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There were two kinds of movie that Ogden never missed – and they showed the two sides of his sense of taste: Willis and Austen. To clarify, he never missed an opportunity to see a Bruce Willis movie and he had made attempts to see every Jane Austen novel adaptation. Whether he showed pride or shame about these two divergent appreciations depended on the company he was keeping at the moment.

And at the moment of this story, he was at the end of a choral rehearsal, keeping company with the other members of the newly formed church choir that performed every second Sunday during the worship service. The precise moment of this story was just after the choir director had stated, “Please feel free to take ‘He Is Here’ home to practice before next Sunday. Indeed I encourage you to do so.” (There were a few chuckles.) “It may help us iron out some of our . . . imperfections. Go in peace.”

And the Basses, tenors, alto and sopranos started gathering their belongings and standing up.

“Perhaps it is our imperfections which make us so perfect for each other.”

Ogden looked up to see who had spoken this. It was the new Soprano; the director had introduced her a couple weeks ago. She sat in the row in front of him, two chairs down. Ogden was never good with names – what was it again?

She had made the “imperfection” remark offhandedly, almost to herself. The younger girl next to her looked at her curious, obviously not catching the reference. The new soprano seemed to be a bit embarrassed that she had spoken something so (on the face of it) odd.

Strike one, thought Ogden, is that I can’t remember her name. And strike two is that I can’t remember the next line. So –

“That’s from ‘Emma’, isn’t it?” He said, not too loud, but loud enough for her to hear.

The new Soprano, turned around and smiled. Ogden remembered: Her name is Gretta. The same name as his friend’s dog and he had earlier noted that she sort of had hair like a cocker spaniel. Very cute, he had thought, but he decided that it would be unwise to mention to her this memory-helping image, at least at this point.

“Yes,” she replied. “Wow, I was pretty sure no one would get that.”

“It’s a very good scene.”

“I agree. My sister says it’s too obvious and trite. I mean, of course they’re going to get together, but – ”

“But that’s the way it is with all of Austen. You know there’s going to be a happy ending, but the skill is in how she writes how they get there.”

“Yes. And what’s wrong with a happy ending?”

This moment was 8:07. Ogden had been impatient that the rehearsal had gone long, but now he wasn’t looking at the clock. As others finished conversations and left, they talked. They talked plot and character and scenes and motive. Ogden noted once or twice others noticed them talking, but he wasn’t aware of much else.

So when the director, standing at the door, said “Can you two make sure the lights are off and this door is shut?” Ogden, who liked the sound of the words ‘you two’, was surprised to see by the clock on the wall that it was 8:58. Obviously Gretta was, as well.

“Oh my goodness” she said, standing up, “I missed my ride!”

“That’s okay,” said Ogden. In fact, it was great. “I can bring you home.”
“Oh, but I’m not going home, I have to go to the university library to study. I’m a grad student, you see.”
“Ah, well I can bring you there. It’s just a little farther out from where I live.”
“I, …thanks, okay”

And so they went. And Ogden walked her to the door of the Library. And then Ogden, who had never been a big dater, took the plunge.

“Say, I was wondering – any chance you would want to go out for coffee tomorrow night.”
“I’m afraid not.”

“I see . ..,” replied Ogden, disappointed, but then goofiness and a confidence that surprised him made him continue: “Might I ask why, with so little endeavor at civility, I am thus repulsed?”
“And I might as well enquire why, with so evident a design of insulting me, you chose to tell me that you liked me against your better judgment.”

Ogden laughed. He was impressed.
“Wow, you really know it.”
“Well, it’s another great scene.”

“But the reason I ‘thus repulse’ you is that I have a Bible study tomorrow evening.”
“Ah, I see”
“But I am free Friday”
Ogden smiled. So was he.

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February 2008