Though my Bose QuietComfort7 headphones fit snugly around my ears, I could still hear Elijah tapping his pen against the pages of Buber's I and Thou. "I don't get it," he complained, "is Buber saying people aren't supposed to treat others as objects to be used?" I looked at his befuddled face, illumined from underneath by a clip-on LED book light. He looked like a cherub or a turnip. Something in my chest fluttered like the engine of a Ford Dart turning over. I went back to watching Jules et Jim on my 56" MacbookPro but couldn't concentrate. Was Elijah tapping Morse code for "I love you" with his pen? Just then there was a knock at the door. "Lemme in, guys," squealed a nasal voice. I opened the door and there was Delancey Sohn.
Her shorts were short and terry cloth. Across the butt was written "Lit Critter." Elijah looked up from his book, relieved to see her. A smile shone across his handsome face and my heart sank like coffee grounds to the bottom of my chest. Jeanne Moreau drove off a cliff; the credits began to roll.
Delancey sprawled herself across Elijah's twin bed. She reached out curled his blond dreadlocks coquettishly around her fingers. "I like bad boys," she said. She looked at Elijah significantly. He looked at his book. Buber's watery eyes looked at me from the back cover.
I remember when we first all met, playing ga-ga at a camp for children of authors. It was called Camp Muse. In every cabin, there was a one-way mirror behind which sat our parents, anxiously observing our antics. Those were days full of chewing on candy necklaces, nights playing hot and buggy and hormonic bouts of Scrabulous. Delancey read to us racy bits from her mother's book Spitting on Matzo. How we laughed as we read, in vivid detail, about how Delancey was made—until, all of a sudden, Delancey's mother Amy sprang from a cupboard in our cabin and ripped the text out of Delancey's hands. A fleck of spittle dangled from her thin furious lips.
"Delancey," she screamed, "how many times do I have to tell you? You can not just read excerpts out of the book! It's meant as a work of literature and it requires context."
Ha! She was so mad she didn't realize that Delancey and Elijah were naked.
Delancey lost touch with Elijah and I after that summer. Amy's book deal with Hyperion to churn out a memoir every eight months detailing how and where and with what lack of passion she made love got canceled. She took Delancey back to the family home in Rockport Center.
So imagine our surprise when we ran into Delancey during N.Y.U. orientation. She had sparkles on her eyes and was that night she was walled-in by boys at the Caliente Cab Company. But when we came near, her sparkles reflected only in Elijah's own eyes. I knew right then that our barely-heterosexual pair-bond might finally fray.