It was pitiful. I was pitiful. He was pitiful. The whole fucking thing was fucking pitiful.
I got up in the slight light and made my way to the bathroom to pee. When I got back, I could just make out his naked, snoring figure on his bed. That he looked like the type of man I would sleep with only when I was truly desperate was my first thought and then I hated myself for it because he was not like that at all. But I needed to whip myself with the whip of self-pity. Sure, I hadn’t gotten laid in three, maybe four—could it be five?—weeks but my going home with him, to his place, was because at the time, at the bar, and in my not-quite-intoxicated state I really wanted to go to bed with this particular guy.
I’d been at the usual table with the usual crowd of girlfriends. We run the spectrum of love. I was towards the zero on that dial but at least two other women were pretty close to me on it. The guy in whose apartment I was and in whose bed I had recently been and whose name I couldn’t remember except that it started with K was good looking in a late-30s way. He had a good laugh and a sharp wit. I think he knew a friend of Shirley’s brother at Chase when they all worked there. Shirley’s position on the love-dial was approaching 80 or perhaps 85, although she didn’t lord it over us. She, too, had been in single digits not long before and we viewed her and her living-with-someone as a sign that miracles can happen.
K had a beard. Now that I could see it in the slight light of the morning, I recalled it irritated my skin when we kissed. It had not bothered me at the time. On him it worked, although a beard does not work on most men. There are those women who caution against going to a man’s place for an initial fuck but I took the opposite view. He was sufficiently known to some of my friends that I wasn’t afraid. And being at his place meant that I could do what I was about to do: Gather my things and go.
It was still pretty early, but I had the foresight (from prior less-successful experiences) to place my clothing and bag specifically on a chair in the room and now I saw well enough to pull my underwear together and put it on and begin to put on my jeans. At which point he roused and sleepily asked “where you goin’?” to which my ready response was, “Sorry, I have an early yoga class” which was not true but I channeled the line someone in a movie used about a date “not knowing you play squash.”
I had long since adopted the practice of a kiss to the forehead to cover my retreat in such situations and that is what I did with the K guy. Whether I say, “let’s keep in touch” or “call me” or “I’ll call you” is a gameday decision, and today I enjoyed myself enough to say the first two, although I didn’t know whether he had my number. If he was interested—and I could go either way on this—he’d track me down through the friend of the brother of Shirley. And, spoiler alert, he never did get back to me and I didn’t mind that he didn’t.
So after getting my shoes on and making sure my phone was in my bag I left to catch a cab home, where I could grab a few hours of sleep before meeting Alex for brunch.
As I sat at the small table by the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto Hudson Street, Alex texted me. She was running fifteen minutes late. I couldn’t be angry. It was usually me sending such a text to her. Having nothing but my coffee to drink, I scrolled through my phone to keep myself occupied, ultimately heading to my phone contacts. Maybe I could mine a prospect?
“Jimmy Trent.” Ah, yes. I remember him. It was perhaps the most bizarre event I ever attended. A wedding out in Oyster Bay. It was to start at three on a spring Saturday, May or June, I don’t recall. I was on the “bride’s” side. I went to school with her and knew one of her closest friends well enough to get an invite. Evening at a club along the Sound. What’s not to like?
And that evening was fun, really fun. But back to the church. It’s about 3:15 or 3:20. Me sitting alone since my friend is in the wedding party, wearing a, let’s face it, horrible plum-colored dress. Anyway, it’s around 3:20 when the “groom” steps in front of the altar and starts talking about “The Graduate,” which I think less than half of the guests ever heard of, and he’s going on about Elaine and Dustin Hoffman and the bus and after a while he says what I’d already figured out, that the “bride” was not coming.
To the stunned church, although I heard one or two chuckles and think I heard at least one “thank god,” although I can’t say from which side it arose, he added, “Look, the venue’s been paid for, so you folks might as well enjoy it” and with that he disappeared next to the “best man” and a moment later a flurry of plum-encased women rushed down (up?) the aisle to share whatever they knew with whomever wanted to hear it.
It was, as I say, memorable. Which brings me to a person I forgot, Jimmy Trent. He was among the minglers at the “reception” and after I’d had two, perhaps three, champagnes I ran into him as he was going clockwise around the perimeter of the crowd in contrast to my counterclockwise. Funny how things can change based upon an almost random decision of the direction you take. Clockwise/counterclockwise. Local/express. Jimmy Trent was standing and glancing over the others. I asked him, “Did you get the ‘Graduate’ reference.” When he replied, “You know, I’ve known him a while but I never thought of [the ‘groom’] as the ‘make-out king.’ Who knew?”
We clinked our half-empty flutes and I introduced myself and he introduced himself and I learned that he had gone to college with the “groom” –who by the way, seemed to be enjoying himself way too much at what was ultimately something of a wake for his lost “love” (and was that a young woman’s voice I heard saying “thank god”?)—and only saw him a few times a year since graduation.
So as I waited for Alex, I call Jimmy Trent on a lark and he answers on the third or fourth ring with “Jimmy here.” I can’t resist and ask if he’s the “makeout king” and he says, “what?” and I say, “is this the make-out king?” It’s one-mississippi, two-mississippi and I can hear his brain’s gears working and then, “You’re the one from the, quote-unquote, wedding? How are you?”
“Of course I remember. I mean, I don’t know about you but I’m never going to have a better story to tell for the rest of my life. I tell it all the time, especially the part about how this gorgeous woman walked up to me . . .”
“Do you say I was a gorgeous woman.”
“No. I said I tell people you’re a gorgeous woman. In reality you’re only really beautiful with eyes one could drown in . . . but let me finish. In my telling, the ‘gorgeous woman’ throws herself at me and I reject her and she cries and I am strong and walk away leaving her in tears.”
“You bastard” is what I get out amid my laughing.
“Of course I don’t say it like that. What if it got back to you? Then I’d never have a chance. Hey, why didn’t you throw yourself at me at what will forever be referred to by me as the ‘so-called wedding.’”
“I was desperate but not that desperate.”
“Ouch. I bet you don’t even mention me in your version of events, just writing me out.”
And the conversation went along these lines for a while and I start to wonder just why I hadn’t thrown at least part of me at Jimmy Trent. He was a little short but had very black hair to go along with his Eurasian features and a nice body. Obviously a sense of humor. I got his number. Why hadn’t I thrown myself at him?
Then I remember. Girlfriend. So I remind him.
“Oh yeah. Her. She found no humor in the experience and insisted we leave shortly after I met you. It was a side of her I did not know. It was a side of her I did not like. I hope it works with her current boyfriend. It didn’t for me. Now if you throw yourself at me, I can catch you. And I assume you are calling because you can’t sleep because you are lost in thoughts of what-might-have-been.”
So we arrange to meet for dinner.
Me? I’m short but in a good, i.e., low, light and from just the right angle I might be considered pretty. That’s bullshit. I’m 5’ 7” with a solid figure, a wide face with good, almond eyes and wavy hair and, I’m told and won’t deny it, very nice legs.
Jimmy? He is “in finance.” Of course he is. In New York, if one had to guess what a random guy—yeah, guy—did “in finance” is your best bet. Like being “in pictures” or whatever it is now (“working on a project for Netflix”?) would be in Hollywood. He worked at a mid-sized bank in its wealth-management group and he was fortunate that there were only a few people in his shop who were still pissed about not getting past the first interview with Goldman.
Seriously, though, while Jimmy was “in finance” he was not “of finance.” He left the office and he was himself and, as the foregoing suggests, he was quick and witty and, after sitting down with him to eat he proved charming but not in a sleazy, Mr. Wickham sort of way.
Me? What do I do? I’m “in law.” Not a lawyer but a paralegal. Meaning I do a lot of menial work and surprisingly sophisticated stuff while I figure out what I want to do with my life, my English Lit degree—what was I thinking?—from Barnard not turning out to be a path to glory and riches. But the job is low stress insofar as I’ve learned to ignore the tantrums of young associates who, frankly, couldn’t take a piss without someone reminding them where the zipper is. And that’s for both the guys and the girls. The pay is decent and the hours regular except for the occasional motion-assembly-process that happens every few weeks, although I am told it was more frequent when you had to assemble actual pieces of paper. Now it’s done electronically so it’s mostly just processing and assembling a bunch of PDF files.
Jimmy had a place on the corner of 85th and Amsterdam Avenue and I was up by Columbia, 114th off Riverside, so we met for Chinese on Broadway and 88th. No presumption on my part; he picked it. It wasn’t as authentic as I feared—we were on the Upper West Side after all—but authentic enough to be interesting and informal enough for both of us to have a nice, relaxed evening.
I thought what-the-fuck and apparently he thought the same thing because we walked to his place. Very nice and spacious and we fucked. It was a lot more than that, really, but I need to cut-to-the-case as people who used to be in pictures used to say and, no, I won’t say I was ready-for-close-up. Ew.
Jimmy was a very good lover. He was a short Chinese banker—that’s not really true. His grandparents on his mom’s side came from China and his great-grandparents on his dad’s came from Germany and he grew up in Westchester but referring to a short German banker is a libido-killer, though not as much as “short Swiss banker” is. Sorry Hans.
In fact, he wasn’t really short. He was just about my height, but I towered over him with heels and so teasing him never grew old. To me.
It was great. Every few weeks we’d meet for dinner on a Friday or Saturday when neither of us had anything else to do—usually when he didn’t because I almost never had anything else to do; I should have gotten a cat—and we’d have a great time and slightly drunk and wobbly, but always with full consent, we’d fall against the wall of the elevator as it took us to the tenth floor and he’d fumble with his keys—which was amusing at first but became annoying—and we’d sort of fall into his apartment and then sort of fall into his bed and we fucked. Me on top. Him on top. Me on him. Him on me. Sometimes . . . well, you get the picture.
He was such a ass at times. That’s not a typo, that’s Dickens which you’d know if you read that big scene in “Oliver Twist.” And, going back to the scene, he was a bachelor. OK, here’s the line: “‘If the law supposes that,’ said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, ‘the law is a ass—a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.’” It’s amazing what you can find online. Mr. Bumble, you see, was told that as the husband the law makes him responsible for his wife’s conduct on the assumption that he controls his wife’s conduct. Which, of course, no one with any sense—or who has been married (to a man at least), which might not be the same thing—believes.
So Jimmy was a ass and a bachelor but he was no idiot and he was my best friend. There. I said it. Had I no other friends? Well, I really didn’t. Back to the start. Yeah, I was pitiful.
A twenty-six-year-old Katherine Ross look-alike and I didn’t have a friend. There were the girls I hung out with their revolving-door romances. Good drinking buddies. Good listeners to tales of woe and intrigue. (Mostly woe.) But I wanted a friend. Someone who was happy just hanging out on a rainy afternoon. Hanging out and gabbing. That was Jimmy Trent.
I know I’m making myself sound like a slut. I really wasn’t. Says me. I could count on two hands the number of guys I’ve fucked. Probably. I was attractive and was told that I was good in bed. But I never found anything that clicked the way it’s supposed to click—so I’ve been told and read and watched a thousand times—and I was a perpetual hopeful.
Things changed, though, when I went to a thing at Columbia’s Journalism School. It’s a few blocks from home and Jimmy was off doing some bankers’ thing—probably printing tens and twenties in the basement of the Federal Reserve on Maiden Lane downtown—and the program was interesting, the topic being the coverage of the human toll in war zones. I don’t mean to make light of it. It was interesting and fucking sad. And the men and women who volunteered to cover that shit were amazing and some of them might be killed the next time they went to Syria or Yemen or some other shithole and they were fucking amazing.
That’s where Mr. R met me. He was tall, dark, and brooding. Much like Mr. Rochester—hence the name—but he wasn’t a Dom and he didn’t have cinders for eyes and he didn’t have an issue with his first wife. (As an aside, if you want a description of a butch in 19th Century English fiction, take a look at how Charlotte Brontë described Diana Rivers: “If in our trio there was a superior and a leader, it was Diana. Physically, she far excelled me: she was handsome; she was vigorous. In her animal spirits there was an affluence of life and certainty of flow, such as excited my wonder, while it baffled my comprehension.” And the kickers: “Diana offered to teach me German” and “mutual affection—of the strongest kind—was the result.” Jeez, Charlotte, get a room! Really, Jane Eyre would have done much better with either of the Rivers sisters even if they were like cousins or something (and was gladly rid of the mega-creepy St. John Rivers, whose name apparently is not pronounced the way it’s supposed to be)).
Enough digression. Mr. R. Mr. R was a banker and had a condo in Battery Park. I know this because I visited it once; it was memorable. He was trolling at the J-School, figuring, rightly I think, that journalism chicks would be in sore need of a Sugar Daddy in a few years and he might like to sow a few seeds—wink! wink!—now so he’d be there for them when they blossomed.
Mr. R introduced himself to me at the program’s end, and I was pretty shook up by what I had heard. I mean even a rock would have affected by it. Maybe not a Republican. OK, that was unfair; I’m sure there would have been one or two.
Remember, I do look quite a bit like Katherine Ross—not only do I enjoy pointing this out but it’s actually relevant to why Mr. R picked me up—and he asked me to “join me” for dinner and I accepted and it was a nice place in Morningside Heights where only rich parents could afford to take their kids or Columbia profs with a side-gig or a patent at a tech company could afford to eat—that was nicer than any place I’d been except for the awkward lunch I had when I was a sophomore at NYU with my roommate’s parents who were loaded. They, for some reason, thought we were both lesbians and were sleeping together and were trying to get comfortable with their future daughter-in-law—this was shortly after gay marriage was legal in New York—which made no sense because neither of us was gay and we both had a signal for when one of us was fortunate enough to be having heterosexual congress in our room. Boy were Cindy’s parents surprised when I came up to them at Cindy’s marriage to a lawyer named Edward Oliver in Southampton.
Mr. R. He walked me home after that dinner and didn’t try to kiss me. Which disappointed me, and I found myself thinking about him the next day. I wouldn’t even tell Jimmy. Well, not for a week or so. He, Mr. R, called me the next day, how he’d had a wonderful time, etc. Fuck Jane Eyre. This was Austen territory and I liked it. And he had way more than 10,000-a-year.
Anyway, he courted me. Calls and texts and nice dinners and after the fourth dinner we went to his place in Battery Park with its view west across the Hudson and we, in my telling, and this is my telling, made love. It was good. Beyond good and he adored my body as it had never been adored before and I adored his body in a way that it deserved to be adored.
It was a nice bedroom. Big. Not antiseptic modern. Great view west. He slowly removed my slacks and my blouse and then unclasped my bra as he kissed my neck. By that point, I had unbuttoned his shirt and then neither of us could wait and I took my panties off and he took care of his trousers and briefs and we were on his bed.
I reached down and stroked his dick. Let me say one thing: I know I’m supposed to describe it as “huge” but it didn’t seem to be to me. First, the dicks I’ve seen have pretty much been the same size, and I have no idea what that means in terms of length and girth. I mean, who carries around a ruler? Maybe Apple has an app? Second, if huge dicks were so great they’d give an evolutionary advantage to guys who had them and then all guys would have them because of the evolutionary advantage. The whole Darwin thing. So guys in porn—visual or imaginary— may all have big dicks but I haven’t met one. I don’t think. And, frankly, the ones I have met are plenty big enough for me.
Now that was an aside I needed to add, and I’m sorry if I took you away from the moment. But it really was a fucking moment (although not just a “moment” hah! hah!).
But it was someone making love to me and I was making love to him. His dick was perfect. In size, in shape, in everything. And I bent down and I put first the tip and then the rest of it in my mouth and I felt that my mouth was the perfect fit for Mr. R’s perfect dick. My tongue swam around it as I bobbed and I’m sure I looked like a hungry slut but I didn’t care because I was enjoying every second and I was a hungry slut for this man.
I stopped, disappointed, when he said, “come up here” and then I was next to him and his tongue was now exploring and swimming around my mouth. This, too, I could do forever. I was lost to him forever.
He gently put me on my back and reached for a condom, which he put on with a practiced motion. I was dripping and then I was full. We were both grunting and I didn’t care if the whole of Manhattan heard us. Brooklyn too. I still don’t. I wrapped my legs around his thighs, pulling him closer to and deeper into me. And then I burst and a moment later he burst in me and for the first time in my life I regretted that his seed had not filled me and coated my core.
He lay atop me for several minutes, until his softening dick popped out. That, too, was a first for me. I’d never let a dick linger. Now I didn’t want his to leave. There were lots of “forever”s going on that night. I reached down to his dick and I took the condom off and while holding it up in my right hand I cleaned his head and tasted his cum. He watched at my lascivious act but it was as natural a thing to do as I have ever done.
This was real. Until. Until I saw the unopened letter on a table on my way to the bathroom. “Mr. and Mrs. R.” Let’s take a second to get out of the mood because it only took me a second to.
It turned out that Mr. R did not have a problem with his first wife. It was his second and, more important, current wife who was trouble. Apparently an arrangement with an arrangement. It turned out that view across the Hudson was also a view into her condo in Jersey City.
He “explained” his arrangement and maybe if he mentioned it it wouldn’t have mattered but, of course, maybe if he mentioned it I wouldn’t be standing naked in his—their?—bathroom in shock.
Mr. R was tall, dark, brooding, and a fucking cheat. And, yeah, fucking. He hadn’t made love to me, he fucked me. I cleaned myself as best I could before slowly, calmly walking into his—their?—bedroom and getting my stuff and bringing it with me to the bathroom so I could be “presentable”. When I walked out again and to the door and out, seeing him at the window staring out—at her condo?—with a Scotch and turning his head and his head alone to say “sorry” as I went through his—their?—door.
Jimmy was nice about it. He did, though, point out that Mr. R was one of those guys “in finance” who not only made it past the first Goldman interview but who actually worked there. And we didn’t fuck, but I spent the night on his sofa and he made breakfast—well, coffee and half a bagel from H&H with cream cheese—for me before kissing me on the forehead and sending me home.
I got a call from Mr. R about a week later. He was really sorry and really separated and really interested-in-a-future-with-you and really wanted-to-prove-it. And I met him for coffee near my office in midtown at lunch time. He was really charming and really remorseful and I went out with him to dinner that night. But I could not get the image of his staring out across to New Jersey out of my mind and being certain that a part of him was looking at the specific apartment in which his Second-and-Current-Wife lived and I knew that she would always be his wife. I thanked him for dinner and gave him a peck on the cheek, saying, “I hope it works out for you.” Then I was gone. He was sweet but he was in love with someone else in some crazy way and always would be.
That night after again saying goodbye to Mr. R for one last time—who, I later learned from some Googling, did end up staying with Mrs. Second-and-Current-Wife, who spends the summers at their near-the-Madestone-Club-but-not-hedge-fund-near-the-Atlantic house in East Hampton where her two infants and a coterie of staff keep her company—I changed at 72nd for the 1 and got off at 86th and went to Jimmy’s place on 85th and Amsterdam and we, and I’m giving away the plot here, made love for the first time.
Holy rebound Batman! Don’t shake your head. It was something. If you can imagine—and I hate to ruin the mood—Meg Ryan having sex (and as I think of it for the first and I hope last time in my life she’s probably a screamer) I was being made love to by my best friend who while short was not Billy Crystal. And, you know, half-Chinese and “in finance.”
Now there’s a little package. Vanessa Mary Trent. She’s like a quarter Chinese, a quarter German, a quarter Irish, and a quarter a bunch of other stuff that 23-and-me hasn’t figured out. And, yes, she’s 100% perfect. Six months of perfection. Except now, when she’s screaming in the bedroom and Mr. Make-Out-King can’t get his ass out of the chair to change her because he’s watching a Knicks game—really, what’s the point? And is that Chinese guy from Harvard still gone?—so I have to sign off and take care of her. And Mr. M-O-K may be a lazy son-of-a-bitch—speaking generically Mother Trent—and short and “in finance” but I love him.