"Have we?" I ask. I don't recall a prior meeting. I look again at her eyes.
There is a problem with such eyes: they always seem willing to be intrigued. You try to entertain them, with the hope that maybe, for some moment in your life with her, you'll be able to get beyond a fleeting interest, and somehow find out--and it's doubtful that you'll get the opportunity--more about the wonderful and truthful things that happen inside of her. They are eyes filled with imperviousness, so that though they can show amazement and pleasure, they are equally sure of their ability to show no interest at all, and by doing so they can make you miserable. They are impossible because of this combination of opacity and excitement. Though I feel all of this, I choose to ignore it. I'm talking to a woman I've just met at a party. At thirty-one, with one marriage behind me, I am no longer truly stupid and young, but I can still behave as if I am. My eyes are dark green. They are shaped like almonds.
"You don't remember," she says.
"I do," I say. "It's just--I can't recall the circumstance." This isn't exactly true. I don't remember her at all, but complete honesty can be hollow and confining--and really, just because I don't remember her now doesn't mean that I won't remember her later.
"I believe you used to know my friend Miriam," she says.
She has to come up closer to see me, because someone has turned off more lights. Behind her, Weingarden has taken over the middle of his living room. He begins to dance with Elsie, an attractive woman who was the other TA for the medieval heretics class he ran in the fall. A few more of the uninhibited join in. Weingarden winks at me and I smile back at him. I've been one of his teaching assistants and he's been my adviser for years now. He motions for me to bring my new friend and join him, but I shake my head, and he gives me a mock frown. He's always after me--trying to get me to enjoy myself as much as he does. Again, I look around for my friend Bear. Perhaps he has met someone he likes. Bear may be acting uncharacteristically, by taking advantage of the fact that his wife, Jen, is out of town.
"That's right--of course," I say. "That's when I met you."
Excerpted from Consent by Ben Schrank. Copyright 2002 by Ben Schrank. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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