Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Chapter 4 (Part VII)

S. blathered on about the first time we'd met:

“Our paths had already crossed on a Winter’s day, as that lovely Simon & Garfunkel song goes—”

“Ah, yes, ‘If I never loved I never would have cried.’ You ARE a serious young man!”

“Hmm, yes, ‘I have my books/And my poetry to protect me’—“

“—’I touch no one and no one touches me’—”

”—‘And a rock feels no pain’—”

”—‘And an island never cries’.”

“Now if only I could carry a tune in your proverbial American English wooden bucket, we could tell the world Simon & Garfunkel were back together again, only one of them is now a girl.”

“Art was always a bit on the prissy side anyway,” I was laughing so hard now I wanted to pee, “if he isn’t gay, he should be.”

“In any case, I was checking you out even before I started researching my bloody thesis. It was, as I have already indicated, a Winter’s day, and I was on my way to Sterling. I was walking along the sidewalk above that underground monstrosity known as Cross Campus Library--"

That's the part of the library where students hang out and do homework, it's window-less and creepy, always reminding me of something out of "2001, A Space Odyssey" when HAL, the killer computer, tries to kill all the astronauts on his ship.

--"I was wondering if I could eventually tease Ellen’s panties off before I reach middle age. Given the weather and the position of Yale men in the sexual pecking order on campus— professors first, followed by graduate students and only then, if nothing else remains, Yale undergrads— I was paying no particular attention to the female fauna at that moment. Though I should have picked up on the fact that you were older and more experienced than even the sexually-promiscuous women I meet nowadays.”

“Stefan Retter, should I take that as flattery or a put-down?” We were having coffee in the library cafeteria every day by then, and it annoyed me and pleased me when he said those kinds of things. “Besides, I find it hard to believe you’ve been celibate during your four years here.”

“Hmmm, well, I never kiss and tell, at least not usually. Not unless I think it will unlock other chastities.”

“Don’t get any ideas. I’ve been keeping professors and instructors at bay since I started at Temple, you academics are as amoral as cats in heat.”

“Well, you can’t impute my character, my dear Cassie, since you’re hardly the younger woman, you’re 24 and married since five years. Though I do find at times you seem so much more youthful and vivacious than any 18 year-old.”

“I’m just immature, for God’s sake, don’t make me out to be anything extraordinary. It’s more pressure than I can handle!”

“No, I’m quite serious. You are both experienced and yet still fresh and innocent. It is one of the conundrums that make you utter-ly fascinating. However, at the instant I first saw you, you did not precisely stand out, and I would never have noticed you in that stodgy old pea coat covering everything but your legs— and I will tell you your legs are quite wonderful.” I’m sure he punctuated that thought with a leering smile and probably a sly peek under the table at the body parts in discussion. My father had always frowned on flattery, and only once before the day I got married had he ever told me I looked “pretty.”