Performer: Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Songwriter: Aaron Copland
Original Release: Trilogy
Definitive Version: Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends … Ladies and Gentlemen, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1974
I kept my budding relationship with Beth a secret at the Fiji house in 1982 for a number of reasons, as I mentioned, but when I moved out, I no longer had any reason to keep it to myself. Everyone on my floor at Wolcott knew about it. I mean, when I was a late-night regular in the phone booth—after the long-distance rates went down—you just kind of knew.
In spring, back then, Wabash had an all-campus party called Pan-Hel. All of the houses were open, and a main bash was held in the basketball court where they had a stage set up for bands to play. Inside, each fraternity and dorm would have a stand set up where house brothers and residents could drink. It was free for Wabash students and $10, I think, for everyone else. It started on Thursday and pretty much rolled through the weekend.
It was amazing to see the students show up whom you hadn’t seen all year. Wabash is a school of about 800 students, so you really had to work hard to not be noticed at some point.
Pan-Hel wasn’t quite the good time I was expecting. For one, I wasn’t much of a drinker. For two, the music wasn’t as good as it might have been. My freshman year, the Wabash student government really tried to get the Go-Gos to play—the novelty being an all-girl band plays an all-male school. I guess the cash wasn’t enough; heck, David Letterman couldn’t even afford an appearance by them back then.
But the biggest reason was Beth didn’t come visit that weekend. We had talked about it the whole second semester, and her parents OK’d a visit to Wabash, but, of course, Beth was 15. She couldn’t drive herself, and even if she did, they weren’t going to let her drive to Indiana to see her boyfriend by herself—particularly at an all-campus party.
Instead, Beth’s whole family brought her over the next weekend. It was better than nothing. I wanted Beth to see the campus, so I was glad to have her come out at all and show her around.
Beth’s family stayed at the Holiday Inn at I-74 and U.S. 231, north of Crawfordsville. I gave them the full tour and we went out to dinner on Saturday. Sunday, I went to Mass with them at the nearby—I want to say only—Catholic church in town.
We did have some alone time during the weekend, not much, but enough, I guess, all things considered. As you might imagine, that time was spent in my room, making out as much as possible. It wasn’t the best time, but it laid the groundwork for future visits, all of which were better.
The next year, my sophomore year, the family stayed at a less expensive Holiday Inn farther away on I-65 near Whitesville. They liked that one much better, because it had a Holidome. I liked it much better, because it was farther away, which made for more alone time.
After that, when Beth came to visit—always chaperoned—it was just with Beth’s mom and one of her friends. They came twice a year, and it became as a much a getaway for them as it was a way for Beth to come visit. They’d spend the day in Indianapolis, and Beth would spend it at Wabash with me.
On those trips, it was almost as though Beth were my girlfriend from another school, like any other Wabash student. The only difference was I had to take her back to the Holiday Inn at the end of the night, like a date at home. But, safely away from prying eyes, we were able to act like real college students when left alone, if you know what I mean.
That was great, of course, but Beth’s visits to Wabash provided an added bonus. It made me aware of an alternate route between Columbus and Wabash that was so much better. Instead of going through Indy and taking I-74, I’d go around the top of Indy to I-65 and take Rt. 32 across at Lebanon.
I found it shaved a half-hour off my commute, which meant an extra half-hour with Beth before I had to leave home or that I’d be in her arms again a half-hour sooner than otherwise. There was no downside to that.