These are a couple entries from the weeks after I met Chance, when he started introducing me to his friends.
Chance talks about Sean constantly — he was apparently the very first of Chance’s inner circle. he’s a very good guy, gentle, but what Chance calls “aggressive” — I think partly because he works out and is physically oriented and adventurous. I myself have found him to be quite warm, welcoming and conversational, as many of Chance’s friends are. he is also no joke in the looks department — thick, wavy light hair, nice build, elegant features. all in all, I could be pretty intimidated by him between his reputation and his dazzling appearance, but he has always put me quite at ease with his sincere and friendly overtures.
the others in Chance’s inner circle, as far as I know, are Morgan, Zeb and Demus. Morgan is a lovely young Skidmore sophomore with long brown hair who is endearing, mature and as warm as Sean — she only knows I’m a friend of Chance’s but she hugs me and says hi when we meet at school. Chance described her as one of the more attractive of the circle (she’s the only girl). she’s also the youngest.
the two of them were going to do an experiment one night and Morgan came storming out of Chance’s room, clad in a pair of his soft pants, her hair loose and her face a mask of frustration.
“I can’t do it,” she said. “I just can’t concentrate. I TOLD you I didn’t think we should do it tonight — it’s not a good idea.”
“at least she’s taking it seriously,” I said to Chance, who had been pushing hard for this project.
“listen, it’s really easy,” he said to Morgan. “just relax. try again.”
Morgan exhaled sharply. “I really don’t feel –”
Chance was now watching her sharply, which she did not seem to notice.
“maybe I should just DO it,” she said. “maybe I should just try. okay, I’ll try again –”
she whirled and headed back for Chance’s room.
one statement from Chance stopped her in her tracks. “we’re not doing it.”
Morgan spun around. “I thought we WERE doing it.”
in that moment, I saw child-Morgan, contrasting sharply with mature, inner-circle Morgan. she didn’t get that it was all about the attitude, the frame of mind. she was tired and getting petulant. I think I started to like her even more after that. I’m guessing it’s at least part of her appeal for the others.
“doesn’t matter they’ve known me longer,” said Chance to Morgan once, “they’d throw me to the wolves for you. any of them would do almost anything — no, anything for you. if it were a choice between saving you or me, they’d save you in a heartbeat.”
“she’s the more likely to require protection,” I suggested, inserting myself into the conversation. “your friends know you can take care of yourself.”
“true,” said Chance. “but I am also the more useful. no offense,” he added to Morgan.
he has told me that he would rather see Morgan a strong enemy of his than a weak ally. that perplexed me a little, because Chance is big on looking out for himself and would not lightly take the idea of a strong enemy, whoever it was. but he and Morgan have an unconventional and pretty intense relationship. they are like brother and sister, or even closer, frequently hurl themselves at each other for very, very long hugs and declarations of love, and have never slept together.
“everyone who meets us thinks we’re having sex,” Morgan declared from within one of these prolonged embraces. “I have never even kissed this man.”
“that’s what’s so great about us,” said Chance. after he and Morgan released each other and she wandered off, he murmured to me, “you, on the other hand, I will kiss.”
which did not exactly seem like a bonus, given the depth of what two people who weren’t physically involved could evidently share.
Zeb, the second of Chance’s circle, is an edgy-seeming Skidmore senior whom I met on one of my first nights at Chance’s apartment. I liked him for his quiet, mild-mannered, receptive personality.
“so what’s your majoooor,” I asked when I met him, in the lilting and playfully sarcastic tones of a girl asking cliche questions. also a girl who is in danger of lapsing into silence as chatter continues all around her and who is therefore striking up inane conversation just to prove she can.
“do you write?”
“what do you write?”
he summarized one of his short stories, in which a guy assigned to protect another guy goes through hell to deliver him safely to an appointed location, at which point the goons running the show thank the bodyguard for his efforts and promptly shoot his charge in the head.
I was of course delighted with the idea. “what else do you write?”
“I lost all my files when my hard drive failed,” said Zeb. “I don’t have any of my writing left.”
“that’s… awful.” I recalled my and my writer friends’ despair over losing their work.
“not really,” said Zeb.
I was taken aback and quite intrigued. “why not?”
“I’m not attached to my writing,” said Zeb. “I’m not attached to anything.”
in the face of this unusual idea, I fell silent. also my conversational energy was draining. the group talked and laughed. the TV blared.
twenty minutes later I turned back to Zeb and said, “so if you’re not attached to the end result of your writing, it must be the process that interests you.”
“yes,” said Zeb emphatically. “and that is one of the main ideas of Daoism.”
there our conversation ended.
Demus, the last member of Chance’s circle (if I am not mistaken), I may or may not have met… it’s hard to keep straight the constant stream of people coming in and out of Chance’s apartment.
he speaks very highly of these valued friends to me, and I started wondering today how he speaks of me to them — if ever. he’s made enough references to exchanges about me to make me believe my name comes up every so often in their group. all I know is they like my thought processes and they think I’m pretty, which means next to nothing considering their plethora of intelligent, attractive female friends who in addition are confident, spunky and social.
like Debbie, for example. or Haley, or Marian, or… the list goes on and on. and on.
what’s funny is that Sean, Demus and Zeb all have Asian fetishes and Chance, who does not, is the one who’s… partners… with me.
“she’s more like me than the rest of you” was how Chance described me to Sean in the bookstore. “she’s a scholar.”
I wanted to laugh at the word scholar because I fret and daydream constantly while I’m reading and am more ambitious about the amount of material I can get through than anyone with my track record has any right to be.
Chance later let me know that his friends, harsh critics of people’s thought processes, liked mine. I must conclude that their judgment was based on that one comment I made to Zeb, because it was basically the only thing I said all night. there’s the upside to saying little — when people formulate opinions of you, you get a good idea of how these opinions are formed and therefore how these people think.
“I was watching you quite a lot that night,” Chance told me.
I blinked. I’d been watching him, too, and had never caught him watching me. then again, I did tend to retreat into a shell and look at nothing and nobody for long periods on end. I didn’t respond.
Chance lit a splif. “if you’re waiting for me to share my observations, I’m not –”
it hadn’t even occurred to me to ask.