The Beautiful Rao

the university cottages

The Beautiful Rao

She was the daughter of the famous mathematician Rao. So, royalty. She was princess beautiful and I was surprised when she accepted the offer for “dinner sometime next week.”

“You’re sweet,” she said. I was bartending at night while I was in college. Her dad’s hall of fame. She was there with a regular, a guy who seemed oddly intelligent and an alcoholic. He told me about her dad. They were in the crowded English’s restaurant following another Longhorn Football victory. My tips would be through the roof. I was behind on my drinks when the guy went to the bathroom.

“Seriously,” I said, “Just to talk. We can go wherever you like. I’ll pick you up.”

“I have class,” she said. Her smile suggested encouragement.

“After that,” I said. And her date was back.

He was funny. A writer as well. Introduced me to Archy and Mehitabel. Best thing he ever did for me. I still can’t remember his name. He wasn’t a very good tipper. Great conversationalist.

Some people cultivate witty repartee. This was one of those guys. Not sure what his career was. Obviously older than Princess Rao and myself. He loved chatting with Bill English, the proprietor and lover of guns and cognac. Expensive cognac.

Mythology has it that Bill was drunk one night at the bar after closing and got into an argument with a patron about the pistol he wore on his hip. And, as he told it, he fell back from the bar and fired the entire clip through the ceiling before he hit the floor. The bullet holes are still there. It’s a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse now, or something.

Lisa, Lora, “L” (I’m not good with names) lived just a few blocks from my friend John’s cottage apartment. Our date was set for Wednesday night at 9:30. I had the night off. I was majoring in English and looking for good stories to write about. Ms. Rao was studying anthropology. “I’ll probably go for my Ph.D.,” she said.

“To do what?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Teach.”

“Is that what you want to do?”

“I pretty much grew up at this university, so yeah, I think it’s nice.”

“Cool.”

“What about you?,” she asked. “Jason says you’re a writer as well.”

JASON, how could I forget his name?

“Yes, officially.”

“And, unofficially?”

“A rockstar in the rough.”

She laughed. I swooned. I was out of my league and we both knew it. It was a pleasant fantasy for the 45 minutes or so we spent talking. I dropped her home and went back to John’s house to debrief.

He’d gotten a new digital delay unit for his guitar and he was tap tap tapping out some U2-like staccattos.

“Well?” he said, looking at me with a sly grin.

“I’d rather listen to you and your new toy,” I said.

He played guitar. I sang and played bass. Happy Accident was the name of our band. “Felix Culpa” actually, but same thing. And perhaps the beautiful Rao is out there digging up bones or giving anthropology students fantasies, I have no idea.

“Hey Siri…”

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