Monday, May 30, 2005

Attempted seduction

That summer was the summer I came into my own as a woman, the summer I stopped feeling like an awkward virgin kid and started getting positive attention by men--lots of men. One of the jobs I worked was one at the famous Russian Tea Room as a cashier. The international staff of waiters and busboys there used to flirt mercilessly with me and bring me caviar and cappucinos during my shift. I didn't really like the attention because it confused me. I sat in a gilded booth in the corner where I would ring up their checks and dole out their credit card tips at the end of the evening. I was on display and overwhelmed. I worked the late shift there, and would take a taxi home after I had settled my drawer at 1:00 in the morning.

I had another job for an entrepreneur, a brilliant guy, a well-travelled economist who had even once held a job in Cameroon. He lived in Soho in a trendy loft apartment with his wife. I used to work an early shift with him as he wrote a daily digest for investors that I edited and faxed out by hand early in the morning before the trading floors opened. I was well paid for my job and I enjoyed picking up my much needed coffee at Dean & DeLuca on the way in to work.

During this routine of random part-time jobs, with my Bachelor's degree newly in hand, and no clear sense of what would happen next, my good friend Tony died. I was surprised, even though I had much warning with the two year battle he had been fighting against lymphoma. Once he was gone, I went into work and told them that I would be leaving. That I was taking my student work visa and travelling to Ireland and then perhaps the rest of Europe. By myself.

To celebrate one of my last nights in the city, Carl, the entrepreneur, offered to take me out on the town. Still numb with grief and slogging through a daily cloud of depression, I agreed. He took me to some trendy place in Soho and ordered fancy appetizers. He also bought us what they called a flight of champagne. It was several glasses of different champagnes--I can't remember how many--so that you could sample various kinds. He was treating me to an expensive evening that I never would have afforded myself, nor necessarily even desired.

After we had eaten and drunk quite a bit, we were out on the street, somewhere in Soho, and he smiled at me and said something about missing me. I gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He said, "Our first kiss..." I laughed and wondered what he was getting at. He asked me if I really wanted to go all the way home. Wouldn't I like to stay with him? His wife was out of town...I could definitely stay with him rather than going uptown to my apartment. I could stay on the couch, he offered with an odd sort of smile.

No, I would go home to my own bed, thanks. And I left him there to go home to his own richly furnished loft by himself. It was only much later that I realized what he had been trying to do. I was numbed with grief, and could not fathom that this older, married man would have anything other than a fatherly interest in me.

I wonder at the girl I was then, and how my life has changed me, and how protected I was even at a vulnerable time by my own innocence. It's an odd sort of memory, but it was begging me to post it today--so there it is.

Micah Girl


Blogger Sprittibee said...

Thanks for the memory. Reminded me of a few of my own memories... it's so sad that there aren't as many "good girls" these days. A lot of the teens I see today don't look like the would decline a nice night in an expensive loft with a married man. God help them!

1:26 AM  

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