Familiarity breed contempt can be the perfect description of what happened between Zoë and her student. The words in italics all talked about her features and behavior. Lorrie Moore might be thinking that there was something wrong with her disposition and decided to put it in italics. I saw Bernice in Zoë in the sense that she bore men to the point of sorrow with her choice of clothes and conversational topics.
“I think I’m to old.” Is a sign of insecurity. She probably feels like no one like her. Age is a sensitive topic among women. She wanted a kid so she made love secretly. How can you make love secretly? I guess she was trying different men to see if she could get pregnant and have a kid. Sign of loneliness? Maybe.