Carol’s friend Tina, was short and unattractive, but eternally smiling with huge bulging eyes. She reminded him of a very harmless labrador. He was relieved. He didn’t want to be judged or cockblocked by some haughty, overly protective friend. Carol sat between the two of them while the professor talked about Marx. Pieter was the only one in the packed auditorium not taking notes, but he did pay attention.

‘The problem with a communist economy is that you tend to end up with a gray lack of variety. Everybody has to wear the same pair of shoes. That probably explains why the support of women for communism is always very low.’

The students started laughing. That phony sort of laughter, that hysterical sound of submission when a superior makes a bad joke. Pieter thought it was a misogynist and unfounded remark. He was glad when he saw Carol rolling her eyes. She showed him her notes: ‘9.22 am. Prof. De Keyser reduces women to consumer zombies.’

He laughed and stroked her back. He took her pen and added: ‘Are you absolutely 100 percent positive you are 17?’

She added: ‘One more reference to my age and I break our agreement’

He scratched onto the paper: ‘Does that mean you’ll have regular sex with me?’

While the professor went on about the absurdities of the Soviet economy, she scribbled: ‘I won’t even let you jerk off lying next to me’

He felt mortified when he read that. Had she noticed him walking the dog this morning after all?

For a moment he stared at the note that seemed to be incriminating him, then he added:

‘Jerking off lying next to you is way better than regular sex with with at least half the women I have known’

She added: ‘Sweet compliment, in a Marxist, clumsy sort of way. Marxist as in the Marx brothers of course.’

The professor seemed to reach a conclusion. ‘Marx posed the right questions, but unfortunately he did not leave us with the right answers.’

When they were outside in the hall, he asked what the rest of today’s programme looked like.

‘We have lunch with Tina. We skip statistics 1.1. We head to some student bar, you pick a guy for me and you have him do anything you like with me.’

‘Just like that?’

‘Just like that.’