Not for the nervousness it now sounds as if I might suffer. No. Rather - meeting with some people is like dancing a waltz, or shooting a fat, lazy pig at point blank with a sniper rifle. It's easy. You're in, you're out, you're gone.
With others, meetings go like the dance chimpanzees perform when they've made a particularly good hit with the poop they've flung. They go like trying to shoot a chicken pumped up with equal parts acid and PCP from a distance of 30 meters. With an air rifle.
Meetings with my undergraduate The Professor went something like the latter. I once met with the woman when she was high on painkillers. We had quite the soul-revealing conversation. Another time she'd had a reaction to shellfish and arrived with hives and drugs and God knows what else. The Professor was - and is - a trooper.
But even scheduling a meeting with her can be astonishingly difficult. Once in Moscow, I trudged a kilometer to her house in six inches of fresh snowfall before she picked up, said, "Oh, you're up already? I thought you'd gone out partying last night," and sent me back to my hotel for another two hours.
Senior year of undergrad, we were to meet in the library to discuss my thesis. I got to the library, saw I had a missed call from her, and rang her cell.
She said, "I can't find any parking in T-Lot. Come over here and we'll figure things out."
In my mind - which, I'll grant, likely has little to do with the actual event that transpired - the call was along the lines of Dane Cook's heist monkey.
WE HAVE GOT TO GO!Our meeting took place down at BNG, where I tried to ignore the barista on whom I'd nursed a crush for the past two and a half years. That's neither here nor there. After commenting on an article I was writing, The Professor looked squarely at me and soberly inquired, "When are you going to write your memoirs about Russia?"
A fair question, I suppose. A part of me hopes I'll never have the chance to write memoirs about Russians, to use that seed about meetings with frantic chimpanzees. Not because I don't want to be famous, an established member of some community in which I'd be granted a small space to shoot my mouth for a hundred pages or so and - gasp - expect people to read it.
No. For reasons that still must remain a surprise. At least until I see what style meetings I shall undergo.