Chapter 3 Saturday
Brian woke to a bright Saturday morning and had second thoughts. It was stupid, this Operation Zoo. It should be changed back to the original plan, handing out pamphlets. What good would it do to take over the zoo and ruin their school careers and maybe go to jail. It didn't make any sense. While he showered, Brian resolved that on the Sunday rehearsal, he'd try to convince Jack and Joshua, and if they insisted on taking over the zoo, he'd quit CALF. He'd do it now, phone up Jack and Joshua except that he had to go to his laboratory film shoot. Oh well, It could wait 'til Sunday.
After the video shoot, Brian was invited into Professor Rexford's private office to 'explain himself'. Brian was having a hard time 'explaining himself'. He didn't even know what it meant.
"Brian. You're a great technician, but to be a great artist, you must become involved with your subject - his needs, aspirations, his life," said Professor Rexford, "You can't be isolated and detached when you're looking through the viewfinder. Whatever you do, you have to do with commitment."
Brian knew Rexford had him pegged. Whenever Brian looked in a viewfinder, he did feel detached. He liked the feeling. It was like there was a sheet of glass, a window, between him and where he was pointing the camera. Brian felt a little hurt, though. He thought this detachment was good. To try to redeem himself to his professor, he told about his involvement in CALF, and his love of animals, but Rexford was not moved.
"People, Mr. VanMeer," said Rexford, "It's people. If your involvement isn't with people, then it's not involvement. It's a hobby."
Brian wilted under the critique and felt his eyes sting. He couldn't think of anything to say, so he stood and took it. Neither spoke for a while and then Professor Rexford said, "Well. What do you think?"
"You're probably right," said Brian meekly.
Rexford sprang to his feet. "That's not what I want to hear," he barked. "If CALF's important, tell me it's important. Have the courage of your convictions. Brian. How can you have the courage of your convictions if you don't have any convictions."
Brian seemed to be considering that, but he was actually thinking that after Operation Zoo, there'd be convictions all right, and probably prison as well. Professor Rexford sighed, sat down, and told Brian he could go. Brian was glad to get out of there. Even though he knew Rexford only gave that treatment to students he thought were talented, it was unnerving and Brian found he was shaking. He'd put it out of his mind though. Now he just had time to go over and pick up Lori for their date. That was unnerving too. Brian was a year or two younger than the other students in his class, and socially challenged. He had barely just discovered girls, whereas everybody else he knew had discovered them ages ago.
He had met her at a CALF meeting at the end of the last school year. They were both animal nuts, and they just started palling around. They kept up the friendship over the summer, and now, just about every week end, they went to movies together. The first time he asked her to a movie, Brian agonized over what to do about the movie tickets. Should he buy them for both? Would she be offended? If he didn't buy them, would she think he was a cheapskate? If he did buy them, would she think he was more serious about her than maybe he was? In the end, Brian bought the tickets in advance and told her they were given to him. That first movie went well and Brian felt proud of himself. It had been his first date.
Many movies later, Brian still felt shy about his dates, and he still bought the tickets in advance. After this day's movie, Lori invited him up to her dorm room. Only after he accepted, did she tell him that her roommate was away for the week end. Brian was scared. It was too soon. He wasn't quite ready for this.
"Brian," said Lori, "Do you love me?"
"What? Well. I um.. I like you very much," Brian stumbled.
"Look. Why are you so afraid of commitments?"
There was that word again, 'commitment'. In the same day, he had heard it from both Lori and Professor Rexford. It was almost like a conspiracy. Brian burbled that he really liked Lori and wasn't seeing anyone else and thought about her a lot.
"You don't show it," said Lori, "You treat me like one of the guys."
"Don't be silly. I don't kiss the guys."
"Well, when you kiss me, it's almost like you're afraid - like you're kissing a tiger or something. And when you think about petting, I'm sure your dog comes to mind."
"I don't have a dog," said Brian
"I give up," said Lori, throwing her hands in the air. "No one can be that innocent."