Professor Gregory Hawthorne strode briskly across the campus,
going to his office. At 60, he was still slim and erect, even, he fancied, with
his white hair and neatly trimmed beard, somewhat distinguished. It was a fine
spring day and he observed the co-eds rushing to their classes, most in their
bottom-hugging jeans. He noticed a young girl on her bicycle, tanned legs under
white shorts flashing in the sun and gazed at her appreciatively as she rode
Hawthorne became aware of a towering figure walking alongside
him. Associate Professor James Muldoon was 40, a big bear of a man with
boundless enthusiasms. I just read your new monograph, he told
Hawthorne. Its brilliant.
Thank you, but you flatter me. A sound piece of work, but
No, no, no. Youre too modest. The best work
Ive seen in a long time.
Hawthorne knew that Muldoon was desperate to get tenure and he
supposed that this sucking up was part of the game. Hawthorne also knew that
not a few of the younger faculty considered him used up and overdue for
retirement. Well, thanks again.
Are you coming to the big shindig tonight? Muldoon
The Presidents annual cocktail party? Yes, I suppose
its a command performance.
Ill see you there then.
Is your wife coming?
Frieda? Oh, yes. She wouldnt miss a chance to
convert somebody. Frieda Muldoon was an ardent feminist but also a
full-figured blonde who reminded Hawthorne of the actress Anita Ekburg. He was
always glad to see her.
* * *
Hawthornes last appointment that day was with a sophomore
in his lecture class, Clarissa Bixby, a girl whose dark hair flowed nearly all
the way down her back. She wore a tight sweater which did nothing to hide her
breasts and a short leather skirt which, when she crossed her long legs, slid
up over her thighs.
Miss Bixby wanted an extension on her last essay due to personal
problems. Hawthorne considered, then thought, Why not? Miss Bixby stood up and
came over to his side of the desk, wriggling her hips, as she thanked him.
* * *
There must have been over 200 people at the Presidents
cocktail party. Hawthorne chatted with one colleague or another about the usual
things - who was getting promoted and who passed over, which departments
budget was getting slashed - while covertly eyeing the younger faculty wives in
their low-cut evening dresses.
Eventually, he found himself in a corner with Frieda Muldoon.
You know, James really deserves to get tenure, she was saying
earnestly. Her blonde hair was piled up on her head and she might have been
poured into her green gown. She was standing so close to Hawthorne that he
imagined he could feel the heat coming off her body.
Oh, she said, as the little napkin shed been
holding with her drink fluttered to the floor. She quickly bent over to
retrieve it and Hawthorne reached over to caress her perfectly rounded bottom.
Then she was standing erect again and his hand was back at his side, snatched
away as though it had been scalded. She resumed extolling her husband, but
Hawthorne excused himself and went to the other side of the room.
God, he thought. What did I nearly do? And to Frieda Muldoon, of
all women. He could imagine the uproar, all of the womens groups on
campus protesting, the sexual harassment suit, being forced to resign or even
fired outright. And this morning in his office hed nearly touched what
was her name, Miss Bixby. He took out his handkerchief and wiped his damp
forehead. Maybe it was time for him to retire.
* * *