Saturday, November 12, 2005

Strains of Borodin

The semester is nearly finished. Oh, not for the students. For them, life must be measured not by classes to be taught, but the exams to be written.

But for me, it’s almost done.

And the students will move on. They branch, settle into spaces and places that match their dispositions.

The Adorable Torts Section will disperse and I will never hear from half of them again.

But occasionally there'll be an email from one, a year or two later, announcing some turn of events, some milestone, or, simply, some concert.

And I go and listen and I think – wow! I’m glad I never heard her play before. I may have urged her to give up this law stuff and return to a full time commitment to cello.

Madison Nov 05 193
April F-S, Torts 2004

to have and to hold

No talking, you hear? We are in a bookstore café. The rules are different. A voice has the power to disturb. Shhhhh!

I am at Borders. God, I miss this place. I wish it had moved downtown with me. Mr. B rests in the familiar rack, watching me from the outside as I pile books on a table and take a deeply satisfying swig of a tame Borders latte.

I open the first book. Something is not right though. I hear voices, damn it! At the table next to mine, someone is talking. Why aren’t they getting the evil glare from others? Why this tolerance for a clear violation of café norms? Ah. It is obvious. People are eavesdropping.

At first I only hear fragments. Something about Eau Claire. And cell phones. Someone doesn’t like cell phones. Okay, I don’t really like cell phones either. I look up.

Two women with veils around their heads and a man in ordinary, nondescript clothes. Mother, daughter, guy….oh! he is a candidate for the position of husband to the young woman!

What would it be like to have my mother there with me to interview prospective husband material? Her choice would not be my choice. Indeed, my choice initially was not her choice, only sometime in the middle of it all, she really got into my choice, even as my choice and I were no longer so convinced we were sufficiently into each other's choices.

The mother at the table is pressing the young man on issues of work, especially the work of the woman. He’s fumbling. He talks of respect for women in their various capacities, though he is quick to point out that it is his deepest hope that a woman would stay close to the family. It is her specialty.

I’m hearin’ you, brother! Families are good. Aprons are good. Strings tied in bows are good too. She is awfully silent though. And her face is expressionless. I have a feeling she wants to slap him one.

Finally she speaks. She brings up the name of an author and she describes his position on some issue or other. Hard to follow here. I know neither the author not the issue. But her argument is fluid, impeccably stated. The young man grunts a couple of times. Clearly he has nothing to say on this. Clearly she is smarter, at least in the bookish sense. Clearly she is going to wind up with this schmuck who somehow is convinced that his stories are better and his jokes are funnier.

Exit interviews conducted at Borders café this afternoon: oh miss, did you think his jokes were funnier and his intellect sharper than hers? No… Okay, just wondering.

Now he is explaining his position on religious practices. You are so stammering here, dude! Why didn’t you rehearse this one? Not hard to get it in a coherent sentence: you’re pro this stuff, against that – what’s the big deal? I can not make heads nor tails from what you are muttering. Of course, that may be deliberate. Fool them into thinking that you are without judgment, without preconception and then slam them with a biggie as soon as the ring is fitted.

He is against taking time to decide on this issue of a mate. Why keep on talking when you know pretty much from the first conversation if this is a good match? You know? You do? Well, okay, perhaps I am not one who should question that idea, having leapt into too many things with the speed of a jaguar, and I mean the car.

I felt like taking her aside and telling her – you can do better. But the mother seemed satisfied. Perhaps it was a done deal from the beginning.

I cannot stand hearing the tail end of this. They are going to get up, shake hands and pick the date, the photographer and the menu for the reception dinner, I just know it. I don’t want to witness it. Mr. B, take me home.