Years later, I read a memoir of those years, by someone who met Jan Sleet for the first time in Utown. He said that, based on having read her writing, he had expected her to be quite a bit older. It had surprised him, on meeting her, to find that she was in her early twenties. He said that his first impression of her was that she was "a big goofy kid in a man's clothes."
He was not the only person who had that idea upon meeting her, but very few people saw her that way after that night. Her firm and forceful and confident way of dealing with the police was partly just her exhilaration at how well the speech had gone, but it was also deeper than that.
Years later, I mentioned this to her, and she said, "I was wondering if you were going to say anything about it at the time."
"If I had, you'd have just made a sarcastic reply."
"Of course. And I had my sarcastic reply all prepared, too, that's why it was so frustrating that you didn't say anything."
I smiled and put my arm around her. "Okay, what was your sarcastic reply?"
She took off her glasses and swooned against me, gazing up with watery eyes. In her deepest and throatiest voice (which, despite years of cigarette smoking, wasn't really very deep or throaty at all) she said, "Tonight, I became a woman."
I shook my head as she giggled. "You see," I said, "that's why I didn't mention it at the time."
We didn't re-emerge until dinner time, and then only because she couldn't wait a minute longer to tell the tale of our adventures. We located Doc and the others in the dining room, and she told them the whole story, in great detail. She even started to recount the entire question-and-answer session, verbatim, but we managed to stop her.
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