eighteen to twenty. There were a few people in their twenties, some middle-aged folks, and a grandmother who look to be in her early seventies.
Parker enjoyed his community college experience because he liked the diverse mix of the students, especially age and background. There were unemployed and laid off folks returning to school to learn a new trade, middle aged housewives going back to school after raising the kids, and retired folks interested in bettering themselves. His surroundings made him feel like an adult and he appreciated the caliber of the faculty who treated their students with respect and maturity.
Parker was taking a full load for his fourth consecutive semester. He had Dr. Carr's Class (and two others) Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and two (longer block) classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He was flattered when Finnegan again sat next to him for the start of the next Dr. Carr class and he knew that pretty much meant she'd be sitting next to him for the rest of the semester because human behavior dictated that people were consistent in their stake outs and boundaries. That was her seat and this was Parker's seat and that's just the way it was.
Parker occasionally stifled a yawn in class and after a few times Finnegan glanced at him. "Out partying late last night?" She teased.
"I work full time," he replied. "Overnights at the Branson House."
"It's a twenty-four hour residential facility for teenaged male sex offenders," Parker revealed. "I'm mostly there to make sure the place doesn't burn down and nobody escapes, but occasionally I get to counsel and advise some poor kid having a bad night."
"Wow," Finnegan said. "And you're going here fulltime?"
He nodded affirmatively.
"When do you sleep?"
He shrugged. "Evenings, mostly."
Finnegan looked at him with a new appreciation. "I'm only taking three classes," she admitted.
"So, you're off on Tuesdays and Thursdays," Parker realized.
"Not yet," she said, slightly embarrassed by the admission. "My parents said as long as I'm in school I don't have to."
"You live at home?"
She nodded affirmatively. "But I have my own section of the house," she said proudly. "I come and go as I please."
"That's a nice car you're driving," Parker noted, having seen her arrive in the parking lot many times.
"Sweet Sixteen present," she smiled. "Daddy says I can get another new one when I turn twenty-one."
"I'm driving my grandmother's old car," Parker revealed. "'88 Pontiac Bonneville."
"Where do you live now?" Finnegan asked.
"I'm in an apartment behind Hank's Barbershop," he replied. "It's a dump but the rent's cheap. Hank knew my grandfather way back when so he gave me a deal."
"You're very independent," Finnegan realized. "Good for you."
"Thanks," he replied.
Because they had gotten reacquainted, Parker noticed that Finnegan was more apt to chat with him around the confined and limited campus and that made him feel more included. Parker tended to stay on campus for all his classes even between breaks. It was easier then driving back and forth from his dumpy apartment on the other side of town. He'd hang out in the library or student lounge and the lunch time meal in the cafeteria served as his one big meal of the day.
This was his life!