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Tip and J.Lo: The College Years (The True Meaning of Smekday Part Four)

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For me, this part started when I got my SAT prep books, but I guess J.Lo had already been thinking about it for a while.

See, he never showed much interest in high school, and I guess part of that was because he wasn't so great with reading and writing, and also because he was a lot more advanced than the average high-school student in math and science. So the stuff he could do was too easy and the stuff he couldn't was too hard. It didn't really occur to me that college would be any different.

But then I got the SAT prep stuff, and J.Lo said, "Maybes I can to be taking the Sat too!'

"It's not the Sat, it's the SAT," I told him. I wasn't really paying much attention; I was thinking about how much I was gonna have to study. "It's an acronym. Standardized Achievement Test."

"Then I can to be taking the SAT with Tip!"

"Why would you want to? I don't want to take it. You have to study forever and wake up really early and it takes hours. You only take the SAT because you have to. For college. It's not fun."

"Yes. I will be taking the SAT for to go to college."

That got my attention real fast. "You want to go to college?"

"Yes! With Tip!"

"But--why? I don't even know if Boov can go to college. You might not be allowed."

"Whyfor? I can read now! And write with computer."

"Yeah, but--why would you want to?"

"Because college is a spin-off, and Tip cannot spin-off without J.Lo! I do not want to be home with Mom on the show that will get canceled."

It wasn't like J.Lo still got all his information about humans from TV, but that was all he had before he came to Earth, and it was a hard habit to break. And I had to admit that, as soon as he said it, I knew exactly what he was talking about. It's not how I would have put it, but I had older friends who had already gone to college, and it just wasn't the same when they came back for vacation. Even if I went to school close to home, I would be in this whole new place, and J.Lo would be at home with Mom. And I love Mom, and J.Lo loves Mom, but it was time for us to start being adults.

I guess most adults don't usually bring Boov with them when they start growing up, but it wasn't like I could just leave him behind.

"We need to do spin-off together. Tip and J.Lo: The College Years!" he continued.

"Well," I said, looking down at my pile of SAT books and handing one to him. "It's worth a shot."

*

Obviously, there were a few things we had to figure out. I had no idea what a college would want from a Boov. A lot of the questions on the application didn't really apply. Would he have to get a GED, or would they just want to talk to him? It seemed kind of weird to make him go through the same application process as the rest of us when he was technically a lot older, and also from another planet, and his English was still a little funny sometimes. And he's never been allowed to become a US citizen. After the thing with the Latin Grammys, some people from the government came by and tried to figure out if they should be doing something with him, but they didn't really want to deal with it, and we didn't try and make them. But now, with the college thing, it seemed like we might have to.

But the first thing we did, me and Mom and J.Lo, was take a road trip to look at colleges. And a lot of them didn't even want to talk to us. Some of them didn't want to talk to us so much that I had some very strong words for them, but most were pretty polite about not really wanting a Boov. They said it just wasn't right for them.

It was hard watching J.Lo go from excited to quiet every time I had to tell him he shouldn't bother coming in. At first, I tried to hide it, make him think I didn't like the place, but he knew what I was doing, and it just made him feel worse. But we eventually found a few schools were really curious about having a Boov, and we did the whole college thing--campus tour, sitting in on classes, talking to professors, all of it. And then, at Cornell, he got into this conversation with someone from the School of Engineering about the floating car, and it was all over for J.Lo. Me, I would have been okay with something a little less rural, because then we would have had some safety schools near by. But J.Lo's School of Engineering friend was pretty high up, so he was in, and there was no way I was going to let them reject me if they wanted J.Lo.

And, obviously, they didn't.

We went to Cornell.

*

It was a lot easier than I expected to get us a room together. The first person I talked to just transferred me right to the lady who could approve a special dispensation for our unique circumstances. She even sounded excited about it. Like she'd been waiting all her life for some girl to call up and ask if she could share a room with a Boov.

"Well, they're gonna let us do it," I told J.Lo.

"You do not sound excited," said J.Lo. "Did not you want them to let us do it?"

"No, I did. But I thought they were gonna be jerks about it. I was all ready to get in a fight about it. I did a lot of research, and they didn't even ask! They just said yes right away."

"I do not understand," he said, after a long pause. "We did not want to go to jerk schools! And the jerk schools did not want us! Now we are at the nice school, so they are nice."

"Yeah, I guess."

"So we are ready now? Tip and J.Lo: The College Years, yes? It is all coming together!"

He was right, too. We got all the college stuff down. We got a mini-fridge and a microwave, and we even saved a little money because J.Lo didn't need to be on a meal plan. And I got him to stop eating stuff people left in the bathroom pretty quick too. We had a nice big room in the residence hall, and two beds, and everyone on our floor was really nice. And they all wanted to be Facebook friends with J.Lo.

"No one I know is friends with a Boov," said our RA. "I'm totally gonna be the first!"

"I am having many Facebook friends!" J.Lo said. "You will be the forty-eighth."

By the end of the first day he was up over two hundred.

And that was a little hard for me. People knew about J.Lo when I was in high school, and even a few when I was still in middle school. But we could introduce him kind of slowly. And they all knew me first. I wasn't the girl with the Boov. I was Tip, and then I was Tip and I lived with a Boov.

At college, I was J.Lo's human, and that was new . I know it's wrong to think of him as my Boov, but I don't mean it like I own him. He's my Boov the same way someone's brother is their brother. But I wasn't used to being his human. People met me and all they wanted to talk about was J.Lo.

And, unfortunately, that was true even when they didn't know who I was.

I heard a girl in my first English class (without J.Lo; too much emphasis on reading) tell her friend that, "That Boov shouldn't even be on Earth! What's he doing going to college?" And after that everyone found out real fast that they shouldn't stay stuff like that around me, because I was the girl with the Boov, and I didn't like anyone saying bad things about him.

But no one said any of that stuff to J.Lo; actually everyone who did talk to him was really curious about him. He fit in right away. He wasn't taking just engineering classes; he had some history, which he loved, and even decided he wanted to learn Russian. I don't know how he picked Russian. But he really liked it.

It took me longer to settle in. J.Lo's friends were okay, but all the ones who actually wanted to spend time with him were other engineering students, and they'd come over to our dorm room and talk about making a better flying car. They were all cool, and it was fun to watch movies and stuff with them, but we weren't really friends.

But it happened. Maybe not even any slower than it would have happened if I'd been at college alone. I started making friends, and it was great. It really felt like I'd found my place.

And then I met you.

I'm not going to call you "you" here. I mean, not when you're in the story. It just feels really weird. You'll get it.

Me and J.Lo had a great Smekday at home with Mom and Pig, and then we went back to school for the spring semester. I had gotten into the habit of getting to my classes early; people didn't always want to sit next to me, and it was easier getting there first and not having to see them try to find an empty spot away from the Boov girl. At this point, J.Lo had, like, a thousand Facebook friends, and I was in all his pictures, so it felt like everyone at school knew who we were.

Anyway, when I got to my first day of intro computer science, I was expecting to be the first one there, but my surprise, there was a guy already sitting in the second row.

"Uh, hi," I said.

The guy looked up. I couldn't tell how tall he was, but he had a great face (yes, I noticed that right away) and really nice arms (you know I think this, don't get smug) and I kind of regretted saying anything. But he smiled and said, "Hey, I didn't expect anyone for a while."

"Yeah, I just came from lunch," I said. "I figured, why wait?"

He held up half a sandwich. "I had to bring mine. My last class ended five minutes ago, I didn't think I'd have time to hit the dining hall."

It was weird, because we were talking, so it seemed rude not to sit near him, but it wasn't like I knew him or anything. So I was just standing there awkwardly with my books, not sure where to go.

He must have noticed, because he shifted to the side, even though he was the only one sitting in his whole row. Like he thought maybe I wasn't coming over because I thought there wasn't enough room. It was sweet, and it made me like him more. I went and sat down at the computer next to him.

"I'm Evan," he said, putting down his sandwich to offer me his hand.

"Tip," I said, and shook it.

*

I didn't date very much in high school. Or at all, really. I think J.Lo intimidated people, but it wasn't just that. Honestly? I wasn't that interested. I guess there were a few guys I liked, but they never seemed to like me, and it just seemed like too much trouble. I had homework to do and a Boov to deal with.

So then there I was at college. J.Lo was doing well doing his own thing, and I met a cute boy I actually liked. I kept going to class early (earlier and earlier; you probably noticed), and we started doing homework together, and I told him about my Boov and he thought it was cool, but it didn't change anything. It was great. So I wasn't really surprised when Evan asked me out a month into the semester. And, of course, I said yes.

I figured that would pretty much be the end of it. Or the start of it, I guess, but I thought that was the end of not dating and the start of dating.

But I forgot about J.Lo.

He came home when I was trying on outfit--I wanted to look great, but not like I'd worked too hard at it. Which, in case you don't know, takes a lot of work. I can let you in on that secret now.

"Whereto are we going?" he asked.

"You're not going anywhere," I told him. "I'm going on a date."

"A date?"

"Yeah. This guy in my computer science class asked me out and we're getting dinner and going to a movie."

He just wasn't getting it. "Whyfor cannot J.Lo be coming to the dinner and the movie? I like the movies!"

"Because it's a date," I told him. "Dates are something you do with just one person. People go on dates in TV shows all the time, come on. You know how they're supposed to work."

"But Tip has not been going on dates. I was not to thinking dates were real. I thought they were like to the muppets."

I was getting a headache. "No, J.Lo, dates aren't like muppets. They're real. People go on dates when they, you know. When they like each other." I could see he was about to say something, probably about how he liked me, so we could go on dates, and I didn't even want him to get started down that road. "Listen, it's different. You Boov probably don't have anything like it. It's part of how humans decide who we want to marry."

"Marry??" asked J.Lo, horrified. "Tip is getting married?"

"No! But, you know, we have to do stuff to figure out who we want to marry. Stuff like going on dates and spending time together just the two of us. So we know if it would be a good idea to get married."

"But--" J.Lo frowned. "Will being married be just the two of you?"

"Well, I guess," I said. I wasn't getting it. "You can just marry one person."

"But what about J.Lo?" he asked, miserable. "What will I do whento Tip gets married?"

"Oh, well, you'll come," I said, because of course he would. I couldn't just get married and leave him. "But we still have to go on dates alone first. To see if we like each other. We're not getting married," I repeated, just so we were clear.

"But you are seeing if you want to be married."

"Sort of. Someday, maybe."

"What if I do not want Tip to be marrying a person like this?"

"You don't really get to decide that," I told him firmly. "I get to decide who I marry. If I get married. But if you really didn't like my boyfriend, I'd want to know why not. And I would never marry anyone who didn't like you."

That seemed to satisfy him. "And when you get married, J.Lo will come too," he said.

"Yeah, of course. Anyone who marries me will have to want to live with you too. I promise."

And he's never forgotten that. And I didn't either, not really, but--I didn't know how to tell you. Not just like that. At first, it felt weird. We'd barely started dating and I was going to tell you that if we ever got married, you were going to need to live with J.Lo too? You don't just say that to someone on the third date.

But I also couldn't say it on the tenth date. Or the twentieth. Or on our first anniversary. So at some point, I just told myself you already knew. You knew me, you knew J.Lo, you guys got along great, so you'd probably figured out that he and I were planning to stay together even after college.

But I still wasn't sure. We live in different dorm rooms now. Maybe you think we'll keep moving farther and farther apart after we graduate. But he's still on the same floor as me, just a few doors down. Close enough I'll be there if anything happens. And I've never told you that matters to me until now. Because I was scared that you'd say you didn't want that, and then I'd have to pick between you and him. And I don't ever want to have to do that.

I don't think I'll have to. But I still thought you should hear all about us, the whole story. I can't believe I even had a copy of that essay I wrote for the time capsule. I didn't think I was going to ever tell anyone about it, but if you want to marry me, you should know what you're getting into. I think people should be honest about things. So if there's anything you want me to know, you should tell me now. You don't have to write an essay or anything. This probably wasn't what you were expecting. Most people just say yes or no, right? I hope you haven't been too nervous, waiting on this. Sorry about that. I did it as fast as I could.

Anyway, to answer your original question, yes. I'll marry you, if you still want to. J.Lo's already working on finding a tux.