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How to Give the Wrong Impression


September 21, 1992 Issue

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How to Give the Wrong Impression

September 13, 1992

September 21, 1992 P. 35

September 21, 1992 P. 35

The New Yorker, September 21, 1992 P. 35

Gwen (in the 2nd person voice) and Boris, graduate students, are roommates, but Gwen pretends and lets people infer that they are romantically involved. On her change-of-address card she writes Boris and Gwen; she helps him buy a bed; her parents take them out to dinner–Boris holds her hand. Gwen’s boyfriends think Boris is jealous of them. She encourages him to ask Dahlia Kosinski out (and hopes he won’t); Boris isn’t interested. In Pigeon Lab Gwen names her pigeon Boris because 2 other girls in the lab name theirs after their husbands. She tells funny stories about him, some exaggerations, some lies. When Linette, Boris’ best friend from undergrad, visits, Gwen never acts jealous though she is. She announces she has a date. Boris is drunk on Halloween, and after spilling orange juice, offers a kiss as an apology. She suffers through his tongue on her lips. They go to Gwen’s house for Thanksgiving; her grandmother says she won’t tolerate “this living together.” At Christmas she gives him a key chain; he gives her a framed picture of the 4 major food groups. The girls in the Pigeon Lab invite Gwen and Boris to a Valentine’s Day Party. She invites him without showing him the invitation. Boris invites her to a party. Dahlia is there, is beautiful and with a boyfriend with whom she has a fight. Linette spends the night with Boris; Boris says she kept him up talking. Late one night Gwen, dressed in Boris’ boxer shorts, which she retrieved from a bag of stuff he was giving to the Salvation Army, cleans the bathroom. She wears the boxers only after he has gone to bed. He finds her at 1 am, and realizes she’s wearing his shorts. He kisses the back of her neck, and says, You’re so funny, Gwen. Really, she says, Me?

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