So really, there’s her and then there’s him.
On this particular occasion she (i.e. her, above) was in the east wing on the third floor of the University library. This area of the library had notoriously poor WiFi, and so emerged as a kind of refuge for students prone to distraction but also self-conscious enough to know this and kind of strategise around it.
She was seated at a pine study desk with a raised screen that blocked her view. Her desk was against an identical desk, rotated 180°, such that their raised screens buttressed one another. Viewed side-on the two occupied desks with hunched figures looked sort of like the outline of a Space Invader. She couldn’t see her colleague but their sniffles sounded feminine and somehow Polynesian.
Occasionally when stretching her legs she (the narrative subject) would accidentally hit her unseen athwart companion. She’d always murmur an apology but the companion would not respond. Due to certain unexamined cultural stereotypes about South-East Asians, she interpreted this non-response as shyness rather than rudeness.
It was under these contingent circumstances that she was overtaken by typical study-related boredom and a want for distraction. On her Facebook feed the aforementioned “him” came up. Him of course being Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The page was called: “The Same Photo of Joseph Gordon-Levitt Every Day.” The page delivered what it described.
She was using cellular by the way, not Wi-Fi.
She first encountered Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL) televisually in the popular late-90s sitcom Third Rock from the Sun. This is basically when she “came online,” sexually speaking. Like as in JGL seemed to open up brand new vistas in her psychic landscape. In the pre-Facebook days, she would complete her daily self-stimulatory ritual using a VHS tape of Season 2, Episode 8: World’s Greatest Dick, paused at a precise moment where he is conversing with his crush, but his crush is conveniently off-screen.
So she inserted her phone in to her jacket pocket and shuffled her chair back, standing up at such a distance from the table and slightly hunched so as to not make eye contact with her presumably Polynesian co-worker. She pivoted on one foot and made quickly for the stairwell, and then ascended the stairs to the top-floor ladies bathroom.
She opened the door to the bathroom and moved to the far stall, opening it only slightly and half-guiltily slipping through the narrow opening. To close the stall door she had to lean in to it and shimmy the lock through the little bolted-on lock-guard thing. With dull, ritualistic excitement she shimmied off her ill-fitting low in-seam canvas pants and underwear around her ankles and bent down to pull them over her shoes.
She sat on the edge of the toilet lid, and kind of pivoted back so she was resting on her tailbone, and then set her feet — her shoes were old cons with white ankle socks — on either side of the stall door. She pulled out her phone and rested it on her left thigh, the phone’s silicon case gripping on to her inclined leg. She gently tapped the screen twice to unlock it and reveal JGL to her.
The Same Photo of Joseph Gordon-Levitt Every Day posted an image of JGL as she remembered him, boyishly aloof and good-looking. He was wearing a plaid shirt tucked in to jeans with a thin black tie. The black tie reminded her of nervous boys at high school balls. The whole outfit was truthfully kind of unhip and dated, like if a boy asked his mother to dress him for a punk rock concert. She liked it though. She liked him.
As she was sort of preparing to commence so-to-speak, she heard the bathroom door open. Before the bathroom door could fully close, the adjacent stall door opened and closed and locked.
She heard an unzipping and then the familiar sound of a 65/35 poly/cotton blend loosely falling down around legs and crumpling on the floor, a toilet lid being raised and then the muffled sound of the toilet’s aperture being totally covered. A soundless pause, a shuffle, and then the sound of water on water.
She put her phone back in her pocket, soundlessly set her feet to the floor, and shimmied back. She imagined that the girl next to her must be like a PhD student (reference library) and potentially also like either hyper studious and conservative or maybe one of those girls co-opting the conservative school girl thing in an ironic-semiotic way, which is to say she (the other girl) is actually quite promiscuous. She assumed this because of the skirt, which in her (the narrative subject’s) mind’s eye was a navy blue schoolgirl skirt.
The girl (i.e. other girl, not the narrative subject) completed her micturition and left the bathroom with the same haste she entered. She (i.e. the narrative subject) slowly lifted her legs and put them astride the stall door, wedged against the stall walls. As she was preparing to pull her phone out, she noticed a septenary scrawl in the middle of the door, equidistant from each of her feet.
The scrawl depicted a girl’s name surrounded by seven hearts, the “point” of each heart pointing towards the girl’s name, and the bumps of the atria “pointing” towards a male’s name. Each pair of atria pointed towards a different male’s name. Two males were called Sam and Chris and could, conceivably, have also been females. The whole scrawl looked sort of like a sand mandala or some kind of symbol from the Discworld universe.
She (narrative subject) wondered how she (scrawler) could possibly choose between seven different men. She imagined each man as the embodiment of some divine virtue. The chivalrous gent, the ravenous possessor, the respectful liberal, the kind friend, the supportive careerist, the at-ease bohemian, and the gregarious joker. So like imagining this poor girl’s (scrawler’s) dilemma filled her with a sudden and unexpected sadness. She wished, suddenly, JGL were there to comfort her.
She put her feet down again and opened her phone. She stared at JGL and his gaze. He had the stature of a boy but the eyes of a man. He smouldered in her imagination.
Side-note: She (narrative subject) has a boyfriend. His name is Jon. He is a third-year chemistry student and adequate lover. She suspects they will marry one day. Sometimes, when he performs cunnilingus on her, she rests a posturepedic pillow half-off the end of their bed and allows her head to roll back. It is here she can close her eyes unseen and imagine it is JGL performing cunnilingus. It is, to date, the only way she can achieve climax with Jon.
Second side-note: Unbeknown to her (narrative subject), this sexual configuration renders her effectively headless from Jon’s point-of-view, which permits him to imagine that she is Larisa Oleynik, and that he is making Larisa Oleynik climax.
She continued to stare at her phone. She put a finger to his chest, imagining she could feel his heart beat. The thing with an image is whichever angle you look at it from, you swear it is looking at you. She felt JGL was looking at her. She was submerged in pure anoesis.
Her phone rang. It was her father. Shit, she thought. She remembered she was supposed to take her younger brother to tennis practice today. She picked up the phone and said Sorry Sorry Sorry I’m Going and hung up without allowing her father to reply. She made herself up with haste, collected her things from the third floor, and ran to the parking lot.
It would be one hour later, after dropping her brother off, with the car in park and the handbrake on in the NO PARKING zone behind the ablutions block adjacent to the tennis courts, legs splayed out on the dashboard, phone gently resting on the lower-grip of the steering wheel, that she would finally bring herself to climax to The Same Photo of Joseph Gordon-Levitt Every Day.