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A Day with Professor Hawthorne . By Martin Green.

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 by.

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. “It’s brilliant.”

“Thank you, but you flatter me. A sound piece of work, but hardly brilliant.”

“No, no, no. You’re too modest. The best work I’ve 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 asked.

“The President’s annual cocktail party? Yes, I suppose it’s a command performance.”

“I’ll see you there then.”

“Is your wife coming?”

“Frieda? Oh, yes. She wouldn’t 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.

* * *

Hawthorne’s 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 President’s cocktail party. Hawthorne chatted with one colleague or another about the usual things - who was getting promoted and who passed over, which department’s 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 she’d 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 women’s groups on campus protesting, the sexual harassment suit, being forced to resign or even fired outright. And this morning in his office he’d 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.

* * *

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