Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dangerous Book - Episode 5


When I finished laying out the plants for tomorrow's planting, I took a long bath, soaking in a sachet of yarrow, rosemary, violets, lavender and valerian. Then I dressed, taking my time. Really, I was waiting for sounds of the croquet party to start. I didn’t want to be the first one out there, like an eager dog with her tongue hanging out. When Billie’s screen door slammed three times and the sound of a tonic bottle being opened caused a general laugh, I gathered my oatmeal cookies and a bottle of gin and went out to join Peter on the verandah steps sorting through the hoops of an expensive croquet set.

Billie’s voice is noticeable. Quiet and lulling, like someone used to being the only calm one in a room full of crazies (and in fact she did used to teach high school Biology). I admire her and will take neighbor lessons from her, but I don’t know that I will know her for long. She and her husband Alan are summery people, the kind you know for a season or a year and then remember fondly. They played blue and orange.

Another couple arrived as Peter and I were setting out the croquet hoops.

Kate Arundel, who I have met in my official rambles through the Archaeology department where she is a star graduate student but doesn’t act like one. She’s been given a very plum assignment for the May interim session. The department is sponsoring a dig, which she will oversee, on the ground in front of Gorgas (Library) where, during the Civil---oops, War of Northern Aggression---a cadet dormitory stood. She’s modest about the project. “They’re always digging stuff up. We never find anything, but it’s good practice.” She played green ball.

Kate’s husband, Jacob Cline, is almost her opposite in temperament, but also strong in appearance. He’s low lying, stocky and red. Red tempered too, I think. Bit of a pontificator, but since he’s in law school, it makes sense. He’s the guy who reads the rules before leaving the house, but then leaves them behind, so we all have to trust him and his memory. Not that there seems to be any reason not to, but…. He played red.

Which left Peter and I with yellow and black, the brightest and the darkest.

I spent the evening with these couples pretending every so slightly that Peter and I were also a couple. Had the feeling he was also pretending. When we were alone at the drinks table freshening Veronica’s gin and tonic (yes, she’d dragged down a folding lawn chair and was watching with Phoebe), he asked me out.

Would I like to get together for a movie or go for coffee. Safe things. “ Lunch,” I said, because we both work on campus and lunch is the safest date of all. “Sounds good,” he said. We agreed to meet by on the steps of Gorgas Library early next week and watch the start of Kate’s archaeological dig.

It doesn’t matter what we do because we share friends and can see each other for a long time within the crowd and that will give us a chance to get to know each other and keep an eye on each other and be friends.

2 comments:

chickory said...

low lying stocky and red? i know that look! grrrrhahahahaha. do you do the croquet drawing? love that!

ABG said...

thanks, i'll leave you to figure out where the characters' character comes from.

yes, i did the drawing. glad you like it