Excerpt from Oxford Messed Up by Andrea Kayne Kaufman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Oxford Messed Up

By Andrea Kayne Kaufman

Oxford Messed Up
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  • Paperback: Nov 2011,
    336 pages.

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As if bracing himself for another refusal, he cautiously asked, "Is it okay if I join you, Loomate?"

"Yes, I'd love to hang out with you, but the name is Gloria. Have a problem with that, Mr. Young? It is a classic Van Morrison song that he sang with his band Them. You must know it since you're the expert on all things Van Morrison."

Henry responded to her teasing with the first few lines of Van Morrison's classic.

Did I tell you about my baby?
Well, she comes around.
Five feet four
From her head to the ground.
Comes around here
Just about midnight.
Makes me feel so good.
Makes me feel alright.
And her name is G-L-O-R-I-A

And together they sat at the table moving through some of the most famous covers of "Gloria" by Patti Smith, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., and Energy Orchard. They even dwelled on U2's "Gloria," though technically not a Morrison cover, along with Green Day's "Viva La Gloria."

Interestingly, one famous (or perhaps infamous) version, which they did not bring up, was by the Doors, as was written all over Henry's bloody Doors shirt. Henry thought the Doors' "Gloria" was much too steamy for this first foray.

But Gloria was on to his thoughts. She may have been a bit odd, but she was not ignorant, especially when it came to Van Morrison's music. She was staring at Henry's shirt with a naughty grin; of course, she knew the Doors' version of "Gloria."

But he refused to bring it up, giving her his own suspicious grin in return. He refused to say a word. He was grateful she was sitting at the same bloody table with him; he was not about to scare her away now. Their staring contest lasted a long and tense moment, after which they both burst out laughing, practically singing in unison the Doors' notorious version of "Gloria."

Check me into your room.
Show me your thing.
Why'd you do it baby?
Why'd you show me your thing?
Can't stop now. Can't back out.

Slow it down, gonna feel it down.
Alright, OK, alright, hey-hey.
Getting softer - slow it down.
Now you show me your thing.

Now why don't you wrap your lips around my cock, baby?
Wrap your legs around my neck,
Wrap your arms around my feet,
Wrap your hair around my skin.

So, much to his astonishment, Henry found himself singing Jim Morrison's sexually provocative - some might say perverted, even pedophilic - definitely orgasmic version of "Gloria" with his American germophobic loomate who was scared to death of having tea with him or even entering his room. It made no sense. It was absurd. Arbitrary. Inconsistent. Random.

But Henry quickly learned that nothing with Gloria was random. Greenwich Mean Time personified, she adhered to a rigid and orderly schedule, her life and whereabouts always perfectly predictable. Before long it was second nature for him to predict where in Oxford she would be at any given moment on any given day.

He knew her bloody schedule better than his own. He didn't have a schedule. Fuck, before he started hanging out with Gloria, he couldn't find his bloody watch. The only predictable moments in his week were when he was stalking her, orchestrating opportunities to "accidentally" cross her path, or running late to his own stupid classes.

He found that if he worked around her strange requirements, she would gladly spend time with him. She seemed to want to spend time with him. As long as it did not involve off-campus food or much advanced planning, Gloria would most always say yes whenever Henry happened upon her. And he made sure he happened upon her as often as possible.

And when she said yes, despite her rigid manner, they would talk easily and freely about so many things - rock lyrics, writers and poets, and difficulties with their families. They covered all sorts of subjects, from the existential to the mundane. And they always ended up laughing about the most bizarre and stupid things. Henry liked making her laugh. They were bluesy souls who both, at bottom, were in need of a good laugh.

Excerpted from Oxford Messed Up by Andrea Kayne Kaufman. Copyright © 2011 by Andrea Kayne Kaufman. Excerpted by permission of Grant Place Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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