But, just when the magnetic attraction between us was at its height, she pulled back, quite consciously, with a start, as if forcing herself awake.
Well, she said flippantly, quickly regaining her composure. I’d better go. Can’t let you get me drunk.
Oh, come on. We just started!
No, really, I’ve had my limit.
She’d drunk a beer and a half in the time I’d sucked down four or five.
At least let me walk you home.
She stood up. Really, you don’t have to.
I know, but I want to. I got up too. Please.
Don’t you want to be with your friends? She nodded slightly toward their table, giving the first indication that she’d been aware of them despite all the curious glances and Ungie’s frequent venomous stares and nasty sotto comments.
No, I want to be with you, Kathy.
She rolled her eyes, laughing half nervously and half derisively.
Seriously. Please. Besides I can always come back here, right?
What about the rest of your beer? She said, indicating the half filled pitcher.
I set it on the table of a group of Junior apprentice debauchers next to us. Here you go, guys. Go nuts.
Cool! One of them said, beaming. Thanks, man.
See? Now, let’s go.
Betsy bowed her head, exasperated, yet flattered. Fine. You can walk me home, she said, with the clearly implied postscript And that’s all.
True to our individual forms, I lived with three malcontents in a bohemian, semi-ramshackle bungalow (dubbed Okey-Dokey Farms) which was built for married students after the war, while Kathy lived in the bottom of a more modern duplex appropriately known as the New Apartments.
There were fraternities but no sororities at our college or else Betsy would have belonged to one, as would her roommates, all vaguely preppie types clustered around the cynosure of a a very slightly black girl of high social standing and strong attractiveness to the Dekes, the same way Kathy had been one of the flock of the less attractive surrounding Virginia back in High School.
Our walk took us to the far end of campus, and we didn’t talk much, just burrowing into our coats in the rapidly cooling weather and commenting on the more blatant party casualties already dotting the night. Still, matching stride with her, watching our breath cloud in front of us, for the first time really alone, the hyper awareness of her physicality I’d felt in the theater returned, heightened by the realization that soon we’d be having a moment of truth at her door. Similarly, I could sense her habitual easygoingness tighten as we got closer and closer to her apartment.
Listen, UBU, this isn’t…
She burst out as we stopped at the lighted entranceway, delivering the words she’d no doubt been preparing on our walk. I mean, I don’t think you should come in.
I know, I know, don’t worry.
I lay my hand on her shoulder gently. I’m not going to take advantage of you now that I’ve gotten you drunk and everything. She smiled, seeming quite comfortable under my touch. But I would like to kiss you. I bent to her and there was nothing awkward about it as our lips met. Mmmmm….
We paused, our eyes meeting the way they had in the bar, but this time she didn’t pull back. And I’d really like to see you again. Go on another date.
She actually colored above her cheekbones. All right, sure, why not.
She shook her head in grinning exasperation. No.
O.K., then, next week. We’ll do the same thing. See another weird movie.
Sure. She leaned toward me and we kissed again, her hand on the back of my neck. Well, goodnight, she said, looking shyly away and turning decisively to open the door disappear behind it.
Yeah, see you.
I stayed there, the press of her still soft on my lips, surprised at how strong my desire for her had become, at how hooked I already was.