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Ms.S. used to work with my mother. I never looked at her in that way, if you know what I mean. She was a little younger than most of the women in that office and though not exactly matronly she was a conservative dresser-dull shades of blue and brown-, loose fitting slacks and jackets-careful and measured. When I thought of Ms.S, if I thought of her at all, it was as just another woman in that office.

So it was pretty odd, that March evening that she bumped into me in the elevator. I had brought my Mom some supper when she had to work late and I held the elevator for Ms.S, who was hurrying to leave the office.

thanks, she said between rushed breaths and then, while rearranging her handful of files and books she dropped something out of a book bag-

The illustrated Marquis de Sade

I stared at the floor and she just stared straight ahead. Finally I bent down and picked it up and handed it to her-her eyes, averted, blinked for a second then looked directly at mine.

Well, thanks again she murmured, quietly.

I wish I could have come up with something witty or sly, but I said nothing. Silence until the *ching* of the first floor and the hiss of the opening doors. I bit my lip and watched her walk toward her side of the parking lot and would have kept on walking if she had not pulled on my arm-I bet I jumped.

Are you curious? You know, about the book?

"Sure", I stuttered, "well, yes...a little." I felt twelve and probably looked it at that moment. She smiled and put most of her stack of papers in my arms and walked toward her practical Sentra. "Good gas mileage I bet", I heard myself say. Mister suave was I.

Later, at her apartment, she had me pour a couple of glasses of wine while she went to change. Of course I expected her to come back into the room in leather and chains. She had this big grin on her face when she returned in a pair of shorts and a baggy tshirt.

Surprised you again, didn't I?

I started to say no, but caught myself and just nodded my head as I looked at the floor and handed her a glass. She laughed quietly and sat next to me. This is what she said next, more or less:

it's like this, OK? I am a quiet person. I have a quiet job and live in this little house. I don't cause trouble and I don't want trouble. Now, you seem like a nice boy and maybe you are curious. I am always curious-see that's what the book is about. Curiosity. Trying new things. Being open to new ideas. Some of it is fun, some of it is dangerous and some of it you might not like. I don't promise anything. But I will tell you this- I like to try new things. So...tell me-do you like to try new things?

Let's just say I knew a lot more about life the next morning than I did before, with the scars to prove it.

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