I haven’t yet found anything valuable to “contribute” to my Literary Theory class and so I am relying on coy, pretentious jokes to get me by. I give myself extra points if I think the jokes betray an intimacy between the professor and me. And he’s just the right kind of smug for it. I ran out for a moment just before class started today and the professor thought I was chasing him down, impatient for his wisdom.
“Were you looking for me?” his retinue of graduate students stop watching him expectantly and made silly conversation as if watching our exchange might be degrading to their genius.
“No. Just the water fountain. Or– whatever that signifies…” He laughed* and told me not to go down stairs, that he was, in fact, standing right in front of one! Please crouch down here! Please engage yourself in water pressure so weak that you have to practically lick the spout in the center of these congregated candidates. Yes! Please! I flashed back to public school. Was someone going to hit me on the back of the head? Were they looking at my butt? Did the rich kids have to do this too or did they all have water bottles?
One of them, self-important, self-mythic, had to move aside. I haven’t seen her for a while. She must have relocated her work once she finished her Masters. But I am surprised she isn’t around more– collecting hetero-undergrad crushes in her white leather blazer, her bleach-white hair, her square white teeth.
She is moderately gifted at regurgitating anything my lit-theory prof has written but seemingly incapable of parsing theoretical conversation and responding with any grace. I once had the pleasure of seeing her argue with Nico– and with Nico’s dark hair, dark suit, dark eyes the looked like nemeses. Later I saw her-highness-Billy-Idol run across the street and her limbs splayed silently at awkward angles. She ruined herself — a liquid marionette— and grinned.
I realized how clever and handsome I might seem if I grow more willing to strike poses.
A straight woman who has previously expressed discomfort about my gayness complimented me today. “Can I say something personal?” I blushed and we had an audience. “Is that your natural eye-color?” I assured her it was. “I think you have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen!” She was downright enthusiastic about it. She has large, blocky hands and keeps her fingers pressed tightly into two flat planes as she talks, making circles in the air.
I so rarely receive straightforward compliments from people I am not sleeping with that they catch me off guard. I terrified of being perceived as an unwelcome and desirous presence around women (like so many gay women) and stay as far as I can from normal homosocial discourse. So when that happens you can see why I immediately want to make a new friend, to cultivate sleepovers, to be able to access some non-sexual nudity. I telescope almost as quickly.
*I was shopping for yarn recently and a woman working at the store laughed loudly at seemingly nothing. It sounded like the kind of laugh a geeky student issues while trying to impress a punning professor, despite the fact that she does not understand the pun. Finally someone asked her, “what is it?” And, “Oh I was just laughing about this avatar I made for this one forum. It’s a joke with myself.”