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Gretchen Spaulding, from Ogdensburg, N.Y.

I created Gretchen in response to someone complaining of my unflattering depiction of biology majors in “The Unintentional Nudist”.

This is from Part 5 of “Tami Beethoven”.

“I have come into your life to redeem your image of bio majors,” said Gretchen, a tall, blonde, blue-eyed, somewhat chunky girl Tami’s age. “We are not all dweebs. We are not all virgins. We do not all spend our time trying to make Tami Smithers miserable with fourth-grader antics. In fact, most of us are not any of that.”

Gretchen had made this declaration to Tami three years ago during their freshman year, sharing a salad in the dining hall after a particularly odious episode of abuse from Gretchen’s classmate Lorinda and her friends. On that occasion Tami, having been outfitted for the day with the bristle bra and dildo panties ostensibly for scientific purposes, defended Gretchen against chatter that was too loud not to be overheard, spreading their opinion to half the world that Gretchen had faked a sprained ankle to avoid a big exam. Standing in the middle of the circle of dweeby girls outside the bio building on a gray spring day, the 18-year-old Tami labored to articulate her protest amidst the internal frictionings and vibrations activated by the remote controls that had somehow made their way into their hands.

Gretchen, hobbling unnoticed toward them on crutches, would never forget the scene. “She’s -- ohhh! -- more dedicated than you -- ohhh -- will ever -- beeeee!!!!!” The girls squealed with delight as the last word stretched out under the influence of the vibrations and bristlings as Tami crested. “Woo hoo! Another one! Up to fifteen!” said Betsy, reading the LCD display on the tiny pubic covering. “Come again, baby!!” Lorinda joined in, immediately renewing the assault. Tami’s body bounced up and down like a marionette, her feet slapping crazily on the cold concrete, as they coordinated their attack, sliding the rheostats up and down in unison and enjoying Tami’s words cadencing up and down accordingly. “You are acting so -- imm -- mm -- mature . . . If she d - didn’t have to g - go to the same class she wouldn’t -- OHH!” (she arched her back here) “have anything to do with youu . . . Kchkk . . .Eeeeeee!” Her eyes bugged open as the rear dildo vibrations were shot up to maximum.

They saw Gretchen and fled. At the risk of letting her crutch drop the lame girl put her arm around Tami’s bare shoulders as her quaking gradually ceased. When Tami was breathing more or less normally and it seemed none of the dozens of remotes at large were in range, they went to the dining hall, Tami walking stiffly under the influence of the dildos and bristles that still rubbed on her and within her with every step.

Since then Gretchen, who had been hanging out with Tami but had not gotten close, became a good friend, and after the graduation of Jen and Rebecca and Marisol, probably her best friend on campus. Tami, without any effort, inspired deep devotion in anyone who got to know her, and Gretchen was no exception. From a different but equally conservative background as Tami -- Gretchen was from a straight-laced dairy farm family in upstate New York with a fiancé in the Army -- she and Tami put their work ethics and majors together and developed a joint term project, developing a biodegradable polymer from which fabric could hopefully be made that both insulated against cold and breathed in the heat.

So it was that they could be found together, at 10:30 a.m., in the biochem lab in Rockley Hall. Gretchen, in goggles and an apron, had poured the contents of a test tube onto the aluminum substrate. Tami, holding her goggles up to her eyes because her allergy did not allow her to put the straps around her head, watched from behind, glancing downward to make sure her feet were not touching anything on the floor that looked like a chemical stain.

The solution partially dried on the aluminum amid a slight cloud of smoke.

“We’re getting there,” Gretchen said.

“Do you think my nucleotide formula was correct?”

“I assume so. Your calculus is a lot better than mine.”

“Maybe we need less alkyne,” Tami said.

The solution was supposed to dry almost immediately, then be rolled into a thread for weaving. This was the third try and they were getting close. Their professors had already given them an A for the project but both had further ambitions for it.

Tami looked at the clock and smiled. “It’s almost showtime.”

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