I was at community college in 1972 and scrambling to fill my class roster for the semester. Womens’ Studies was one of the few classes still open so I signed up.
The professor was brilliant, patient, respectful and clearly progressive in her views about “Women’s Lib.” The class consisted of a diverse set of young, old, curious, angry, smart and funny women…and me. Which at times made me the sounding board, the control group, the coach, the victim and the recipient of lots of attention. Which at first scared me, and then later delighted me.
Rhonda approached me on the first day. She was confident and beautiful and far more worldly than I. She had opinions and wanted to know mine. We became campus companions during those two years and she opened my mind to thinking outside of the books I had immersed myself in. We went to a McGovern rally together on campus because we heard Jane Fonda and Neil Young were going to be there. I remember visiting her charming old Victorian home and hearing Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” for the first time. I still lived with my parents, and when she stopped by once, it was obvious my mother didn’t appreciate Rhonda’s street smarts.
I transferred to university and we lost touch. Years later I ran into her at a coffee shop, where she was a waitress. I had followed the straight and narrow path of college>career, while she had traveled the world. She was happy to see me and glad things had turned out well for me. She was as sharp-witted as ever and clearly knew how to handle the customers. My friend Roger was with me. Always “on the make” with a pick-up line, he couldn’t resist flattering Rhonda, still striking and exotic in her waitress uniform. I don’t remember what was said, I just remember that I never saw a woman put Roger in his place like that. I laughed out loud.
Learning about “Women’s Lib” in class was one thing. Learning it from Rhonda in the real world was another.