Today’s post follows on the heels of yesterday’s introduction to “Puerto Rican Nights”. Here we learn how Lisa Fielding and Jim Patterson meet.
Lisa Fielding met Jim Patterson during his second year of law school at the University of Florida. A cute, bubbly undergrad, Lisa enjoyed studying at the law library for two reasons: it was much quieter than the over-crowded education library inside Norman Hall, located across the street from Panhellenic Drive, and the legal research books it housed offered fewer distractions to Lisa than the university’s main library and its numerous stacks filled with historic periodicals and literary volumes that tempted her to abandon her studies in order to peruse their contents. Unlike most of her sorority sisters, Lisa had no intention of finding her future husband while studying modern pedagogical theory at the law library. Which, of course, is precisely why she found her future husband studying at a neighboring table across the room from her current Educational Psychology class partner. They were working on a group research paper – god, how she hated group projects – on the contributions of Freud and Jung to educators in modern schools.
“Um, I think that dude is checking you out,” David whispered to Lisa.
She glanced over at the table where Jim sat with his pile of thick books and his pen poised above a legal pad. He looked at her and then quickly turned his attention to his paper which, Lisa noticed, was blank.
“Why would you think that? I’m sure he’s just bored,” she said to David and cocked her head slightly so that she could keep an eye on Jim while still reading from the book on the table in front of her.
“Shit, what if he thinks we’re a couple? I could be ruining your chances with one of Florida’s finest future hot-shot attorneys!” David tried to scoot his chair discreetly away from Lisa, drawing more attention to himself as he did so.
“Honey, settle down. An astronaut on his way to the moon could look down at us and see that you’re gay and no threat to any potential suitor of mine,” Lisa told him in her most fluid voice. She liked the way Jim looked and was turning on her inner sorority-girl flirtatious sex kitten persona in anticipation of the impending conversation she knew would take place between them.
Except it didn’t.
Half an hour later, Jim glanced over at Lisa and David and then packed up his books and notepad and left the library. She didn’t see him again for two weeks.
One rainy afternoon Lisa opted to take the campus bus from Norman Hall over to the law library. Two stops later Jim climbed on. As he walked up the aisle, shaking the rain from his dark hair, he noticed her sitting alone. “Hey. Mind if I take this seat?” he asked as he sat down beside her. Without waiting for an answer he continued, “didn’t I see you the other night at the law library? I’m Jim Patterson.” He stretched out his hand to her by way of introduction.
Lisa’s head throbbed from the blood that coursed through her veins as she silently told herself to calm down and relax. She took a deep breath and inhaled the smell of him: dampness from his wet hair, his faded cologne, and the faint scent of the light sheen of sweat induced by his brief walk across campus in the muggy Florida weather.
“Yes, I find the law library is much more conducive to actually studying than Norman. I’m Lisa,” she answered as she shook his hand.
“You headed to the library now?” Jim asked.
She looked him straight in the eyes and answered, “Yes, how about you?”
He smiled and said, “I have a class I need to get to. I was only over on this part of campus in order to meet one of my undergrad professors for lunch. Usually we try and meet somewhere off campus but he’s working on a new publication and didn’t have a lot of time so we decided to just eat at the cafeteria by the book store. Been a long time since I’ve had to eat campus food.”
“You went to UF for your undergrad, too? What was your major?” So, she was talking to a true Florida boy.
“Marketing. My dad told me to get a degree in something useful if I wanted to go on to law school. This way he says I’ll make better business decisions when I’m making my own money. ‘Jim,’ he told me, ‘ain’t nothing worse than a man with a fancy degree with no fucking business sense. Except for maybe a man with a nag wife.’”
“Sounds like a wise man.”
“That he is. That he is. So, how about you? I don’t see you in any law classes. You still working on your undergrad degree?” He turned his body slightly toward her and his right arm rested on the top of the seat in front of him as he spoke.
“Yes. I’m an education major. I don’t want to go into teaching necessarily. I’d like to move into administration or policy. But you can’t lead unless you do, so I’m getting my degree in secondary education with an emphasis on pedagogical theory. I’m here for the long haul, I’m afraid,” she sighed as she emitted the last sentence.
The bus moved along slowly through the campus streets that swarmed with students carrying umbrellas or riding bikes in the downpour. At each stop it lurched and bucked as it came to a slow standstill and picked up more and more students headed to the commuter parking lots, Fraternity Row, and the Law School. Finally, as it reached Lisa’s destination, she gathered up her backpack and rose to get off the bus.
“Hey, what are you doing for dinner later on?” Jim asked, standing up and stepping aside to let her walk in front of him.
“Um, I usually eat at the sorority house, why?”
He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, I thought maybe we could grab a bite, you know, sort of a study break, if you’re interested.”
“OK, I think that might work. What time, and where do you want to go?” She started shuffling toward the front of the bus, looking back at him over her shoulder while grasping seat backs as she passed them in an effort to maintain her balance on the moving bus.
Jim followed her, keeping close enough behind her that she could still smell the soft fragrance of his cologne. “I have class until 4:30. Will you still be in the library? I can meet you there, study for a bit, and then we can decide when and where we want to go?” He said to her as they climbed down the stairs and back out into the afternoon rain, which had slowed to a faint drizzle.
“Sure. I’ll be on the third floor. Just come find me and we can go from there. Bye!” she called out as they both hurried toward their destinations.
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