The Landlords and Anna 4/5 (6)

All through the week, I was looking forward to meeting Nell’s ‘friend’ Anna and seeing what kind of show they would put on for Andy and given the invitation, for me too. I sure needed a distraction from things at the university.

I got my apartment as squared away as I could, and made time to go see my assigned graduate faculty advisor and temporary “major professor” before classes started. He seemed bright, and very driven, and made it clear that the coin of the realm in his world was my potential contribution to research in his lab that could be published.

He said I should settle on my semester by semester course schedule quickly and be ready to pick a dissertation topic by the end of my second semester, and find one that could be done under the aegis of existing funding.

I met the three other TA’s that I shared the office with, and they were certainly a mixed bag: two super nerdy guys from central casting for science geeks, plus a highly pierced, tattooed, gum chewing and mysterious woman who looked as if she should be in the drama department, or maybe a terrorist cell.

They regaled me with horror stories about every possible professor that I could choose to ally myself with, and tales of woe about the dean, the administration, and academic life in general. I walked through the schedule of my graduate classes, and the meeting times, lab sections, and office hours for the undergrad course I would TA, and laid out my weekly rounds.

I was very glad to be living within walking distance from school, although it looked like I would have be on campus Monday through Friday from 0700 to 1900 anyway, and not even have a break to eat lunch on Tuesday and Thursday.

I settled down with the graduate course catalog and faculty bios to try to find someone who was not on my office mates’ list of professors to ‘avoid at all costs’. I found two possibilities, both of which had just joined the faculty the year before.

One of them seemed to have research interests right up my alley, and I dropped by her office to check her out. Her name was Betsy Wetznetski, and I had already heard her inevitable nickname: ‘Betsy Wetsy’. When I reached her office, she was packing up to leave for the day. I introduced myself. She was about 35, tall, thin and very exotic looking.

If I had to guess I’d say she was part Polish and part Egyptian! She had flashing black eyes and long jet black hair, and spoke with a slight British accent. I knew she got her PhD in Biochemistry at UC Berkeley, but otherwise her CV on the department website was pretty sparse. Her research area was neurochemistry in invertebrates, using functional neuroanatomy techniques that I was familiar with.

She said “walk with me” when she figured out my purpose and cut right to heart of the matter. “I am in danger of losing the funding I have because we have not been able to complete the installation and calibration of the lab equipment we purchased with the first phase of my grant. I have 60 days before I lose my funding. Can you help with that?”

I asked about the equipment and qualification requirements. Luckily it was stuff I was fairly familiar with from my most recent job as a biomedical engineer in a neurosurgery center. I knew the same stuff in roughly the same configuration was in use in several other labs, so it was possible to make it work.

I figured her problems were likely installation, vibration isolation, ground loops, and some ‘tribal knowledge’ that was not available in the supplied manuals. By this time we had reached her car, which was an old but well maintained classic Austin Healy, I chalked up some coolness points for her.

She threw her stuff in the boot and turned to focus on me, and I said “I’d like to spend some time tinkering with things, and then risk some of your experimental preps to try to get some data on sort of a shakedown cruise before I make a commitment. Okay?”

She laughed heartily. “If you could even get everything configured to even try that we would be far ahead of where we have gotten so far. And some of my precious little mollusks are at risk of dying of old age before we can use them, so no problem! Come see me Monday morning and we’ll figure out a schedule to tinker a bit.

Have a good weekend!” I figured I had accomplished something, and after straightening up my little desk, I beat feet for home, planning to take a shower before I was scheduled to drop by Andy and Nell’s at 7.

I was hungry, both for some of my landlord Nell’s cooking and for the promised adult entertainment, so I jogged back to apartment, showered quickly, and changed into slacks and a shirt.

September was still pretty warm in the Deep South, so I dispensed with a sweater or blazer, with the hope that, like my last trip to Nell and Andy’s, I could soon dispense with clothes entirely.

I rang the door and was greeted by Nell. Andy was tinkering with the stereo again, so I figured my belated house present would be a good fit. During dinner at my previous visit I had observed a moderately large collection of vinyl LP’s, with the Rolling Stones prominently featured, along with a very expensive and well known (at least among audiophiles) turntable, tone arm, and cartridge combination.

Most of my huge record collection was now safely ensconced in my parent’s cool and dry basement in northern Arizona, but I had a few duplicates with me. I had wrapped up my second copy of and old but infamous Stones bootleg called ‘LIVEr Than You’ll Ever Be’, figuring that Andy would be glad to add to his collection.

When I presented it to him he called Nell over to unwrap it. “I am the hardware guy, but Nell is the record collector” Andy explained. When she opened the gift Nell jumped up and down like a little girl. “Holy…” she stopped herself. “I have read about this bootleg in several articles, but neither seen one nor heard it!” Andy took the album from her and cued it up, playing it at moderate volume.

The recording was not bad, made in ’69 with condenser mikes and an old Uher tape machine (the poor man’s Nagra) and there was some extraneous noise near the microphones, but the performance was incredible. The band was all there, all unimpaired, and they were all really cooking, with no overdubs, no studio tricks, and a raucous and enthusiastic audience.

Nell closed her eyes and was transported to the historic summertime USA tour live venue, dancing with the music! She looked really good to me! She asked Andy to turn it up a little so she could listen from the kitchen while she finished dinner, and said that Anna would be a few minutes late, but was on her way.

Andy was still adjusting the speaker placement, and I asked him to tell me more about Anna. He laughed. “Nell and Anna had known each other for years before I met Nell. They went to graduate school together, and apparently introduced each other to some girl on girl dalliance early on. Anna is a veterinarian, and her husband was a state trooper.

He got killed about two years ago, hit by a drunk while he changed a tire for a little old lady. She was in a complete depression for about a year after he died, and she clung to Nell as her only friend. She was completely shut down emotionally and had no appetite, sex drive, or interest in anything. Nell was really worried about her.

Nell finally got her out of her shell by telling her how kinky her husband Andy was and about my having an unfulfilled fantasy of watching Nell with another woman! She told Anna that she was the only woman she had ever been attracted to, and somehow sold her on putting on a show for me.

Anna sort of re-awakened when she touched Nell, and also got off on me telling them how sexy they looked, and now she back to her old self again. But she still comes over a couple of times a year, because she now knows how much Nell enjoys turning me on!”

I had questions. “Does Anna know about your sharing Nell with other guys like me? Does Anna only have sex with Nell or is she interested in guys, too?

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