One day Howie came to Phil's room.
"Don't you write poetry?" Howie asked.
"Yeh, a little. Why?" He expected Howie to ask him to write a love poem for some new prospective date. Since Phil was known for his writing ability, men came to him for help with writing of every kind.
"Well, you know Don broke his arm when he was out with Shelly, and we're having a 'cast' party for him. The girls wanted to know if I could write a song about it."
"What's a cast party?"
"You know, where somebody breaks their arm and they get a cast, so you have a party where everybody signs it."
"Oh. . .Yeh, I'd like to write a poem. Tell me all the details you can about what happened."
After Howie had left the room, Phil spent the next hour and a half writing. The next day Howie worked with his guitar and put a tune to the verses, and Phil drew a set of humorous signs and pictures that he could hold up to illustrate the song as Howie sang and played. Howie persuaded Phil to sing alto with him.
And the following evening was the cast party. The entire day Phil dreaded going. He was not good at meeting people, let alone girls. He did not like to be the center of attention. He was only going to please Howie. The two went to a dark, musty dorm basement at one of the women's dorms where they were greeted by seven or eight talkative girls, and Don. Loud music was playing on a worn out record player, and there were bowls of pop corn and chips and pretzels placed all around the room. Phil's first impulse was to run, but one of the girls took him by the arm and pulled him gently away from the door. Since nobody else seemed to notice he was there, he felt half safe and made his way to a dark corner of the room.
On one side of the room, across from a small, worn out couch, were half a dozen chairs. One of the girls suggested that Phil come and sit down. As he headed for the chair on the end of the row, another quickly took that seat.
"No, this chair!" she said with a red face, and then turned to talk with the girl beside her. The one who had invited him to sit beside her was obviously not interested in conversation with him. Puzzled, he hunched over in the chair and crossed his arms and legs, trying to make himself as inconspicuous as possible. He felt his heart racing, and looked down at his watch. It seemed that he had been there for hours already.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw a girl next to him. She, too was quiet, and looking down at her feet. And her arms and her legs were crossed, and she was bouncing her foot in the air. She was overhearing somebody else's conversation and occasionally laughed out loud at what they were saying.
"What's your name?" asked a girl standing in front of him.
"I'm sorry! I can't hear you!"
"Hey, Phil! Have you met Valorie?" She stretched out her hand in Valorie's direction.
He forced a smile, and quietly muttered, "Nice to meet you." She only nodded. Because of his dark hair and round face, she wondered if he was from a foreign country.
"Do you want a Coke to drink?" Valorie finally asked. "There are cups over there, and the drinks are on the counter."
"Thanks. I am a little thirsty!"
He was feeling so uncomfortable. He did not know what to say, or what to do. He just knew that this girl must be thinking how dumb he was. He went to the table, poured himself a Coke, and returned to his quiet place in the corner of the room. From there he watched everybody laughing and visiting. When it seemed that he could bear no more, Shelly finally called on Howie to sing his song. Though shaking the entire time, Phil managed to keep his artwork current with Howie's verses, and even sang alto with two of the verses at the end. Towards the end he was feeling a little less shy because everyone was laughing so hard at the song he had written. He was so very pleased, but afterwards was so exhausted that he excused himself from the party, trotted back to his room, fell on his bed, and took a nap.