Recently, an old boyfriend contacted me.
“Is this the same Heidi Buyak from Pound Ridge that moved to Hawaii in 1988? Did I meet you at a Dale Carnegie class in White Plains? How are you?”
Oh, we met, and dated for over a year before I dumped him and moved to California.
Maybe he forgot.
Well, I remembered.
He had the nicest blue eyes.
At class every time I looked up he was looking back.
He’s still with the same company he was with then and back then his frequent flyer miles fueled my travel lust. We went some fun places. In no order what so ever here are a few.
New Orleans in July is the most humid place on the planet. The Royal Sonesta with a pool outside on the third floor, on Bourbon St. It’s the only place you see in all the shots of Mardi gras and the French quarter because it was the nicest thing on the street.
I didn’t know what to expect, but a large black woman sitting in her underwear on display in a store front window across the street wasn’t one of them.
To me, New Orleans was like a fat ugly girl all dressed up but too drunk to leave and no one to drive her home, so she’s just left her there rumpled up in the corner with some empty cups.
We lived closer to New York so we went there more often. There was this Italian restaurant, Carmella’s. It was BYOB and hidden just below street level. With its red and white covered tables and warm cozy tongue in groove wood paneling, Carmella’s was every Italian restaurant you’ve ever seen in a movie.
One evening, walking through Greenwich Village we passed this fern bar. In the middle of the large front window two men were passionately kissing. I was from the suburbs and even though I’d been to the city a few times, I still hadn’t seen that before, so, I took a second look, why not? He, on the other hand was horrified.
Here was a guy who wouldn’t wear a pink shirt because he was afraid it might ‘turn’ him. As if it was that arbitrary.
Maybe it was for him.
Maybe he had to remind himself every morning that he liked girls. For fear that one morning he might get up and say,
“I think I’ll go for a run and fall in love with a man.”
As I got to know him he had a list of these things that might ‘turn’ him. At first I just took them as funny comments because they were. But his list kept growing, GQ magazine, might ‘turn’ him, couldn’t eat quiche, and he couldn’t possibly go to a foreign film, no loafers, and no sweater vests. Okay, maybe sweater vests. Plus I was beginning to notice he couldn’t make decisions about the easy things. It was,
“What do you want to do? I don’t know what do you want to do?”
Make up your mind. Take charge. Lead. It’s only a night out, or an afternoon, it’s not a commitment.
It got to a point where I would write down ideas on little bits of paper and toss them into a bowl and have him pull one out. Once in a while maybe, but as a primary form of decision making?
The best thing he ever did for me was take me to Arizona.
Remember your first time?
It was October, sunny, clear and a dry 80 degrees. It was the first time I ever saw a desert sky. A blue so saturated staring into it felt like falling. As if it would stain your eyes blue forever. All other colors merely existed to prove that there was nothing more visually sensual than the Arizona sky. All other blues were polluted. I’ve been back a few times since and still feel the same way.
Occasionally we spent the weekends closer to home visiting his family but whenever I got the chance to take a trip, I went.
That December we went to Boca Raton to visit his dad and his dad’s girlfriend. From there we drove to Key West. On the way we had Cuban sandwiches loaded with pork and a dangerous amount of shredded garlic all pressed in a sandwich mangle to the thickness of your pinky. After that we had some Cuban coffee. A thick sludge designed to keep you awake well into the next revolution.
On Key West we froze. We saw Hemingway’s house and the multi toed cats he left the place to, and had drinks where Hemingway used to get drunk. Dark wood floors, ceiling fans and unscreened windows open under a deep roof. We also stood at the southern most point of the US and looked towards Cuba. And on a drive around the Key we tried to find Jimmy Buffet’s house, but his name wasn’t on the mail box.
We took tons of trips together and he was a nice guy but I wasn’t ready for nice and pretty soon I found him predictable and boring.
I started thinking about what I wanted I had always wanted to live in California. The adventure and the planning excited me. I told my parents, they were all for it. They asked about my boyfriend and I told them he wouldn’t be coming. They told me to be careful.
I did continue to see him for a while. But you know how it is once you’ve made up your mind suddenly everything the other person does seems to reinforce your decision? Thought I’d try the weaning method. Maybe he’d break up with me. No luck. Maybe I could just disappear. Send him a postcard. No.
One evening at his place, we were getting ready to go out for dinner. I was just stepping out of the shower. He was just stepping out of his bedroom, in my matching black bra and half slip.
Awkward. Time stopped.
I know that there are lots of men who enjoy that. I know that now. I didn’t know it then.
I didn’t point or laugh, that would’ve been rude not to mention psychologically damaging.
Plus, I was in the middle of borrowing his towel. I was in no condition to get kicked out. Not while he was wearing my clothes.
I broke up with him, but not right there. I didn’t want him to think that was the reason. I mean as far as unusual behaviors go that wasn’t the worst. If that’s what he liked, I wasn’t going to make him feel bad about it. So, I bought him some silk boxers.
When I couldn’t stand his indecisiveness, timidity and fear of ‘turning’ gay any longer, I dumped him. I told him I was moving to California and that if I didn’t go now, I’d never go. He went straight to bargaining said we could get married. I held my ground. His response was,
“How could you do this to me?”
I imagine I would get the same response now.
Looking back, maybe I should’ve stayed. Silk boxer shorts are cheap and he turned out more normal and predictable then just about everything since.