The door was a quarter open and she was sitting at her back desk, by the window that overlooked the campus, typing on a notebook. He waited for a minute, watching as she typed. She was as beautiful from behind, seated in her swivel desk chair, as she was from the front, the first time he saw her in the lecture hall. Elegant, her body sat as it moved and stood, like a dancer upright and present in the moment.
Nat was, by contrast, more casual in the moment. Which meant he sat in chairs like a sack of boy, and lived in faded jeans, a t-shirt, flannel shirt, or when he dressed up for a date, a polo shirt. On his feet, usually, were ancient running shoes. And the thin parka shell he either wore or had stuffed into his knapsack, was a blue as faded as the sky before a rain.
Cecilia turned around, glanced up and saw him standing at her door. He smiled, sheepishly, at having been voyeur busted. She smiled back.
"Did you want to come in, or just stand there staring?" she asked.
"Come in," he said and pushed the door open, then closed it behind him before sitting at one of the heavy wooden chairs before her desk. He dropped his knapsack from one shoulder to the floor beside his feet, in one smooth down-arc. "I'm Nat Johnson, in --"
"Psych 100," she said finishing the sentence. "Yes. I recognize you. Right aisle, stage right, last row, in case you need to make a hasty exit. Are my lectures that boring? Or are you doing bank heists from 11:00 to 11:50, three days a week?"
"Bank heists," he answered. "And you can tell that just by looking? I am so impressed."
"And I doubt that very much."
"About what -- my Robin Hooding banks?"
"Yes, and about your being so easily impressed. Do you like the Robin Hood story?" She countered questions with another question, like a trained doctor of the questioning head.
"Yes. And the movie, especially, with Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, as Robin and Marian. Have you seen that version?"
"Yes. And which one is your hero?"
It was an odd question. He would have asked: "And which one do you consider 'hot'?" which is simpler and more direct, and possibly more superficial, sexist, and probing about sexual orientation, than the question she asked. But, being simpler and more direct, and probably more superficial, that's the question that he answered. Sometimes questions and answers are more about listening to yourself, than to others.
"I have," Nat began, putting on the costume of pompous, false sophistication, as the television talking-head film critic, "a hulking admiration for Mr. Crowe's ability to put beef inside a role. But Ms. Blanchett manages to redirect my blood flow in nearly every shot, in this film, and in everything. It's what the ancients might have called "a smolder in the panty-on," and today we just call 'hot.'"
"Okay. I can see that," she managed to get out before a small shriek laugh, and then repeated his line about the panty-on. "And you have read a lot of ancient film reviews?"
"I've seen them, on a really old t.v."
There was a pause and they each sat smiling at the other. He liked her from the start. Apart from her elegance and grace, there was something youthful in the way she looked and talked, like a girl still living inside a young woman's body. He wondered what she thought of him. He wasn't sure.
"So -- the reason for the visit?" she finally asked.
"Uh, yes. Sorry. I had an idea for my term paper, and wondered if it would be totally out of line."
He stopped, expecting her to say something in reply. There was another pause before she shook her head and tossed both hands, palms up. "And? Your possibly, totally out-of-line idea, is what, pray tell? I'm a teacher, not a dentist. We can talk together, can't we, without my needing to pull teeth?" she finally asked.
"Yes. Sorry," he said. "And I'm really glad that you're not a dentist." He then went on to explain his possible idea, which turned out to be merely "interesting" to her, as she encouraged him to write an outline of how he thought the paper would go, and see her again next week.
He thanked her, grabbed his knapsack and made an off-hand compliment about the houseplant in the office corner, then smiled again and said good-bye, turned and walked out into the hall. All the while, in that maneuver of farewell, seeing her in his head in that first shot at the door, sitting upright in a chair before the backdrop of a window view, typing on a notebook.
20110819 08:58 Fri (834 words)