Some months ago – never mind how long precisely – a new contact popped up online, greeting me with what have become very standard words - ‘Hi, do you remember me?’
Quite how a student expects me to remember them when they first contact me I do not know, given that all I see of them is their sign-in name which, even if it is a variation of their real name and not a more creative handle, gives no clue to their identity since I seldom teach any one group of students for long enough to get to know their names. And yet, after every class wraps up, four or five students will begin a conversation with those very words.
But given that in this case the sign-in name of this new interlocutor, Simone, was clearly female, I judged it best to make it seem as if I did recall her, and so I gave my catch-all answer, ‘I taught you English, right?’
She told me that this was right, and she was glad I remembered her.
By dint of asking open-ended questions I established she was a student who’d come to one of the universities I work at for an oral exam, and that she got my email from the website information form used. But still I was unable to remember anything specific about her. However, given my penchant for the Lucky Dip, I let the conversation grow and unfold, and, by its end, had agreed to meet her for coffee during the following few days. For even though I was not quite sure who she was, I liked the pot luck of going to meet her. The anticipation of who will be waiting for me in the coffee shop (or wherever the rendezvous is) is always stimulating.
Now it so happens – with a dash of the chance, the pattern, the echo that I so relish in life – that this very same day that I met the (at that point) random woman was the day Clarissa flew overseas to her new life. I thought of Clarissa all that morning and particularly at when, me amid a class of guppies, she flew out. I knew I would miss her a lot, and so I did, for I was falling in love with her.
But this did not make me any bit more reflective, for I still kept the appointment I had made to have coffee with this woman who I remembered nothing about. And thus even as one woman left, a woman I cared greatly about, I was off questing after another.
Yet even as I was going to meet Simone, I ran into
She had mentioned this guy to me before, when we’d shared a coffee. But that time she’d told me he was her boyfriend. Either in the present email that use of ‘husband’ was a mere slip, or, last time, she’d lied to me; and if she had, it was a fine sign indeed. There’s but one reason a woman downgrades a husband to a boyfriend, and it is the same reason that she airbrushes her other lovers out of her life altogether when meeting a new guy.
But at that time I was busy with other women and other classes, and so I decided merely to put her on pause and maybe apply myself to her a little later on. Fundamentally she was dull; but dull and cute, and a fuck’s a fuck.
And so keeping matters brief with
If there was a moral plan to the world it would have been just deserts for my scoundrelly ways if she had turned out to be a fright – but not so; the woman who arrived to greet me was young, sexy, snappily dressed and, I was sure within a very few moments, almost certainly a cinch to seduce. And I did now remember her from the interview, and remembered being rather struck with her.
She was young, just 20 – which, in this culture often means more like 15 in emotional outlook -- and she was indeed 15 in some ways, a little timid, and most certainly corralled and controlled by her parents.
She told me she could only stay for two hours, since her parents had told her to be back home by . She also told me her mother had, at first, wanted to come with her but had settled for getting my phone number from her. Such parents! They give her the curfew of a ten year old.
I told her she had partly herself to blame for accepting this. She said she had tried to change her parents’ minds… but obviously had not tried hard enough.
As we talked, I assessed her. Attractive, and rather a trim body. I felt it would not be too hard to charm her to bed; indeed, as, later, I walked back with her to the tube, my arm guiding her from time to time, I was sure I was home; and had the train not been quite so crowded, I’d have kissed her as we parted. I sent a follow up message saying I had enjoyed meeting her, and that she was cute. She replied in kind, and we exchanged a couple more messages in the same vein during the rest of the evening.
But I was sure Simone was not quite the wholesale innocent she appeared, for she had a boyfriend (at the time; he is long since gone). ‘Do your parents know?’ I asked of this boyfriend – expecting and getting the too-common look of amused horror on her face – ‘Of course not! They would kill me!’
It is an old story; parents here seldom know the truth of their daughters’ lives. Sara, my full-time girlfriend, for example, has to lie to her mother every time she stays with me. No matter that she is 25, and, in a few days, flying off to begin her postgraduate studies in
Sure, Simone looked and acted the virgin, but while I was not so gross as to ask, I suspected she was not; she told me her guy was a bit of a rogue so I concluded he had put her to it – opening a path for me, I hope.