Reminiscences, #3

I don’t know why I was think­ing about this one today, but here it is.

Geog­ra­phy Primer—At the uni­ver­si­ty where I work, my cow-ork­ers and I often sit on an indoor bench on a fair­ly well-used path­way dur­ing our cof­fee breaks. This allows us to all sit together—there are about eight or ten of us on the bench at a giv­en time, usually—and it also affords the peo­ple-watch­ers among us a rich tapes­try of stu­dents to observe. Okay.

The Set-up—The uni­ver­si­ty has a pro­gram called EAP, or Eng­lish for Aca­d­e­m­ic Purposes—essentially Eng­lish as a Sec­ond Lan­guage. We have a sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­la­tion of for­eign stu­dents attend­ing our fair school, from places like Tai­wan, Chi­na, Malaysia, Mex­i­co, and so forth, and some­times they need help with their Eng­lish. All right.

The Sto­ry—I’d noticed in par­tic­u­lar that one girl, from Mex­i­co (at least I assumed she was from Mex­i­co; I’d heard her talk­ing with friends on sev­er­al occa­sions, in what sure sound­ed like Span­ish) seemed to be giv­ing me the eye on occa­sion. I admit, I was flat­tered, but I’m also mar­ried.

So one day, for what­ev­er rea­son, I was alone on the bench for my cof­fee break. I can’t remem­ber exact­ly why, but most like­ly I was ear­ly or my cow-ork­ers were late. Any­way, a fel­low Uni­ver­si­ty employee—let’s call her Kate—swoops in, sits down next to me, and says, “We have to talk.”

Alarm bells go off in my head. I’m friends with Kate, but she’s got two jobs at the U: Admin­is­tra­tive Sec­re­tary to the Pres­i­dent, and Sex­u­al Harass­ment Offi­cer. So when she says, in a seri­ous voice, “We have to talk,” my insides get a lit­tle crawly.

O-o-o-kay,” says I, the paragon of elo­quence.

I need to know your age and mar­i­tal sta­tus,” says Kate.

This con­ver­sa­tion has tak­en a left turn, I think. “Uh, twen­ty-sev­en and mar­ried,” says I.

Yeah,” she says, “thought so.” She gets up.

Wait on a sec­ond,” says I. “What’s this all about, any­ways?”

She says, “Well, there’s a cou­ple of girls from Mex­i­co.” (Did I men­tion that Kate also helped out with EAP? Well, she did.) “They were ask­ing about the guy that sits on the bench with the dev­il beard.” (I had a goa­tee at the time…) “And I tried to think, ‘dev­il beard’? Who would that be? And then I saw you here today, and…”

Okay,” I say. “And?”

Oh.” She smiles. “And they have wicked crush­es on you.” She sighs. “Well, got­ta go break some señoritas’ hearts.”

And she walked away.

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