Wednesday, May 25, 2005
CHAPTER 4 (Part VI)
Part of the excitement in my relationship with S. was his unpredictability.
I could never be sure if he’d show up outside Manuscripts & Archives after work wanting to walk me home, or appear at any hour outside my apartment with a sheaf of papers, all with the avowed purpose of pushing the Senior thesis closer to completion. He’d tell me he was coming over early to avoid finding P. at home, then spend the evening bullshitting with him over Scotch if he was there. I couldn’t tell, either, if he was serious about all the details of his past he’d tell me, or if he was lying for effect. There were hookers he’d slept with while living in New York before starting at Yale, or the Arab girls in Beirut before that. One day he would insist he was mad for Ellen and couldn’t sleep because she’d stood him up, then say the next he was dating her only to have an excuse to be near me. Was it all teasing, or was there a shred of truth to it? All lies about his past, or a kernel of reality? Of course I was flattered by the idea he might really be interested in me-- what woman isn’t tickled to have a man smitten with her like some little puppy dog, even if she is married? It pumped helium into my ego when he confessed he’d been scouting me before he asked if I’d type his paper.
Would it have changed anything if I’d known?
“You realize, don’t you, that I had my eye on you even before I started doing research here?”
“You’re not going to start with the B.S. about ‘kindred souls’ again, are you?”
“No, really, I’m utter-ly serious. I picked you out as a fellow seeker of pleasure weeks before I met you or knew it was you in that photo.”
Ah, yes, THAT photo. See, I already had a reputation around the library as a flirt. For one thing, I’d posed for a photo in the Yale Daily News of me sitting on the lap of the statue of Theodore Dwight Woolsey, Yale’s 11th president, over on Old Campus. All I was wearing at the time were some gold hoop earrings. That picture raised a few eyebrows around the Library, though fortunately for me, the editor picked one that didn’t show my face, so my boss could shield me from those who were “convinced” I was the model. There were office pools about the identity of the lap-sitter, and my name was always one of the possibilties.
My boss could've fired me on suspicions alone, hey, this is Yale for God's sake. But he’s a gentleman, and wasn't going to make any moves on rumors or office pools (I learned afterwards he put $5 on me being the one). I begged him for the job in the first place when word got out his previous secretary was retiring. I was working at the Computer Center entering data on punch cards, and would’ve done almost anything to get out of there. At the end of the interview, he looked at me and said “you’re a bit young, but I think you’ll grow into it.”
Why’d I take such a chance of losing my job by posing nude for the Yale newspaper, on campus no less? I don’t know. It wasn’t trouble I went looking for, it sorta found me, nothing I planned on doing-— see what I mean about just letting things happen to me? I fell into it (again) by answering an ad for a photographer’s model on a card posted down in Cross Campus Library’s snack bar offering $50. I almost missed the card, too, it was nearly covered over by a flurry of notices selling stereos or used bikes, in search of roommates for apartments off campus, or offers to type papers, tutor math or earn money in your spare time as a subject for an experiment over in the Pysch Lab (no violence or pain, promise). Of course, P. was angry with me for taking the risk and (worse) letting other guys ogle my flabby ass. The $50 I was paid got spent on some outrageous flats I saw at Macy’s, but the money didn’t mean a thing to me in comparison to the gas I got from tweaking the campus scolds—- or seeing my photo tacked up in the dorms next to the usual Playboy pin-ups. I don’t have a body like those women, so, sure, I was happy to know they were getting hard-ons from my good looks. I don’t know why I told S. it was me kissing Woolsey’s iron face, but he immediately started pressuring me to autograph a copy of the paper.
See how I can never leave well enough alone?
“No chance, Stefan Retter, not even in your dreams!”
“Why not?” He looked actually hurt by my refusal.
“Because you’ll tack it up in your room and Robert will immediately tell Ellen.” The third of his suite mates at Ezra Stiles College hung out in M & A even more than he did-— to the point we called him “Miss Robert” because he seemed so comfortable around that pack of female jackals working there. Good thing for me he wasn’t around that time I went over in my micro-mini! “Besides, you don’t need to look at naked pictures of me, it will only fuel your already overheated imagination.”
“Im-possible,” he grinned, splitting the word for that extra ounce of precision that only made sense because he was thinking in German-— or thinking like a German. “I assure you, Mis-sus Campbell, my imagination could not be more overheated than when I’m around you. It is like a car laboring up an impossibly steep hill with a monstrously heavy load on a scorching Summer afternoon! Which by the way, you look positively scorching in the photo. It is just one more nail in the coffin of my undoing. No, our paths had already crossed...."
(to be continued)