The Fordham University dorm on 60th Street and 10th Avenue, a tall, beige brick building with a beveled façade, is known, by those on an inside track, as the cheapest hotel in New York City. Fordham, a Jesuit school, requires visitors to sign in when they arrive, and guests of the opposite sex must leave their host or hostess by 3 o’clock in the morning. Flouting this conscription incurs a $15 fee—which apparently fazes very few people.
When I arrived, which was way before 3 a.m., the security guard was giving a pizza delivery boy a hard time. “Can’t go up,” he said, iguana-faced, imperturbable. “She must come down. Call her.” As the pizza boy rooted around for the number, the security guard sniffed his blue insulated satchel, on the desk. “What kind of pizza, that?” he asked. “Personal,” said the pizza boy. The security guard reached in and opened the box. A tiny cheese pizza lay inside, cooling rapidly. “I want one of those,” he said, his nose up close, nostrils cocked, sniffing instinctually. “Get me one of those paaarcel pizzas.” He sat back, hands clasped on belly, and cracked a small reptilian smile.
When Lara tripped out of the elevator to meet me, his smile turned into a beam and his eyes turned beady. “Hel-looo,” he said, his voice a different register. He made an elaborate show of screening my driver’s license and getting Lara to write my details down. His eyes followed her all the way back to the elevator.
What is it about dancers that makes them so immediately recognizable, so easy to peg? They walk like tall people, even when they’re not. Their chin line, never less than perpendicular to their neck, acts as a fo’c’sle to which their face is the figurehead. They veritably sail through life, led by that figurehead, the rest of their bodies streamlined, responding to stimuli by moving like the flaps on the wings of aeroplanes.
So it was with Lara. Compact, purring, powerful, she was a little Porsche embodied, revving and smooth. Looking at our reflection in the elevator door made me feel like a Toyota Previa. From the ‘90s. Like the kind my mom drove, but with more bumper stickers in the back and maybe some fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview mirror.