“Hi,” he said.
“Hi, how are you?”
“Fine,” he said, “Well, not really. I always come here from across campus, and by the time I get here I’m boiling and exhausted.”
They laughed. She seemed receptive.
“I hardly know anyone in this class,” managed Alexander.
“It’s so funny--you sit in the same room with people for a whole term and never even know who they are.”
“I know! Isn’t that weird?”
“Yeah. Sometimes I hate it,” lied Alexander, “so when I recognized you, I thought, ‘I’m going to say hello, dammit’”.
Alexander faked determination, then laughed. His whole performance was routinized. The girl, who thought people should be more direct, admired his directness, or at least accepted it, and appeared undiscouraging. She was aware of her position. He had come to her; she simply would wait to see whether she liked what was being offered. For one thing, she had lost touch with some of her friends after going away, and happened to have room for an acquaintance. For another, she rarely fully repelled devotees. If someone wanted to spend all their time and energy admiring her then let them.
“I don’t think I ever got your name the other day,” prompted Alexander.
“It’s Marie,” said the girl. She smiled. Alexander half-smiled, but went blank.
“What?”--the girl saw his face.
“Nothing. It’s...” he seven-eighths smiled. “I... Do you have a second name?”
The girl looked confused and a little annoyed. “Katherine.”
Alexander brightened. “I love that name. May I call you it?”
The girl, frankly didn’t care at this point, was uninterested in whatever quirk had led him to this strange proposal, said “Sure. Whatever,” and smiled.