We're walking in the halls after class, and I explain that I have to pick up an envelope so that I can mail out a recent essay I'd written on Barthes' The Pleasure of the Text, which The Atlantic Monthly would be publishing, in an exciting break from their ordinary reluctance to publish scholarly essays.

She walks shyly beside me, demur; but I can tell she's thinking. She asks, From the supply room in the basement?

Yes, I answer. Do you mind?

No, she says. Not at all.

The supply room is small, the size of a walk-in closet. The walls are lined with shelves. The quiet, enclosed space smells of paper and dust. I find the proper envelope and when I turn around she's smiling coyly at me.

Professor Blat, she whispers, as if urging me to come out from behind my title, to come to her as a man.

I close the supply room door.