BY BILL RATNER

I was nineteen, and it was a long time ago, and the only thing I really had to go on back then regarding courtship and intimacy was what my friends said was okay to do and how my parents had behaved long before that. The rumor was, my friend Terry and his girlfriend Caroline were slapping each other around in his dorm room at night, or at least Terry was slapping Caroline—as a thing—more than once. In my memory of it I’ve probably added the part where she slapped him back, because that way it would have at least been even. Caroline was beautiful. She wore backless gowns to the dorm parties and didn’t care how her hair looked. She and Terry were together all the time. I guess she loved him. Terry’s father was a preacher in a large southern town. Perhaps they were the slapping kind.

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