He is in the airport. Palm Springs. He’s finished a golf weekend with a buddy who was getting married. They were all old friends from school, and they’d had a time.
He’s sitting outside on a small patio having a beer, reading the USA Today they left for him in the hotel room, and he sees a woman that he thinks he recognizes. She has come outside as well to sit before her flight. She’s got one of those long glasses full of Weiss beer. It’s about 8 p.m. The sun is going down. The woman sits near him. She is in cream-colored slacks and a sleeveless cream top. She looks professional. She rests her carry-on beside her and places a computer bag on top of the table.
There are smells—the desert plantings that the airport has set around the small patio, the dry air, and a smell from her—her perfume, he thinks. He watches her. He pretends not to. She sips her beer, looks at the glass, checks her watch, and then—and this is what reveals her to him—she stretches her long legs out in front of her, and reaches back, gathering her hair in one hand. An accomplished look. It’s the gesture a women’s college swimmer would make after a meet.
He remembers that he met this woman at a work conference when he was twenty-one, almost a decade ago. It was his first job out of school and he was working as a consultant, and she was too, and they had an annual retreat in—here he can’t remember—was it Houston? Phoenix? Tampa? He can’t remember, only he does remember that it was very warm. Nice, but warm. And he met her at the bar. Someone had introduced them, a former colleague of hers from Philadelphia, where she’d worked. The colleague had gotten transferred to Chicago from Philly, and they all spoke. But the colleague saw some other people he knew, and left them alone.
[Continued in Confrontation 110]