Home CommentaryStudent Life Chapter 2

Chapter 2

by Archives March 18, 2008

“I’d just wear a low-cut shirt if I were you, Martine.” That’s Suzanne’s magic solution.
“I would also wear a low-cut shirt if I were you,” I retort. Suzanne is an accountant, and not only does she have a head for figures, she’s got a great one.
People sometimes call me “Martine Gras,” and sometimes really rude people call me, “Martine Gras, show us your tits!” And that is really ironic because I don’t have very much by way of tits. They’re so small that I sometimes forget where they are.
But Suzanne still doesn’t seem to catch on, so I add, “But I’m not you, so it won’t help very much.”
She looks down at my chest, then away quickly. She’s my best friend and she doesn’t want to hurt my feelings by telling the truth. But she’s my best friend; she has to tell the truth.
“Maybe . . . um . . . you could go with a short skirt.”
I consider this for a minute. Dressing to impress is Suzanne’s strategy, and she’s rather successful at it, but it’s not really my style. Generally, style isn’t my style. I’m a T-shirt and jeans girl. Anything more extravagant, and I feel awkward and self-conscious.
“I think I might already have his attention,” I tell Suzanne. “What I need now is his phone number.”
The “he” is an attractive (of course) man I met on the first day of my French class. We waited together for the elevators, but they appeared to be moving at a geological speed. Finally we both gave up and took the stairs. I complained that the elevators were slow. He complained that the elevators were slow. We had something in common – a good start. When we got to the first floor, I asked him if he was in my class.
“No, I don’t think so. Are you?”
“I don’t know.”
“If you were in my class, you’d know it, because I’m the prof. I teach math.”
Even better.
Over the next few months, we’d periodically bump into each other in the elevators and stairwells. On my way to my class, I’d peak into his, and he’d notice me peeking and smile.
But today is my last class. My last chance. Suzanne has no other suggestions, so I wear a red T-shirt. I’m lucky. On my way to class, the math prof gets on my elevator. We make vapid conversation, commenting again on the sluggishness of the elevators. When we finally get to our floor, we are both late and have to rush off, but he does manage to offer me his name.
What can I do with a name like “John?” I should have asked for his last name, I think. Too late.
As soon as my class is over, I rush out. On my way to the elevators, I pass his classroom. It is empty. Damn, damn, damn, I think as I leave the building. I give Suzanne a distress call.
“Well, try looking him up anyway,” she says.
So I try the staff directory. He is not the only John in the math department, and there are no photos of any of the math profs on their website. Must be too artsy for them.
Two candidates. A John Schneider who has published over 50 articles. My John doesn’t look old enough to have published more than 20. Where would he have time for that between slow elevator rides? The other John is a Dr. Wilson. That’s almost as bad as Smith. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson should have had the foresight to name their child something like Ezekiel or Lysander. I can’t google a “John Wilson.” I try anyway, and I get an Israeli writer, an MLA for Cariboo North and a brand of figure skates. None of them resemble my Dr. John, especially not the figure skates. I sigh and decide to try anyway.
I compose an e-mail.
“Hi John
I don’t know if I have the right John, but it’s worth a try. This is Martine, the French student. Do you want to go for . . .?”
What if I get the wrong Dr. John and he gets offended and complains to the other Dr. John? Then my Dr. John will hate me for putting his career in peril. Besides, it may seem really desperate to ask right off the bat like that.
So then I write:
“Did you drop a scarf?”
I pause and read my e-mail. I have nothing to lose, and yet I’m so nervous. Maybe it won’t come to anything – like what happened when I gave my card to the sex shop clerk. He never called. What if Dr. John doesn’t reply either? I’ll feel like the most unattractive girl on earth. I might go and get breast implants – if I had the money.
I sigh and click “send.”
All next day, I worry. I almost don’t want to check my e-mail, but I can’t resist. There is an e-mail from a Dr. John.
There is no reproach. No, “who are you, you crazy desperate woman?” No gruff “How dare you? I’m married.”
“No, I didn’t lose a scarf.
So . . . do you want to go for coffee?”
I shriek with delight and jump up and down. Finally, my dating life is beginning again.
Not bad for a woman with no cleavage.

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