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The Stars at Night

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I had seen you around campus. I never expected you to notice me, a nerdy first-year purposely blending into the background, but Zephyr is a small school. I would see you in the food hall or walking across the quad. Once, you opened a door for me and a group of girls from my dorm, your chivalry on display as the gaggle giggled our way out the door of the library’s extended late-night hours. We had wrapped up our Intro to Psych group project by 9:30, plenty of time to get a good night’s sleep; you and a friend were heading in for the late shift, textbooks under your arms.

I would have been almost grateful, and a little relieved, to have gone unnoticed. My photo in the “meet” book was best forgotten: I had no idea the unofficial reason behind the compilation of fresh-meat faces and had made the unfortunate faux pas of submitting my senior class photo—not the professional glamour shot everyone else’s parents had seemingly sprung for (one guy, memorably, toasting a glass of wine despite his presumable eighteen years of age), but the bad-backdrop result of the school picture day assembly line, my glasses still dominating the frame. I look at that photo now, also memorialized in my senior yearbook, and can hear myself saying “Cheese!”

Still, I did not know your name until I read it in print. The campus student newspaper, run by a bunch of disaffected coffeehouse hipsters, had mockingly sent staffers to provide “sports page” coverage of a typical day on the disc golf course. There you were, a perfect action shot capturing everything but your blurred hand as the photographer-in-training learned to adjust shutter speed in real time. Jordan Evans plays a round on Zephyr University’s new disc golf course.

I read the whole story in the privacy of my dorm. I noticed how you escaped the reporter’s snide commentary and contributed just a single, earnest quote, “It’s a nice little study break between classes,” to the cynical sophomore’s investigatory piece into the appeal of the freshly installed course, described as a “twenty-thousand dollar bogey” elsewhere in the story.

I remember thinking how charming you must be to have avoided the wrath of Tabatha Choate-Andrews’ sports satire. I sat through a history survey course with Tabatha during my first fall semester, and I was well acquainted with her penchant for injecting an inflated sense of self-importance into any possible medium. The fact that she included your quote without comment and free from her editorializing spoke highly of your ability to smooth ruffled feathers and placate self-images predicated on virtue signaling. That, or you had recognized Tabatha’s presence on the disc golf course for what it was—a hit piece—and had compensated accordingly. Either way, I liked how low-key you were, even when filtered through an angry white girl lens.

The lens of the student photographer’s camera, on the other hand, was undeniably taken with you: the picture was stunning.

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