How small is Chicago? Too small.
The K- easter dinner had just concluded and we were sitting in her mother's parlor digesting, enjoying a few after dinner cigs (not me!) and sipping wine. One of the other dinner guests, a tall gentleman with dreds, joined us. His girlfriend had just mentioned that she was attending X College.
I exchanged semi-alarmed glances with my friends. LTF taught at X College.
Roomie got that look in her eye. It was a look that said, 'Whatever is about to happen is going to make Ding freak out.'
G- smiled and said, 'And you? Do you go to X College?'
I quickly interject, 'Uh, no. Remember he said he goes to XY University?'
He corrected, 'But I transferred from X College.'
Roomie said, 'Oh, so maybe you know Professor LTF?'
He nodded. 'Oh, yeah! LTF. I took one of his classes. He's a cool guy.'
And he looked at all of us, waiting for one of us to tell him why we're asking about one of his past instructors.
AK, after taking a slow drag on her cigarette, said, 'He's a friend of a friend.'
I was silent.
Please, Newly Risen Lord, let this conversation end now.
He chuckled. 'You know, he's an interesting guy. He sent an invitation out after he got tenure - ' (Quickly, I calculated that LTF and I were not seeing each other at that time.) ' - and I went to his party and there was kind of a weird vibe.' He chuckled again.
Roomie slid me a glance. I kept drinking my wine.
'Really?' she said. 'What kind of vibe was it?'
Dear Risen Jesus! You are not listening to me! Please give this very nice dude a stroke.
He continued. 'Well, there were no women there. Well, there was one. She's in some other department. Built like a brick shithouse - a very voluptuous brick shithouse on high high boots - she was all over him, actually - but the party just had this weird guy vibe and I was wondering why I was there and what was going to happen. It was sort of ... adventurous.'
Good lord. I knew that vibe. I'd successfully extricated myself from that vibe several times. When LTF gets in a Burroughs-Bukowski mood, sometimes you gotta take your chances and get the hell out. And that woman? I recognized that outfit. I've *worn* that outfit.
He went on. 'But LTF is a good guy. If he doesn't like you, he won't bother with you but he's a good guy. He's given me some excellent advice about grad school. But there is something...One night I was in a gay bar with some friends because a band was going to be there. The band flaked but we stayed, having some beers and then LTF walked in!'
Really, Risen Lord. One stroke. Muteness. Plague of boils. Anything.
'We leave but he stays. A week later, I run into him on the bus and he says really loud, Hey, I saw you the other night in the gay bar! And I'm like, Dude!' He chuckled. 'He's just a little socially awkward, I think.'
My friends took in all of this in silence. The Gentleman in Dreds looked at them looking at me.
'Ahem,' I said. 'I, ah, know LTF socially. Uh, yes. Socially in a social way.'
Roomie snorts and G- smiles behind her glass of wine.
Thankfully, dessert was announced and the topic changed to the Muffin Lady (who is apparently out from her earlier charge of possession with intent to distribute.)
On the way home LTF texted me, asking if I was coming over later. It was late so I texted No.
Ding: But weird coincidence - I met an old student of yours tonight.
Ding: His name was T-. He had his girlfriend with him. Weird, huh?
No response yet from LTF.
Yes, indeedy. This town is way too small.