Roger was the sensitive, artist type. He had long hair that shagged over his black-framed glasses. He had a crooked toothy smile that his parents never bothered to correct. He wore the most charming cowl-neck sweaters, with slim fitting jeans, and lace-up boots that were two sizes too big. He had a thin moustache that he twirled between his thumb and his forefinger when he spoke.
I loved visiting him at the office. I would sit on his leatherette couch, trying to be coy and seductive and attentive. He told me all about communism and fascism, and their influence on Western art. I told him about classic movies and walked him through the user guide for his new iphone. He hadn’t even seen “The Hangover”.
He always swept my hair out of my eyes when I was in the middle of saying something really important, and then I would forget what I was talking about. When I would try to sweep his hair out of his eyes in much the same way, he would grab my wrist and hold it while he finished his sentence.
He painted landscapes and occasionally, political figures. He painted in oil, which was an obvious indication of the dedication he had for his craft. He visited art museums and went to gallery openings. He sipped wine and ate cubes of cheese with the biggest and brightest. He was a true artist.
We played the old cat and mouse game. When Roger could have me, he didn’t want me, and when I moved on, he pawed at my door. One night he serenaded me with “Unchained Melody” on a bass clarinet. I peeked through my window blinds and saw a man only slightly taller and slightly slimmer than Roger standing underneath the oak tree. I wanted to run to him and push him down in the tall grass and French kiss him all night long. It would have been magic, but Bobby Spencer was over and we were “studying” for our Art History exam in my room.
The next day I bought Roger a small cactus for his office, but his office door was closed. He had been there for me from noon to one every Monday for the last three weeks. He called it “office hours”.
Roger didn’t even glance in my direction while he delivered his lecture on the Mughal art of India. He didn’t call on me during the discussion, even though I had my hand up the entire time. Halfway through the lecture I went to sit with Bobby Spencer. He moved his jacket so I could sit right next to him.
I looked up at Roger with his greasy hair, his crooked teeth, his old man sweater, and his creepy moustache and wondered what I ever saw in him. I ended up getting 67% in the class, but I never took another Art History class again, and I never went back for “office hours”.
Turns out my dad learned “Unchained Melody” on his bass clarinet as a Valentine’s Day Surprise for my mom.