At the same party at which I threw myself at Michel, another drama was
ensuing. Minta's boyfriend Graham had been pouting all night. Minta wasn't really
paying attention to him, she was having a good time being deejay, and dancing
by herself next to the stereo. Men were stopping by on the pretense of looking
through the CDs, but it was clear that Minta was the attraction. She'd talk to
them, banter, malign their musical tastes, laugh with them. The more she
talked to others, the more Graham pouted.
And the more Graham pouted (a sullen look on his face, silently dancing with
other women, including a tall, young big-boned girl), the more Minta ignored
Graham's not a big drinker. That night, however, he was drinking plastic cup
after plastic cup of red wine. While I was circling Michel, shark-like, around
the living room, Minta suddenly presented herself in front of me, blocking my
"We need to go home. Now. I'm sorry to interrupt your stalking, but I came
with Graham in a cab and I'm not getting near him."
It seemed that Minta had been talking to Graham's roommate in the kitchen.
While standing there, among the crowd of boisterous beer-drinking
eco-lawyers, she happened to spy the big-boned tall girl picking her way down
the hall. Graham was sheepishly following her. "Watch this," she said to Graham's
roommate. Together, the two positioned themselves by the kitchen doorway
where, conveniently enough, a glass-encased painting hung opposite in the
hallway. If they leaned in the exact right angle, the reflection off the glass
revealed the activities in the room next to the kitchen, where Graham and Big
Bones had sneaked into. Graham and Big Bones were kissing. Not a huge,
make-out kiss, Minta later reported, but a more-than-just-friends-kiss.
Minta turned away. Roommate placed his hand on her arm. "Gee Minta, I don't
know what to say."
"The jerk," Minta said.
Graham suddenly appeared next to Minta. "Honey, we have to go home."
Minta glared at him. "Whaddya mean 'we'?" She turned away from him and went
to find me.
At that point, Graham got scared. "Minta," he said. "We have to talk. I did
Now Minta was standing next to me, my sweater in one hand and my car keys in
the other. Graham came bounding up. "I want to come with you two," he began.
"You shut up," Minta said.
I drove them home. Actually, I drove Graham to Minta's apartment, so he could
pick up his stuff, which Minta refused to keep. Then I drove Graham home. On
the way, I tried to mediate.
"It seems to me," I began, "that this kiss was in reaction to Minta not
paying attention to you, Graham. Is that right? And Minta, why did you not want to pay
attention to Graham?"
"This has gotten blown out of proportion," said Graham.
"How dare you do that at a party, practically in front of me?"
"I didn't do it in front of you. You were smart enough to spy on me."
"Don't you dare compliment me."
"What kind of kiss was this?" I asked.
"A nothing kiss," mumbled Graham.
"Tongue action?" I probed.
"The type isn't important. There wasn't feeling behind it." Graham was oddly
subdued, in my view. "A kiss does not a commitment make," he said.
"Oh, God," Minta said from the backseat.
We got to Graham's house. He turned around and looked at her. "For the
hundredth time, I'm sorry."
"You're sorry?" she said. "No, you're done." Graham got out of the car,
thanked me for the ride, went to his front door, unlocked it, and shut it
without a backwards glance.
After a pause, I said, "He didn't sleep with her. It was just a kiss. True,
he could have gotten her phone number and pursued it later. But at least he
owned up to it."
"Doesn't matter." She got in the front seat, sighing as she put
on her seatbelt. "A kiss is important. What would have happened if I hadn't
seen him do it? Would he have told me? That's it for us."
We drove to the
International House of Pancakes on Lombard and ordered silver dollar pancakes
and coffee. The place was packed with prom kids. "It seemed so much easier
then," Minta said. "The prom. A million years ago."