Goodnight Tariq, Wherever You Are

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August 10, 2011 by Lynn Beighley

When I was a freshman at the University of Texas, I was assigned a roommate. She was a good, sweet, levelheaded, if unfortunately chunky girl from a small, and I mean small, town in Texas. Her graduating class had 60 students. She was both on some of the girls’ sports teams, and a cheerleader. She may even have been in band, I don’t recall. Her name was two names. Think Sarah Lee, or Julie Ann.

She wrote me a letter before we even met. I don’t think I wrote her back, but she never seemed to hold this against me. She was warm and welcoming, I was inept and shy. Somehow we got along.

My roommate and I went to a freshman mixer the third night or so after we met, before classes started. She went back to the dorm early, but I was determined to stay a little longer and break out of my fear. A few boys talked to me, but nothing came of it.

I was 18. I was wearing a modest cotton shirt and jeans. I had schoolteacher horn rimmed glasses. I had frizzy hair. I was rail thin. Think stick. I cowered. And he came over. He is worthy of his own paragraph of description.

He looked, to 18 year old me, like he was 30. Now, in retrospect, I have no doubt he was in his early 20’s. But he was kind of heavyset and had impressive facial hair. His name was Tariq, he said. He was kind, and friendly. He got me talking by asking question after question. He asked me to dance, I refused.

I don’t know why he liked me. Honestly, I was nothing to look at. But he persisted and talked to me and talked to me, and talked to me. He was a political science graduate student. He was confident. He had terrible body odor.

The night wore on. I wouldn’t dance with him. Finally I told him I needed to leave. He asked me for my phone number, and I gave it to him. I did, I was so naive.

It never occurred to me that I didn’t have to give him my number.
It never occurred to me that I could give him a fake number.
And I gave him my number, my real number.

So he had my number and I went back to my dorm.

Over the weeks and months that passed, Tariq called me no less and likely more than 50 times. Do I need to tell you that caller ID, while it may have existed, was out of the reach of college students? I took the first call, and the rest of them, my wonderful roommate fielded for me, saying I was out. Apparently I was always out. She told me that she chatted with him on the phone a number of times.

Having said all this, I leave you with the following questions:

1. Why did he keep calling that many times?
2. Why did my roommate help me out?
3. Why do I always get myself into these situations, even now?

Jennie Lee, thank you. And thank you for covering for me with my parents by telling them I was at the library so often. Nobody has ever been at that library that often. Bless you Carol Ann.


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