Tonight Sally and I are hanging out at school, sitting on the cabinets in the teachers lounge, waiting for everybody else to show up, feeling like we don’t belong even though we technically do, Sally’s skin onion paper white in the florescent glare. "What’s important is not what you think about, it’s what you see," she’s saying. And what do I see? Out the window is that blond woman smoking, the secretary, the one with the receding face, as if she were a horse, or at least had been kicked by one at some point. After you’ve seen a face like that you don’t forget it. There’s something in the way she takes a long drag off her cigarette, tilting it up 45 degrees, grimacing and bored, that makes me think that that’s the way the Mannequin would do it, even though I don’t know how the Mannequin does it, or even if she smokes. "Proust would say it’s what you remember but can’t help remembering," I say. "He was wrong," Sally says. "It’s what you see. It’s what you see and can’t help looking at." The Mannequin is what we call our colleague, a beautiful woman named Mary Quinn, who I reflexively dislike because she is so perfect and because I think she dislikes me. Lately she’s been more attentive, but it’s just her attempt to be hip and we both know it. Still I’m intrigued and to some extent turned on to know someone like that is reading my stuff and using it, and even her acquaintance with me, as a badge of honor.
Maybe when she shows up I’ll feel more at home tonight. What are Sally and I doing here, anyway? We hardly ever go to anything that’s not mandatory. Now the Mannequin does arrive and on her (high) heels is her friend, the one with the nice, normal, even streetwalker legs terminating in a vast, soft, wide marshmallow body. Actually she’s not really the Mannequin’s friend but they know each other. All the principles have arrived, (including the principal) and things get going, but soon enough Sally and I slip away into the dark hall, looking for, we decide, the usual things.