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Stair-Crossed Lovers

THE JINX didn't stop there. A few weeks later, a cute senior called to ask me to a fall formal. Carefully I picked out my slinkiest cocktail dress, matching high heels, and a large vase to hold the armload of flowers he would undoubtedly bring.

When Friday night arrived, he called up from the Centrex phone in the breezeway, asking me to refresh his memory with what room number I lived in.

"The FOURTH floor of K-entry?" he repeated nervously. "Why don't you just meet me in the breezeway? I...um...don't really have a key to let myself into your entry." Funny how he was able to let himself into the house.

As I gathered up coast, scarf and gloves, muttering about how much NICER it would have been for him to come to the door, he called again from the Centrex to inquire what was taking so long.

No, really, he did. I am not making this up.

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And the truly amazing thing was that when I finally made it downstairs, I realized there was a whole line of men by the phone, waiting to call their dates to meet them downstairs.

Maybe I'm a hopeless romantic. But somehow, radiantly greeting him at your door is more appealing than meeting outside, bundled up in hat and coat, hair already disheveled from running downstairs.

All I know is, I am beginning to hate that Centrex downstairs in our breezeway.

BUT I CAN'T really blame these guys, either. I mean, there are serious logistical problems with dating someone who lives above the third floor.

Anybody but a triathelete is so exhausted after scaling four or five flights that about the most exciting thing they're ready to do in bed is sleep.

Second, it just takes too much time to drop in for a surprise visit if your have to trudge up a thousand stairs.

Instead, you fall into the rut of phoning ahead, just to make sure you're not about to trek all the way up for nothing.

Rather than show up with an impulsive Chinese dinner for two, you ritualize 6 p.m. Wednesday night dining in Dunster House.

And poof! There you go: all the spontaneity vanishes straight out of your relationship.

No more last minute passion, no impromptu rendez-vous. Before you know it, your romance has dwindled into a yawn-inducing monotony of phone calls between Centrex phones.

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