I’ve been taking lessons for a long time–gathering notes, making observations, keeping careful records. I guess because I’m so fastidious (perfectionist? maybe just a little bit, sometimes), something inside me innately sought out unsurpassed teachers for the job. I’ve always been able to surround myself with the best in the business, and I’ve never even had to try. It just happens.
Here I am, at series nineteen: the nineteenth teacher, fresh and ready for lesson two. I’m ready, too. Mental notebook jotting down every subtly, I don’t miss a thing. I’m an excellent student.
Though my teachers have come in all shapes and sizes–father, first-ever-best-friend, co-worker, even child-I-used-to-nanny–this new teacher is among a fan of similar five in the cohort of nineteen. This one is among the lovers. New and shiny, I can’t call him a boyfriend, no no, lover isn’t even correct. Crush, love interest, just-a-guy-I’m-talking-to.
The boy is textbook. Asking too many questions about me, brushing off my questions about him. Keeping the compliments and wine from the carafe on the marble bar flowing. I talk around my red lipstick, trying to not get it on my teeth. I’ve started wearing red lipstick all the time. Red is the color of power, passion, and no one wants to kiss you when you’re wearing it. They start thinking about you without it.
This boy is looking alternately among my eyes, the restaurant surroundings, and my mouth. He’s tilted his fine jaw down, just a bit, so he’s looking up at me somehow, even though he’s significantly taller than I am. One elbow resting on the bar, his fingers are in the air, loose and empty.
This is date two. Date one was a casual morning coffee. Date three will be at his place, he knows it. His knee is touching mine. There’s nothing offensive or sleazy about the guy, he’s probably fairly stand-up, with good grades, good part-time work, and a decent relationship with his mother.
He’ll probably be so proud of me, this, my nineteenth teacher. Arriving home after our date, I took off my makeup; chose a big, dark, infinite hole, one among eighteen; and walked through it to the other side.