What I’d fallen in love with was Sophie’s haircut – a sort of Katherine Hepburn deal, though her cheekbones were a little angrier – which was maybe not the smartest thing to fall in love with, but that’s how that goes. There’s a sort of honesty in falling in love with stuff that’s necessarily transient, or anyway this is what I told myself. And I know, but I was in art school – all I did was lie to myself back then.
I’d met her at a staff party – you know how that goes. I was giving my first seminar on The Femme Fatale In Dutch Baroque, or something else I was unqualified to have an opinion about, and she was a teaching assistant two departments over. She’d come into the party on the sleeve of someone from Gender Studies, but pretty soon the offending arm was hanging limply behind her while she said charming things and left lipstick on paper cups. Standard unattainable fare. Grasp exceeding reach, etcetera – I mean, I’m no Spencer Tracey.
No, I don’t know what charming things she was saying. I was looking at the Hepburn hair, alright? Our one interaction consisted of my stumbling across the room, already exhausted from Flying Dutchmaning my way from one circle of acquaintances to the next, and asking her, “I’m sorry, but do you have a lighter?”
She made the face you make when you see through somebody without really having to look at them, and said, “Sorry, no.”