Ten years after the incident in New York, surrounded by a different cast of characters and on another continent, I kidnapped my second man.
On a sunny June morning in southern Scotland, Alan, my former husband, our friend Reggie (who wrote One Man’s Viewpoint) and I dropped Reggie’s current squeeze, Rachel, at the gates of an ancient castle for a day of history, antiques and gardens, with a promise to pick her up at the 4 p.m. closing time.
We were intent on more vigorous activity. Our aim was to follow the ancient cattle drover’s trail that Reggie found in a guide book.
We parked our rental car next to a gypsy caravan, found the trail exactly where the book said it would be and headed out.
Okay, I’ve done it. I’ve bent them to my will; taken what they had and used it to meet my needs. I’ve kidnapped them
The first time was on a rainy night in New York City. Have you ever tried to find a cab on a night like this? Impossible.
Alan (my former husband) and I were newlyweds, bar hopping in the Big Apple with Marius (see Valentine’s Day Two) and his current squeeze, Pamela. We were trapped in Soho, miles from our final destination. Drops of rain fell on our shoulders, on our hair and dripped off our noses as we watched full taxis pass us by.
Drastic action was called for. I took it.
Like Claudette Colbert in the movie It Happened One Night, I edged away from my companions, slid one foot off the curb and manufactured some wardrobe malfunction that required sliding my skirt high up my thigh to fix.
Clark Gable is looking at Claudette Colbert just as Alan looked at me as I fixed my own manufactured wardrobe malfumction.
We were predators, Alexandra and I, leaning on the copper bar, me sipping my fresh lime margarita, she sipping her Anchor Steam beer. Our eyes hungrily scanned the room, taking in the group of men standing to my right, the group of men standing to her left and the people seated at tables around us.
“Ah, the Vixen Divorcee is out to get picked up,” you’re thinking as you read this. While this might be a natural assumption, you would be wrong to think it. I’ve never picked up anyone in a bar and am not about to start now.
No, Alexandra and I were actually hungry. We were specifically hungry for the roasted, organic, free-range chicken salad served at the Zuni Cafe on Market Street in San Francisco. I should qualify that by adding its famously served at Zuni Cafe on Market Street in San Francisco.
You’d think that fact would be obvious. You’d think the countless reminders with which I’m presented daily would permanently implant the message in my thick skull that I’m not in my twenties anymore.
Still, I forget. Still, I sometimes engage in the behavior of a young woman.
Take the evening I met Brenda and Alexandra at a busy bar on a busy Friday night right after work. This was when both my job and my separation from Alan were new and I was exhausted.
This made it much like the Friday nights straight out of college when, fatigued from my new world of 9 to 5 career building, I’d head straight from the office to home to collapse in a heap. The alternative, and this was a 50/50 equation, was that I’d go out drinking pitchers of cheap beer with my colleagues and then head home drunk as a skunk to collapse in a heap.
I’m lying on a chaise lounge on the terrace of the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo. Surrounding me are chic European men and women, gauche American insurance salesmen and their ill-at-ease wives. I’m 36 years old, reading today’s issue of the French newspaper Le Figaro, basking in almost perfect bliss. (You encountered me in this same spot, on the same day, in Toying.)
He smiles at me, shrugs his shoulders and says, “Ah, even when we were in college she was buttoned down. My best buddy said, ‘Your girlfriend makes my old grannie look wild.’ That’s what she was then, and that’s sure what my wife is now.’”
That’s what makes me do it, makes me break my rule. Never be provocative, never flirt, never cross that boundary. He’s married, I’m not. My rule is to absolutely ignore the chemistry between us.
But he’s laid down a challenge. I can’t help myself. His wife is conventional, unadventurous. I’m anything but. He just doesn’t know it. Yet.