TEACH ME TONIGHT: WHERE'S THE BEEF (PART 3)
In the midst of our dinner, Professor Clint and the others listened to a story I told about a card carrying member of the Communist Party and Rush Limbaugh adrift at sea.
When I got down to the part connecting all the notorious ghosts aboard ship--relating what each of them had to say--he totally lost it. Caught up in gales of laughter he slapped me on the knee.
With a sheepish look on his face, he leaned in close and put his arm apologetically around the back of my chair. "Sorry about that Kate. I shouldn't have touched you like that. It was highly inappropriate. I simply got caught up in your story and forgot myself."
"No problem. I know it was perfectly innocent."
"Don't be too sure about that, he said sliding his chair over closer to mine. Seeing the look on my face he added, "Don't be afraid, I'm only making room for the waiter to pass."
"Of course," I said, acting like I didn't notice his warm thigh against mine.
"Are you going across the street later--to sing at Club Passim?"
"I wasn't, but now that I feel better, I'm going to. The deadline to sign up is at seven. Give me a minute and I'll be right back."
"What time will they have you sing?"
"Eight-fifteen would be the earliest. We'll still have plenty of time to visit."
"Good. I'll watch over your food and drink until you get back."
Jake sneered at his brother-in-law to be, and got up from his chair. Clearing his throat, he picked up Anne's coat and said, "Well, you guys can stay, but we have to get going."
"I drove today and have an eight-thirty at Emerson Hall or I'd walk you to the train. Guess Kate will have to keep me company."
"It was nice meeting you," Anne said buttoning her coat and handing Kate her card. "I'm sure our paths will cross again. Perhaps at an Objectivist seminar on campus. Let's stay in touch."
"I would love to. Thanks for letting me join you, it literally and mentally took a load off."
"It was my pleasure. Take good care of my brother for me and don't let him get into any trouble."
Without thinking I replied, "It will be my pleasure."
Blushing, Professor Clint pointed across the narrow bricked street. "Kate. You better go sign up for that open-mic before you and your yard birds fall from my good graces."
* * * * * * *
"At last, alone."
"Should I be worried?"
"Not in the least. You're in good hands."
"I sense that."
"Do me a favor. Call me Clint. There's no need to be so formal outside the classroom."
"I will . . . Clint . . . look, I'm going over and sign up. Wait for me. I'll be right back."
* * * * * * *
Returning, I found the professor guarding my book bag and a new pitcher of beer.
"You keep this up," I told him, "and I'll be slurring my words and falling off stage."
"Not my fault. A couple of former students sent it over. What time are you scheduled to go on?
"Ten. But if I get lucky someone will cancel and I'll go on earlier."
"Perfect. That will give me enough time to get back from my appointment and catch your act."
"Cool. But I gotta tell you, the thought of you watching me is scary, it's easier performing for strangers, than someone you know."
"I can't imagine you singing anything, I wouldn't like."
"You're too kind Professor Clint."
"Clint," he corrected me, "remember?"
"Of course. Sorry."
We continued to talk, but this time, not about anything heavy. Without the emotional security of his sister and Jake being present, we put the brakes on conversationally, but that didn't stop our body language from progressing. Soon our chairs and thighs were close again. We stayed that way, silent, watching the crowd gather across the street.
As if reading my mind, Clint asked,"When do you need to leave?"
"I'd better get over there and get set up before all the tables are gone."
"I understand. I should be going too."
"Clint. Don't forget. If it works out, come and see me. I'll even do a song for you."
"I'd like that."
"Surprise me. I'll be there."
* * * * * * *
I got moved up the docket a half an hour to nine-thirty. I was glad, but concerned Professor Clint wouldn't come back in time to catch my act.
Standing in the semi-dark, five minutes before I was to go on, an arm encircled my waist.
"Have you picked out one for me?"
I didn't have to look to know it was Clint. "Yes. I found the perfect one for you. Diana Krall does it. So does Amy Winehouse. Scads of great singers over the years. I only hope you won't think it inappropriate."
"I promise. But we can discuss the fine points when I walk you home."
Using a technique I learned long ago for blocking out fear, I took the stage with a burst of enthusiasm and greeted the audience.
"Good evening. Friends. Members. Students. Ladies. Gentleman. All you hard working volunteers. And especially you Harvard Square lounge lizards. This evening, "Teach Me Tonight," will be my only song. I dedicate it to my favorite professor."
The music and words poured forth:
"Did you say I had a lot to learn? Well don't think I'm trying not to learn. Graduation's almost here my love, teach me tonight . . . "
At that point, I nearly lost the melody when I saw Clint throw me a kiss and nod in agreement all the way through to the end.
When the song was done, he took my hand and led me back to my table. "Kate," he said, his eyes glistening, "That was sexiest thing I've ever heard. I wanted you so badly my belly hurt."
To Be Continued: Where's The Beef (Part 4)