I rarely think of ex-lovers. I mean what’s the point. Most of mine crashed and burned and a few, even cremated.
But I found a program to a Lincoln lecture I attended ten years ago, and Professor…are you cute…came to mind.
We must remember the universe will always be more clever than we are. Have you ever tried avoiding someone by taking a different route just to bump right into them anyway? It’s Earth saying: remember who you’re fucking with there Sparky.
Four score and God knows, how many tears ago, I had just made a DRAMATIC declaration…NO MORE MARRIED MEN….after surviving one of the worst break-ups of my life determined never to go down Disappointment Lane again.
You could hear Earth chuckle. “Oh yeah Suz…let’s see,” since, before my drool was even dry, who comes into play, but the Professor.
When I was a kid in my 40s, if my chemistry with another remotely went up, I was really 16.
Let’s turn back the clock to 2004.
There I was, perched in the center of this charming, intimate auditorium in my best Audrey-wear waiting for Harold Holzer to talk about his new book, Lincoln at The Cooper Union. I’m rereading it, so this is where the recollection resurrected from.
M was the Master of Ceremonies, taking the stage with a boyish elegance that made me grow taller. The same age as me, with Kennedyesque hair that flops in his face, cozy in a navy blazer as though he wore it in the womb. His hands were what first got my attention…long graceful fingers he’d hold together when at rest, like a steeple, swirling them in the air to make a point…and a man with cufflinks, still drives me wild.
It’s such a sign of self-esteem, to take the time to put them on. It’s language: I’m worth that time…I’m noble after all…upstanding…dignified. I deserve adorned cuffs. And yes, they conceal my mischief.
After the event over cheese sticks and bad wine, we met. I sauntered over like a gun moll with an itchy trigger finger stopping in my tracks when I saw his wedding ring flashing like a caution sign.
OOPS…I backed up, but he wasn’t as easily discouraged. He pursued me like a bunny until I laid in his trap…force of habit…but still had the key, as far as I was concerned, to hop away.
He was so attractive my thighs swished like the Red Sea. I smile as I pen this because that’s what I miss the most…when a man can press all your buttons at once like Houdini doing a magic trick. When it happens now so rarely…it truly is a magic trick.
Nothing up my sleeve, or my skirt.
We grinned like two imps knowing what the other was thinking. So he did what any other hot academic would do…he invited me to another lecture.
What’s the harm? I thought.
Earth chuckles louder. “Let’s see Susannah…how close can you come without actually coming?”
No, that is not a trick question.
So after undulating to the history of Davie Crockett at The Alamo, we had a drink. Yes, he was married with two sons tying the knot late still missing his bachelorhood. He liked family life and was pretty content, until someone like me walks in (Of all the auditoriums in all the world, she’s gotta walk inta’ mine).
At least he was upfront and didn’t give me the old…I’m so unhappy…my wife…she doesn’t understand me…and she got so fat.
This is what they say, and you in all you egotistical leanness basks in her weigh gain like a naughty little Thingirl. Call this candor 101 ladies and gents and maybe I should take it on the road.
My reaction to our four-star flirt surprised even me. He was a really (and still is) great guy: generous, smart…funny with such a lovely life, but with a reckless streak I also have. I get it from my mother who would have bet our house on a roulette table. You need to guard it the way a prizefighter guards his fists.
You jump in and never think of the consequences that will no doubt occur ripping all that was good to bloody shreds.
I decided not to collude putting him at risk to lose his well earned, beautiful life. The one we all want: family, friends…house in the country…European vacations…topnotch schools for the kids. A chocolate lab romping in the yard while he rakes leaves on a Sunday afternoon. M had it all, and I knew if he got involved with me, ripe for romance, he could lose his paradise…and I just didn’t want to see that happen.
When did I get so virtuous? I guess when I was sitting on the ledge with that bottle of bourbon writing my will.
So I stayed his friend. I called him Huck…he called me Becky…Huckleberry Finn is a favorite book of his (and now mine), keeping things at a simmer until there was no more water left in the pot.
I still write to him on his birthday and he’ll writes back…Oh Becky…to spend a half an hour with you would lift me to the stars.
My own heart lifts, but stays in her yard…and that’s when the Earth finally stops chuckling.
From the SB Archives