From How to Lose Friends and Alienate People:
I first set eyes on Syrie in 1989 in the dining hall of Trinity College, Cambridge. After Harvard, I'd gone on to Cambridge and was attempting to get a Ph.D. in Philosophy. It was the first day of the new academic year and, in keeping with College tradition, me and several other "mature" students were checking out the latest batch of "freshettes." Not that we had any hope of getting into their knickers; in the Cambridge student hierarchy, post-grads are on a par with "natscis" (natural scientists). Lusting after first years -- and knowing that it would never be reciprocated -- was just another exercise in self-flagellation, a favorite post-grad pastime.
As [Syrie] passed the post-grad table, she didn't so much as glance in our direction even though it was perfectly obvious we were all gawping at her. Everything about her radiated contempt, which suited our masochistic mood to a T. This arrogant, full-lipped beauty embodied all that was forbidden to sad losers like us. My misery was compounded when she chose a seat directly opposite mine in the College library, making it impossible for me to concentrate on my philosophy books. For the remainder of that academic year, until I abandoned my Ph.D. altogether, I tortured myself by imagining what her nubile, eighteen-year-old body would look like in the nude. I was 100% certain I'd never find out.
Syrie resurfaced in my life in 1994 when, as a twenty-three-year-old researcher for an independent television production company, she called me out of the blue and invited me to lunch. Aha, I thought. This could be interesting. Instead of an impoverished student living in a hall of residence I was now a fully-fledged media brat and a member of The Groucho Club, London's premier watering hole. I assumed that she remembered me from Cambridge and wanted some career advice -- maybe even a job! Perhaps I would get to see her naked after all.
My hopes were soon dashed. She confessed that she'd been ordered to take me out to lunch by her boss so that she could "steal" any ideas I might have for television programs. I'd been expecting a wide-eyed ingenue who'd hang on my every word and instead found myself sitting opposite an intelligent, confident young woman. After graduating from Cambridge with a major in English she had worked in publishing for a while and, the previous year, had helped organize the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival. That was where she'd met her current boyfriend, the novelist Will Self. Had I heard of him? I had, as a matter of fact. He was only the most famous young novelist in the country!
The low point came when I told her I'd been to Cambridge.
Syrie: Oh really? When were you there?
Syrie: But that's when I was there! What college were you at?
Syrie: No! But I was at Trinity.
Me: Yes, I know.
I had sat opposite her almost every day for a year and failed to make any impression. I think I would have preferred it if she'd remembered me as a creepy, starry-eyed post-grad -- anything would have been better than not making any impact at all. I had been completely invisible to her. What could be more humiliating? All the lust I'd felt five years earlier came flooding back, but this time I was determined to do something about it.
. . .
Having sex with Syrie was like being granted a wish by a fairy godmother. It was an opportunity to turn back the clock and do what I'd longed to do at the time but hadn't had the balls for. In a sense she stood for all the unattainable girls I'd lusted after throughout my life. This well of unrequited desire had left a deep psychic would and here, at last, was my chance to heal it. By the time I moved to New York I'd been sleeping with her for about nine months but the damage was by no means completely repaired. Of course, the humiliation caused by sexual rejection can never be fully expunged, but that wasn't going to stop me from trying -- again and again and again. I had no intention of abandoning my "therapy" in mid-stream.