In light of recent events, a chapter in Jamie’s Children seems to be pertinent to the ongoing discussion about some men’s proclivity to look on women as objects intended for their pleasure. Sometimes it’s much more subtle, but the end result is the same.
Laura Logan is a virtuoso violinist, former child prodigy, who is also a lonely young woman who longs for a romance. Unfortunately, she has an encounter with a man who turns out to be not at all what she had hoped for, and she becomes one of those “sadder-but-wiser” girls Harold Hill sings about in The Music Man. Harold himself doesn’t have a very good track record until he is tripped up by actually falling in love.
Here’s Laura’s first encounter with the man for whom she has high hopes. He’s a talented tenor, handsome, suave, sophisticated. Laura is twenty-two. Andrei is forty-one. They are both in Aspen, Colorado, as members of the Aspen Music Festival staff, and performers for the summer. She’s had very limited experience with males; she’s devoted herself to her music, and she is vulnerable.
Anita is her accompanist for the summer. Ardith is a therapist she had seen in the spring when she had learned some important things about her obsession to perfect her technique on the violin to the detriment of her emotional involvement with the music.
Another member of the audience who spoke with her was Andrei Potrenko. She had met him briefly at a get-together for staff and faculty the first weekend they were there, but it had been a casual moment in a crowded, darkened space and Anita had whisked her away almost immediately.
Now she had a chance to really see him. He was a strikingly handsome man, with dark blonde hair and unusual light eyes – gray, she thought; taller than she had realized, trim and broad-shouldered, with an air of aristocracy about him. He held himself confidently and moved with a certain amount of grace; she realized she was attracted to him.
It made her wonder about the two failed marriages; he probably didn’t want for willing female companionship. Maybe the wives had grown tired of extramarital affairs. She reminded herself it wasn’t her business, but she was definitely curious.
He spoke to her warmly, complimenting her on the performance. “I am looking forward to making music with you, Laura. You play with such passion … such elegance.” He had the tiniest hint of an accent and she couldn’t place it, but it was charming. He was charming. Maybe his family spoke Ukrainian or Russian at home as he was growing up? He was gazing into her eyes as she spoke, and she was flattered by the attention and the frank interest he seemed to be showing her.
Ardith Mossman’s cautionary words came back to her: Don’t jump into bed with the first guy who looks interested.
She thought as he walked away, Was he hitting on me? He definitely was checking me out. She liked the idea; she shivered slightly. He was definitely easy on the eyes. Time to leave the drawbridge down, she thought, or maybe even blow it up.
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