Excerpt of Oxford Messed Up by Andrea Kayne Kaufman
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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
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.