Of course, a single phone call would not suffice. Rushing to her friend's aid at her time of need, Anne left the gym and returned to the dorm room she shared with Katie. She sat on her bed, and Katie sat on her bed, and the two of them pondered the matter.
They looked at it from Mike's point of view. They looked at it from Katie's point of view. They looked at it from Anne's point of view. They tried to find an appropriate quote from Alice von Hildebrand. And at long last they were hungry, so they stopped pondering long enough to go into the lounge and pop a bag of microwave popcorn.
"Of course," said Anne, who looked kind of like your very best friend, "you have to give him points for being honest."
"Who?" demanded a voice, and Sandra bounced into the room. Sandra was exactly like your slightly younger friend whom you really like, and is super-friendly and fun, but can never keep a secret.
"This guy," said Anne and Katie at once.
"Oh come on, chicas," said Sandra, throwing herself down on the couch. "Don't be like that. I want to knoooooow! Who? Who?"
Katie looked solemn.
"I would tell you," she said, "but I sort of have a gossip problem, and I promised God I wouldn't gossip about this."
"Oh," said Sandra. "Is that like a Lent thing?"
"It started as a Lent thing, but I'm going to try to make it a permanent thing," said Katie. "It's okay to say good things about people, but this isn't a good thing."
"It isn't gossip if you don't tell me who it is," said Sandra.
There was a pause, unbroken save for the popcorn popping.
"Well, okay," said Katie. "It's kind of complicated."
Sandra clapped her hands excitedly.
"Somebody asked Katie to be his VDP," said Anne.
"Eeeeee!" shrieked Sandra. "That's so EXCITING! Except, um, I don't know what a VDP is."
"It's a Vocation Discernment Partner," groaned Katie. "It's like a girlfriend only there is no guarantee romance is on the cards."
"The guy might become a priest instead," said Anne.
"Or a monk."
"Or a monk," repeated Anne. "Or just Single."
"Oh," said Sandra, nonplussed. "That's random."
"But at least he was honest about it," said Anne. "It wasn't like when you're seeing this guy, and he's really fun and sweet, and then the next thing you know he's having long talks with Father Bryan all the time, and then he goes on the Priesthood Discernment Retreat, and then he comes back and acts like nothing happened."
"Like Petra with Robert," said Sandra.
"Ex-ACT-ly. Or like Paul with Aileen."
"They're not really going out, though," said Katie. "Aileen's been talking about joining the Dominicans since frosh week."
"Yeah, and she's been going everywhere with Paul ever since. Whateverrrr."
"It's not going out unless you're both agreed its going out, though," said Katie.
"If nobody says anything, how do you know when going out is going out?" asked Sandra. "Like, if Nick asked me to meet him for breakfast in the hall, would that be going out?"
"Not the first time," said Katie.
"It would still be a date, though," said Anne.
"No, it wouldn't," said Katie. "Breakfast is not a date."
"Maybe it is if you really like the guy," suggested Sandra.
"Not exactly," said Anne. "I think it's a date if he really likes you. And there's nobody else at the table when you get there. And he pays."
"It could just be a friend thing," argued Katie.
"Like being a VDP," said the younger girl.
Katie made a terrible face and shoved her hands through her hair.
The popcorn battered ferociously at its bag, and the microwave beeped.
"Well, look at it this way," said Anne, taking out the popcorn. "You can eliminate him from the Possibles list."
"Wahhhhh," said Katie, throwing herself beside Sandra. "I don't want to eliminate him from the Possibles list."
Anne held the popcorn bag at arm's length and ruthlessly ripped the top off. Steam shot into the air.
"You will just have to be firm with yourself," she said. "He thought you would make a good nun. That's simply death. If a guy tells you you would make a good nun, and he isn't joking, you can forget about dating him."
"He didn't put it that way," said Katie. "He just said that lots of girls my age were becoming nuns. 'Real nuns, with habits.'"
"Look, chickie, if he's imagining you in a habit, you can just forget about it."
"Yeah," said Sandra loyally, "he can find himself another VD-whatever it is."
Anne stopped pouring the popcorn in mid-pour. She looked at Katie aghast.
"Oh my gosh," she said. "I hadn't thought of that."
"I did," said Katie and sniffed.
"Oh nooooo," said Sandra. "Don't cry. Don't cry, Katie."
"Right after I called Anne, I thought 'Now maybe he'll find someone else to be his VDP' and I thought... And I thought--."
Anne ripped a piece of paper towel from the roll over the sink and handed it wordlessly to her friend.
Katie dabbed at her eyes and then blew her nose.
"Thank you. And then I thought 'Wouldn't that be better than nothing?'"
"Oh noooo, Katieeeee...."
"I mean, I really like him and...maybe if he got to know me better, he would really like me..."
Anne put down the bowl and sat on Katie's other side.
"I know, honey. I know. It's hard. But what if he didn't? You know what a nice guy Paul is. Do you want to be like Paul, hoping all the time that Aileen will change her mind?"
"No," said Katie forcefully. "I don't."
She blew her nose again.
"But it's hard."
"I know it's hard. Life is hard. But you're strong. You're one of the strongest women I know. So you'll get through it. Now come on," she ordered, picking up the popcorn bowl. "I want to show you this thing on youtube."
"Okay," said Katie. "You want to come, Sandra?"
"No, that's okay," said Sandra. "I promised Vanessa I would do her nails before supper."
Sandra had a french manicure kit and a steady hand.
"See you later then," said Anne. "And don't tell anyone about you-know."
"We mean it," said Anne.
To be continued...
Update: See Part 3, "Sandra Blabs" here.