That’s the name i pick when i go to bars and introduce myself to men.  Catherine.  No last name.  Just Catherine.  Obviously not my real name, but how many people who frequent bars looking for hookups give their real names or phone numbers?  Plus, i have to drive for at least an hour and a half on any given Friday or Saturday night to find a place where i’m sure no one will recognize me.  At least.  And even then, i can’t really be sure.

But this Friday night, it’s a little different.  I’m not at The Brass Rail to hookup with anyone.  I’m here to spy on someone.  If i’m not extra cautious, he might recognize me from school, even though i graduated ten years ago.  He had kind of a thing for me back then.  And i had a thing for him.  But, you know, there’s this thing about teachers and students getting involved.  Especially in high school.  I don’t understand why.  Sometimes girls just aren’t attracted to boys their own age.  I know i wasn’t.  And Mr. Blair was only twenty six when he was my chemistry teacher, really young.  If i get up the courage one of these days.. not tonight, because i’m not here for confrontation.. i’m just here to observe.. there are some things i’d like to say to him.  Like.. why did you never answer those letters i sent you?  There were quite a few.  I kept copies of all.  They’re wrapped in a piece of blue ribbon and kept in my top right desk drawer.. in the back.  Well hidden.. cause God forbid anyone ever finds them.  I spent a lot of time on those letters, Mr. Blair.  Or Rick.  I can call you Rick now, right?  I graduated years ago.  You gave me an A in your class.  Remember?  I was the one who always sat in the front row so you’d notice me.  I wore that shade of peach lipstick that i know you like, because it’s the same one your wife wore.  I heard that she left you.  I’m really sorry about that, Rick.  That’s a real shame.  She left you and married some electrician named Jackson something or other.  I doubt if he’s nearly as charming or sexy as you are. You deserve better.  Over the last ten years, i’ve kept many photos of you.  Yes, Rick, every time your name appeared in our newspaper, i saved the article.  Even when you left my school and went to teach in another place for five years, i always knew where you were.  And when you ended up back at Thomas High, i knew that too.  My friend Jenn told me, but i told her i already knew.  And just two nights ago, i spied on you through some bushes in your backyard.  I know where you live.  I saw you through my binoculars.. you were cooking in your kitchen.. some kind of halibut dish, i think.  I love it.  It’s my favorite.  Perhaps we can share dinner sometime?  Maybe?  Except i will cook for you.  And we can discuss chemistry.  Except you’ll have to listen to me this time.. because you’ll be my captive audience.  You won’t be able to ignore me like you ignored my letters all those years.  Are they unopened?  All my letters?  I hope not for your sake.  Please tell me you took time to read them.  I worked hard on them.  As hard as i ever did in your class to make you happy.

As i’m pondering, i see you sitting across the room at a booth all by yourself.  I fix my hair.. i had it streaked pink just the other day, and i check my mascara.  You’re drinking an Old Fashioned.  Interesting.  I seem to remember that back then, you were strictly a beer man.  And you’re eating fish and chips.  I glance in my little mirror again and reapply my lipstick.  It’s a deep red.. nothing like i wore back then.  My hair is short, and i wear glasses now.  And think, maybe you won’t recognize me.  Maybe i’ll come over and introduce myself after all.  And i think to myself as i get up from my chair, that i’m not nervous at all.  I thought i’d be a wreck.  I just have to remember, that if we do start dating, Rick, you can never, and i mean never.. see the back wall of my closet.  That’s where i keep all my photos of you.  And like i said, i have a lot.  They make excellent wallpaper for that closet wall.

I reach your table, you look up at me, and I realize i am nervous and have extreme butterflies.  Just like i’m seventeen again.  And what i do is i hold out my hand and smile.  I say, hello, i’m Catherine.. do you mind if i join you?


By M. Raynes


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