Mr. K was my Philosophy professor during my senior year of high school. Technically, he taught Theology. Apologetics? He was 25 and I was 17.
In the middle of February, we were eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the cafeteria (we alternated making each other's lunches twice a week). His eyes reminded me of my cousin’s. My cousin has been addicted to meth for the past three years, and his eyes are so crystal blue because they contrast his starving pale skin. Mr. K wasn’t a meth addict, but his eyes contrasted his face in the same way. We were smiling about Derrida’s zombie simile in the corner of the cafeteria when he asked if I “want to hang out this weekend.” I covered my mouth with my fist, so as not to show him the chewed-up sandwich, and nodded my head. I lost eye contact.
He picked me up at 7 on Friday night in his Jeep. He said, “I really need to get rid of this gas guzzler” as he looked over his shoulder and pulled out of my driveway. I asked him inflated questions like, “How are you?” and “What was your day like?” but his response was immediately honest: “I’m only a teacher because I love feeling like the smartest one in the room and everyone hangs on my every word. It’s a real power trip when someone writes down what I say.”
After ten minutes of driving, we pulled up to Paul Anna Bay. It was dark and the bay was frozen. I hoped we weren’t getting out of the car, but he came around the passenger side and opened my door. I thought “Shit” until I saw a bottle of wine and a red-checkered picnic blanket in his hand.
We sat on the beach drinking wine out of red solo cups. I sat cross-legged in between his legs. He rolled a joint in the middle of a sentence about sentences (whether subject/predicate distinctions actually correspond to reality). His eyes were so blue, I was jealous of them. He took a hit and blew smoke up my nose and I kissed him. He drove me home and I was in bed alone by 11.
The next Friday evening, we watched X-Men on his couch. We drank wine, this time out of more adult glasses, and he rolled a more sophisticated joint and lit it with one of those old-fashioned metal lighters with the flip-up tops. He said, “I know everyone pulls this card when they’re trying to be intimate, but your eyes are really something.” At those words, I called it off; I sighed and left and took the joint with me.
Photo by Evelyn Stetzer