#34 Quick Like a BandaidPosted: November 24, 2012
It’s time to get to the Olympics of poor judgment in men, not that I’d be the recipient of the slut award for volume. I would get decent marks from the judges for improved technique, and at least a nine for consistent ability to be deceived.
Accept that I was raised to believe I was generally ugly and specifically, that no man would ever want me. Those who understand this know that my reflection in a mirror has nothing to do with it. I had no idea until my 20th H.S. reunion that I intimidated boys. Men who were slamming toward their 40th birthdays informed me that they had a crush on me as a teen, but I was too “pretty” or “unapproachable.” Just words.
Reality. By the age of 21, I had only been asked out by five boys. One was just to get me to write his term paper.
My father had been dead for two years and somehow that meant to me, it was okay to have sex if only as an experiment. Can’t count the creep at the card store in Seattle, who tried to hand me his penis. I actually turned and put back the greeting card before going downstairs to report him. Or the sicko at a movie theatre who thought my knee was a female dog.
Then out of nowhere I was pursued by a boy from my hometown. If a boy can be smooth, he was. Not very smart, but he knew I was a member of a group of intelligent witty girls in High School, meanly but accurately dubbed, the V’s. By now, 1969, I was working full time in radio and was still in school. The boy would drive all the way to Seattle to take me to dinner, drink far too much and somehow get to his motel. One night he lured me there but even I knew that would be a lousy memory.
Eventually I had the, “okay, let’s get this over with night.” We were on a double date with an obnoxious couple, and I had just enough wine for courage. We went back to my basement apartment and had sex. Painful messy sex that was over in moments, not minutes. I never heard from him or wanted to again. But here’s the important part, and let this sink in. My mother sent him!
Then there was the boy who was smart, cute and tall. By now the numbness of my father’s death was wearing off and this boy was patient with my glum moments. He had pissed off his wealthy father by dropping out of school and becoming a security guard where he could read to his heart’s content, and smoke a little grass. He gave me Hermann Hesse’s Demian, a book I should probably read again. Unfortunately that boy and I did not have sex before I left Seattle.
When I moved to New York at 24, I still had only technically had sex. I was Miss Fresh Faced Tall Northwest Blonde. One man I worked with asked me to dinner in Manhattan to “discuss an account.” He moaned about his wife leaving him, while he was grabbing at me under the table. I poured a pitcher of sangria in his lap. Maybe it was just a glass.
To give you a little flavor of the early 70’s Manhattan environment, a young woman who worked for me did a favor and dog sat one weekend. Many weeks later she confessed that she and a married guy from the news room were schlepping to Greenwich Village to my barren studio apartment, regularly for sex at noon. Besides my bed, they also used my reel to reel tape recorder. It was loaded with eclectic music and one day when they were going at it, so to speak, they were blasted by Seventy Six Trombones. I used to love that musical.
The closest I got in New York to a date was the sangria incident or sweaty guys who rubbed against me on the subway or the time I let the 17 year old son of friends kiss me. Well he was cute. My poor little dog Sammie was watching more sex at my apartment than I was having, which was none.
In my second New York radio job, the married General Manager, my boss, a word I’ve always detested in any usage, was the instigator of after work drinking. He started taking me for nice dinners on his expense account. He drove me back to my apartment and then it was an affair. Now I was HAVING SEX. And I believed with all my heart that this man, nearly 20 years older, was my future. I believed that for a year. He justified his behavior with me, by convincing himself that the dazed look on my face was that of a “free spirit.” I had no such justification. And the look? Just dazed.
Then I went on to a bigger radio station. My original interview for that job was with a man over drinks at a hotel bar. We had sex that night, just the one time. Yes, I took the job. He and I nearly bought a radio station together a year or more later.
I can’t watch the TV show Mad Men. Though it’s set in the 60’s and my broadcast advertising career was ramping up in the 70’s, it’s just too close. Everyone smoked, everyone drank. We had a pretty good idea of all the affairs. Even into the 80’s, well established in my work, I was chased around desks behind locked office doors.
Yes there were three martini lunches. One time, inspired by the martinis over lunch, a few of us didn’t go back to work. We flew to Montreal for a hockey game our station carried on the air. I didn’t even have my purse. No one said a thing when we returned.
Back to the new job, an Account Executive came to my office to welcome me. He suggested lunch some day, I replied, “when?” which started a light hearted friendship that became a heavy hearted affair. Forget the gut wrenching details, for now. Fortunately he was transferred to another market. Yes, I got involved with him twice.
Here’s one I almost forgot. On the trip to Acapulco, mid-70’s, after my No No Senorita experience, I met a young man who lived just miles from me in New Jersey. My friend was with his friend at their hotel. So he and I walked on the beach. We had one date after that trip. Dinner at his father’s where I met his as yet unmentioned daughter. When he took me home, we did more than walk on a beach. I did not hear from him after that until he surprised me by showing up one evening at my apartment with a wilted flower. I was packing for a business trip and never invited him in.
Next, The Air Vent Conversation, where I knew by age 27 that love would never happen. As described, I changed jobs for this one three times, moved three times.
Abandoned in Milwaukee, I informed the manager at the television station that I was offered a job with my former company in New York. His response was to yell at me and then to stop speaking entirely. It worked. I stayed.
When I phoned to tell the manager in New York, he yelled louder. In fact he screamed, “IF YOU DON’T TAKE THIS JOB NOW, YOU’LL NEVER WORK IN NEW YORK AGAIN.” I moved to New York, and, dated that guy. Not so much dated, as had dinner and sex once. He was now my boss. He screamed all the time.
1978, I was busy buying a house in Connecticut, commuting and establishing myself with the new job. Then So I Bought Him a Humidifier moved back to New York. It wasn’t long before he pursued me again. Two and a half years of living together ended with his disappearance and my diminished bank account.
The following winter I went skiing in Switzerland. The young snotty German bartender at my hotel took me on the toughest slopes and I nearly broke my shoulder skiing far too fast. We had a moment (not minutes) at his shabby little place, which disposed of bags of my self-respect.
The “screaming” boss, who by now had married, was a kind and consoling friend after my very public breakup. Kind and consoling eased into an “affair.” I think I was an obsession. What there was between us though was a STRONG connection. After many emotional tries I pulled away, sad, and we were not okay. A chunk of my soul was lost and I was drained of heaps of energy.
By now the manager from Milwaukee, the yeller, came to Manhattan on business. We had lunch and talked occasionally. A few years later, when I was living in Pennsylvania, he coaxed me to New York for far too much champagne and one night of satisfied curiosity. I finally realized why he had yelled at me back when I left the TV station. He hadn’t yet satisfied his curiosity.
Even the Psychologist from Milwaukee who had become a friend, I thought, came to NY and we were to meet for dinner. At the last moment he had to make some phone calls and got me to go up to his hotel room. Yup! Never got to dinner and still had a long hungry train ride home. He and the previous man were friends. I was at the very least a contest, maybe a bet.
I nearly forgot and came back to add this next one. A couple of years later, in Pennsylvania, I quietly began dating a man I’d known since childhood. He was the son of very close friends, the boy who kissed me when he was 17. We thought it just possible that we had been intended for one another always. That ended after less than two secret months. It ended with my broken ribs which his parents never knew.
Then,the German banker. I’ll get to him when I write more of the Russian Adventures. In 1987 and 1988 I helped Russian artists become known in the west literally to save their lives. He bought their paintings. He also decided I was the most beautiful woman he had ever met. Right. And I have to admit that for some reason, he actually made my knees weak. He pursued me. I let myself get caught a couple of rather pleasant but stupid times. And that was that. No, I was hurt. But he was manipulating the Russian art market, and that’s a bigger story.
Occasionally by now friends introduced me to someone. Those encounters might be entertaining but not stupid.
When I was 44 a friend asked if she could give someone my phone number. I had been alone for a long time. She knew I was ready to meet a man if only to have dinner and get to a movie. He and I did well enough on the phone to have a lunch date. I’ve written a one act play about that lunch because all the red flags were waving. We started as friends, progressed to dating, on and off, lived together, on and off. I embraced his huge amazing family. He asked me to be “betrothed.” That word seemed charming, but its significance became clear when we still weren’t married a few years later. We built a beautiful house together. I left that roller coaster of a relationship once, but went back months later. After nearly eight years I limped away.
A long time later and after considerable consideration, my doctor and I dated. No he was not completely inappropriate. It was actually my idea. Of course it meant finding another doctor first. Too bad, because we only dated for a couple of months. He was a far better doctor than a date.
For those of you who’ve been married forever, starting to date someone now means you get tested for STD’s. After comparing paperwork, you consider romance.
Eventually I was convinced to try online dating. I’d heard success stories, but it’s hard to imagine after my experiences. Since I was expecting to move back west, two men traveled east to meet me. We had been writing and talking for at least six months, but neither was recognizable in person. I met one in New Jersey. He had been witty and self deprecating. In person, he was irritable and mean and thankfully left sooner than planned. The other was a complete lying cad. I had sex with that one. Oddly they were both Swiss.
Then a couple of men, who should have been institutionalized or under close supervision, found me. But now I see the signs.
And that’s where “stupid” ends, with men anyway. Now the band aid’s off, and I’ve looked back in earnest. I’ll tell some of the stories in deserving detail.
I never married any of them, not because I was smart, but because I was lucky.