"Hey, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind giving me a ride back to my place since my ride is about to leave," he asks me mid-way into the potluck.
"Sure." Oh, naive, trusting, gullible Eagle Eye.
* * *
"Take a right here. I live off Shady Avenue, in Squirrel Hill."
I take the turn. There's thunder in the sky. I comment on it.
"Hey," he says, matter-of-factly, "I hear you smoke reefer. Wanna share a joint?" (The fact that he used the word "reefer" should have been hint enough that this line had been practiced.)
Like a moth to the flame, I answer, "Sure, of course. I always like company."
In his apartment, we light the joint and pass it. He turns on the music. He dims the lights. He shows me copies of his brother's paintings and begins talking about the painting style. I am polite, so I say I really like one of the paintings. "You should keep that postcard then," he says. I put the postcard in my purse. Oh, and then my favorite: He picks up an Orwell book and reads a passage out loud. What's next, a recitation of poetry? "Hey," Sten says: "There's this poem that is really amazing that I'd love to read. Is this guy for real?
"Excuse me, Sten," I say. "I need to go the bathroom." I exit quickly, stifling my laughter.
I look at myself in the mirror. How the hell did this happen? How did I end up in this guy's place with his decades-old mode of seduction? And is that what is really happening anyway? Or am I imagining this? I repeat, do not fuck another teacher. do not fuck another teacher. do not fuck someone in your teacher-training class. do not, do not, do not. do not shit where you eat, don't do this.
Back in the living-room, I can see how this whole thing can so easily slide in a few predictable directions. He's not so bad..., I think. I'm sort of lonely, I reason. Maybe it's really cool that he's so cliche, maybe he's genuine, I wonder.
you will have to see this guy every day for the next three years whether you want to or not. don't do it, don't do it, don't do it.
"Hey, um, Sten. It's getting kind of late, so I think I should probably be going..."
"Oh, yeah, sure," he says.
Collected field artifact resultant from Potluck #5: The Postcard ("The Machinist," 1998)