My fraternity brothers wrangled me into entering the annual, week long, inter-mural competitions that year. I wrestled in the 145-pound division.
In the first match, my opponent and I grabbed warily at each other without much success until the start of the second period. That’s when I successfully seized one of his wrists, twisted him off-balance, tripped him to the mat and pinned him, before either one of us quite knew what had happened.
I was startled by my success.
The next afternoon, my second opponent was not as easy. I went up against a guy I knew from the Phi Delt house. It was a close, hard-fought, wrestling match.
In all three of the two-minute periods, both of us went to the mat without a pin. Twice I thought I had him, but he escaped. In the third period he came close to pinning me, but I bridged up on my neck, twisted and turned over—a move I had practiced long and hard under the sharp eyes of the coach. That reversal made the difference. Time ran out and the judges gave me the win on points. My opponent and his Phi Delt supporters were not happy.
With two unexpected wins under my belt, I felt a surge of confidence as I readied for my third match. A boisterous gang from the ATO house turned out to hoot and holler and cheer me on.
What they saw was a one-minute wipeout.
My opponent was a lanky kid about three inches taller than I with his 145 pounds distributed up and down an odd, angular frame. As I dimly remember it, he used his long legs for leverage. He knew what he was doing. He took me down to my knees in a matter of seconds, applied a Half Nelson that pushed me over on my back and with one knee jammed into a position that prevented me from bridging, he held my shoulder blades to the mat for two continuous seconds. That was it. The match was over.
When I met Billie Shaw, only four days remained before final exams and the end of a sunny spring term. We met at an Alpha Phi sorority party on the terrace overlooking the millrace.
She had the short, black, straight hair of a swimmer, As I recall it, she wore a simple white sheath that night, which highlighted the warm glow of her summer-brown skin. We met. We talked. We were intrigued, For the next three or four days, we were together almost constantly. Three or four days that have been locked in my memory far too long.