As graduation approached, I had made enough small attempts to feel comfortable enough to ask Dela out. The glances between us were what alerted me to her possible acceptance. Originally they were friendly; they became inquiring as she began to view me as her equal, and then challenging as though we were bound to fight. When flirtation and coquettry escalated to the point where physical contact of the obligatory sort occurred, i.e. a touch upon the upper arm, brushing of elbows, I knew I had the balls to intimate an intimate setting, a rendezvous. It was one occasion in particular that justified this notion. When Mrs. Buckley walked in on us discussing the progressive nature of Bacon’s self-portraits, I, animatedly and conscious of the pleasures of speaking well, in the course of a gesticulation, brushed the top of the hand of Dela, which was resting on the top of her chair.
The hand was swiftly withdrawn – and I felt just as suddenly that it was my duty to ensure that the hand was not withdrawn when I touched it. The idea of an obligation to fulfill, if not a need not to succumb to inferiority, diminished instantly any traces of my pleasure felt by speaking passionately to two women whom I admired and respected.
The next day when I entered the Buckley residence, Dela was reading a story to Little Buckley, who was of an indeterminate sex, had a scraggly bowlcut, usually wore overalls and didn’t even have a name – even Mr. and Mrs. Buckley called it Little. It was Shel Silverstein, “Lafcadio The Singing Lion,” a story I was familiar with from my own childhood. Sensing an in, I sat and listened to Dela finish the chapter to the child. Little Buckley’s presence allowed me to think less of Dela herself and more about my preoccupation with the task at hand. When Little ran away after his older sister’s dismissal, and pleasantries languished, I could feel my face begin to flush. do i have nothing to say when it finally comes time to act? what a fool i’ve been to think that this cute older girl would kowtow to me – but after learning from similar situations, young Gabriel did not falter; he was too suspicious of the result not to be aware of his own state. I sat and listened to myself speak while fuming on the inside about my pusillanimity and insistence towards action. Beethoven: Symphony #1 in C, Op. 21- 1. Adagio Molto, Allegro Con Brio.
“Would you like to get some coffee? Buckley’s doing homework.”
She looked up at me, those sapphiric eyes aglow, broad lightly tanned forehead partially covered by oblique velvet threads, her two perfect lips, the color of ripe strawberries, began to part showing those teeth, blocks, the building blocks of love, like they had been painted white, and she smiled. “Sure.”