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Violet

by Martin Green

 

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     I was in my twenties when I transferred from San Francisco to Sacramento to get a promotion in the State’s giant Health Department. I became a section supervisor and as such had a lot of meetings with other section supervisors working on the same programs.   On one of my trips back from such a meeting I noticed a new clerk-typist, pardon me, an office technician in the State’s new jargon. I noticed her because she was very pretty.   She had long brown hair, nice features and wore a tight sweater emphasizing her bosom.   I went over and introduced myself. She told me her name was Violet. She’d come to Sacramento from a little town near Fresno.

     “It’s hot here,” I said, “but probably won’t be as hot as Fresno.”

     “Did you say it’ll be hotter here than Fresno?”

     “No, not as hot.”

     “Oh.”

     We talked a little more and I asked her to lunch for later in the week. She accepted. When the day came I took her to the Capitol cafeteria, which was a cut above the ones in the State buildings. I asked how she liked her job and she said her section chief was a nice guy. She asked me if I liked my job and I said I did and that my boss was also a nice guy.  

     “Did you say he wasn’t such a nice guy?” she asked.

     “No, he is.”

    “Oh.”

     Despite a few little misunderstandings like this, we got along well. She liked Sacramento. She’d found an apartment downtown with another girl who also worked for the State. They thought there was a lot to do in what was a big city compared to her home town. We walked back through Capitol Park. Although it was summer it wasn’t too warm. The roses were out in full bloom and the park’s squirrels were scampering around.   Violet wore a light dress and looked very pretty. I asked her to dinner and she said that would be nice.

     I continued to see Vi, as she was usually called, through the summer. She wasn’t exactly a mental giant but she’d gone to community college. She liked reading, although mostly romances. She also liked romantic movies.  She made some astute remarks about working for the State, like how she spent a lot of time typing memos that didn’t seem to accomplish anything. Every now and then she still misinterpreted something I said. I’d comment on a movie we’d seen to the effect that it would have been better if an hour shorter and she’d take it that I’d said an hour longer. Also, whenever I’d comment on the weather, saying it was really hot that day or not as hot as usual for a Sacramento summer she’d take it that I’d said just the opposite.

     Our dating went the usual course that dating did in those days. When I took her back to her apartment I’d kiss her good night. Several times after a dinner or movie I got her to come up to my apartment and we reached the point where we “made out” pretty hot and heavy on my sofa, but she’d proceed no further. Also, I didn’t like to ask her to my place too often as it was so small and the furniture that came with it was so shabby. I decided that she was a fairly innocent girl. I didn’t think she realized how attractive she was and how provocative her tight sweaters were.  When all was said and done, she was really good-looking and all of my fellow State workers who knew I was taking her out were envious of me. 

     Still, as summer moved into fall I found that her misinterpretations of my remarks were getting on my nerves. I had one or two discussions with her about this and she said she was sorry, she’d listen more carefully. The next day, however, the same thing would happen. The worst thing was when she told me that her roommate was going out of town for the weekend and I got the impression that I could come over and we’d get beyond the heavy making out, finally. When I arrived at her door, full of anticipation, I found to my surprise that her roommate was still there and Vi said she’d thought I’d told her I wanted to see more of the roommate, not that I’d be happy to see no more of her, as I’d said.

     At about the same time, another girl came into our office, an analyst who’d graduated from UC Berkeley. She wasn’t nearly as pretty as Vi (few girls were) but she was smart and funny. I could talk to her easily and she understood everything I said exactly as I said it. I decided it was time to break off with Vi. The question was how to do it. She was such a nice girl I couldn’t hurt her. I’d have to ease out gently. I began to make excuses for not seeing her and our dates became fewer. I was still at a loss as to how to make a complete break when I hired an analyst for my section. His name was Gordon Jones, a recent graduate of Sac State, a good-looking kid and a hard worker, always wanting to please.

     One morning I asked Gordon to bring me some birth figures for the last few years. I added, “Bring me 2005-2006, too.” A few minutes later he was back.  

  “Did you say you wanted the 2005-2006 figures or you didn’t want them?”

     “I said I wanted them.” Hmmm, I thought. To make sure, that afternoon I gave Gordon a spreadsheet of figures to calculate.  

     “Oh, yeah,” I said, “make up a graph, also.”

     Again, he was back in a few minutes.   “Uh, did you say you wanted a graph or you didn’t want a graph?”

     “I did want a graph.”  

     That clinched it. I picked up my phone and called Vi.  

     “Hi. Look, how about lunch tomorrow?  I have someone I want you to meet. A nice young guy who just started in my section. You’ll like him. You and he have a lot in common.”
 


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