When Alan loved me, his love wrapped around me like velvet; tender, caressing, sensual. I moved through the world as if I were always enfolded in the black velvet cape he gave me for my 50th birthday.
He remained infatuated with me at the time of this birthday. After knowing each other for 20 years, he still beamed like a boy as I pushed aside the white tissue paper and unfolded the long, hooded cape from its box. He knew me well, knew I’d be delighted with this gift. Still, I could see in his eyes that bit of doubt. “Maybe she won’t like it, maybe it’s all wrong,” he was thinking.
I threw it over my shoulders, pulled the hood over my head, admired myself in the mirror as I stroked the soft fabric, then twirled to enjoy the feel of it billowing out around me. I looked at him, at the happiness in his eyes now that he was sure of my pleasure at his gift.
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.
Slow down for a moment. Forget all those things that you absolutely have to do in the next 30 minutes. Allow yourself the pleasure of getting lost in this painting.
Why is it so widely loved? Is it the complexity of pattern, the way that the background flows into his garment, which flows into hers without clear demarcations? Is it the abundance of rich gold, contrasted against the traces of bright blue, red and green? Is it the slightness of her body pressed against the dominating mass of his body? Is it the precise molding of her face, the glimpse of her shoulder?
Andrew Marvell said it best back in the 17th century. I have never come across anything written before or since that more convincingly and beautifully expresses the compelling reasons to indulge in passion.
Alan, my ex-husband, the scientist, would never have come across this poem before meeting me. I wouldn’t have expected him to know it. But bless his romantic heart, he learned To His Coy Mistress, and would, when the moment was ripe, pull out a few select lines. Always with the desired results.
But my own romantic heart hungered for more. I wanted what he could never have done. I longed for the man who, in a moment with stillness hanging heavily around us, would recite, unbidden, those lines for me.
I teased Alan that I would give myself, body and soul, to the man who did that.
French sculptor Auguste Rodin captured how I anticipated responding to an impromptu recitation of “To His Coy Mistress”.
Before I included the post about him in the Diary of the Vixen Divorcee (see The Toy Boy), I emailed it to Guy. This is his response. What a gift to any woman to have her youth remembered like this, and to be told of those memories.
How much fun is that?
“Once upon a time…” – you’re so cute. What a kick to read the private thoughts of such a special former lover. The realization that I had achieved an erection half way through the story made me smile and shake my head (Some things never change )
Once upon a time a woman sat alone in her apartment, sipping wine, reading a book, nursing a broken heart. She heard a knock on her door.
“Who can that be?” she wondered. “No one buzzed to be let in the building. I don’t know any of my neighbors, except the little old lady next door. Maybe it’s her.”
She opened the door and looked straight into the friendliest, freshest eyes she’d ever seen on a man. Well, more of a boy, really. Curly, messy hair, a big smile to match the eyes, an empty bowl held in his hands.
Guy’s hair was curlier, and I never saw him wear sun glasses. Otherwise…….
That was you, Guy. Twenty-year-old you. Facing 28-year-old me for the first time. I wonder how scared you were, that moment. Actually asking me for some sugar. That was the best ruse you could come up with to meet me.
Decades later you told me that you and your next-door-neighbor bet on who would meet me first. You’d watch for me from the living room window of your apartment. The best days were when I’d park my car right
Before starting The Diary of the Vixen Divorcee, I emailed my friend, Reggie, to check out what he thought of my idea of a blog about life as a single woman. Typical man, he translated it into a blog about sex. This is his response, except that I edited his choice of a photo; his was too racy for my diary.
The perfect morning to sit down and answer your mail. It’s heavenly outside. A balmy, wet, warm front is in the area. Very feminine, this kind of weather. Warm, wet, still, mysterious, close and yet the essence of it standing at a remove. You know something’s coming. A good day to sit in the window early in the morning with the clothes line strung with pearls.
Brenda and I are standing on the edge of the dance floor, close to the band. Our friends are gathered in a knot around a table, off to the side of the bar. They’re the senior citizen contingent in The Rec Room, this group of 55 – 70-year-olds eating the cake Ellen brought to celebrate her husband Gary’s birthday. They want to chat with each other, rehash the old days and catch up on the new. We’re all here because Gary
loves music, especially the blues, and a good local blues band is playing.
But Brenda and I want to dance. We always want to dance. I’m thinking opportunities tonight are bleak. None of our old codger friends want to do anything more active than move their mouths to talk and lift their plastic cups to their lips to drink beer.
Everyone else in the place looks to be well under 30. They’re playing drinking games that involve flipping empty plastic cups or passing full ones boy to girl, girl to boy, without using any hands.
So here we stand, nodding our heads and shaking our hips to the rhythms of these young musicians. I can’t read Brenda’s mind, but I’m guessing she expects some young blade to ask her to dance. After all, she’s light-bulb-bright charismatic, confidant and has a history of affairs with younger men. Guess that makes her a cougar.
How I hate that word. Makes her sound like a predator. She’s not. She’s attractive, successful and fun.
Brenda and me, just hanging out around the dance floor.