The first time I met Kenneth Koch, I was twenty and I couldn't speak. No, I mean, literally, I couldn't speak. It wasn't just extreme shyness; it was pathological. I wasn't just the perfect rube: I was an object of satire, someone who's ego was so undeveloped it was all he could think about. Everywhere I turned, I blundered into myself, smiling vaguely and nodding. When the host of the small party disappeared with Kenneth in the general direction of the airport, I threw myself down in shame on a convenient bed and hid my face. An extremely attractive young woman named Shoshana threw herself down next to me, put her arms around me, and tried to comfort me. I had had a crush on Shoshana for months. I wasn't alone; several of the young poets around at the time did, too, and would have given anything to be me that night. I would have given anything to be me that night, whoever that might have been. I'd never thought I'd have a chance with Shoshana (cf, ego problems, above); not only was she gorgeous, she lived and breathed an unaffected sexuality that stopped my heart. This is not as good as it maybe sounds; it's where the blood comes from, after all. But there she was, lying next to me, my heart's desire, stroking my face and telling me it was all right, my feverish head on her breasts--and we could have been in separate rooms, so little did it register. I could feel only my own humiliation and despair. I think I had read Crime and Punishment a few weeks prior to this.