It Was All Great Until...

Nothing starts at the end except really good stories.

So let’s go back to the beginning.

Once upon a time, it was 1994.

I was 25, teaching Latin American History at FSU, had finished all the coursework for my Ph.D., and very very anorexic.

Students who knew me then, later told me that they were distracted by the fact my knees were wider than my thighs.

That’s the thing about anorexia. People are fascinated by it, they admire the courage it takes to starve.

I think they also wonder if maybe it’s something else making that person so thin.

Cocaine, heroine, speed. Maybe for some people it is.

But it wasn’t for me.

I couldn’t afford any of that stuff.

All the anorexics I ever met in eating disorder groups, or at the gym, have been fireballs of energy. Our secret? Caffeine. Diet coke. Tea. Coffee. They all hit you MUCH harder on an empty stomach.

Anyway, so there I was, the first day of classes.

The first day that I would be teaching college, all on my own.
My syllabus, my roster, my assignments, my room.

When I did a walk-through of my classroom I saw that there were no map tacks to hold the map of Latin America up on the chalkboard rail.

The map tack situation was very urgent, in my little world.

I took myself on an excursion to empty classrooms, planning to “reassign” a few map tacks to my classroom and found a whole bunch in a corner room of the first floor in Bellamy Buidling.

I reached. I stretched. Jumped.
Chalkboards don’t look as large when you’re a student. Now that I was right in front of one, it seemed ten feet tall.

Finally, I pulled a desk to the chalkboard and stood on it.

That’s when I noticed my audience.

He was there. With his friend.

Maybe they thought I was laughing at myself, but I wasn’t. I was laughing at them, because I caught them checking me out.


The redhead looked familiar, and I was feeling bold. Warm, powerful.

What went through me wasn’t an impulse. It was more like a command.

I needed to talk to them. So I pointed at them and beckoned them over.

God help me, it worked. They came over.

We talked. His friend left, he stayed.

We exchanged phone numbers, made a date.

I think he looks at this as the worst mistake of his life.

The beginning of the end of his happiness.

He recently told me that his life was better than fiction before he met me.