Oct 25, 2023

I’m hard, congealed anxiety, poised on the edge of a chair. My hands are shaking, feeling so barely assembled, I half-expect my fingers and thumbs to start dropping off. I’m so nervous I can’t remember which foot to put on the stool; so, after an eternity of indecision, I make a desperate gamble on the left. Next time, if there is one, I think, I’ll mark a big X beforehand on the correct sneaker.

Teddy’s voice is a deep, lazy rumble. I want to close my eyes to listen, but lower them instead, pretending to look at my guitar—and feel myself casting off, set adrift on his voice, carried beyond my fear.


Teddy stands behind the counter at Paragon Music before my lesson. He’s wearing his perennial turtleneck sweater underneath his shirt, though it’s a hot summer day. I fancy him tucking it into his bathing trunks when he goes swimming or rolling deodorant under each sleeve in the morning after he takes off his pajamas. He looks frail, even with all that padding. Once he climbed out of his sickbed to give me my lesson, wearing a rakish cap. I, who was teetering on the edge of infatuation, fell back, thinking, What an impossibly odd man!