I’ve crossed paths with a great many people over the decades – astonishingly many, given my reclusive nature & general lack of social skills. I remember some of them more clearly than others, but some less clearly than I’d like.

One of the latter group – let’s call her M. – I met in Professor Scouffas’ Rhetoric 205 class, in the spring of 1982.

I entered the University of Illinois in August of 1980, as an Engineering / Computer Science student. (Seven semesters later, they gave me a diploma & sent me home. But that’s a story for another time.)

The university wanted me to choose a minor subject, to go with my major. I had the notion, thirty years ago, that I might become a writer, so I chose Rhetoric. (Professor Scouffas was mildly surprised to see me, thinking perhaps that Engineering students seldom explored the terra incognita south of Green Street.)

I began the Rhetoric sequence in the fall of 1981, and pursued it for two years. By the end, I was completely burned out, short on story ideas, and just trying to get through the final class with a passing grade. (In fact, I received an A, which to this day strikes me as undeserved.)

M. and I happened to land in Rhetoric 205 together. We may have shared Rhetoric 144 the previous semester; I have vague memories of a woman in that class who may have been M., but nothing definite.

M. and I were friends, in a distant & temporary sort of way, until the semester ended. Then she graduated and moved to Arizona, and I never saw or heard from her again.

It occurred to me this evening – in one of those apropos-of-nothing thoughts that people of a less cynical age might’ve considered divine communication – that I can’t remember what M. looked like. I remember her, the time we spent together, the conversations we had – but her face? It’s gone.

I know that she was tall, with dark hair & pale skin; but if I passed her on the street I wouldn’t recognize her.

That bothers me, a little.