Tuesday, March 31, 2009


He called me out of the blue. This man I had dated briefly a couple of years back. Back then, he was going through a toxic divorce, all three kids in therapy, brand new upstart with no initial income. But his ability to throw back quips was sit-com worthy. And he wore perfectly starched cobalt shirts, his mastery of the kitchen was further inviting.
His decision to marry me came in the first ten minutes of first meeting me back then; to get me to say “yes” over our first drink, our first outing, over the phone, in the car when he picked me up from the airport. I said “no” to the whole thing and dumped him.

He was “better” now. Two years down the road, divorce final, kids cured, he had a big job with a major food importer, and was making the big bucks, and he wanted to spend it on me.

I wanted an out, so I told him I was dating someone. He said that he was, too. But that he had felt bad about how he had behaved – all obsessed and broke. His voice sounded balanced, safely in the midrange where I felt comfortable enough to accept his offer of lobster rolls at a pretty cool joint in the West Village. I put on my dark nice restaurant jeans and went in to the city to meet him at the hotel he was staying at for the night.

I announced myself at the front desk, she called the room, and told me to go up, which made me nervous. But I remembered how I had spent time in his bedroom back in the day, and he hadn’t laid so much as a well manicured finger on me. I went up, he was finishing off some emailing, still impeccably dressed. He threw in a pre-dinner drink offer, and off we went on the hunt for a nice bar in the village. He pulled out my chair at a very expensive bar restaurant. Not the kind of place I frequent. There were Euro-looking men with fairly attractive, painfully well-groomed women. Some of them possibly professionals at a price point where they could gain access to an establishment of this caliber and not look out of place.

It was me who felt uncomfortable. I like dive bars, or cool bars, but this place had the patina of passports, expensive perversions, and food too expensive to enjoy. Richard promptly ordered a double Kettle One, straight up. I followed suit with a more diminutive version of the same, on the rocks.

It was fun being out with him. He was funny with the bartender, and completely focused on me in spite of the expensive women who flanked us, some of them with accents. We did the obligatory catch up, I mean, this was the reason we were there, for him to validate himself, and pick up the tab. Always engaging, Richard had a lot of great stories, many about the Japanese that he currently worked for. Gregarious Jews and conservative Japanese business men = comedy. HBO would have been interested as it was, but then Richard even topped himself. He disclosed that he had done a 30 day sentence in jail. It was great stuff: Contempt Of Court in the final stretch of his divorce litigation with his impossible ex-wife. He thought that white men in suits could say “f*ck” to Supreme Court Judges, until the court officer got close enough to smell his imported fragrance and laid the bracelets on him.

Two more buckets of Kettle One for the second act, and it was sure to be a good one. Delivering in spades, he told me he ruled the roost. Highlights were his manual spell check of all outgoing love letters. “It’s not DEER Jane.” He made food suggestions in the prison dining hall, and made connections that were going to pan out handsomely for the purveyor he was now representing. He joined the AA meeting for kicks, made up a bottom out story on the spot, and had received a hug from a 300 pound tattooed man who revealed two giant swastikas when he outstretched his arms for Richard to fall into. It was great stuff, he had me where he wanted me, drunk and overly amused.

Next stop was more vodka and dinner. He steered me away from my first choice and led me to a more sexy upscale Greek place with plush padded benches against the wall. I took the bench, the waitress pulled out the chair across from me for Richard to sit in. He gestured towards the bench, and asked if he could sit there. I had dated a cop that always took the seat facing out, to keep an eye on the door, so I got up to switch. But he said, “no, silly,” and slipped in beside me. I felt the tenor change. Richard was now taking charge and coming in for the kill. I felt the evening shift, I was starting to desperately miss the man I was casually seeing, I had used it as an excuse, but it wasn’t a lie.

He ordered more vodka, followed by just about everything on the menu. I kept drinking to quell my nervousness, but it fueled it instead. “You could be eating like this every night, “ he started his presentation. “I think you’re smart, hot, intelligent, pretty, always have, and have never changed my position on this, I want a life with you, and believe me, it will be good, just look at tonight. And this is nothing.” I said, “Rich…,” he finished his name off with a “shush”. It was one “Richshush” after another. This was the guy I remember. Telling me to shut the fuck up so he can tell me how much he truly loves me.
I told him to lighten up, that he was ruining the lamb shank for me, that he needed to stop selling love to me like it was a truckload of salmon to Whole Foods. That’s when he pulled out the big guns. He got on the phone and hit up the hot young ex-con that would “gladly kill” his ex-wife for him, and had offered. Supposedly, he looked like Marky Mark, back when Mr. Wahlberg sold underwear. I have a fascination for dangerous fringe characters based on my stupidity and my buy-in to Disneyed television depictions. When this guy walked in, I knew I had put myself in danger by accepting Richard’s invitation to a “friendly” dinner. “Friendly” could never be attributed to this character. “Hostile”. “Confrontational”. “All women are c*nts”. Yes. Richard gestured towards ex-con on a platter and said, “Huh!?! How ‘bout that, I order you everything on the menu, plus Marky Mark!” Marky Marked blinked twice at me, not showing his hand.. A technique he had no doubt perfected in Oz. But that was when he was still in a good mood. I could feel him assessing my level of c*ntiness, and I could tell I was way off the charts in his swift assessment. Yet, he would turn in Richard’s direction with a look a 12 year old school girl might bestow on her first crush. I said something to Richard to diffuse my fear, and used a curse word for emphasis. Marky Mark stepped in on Richard’s behalf as though I had addressed the Pope and said, “Who the F*CK ARE you? Be a LADY for Godsakes.” To which I retorted, “Blow me.” I knew it was a mistake. I could feel his rage focus. I wanted to call my mommy. The manager. The police. Richard was no help. He was busy upping the ante, with desperate ramblings about ordering an 8 ball of coke, ecstasy, another appetizer. I was eye-locked with the ex-con. I couldn’t tell if he wanted to f*ck me or kill me, the difference between the two acts probably negotiable. I was petrified and frozen from all the booze. I knew I had to get out of there, but I was afraid that my sea legs would let me down, could I get up from the table? What if I needed to run? The waitress was giving me the “are you OK??” look. Richard clapped closed his phone and said, “we’re all set, drugs are on the way!” with an aside to Will Kill Upon Request, “Bobby’s on the way over.” Awesome. I would soon be dealing with a full house or possibly a hotel room full o’ inmates. The time was now, and it would have to be swift. I stood, locked and loaded with a firm, “I’m OUT.” I bolted for the door and just kept moving, sober from fear and escape, I didn’t look back or breathe until I was back in Brooklyn.

I wanted so much to call my casual boyfriend, my old boyfriend, any boyfriend that would comfort me. But I realized I had been rescued by My Knight In Shining Armor and it was me. She may not have completely gotten me into this predicament, but she sure as hell got me out.


  1. Yeah but was he a good kisser?

  2. you are lucky - can you say roofie-cocktail?

  3. yeah, you need to be a bit more careful but in future remember, ex cons usually have one foot in prison and the other on a banana peel. They are one bad thought away from an extended stay in Attica or Elmira. That being said please avoid such confrontational situations with obviously bent humans.

  4. Is this an old story or current? OMG, but I must say, very nicely written!

  5. I must admit it was recent, and I will soon have mace AND lip gloss in my Louis Vuitton clutch.

    ...Didn't see it coming, couldn't believe where it was going, and got out QUICK.

    Thanks for the kudos on the story, Mel!