Not only in the age of Jane Austen was it universally acknowledged that a single man possessed of a good position is in need of a wife. In this age and this city, the belief still holds strong.
Since our orchestra hired as its concertmaster a divorced man, serious note has been taken. Society matrons sit transfixed in their seats, watching the passion of his playing, the way he sways as his bow caresses and plucks the strings of his violin, the way his gray locks fall over his brow.
The unmarried among us fantasize about what those strong strokes and practiced technique would be like applied to us. The married women sublimate by plotting matchmaking strategies for their single friends.
Among the latter category is my friend, Marlys, who serves on the orchestra board. This gives her access, the first necessity for any matchmaking.
Her strategy involved inviting me as her guest to a post-concert reception for major donors. She introduced me to Nathan, the distinguished newcomer, by saying, “This is one of my closest friends, Georgia. She co-chairs the children’s education committee.”
He looked down at me. As a tall woman, I love having a man actually looking down at me. Makes me feel all feminine. He focused completely on me, cutting Marlys right out of our conversation circle. Rude, maybe, but under the circumstances, quite delicious.
“How is it possible we haven’t met before?” he asked.
“We have. At the masked ball. I was wearing my red mask from New Orleans, with feathers up to here.” I made a fluttering gesture high above my head. “You had on the magnificent affair you said came from New York City, with the velvety black plumes tight across your face.” Here I stroked my cheek.
“How inexcusable of me not to get to know you better then. I hope it’s not too late to change that,” he said.
“Not at all,” I replied.
He touched my arm. “Call me the next time you’re coming in for a meeting. I’ll take you to lunch. I
have some ideas for the school program I’d like to share with you.”
He gave me a lingering backward look as he was drawn off by one of the other trustees.
Marlys placed the tip of her index finger on her tongue, then touched it to my arm. “Pssstttt,” she said, making a sizzling sound. “I haven’t seen anything that hot in years! No movie scene could have been better scripted. 45 seconds of perfection. I loved your gestures. I’m flushed from the heat, and I was only watching. Call him!”
Three days later Marlys phoned. “Have you heard from Nathan yet? He cornered me before I left the reception to check on your last name.”
“No,” was my response.
“Call him!” she said.
“I wanted to give him a chance to call me.”
“Forget that! Take your destiny in your own hands.”
The next day I called. My stomach heaved in embarrassment during the entire conversation.
He didn’t remember me. Or, he’d forgotten the sizzle that provoked his invitation to lunch. Or, Marlys and I had a joint hallucination.
Whatever the case, though gracious, he was coolly, distantly, so. I hung up with a lunch date on my calendar and the sincere wish that I’d never dialed his number.
The day came and I woke up with a fever, barely able to talk. I croaked out my apologies over the phone for having to cancel. With relief in his voice, he suggested I call to reschedule when I felt better.
Since then, I’ve bumped into him when Marlys and I have been about our volunteer business at the concert hall. He greets her warmly, important person that she is. Never remembers me.
This single man of good position is still in need of a wife. He’s all yours.
Have you ever misread signals from someone of the opposite sex as badly as I did? Or maybe I didn’t. Maybe…….., maybe what?