Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Puckney's Bravado

He was eating breakfast in the Chuckwagon at the University of Texas main campus like he did most days when he saw the short dark-haired young woman coming toward him. Good things often happen around food, he thought.

"Fuck me," she said, shyly leaning forward to set down her food tray on his table.

The overage college student couldn't believe his luck. She was pretty enough for that and more. The problem was, they were in a crowded restaurant in broad daylight, and he'd never seen her before in his life.

"Pardon me?" he said incredulously.

"Puckney," she said more audibly, "my name is Puckney," and then she spelled it. He was a little relieved as well as a little disappointed, but didn't have time to dwell on it for she just kept talking.

"I saw you sitting over here and wondered if you'd mind if I asked you a question."

"I don't mind."

"Well, you know," she said and put her food on the table and sat down beside him, "I've seen you around before and thought you looked interesting."

She sounded a bit breathless. She was looking a little bit more at her Coke than at him.

"Hey, you aren't married, are you?" she asked as if the idea had just dawned on her.

"No, I'm not," he said, starting to be amused and titillated at the same time. This wasn't as good as what he first thought about what she'd said, but it was still pretty good. Very different from his usual conversations. It seemed promising.

"Puckney," he said. He couldn't resist saying it. "That isn't your first name, is it?"

"Oh, no!" she laughed. "My name is Donna. That's my first name."

"Why do you go around introducing yourself by your last name, then?"

"I—well, I don't know. It's just college life, I guess. The professors all refuse to call you by your first name, and all the girls at the dorm call me Puckney 'cause they think it's so funny, I don't know why."

He imagined that she did know why, but he could see where she wouldn't want to start conversations with strangers about it. Or maybe she thought that people had to know her for a while before such a vulgarity would dawn on them.

She obviously didn't know him. His brain went straight for the vulgar stuff. He was trying to be nice and not think it, she was so damnably puppy-dog cute, but he was having little luck. He wondered what her question was, but she seemed to have already forgotten it. maybe that was just some bravado she'd come up with to cover her embarrassment about speaking to a stranger.

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