It could be a small fold in his shirt, making an indentation that the light can’t reach which could make that one small spot in the lower third of his back stand out just a little purpler than the rest of his already-quite-purple shirt.
Jeff stands up on a chair in the first row and shouts. Then he repeats himself. Then he repeats himself. Then he repeats himself. His electric, insistent voice forces its way into ears and into tape recorders frying their wiring irrevocably.
“But she can’t make love!” Jeff cries. “She can’t make love! She can’t make love! Emma can’t make love!”
A pirouette reveals that the purpler spot on Jeff’s purple back has grown. Surely a trick of the light. And two more spots appear as well and the three begin to reach towards one another, making a sort of t-shaped purpler spot. Surely a trick of the light.
Jeff turns around and dismounts the front-row seat and returns to his fueling station. An explosive “pop” punctuates the silence. Jeff, his back to the audience (revealing all three purpler spots), careens skyward with a Diet Coke held to his lips. When he takes the can away from his mouth he lets out a long gasp—it was as if he forgot to breath in before starting to drink and so now, several moments later, his lungs are begging for a deep, rapid infusion of air.
Half the volume of the soda now evacuated, Jeff closes his hand firmly around the can, crushing the middle portion, bringing the level of the liquid back up to the mouth of the can—for quicker access when he next swigs.
Jeff holds the diet coke in his hand as he gesticulates. He’s saying something about Hollywood knocking off Jane Austen. He starts to stomp on the ground repeatedly to make a kind of sonic punctuation. He probably meant it as a string of exclamation marks—Jeff!!! loves to string!!!! exclamation(!) marks!!!!!!!
Meanwhile the purpler overtakes the purple on Jeff’s back until his entire back is purpler except for a few shrinking purple spots around the collar. The purpler creeps around Jeff’s sides via the armpits, and threatens to overtake his front.
Jeff careens skyward again and empties his can of Diet Coke, and gasps again. I almost expect him to throw it or to kick it or to start chewing it maybe but he sets it down gently on his desk and continues to lecture.
“You—in the back—yeah YOU! Do you know what I’m talking about? If you don’t just text me! Just TEXT ME!!!! You know every love movie you’ve ever seen came straight from this book. Love isn’t contrived. You can’t just make love. The movies think you can but they are just stealing Emma. You can’t just make love. There isn’t someone perfect for everyone. There isn’t someone perfect for everyone. Emma the character thinks people just belong together—based on their pedigree or their class. But Emma the novel knows that’s not right. Emma the novel knows that’s not right. You can’t make love. There isn’t someone perfect just waiting for you. That’s what Emma wants you to think. That’s what the movies want you to think. Emma can’t make love.”
Another gasp. This time I am quite sure that he has forgotten to breath in between sentences. That must be the reason he exercises so aggressively—to build wind for long-winded diatribes on true love.
By now, his lecture has climaxed, and he begins to repeat himself, coming back to ideas brought up minutes before, fleshing them out and hitting them home. He faces the lecture head-on, waving his arms, beating his feet, and twirling occasionally. The purpler overtakes his entire shirt. His entire shirt except for the rolled cuffs, but if lecture continued they, too would be swiftly inundated. For the people in the front row, the purpler must have spread to them too.