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Jul 10, 2009
Once upon a time, when I was all of 24 or so, and even more naive than I am now (if that's possible), I placed my first personal ad. This was in the days before the internet, and all communication was conducted through a local paper and a phone answering service.
I could fill a lifetime of embarrassing stories about myself from these experiences, but there's one that came to my mind tonight. I'm not sure why.
He was a perfectly ordinary looking middle aged man, nothing horrible about him, nothing particularly attractive. His personality was much the same.
I remember meeting him at a restaurant in the French Quarter. I don't remember which. I remember that he insisted on paying, despite my objections. He seemed charmed by them in fact. I'd never had anyone pay for my meal, and it felt wrong. I didn't want to lead him on. I had purposefully ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, a salad which had some sort of cranberries in it. I remember the dried cranberries in my salad but not what he looked like.
He was just a little more than twice my age then, I guess.
After dinner we walked back to his "pied a terre", I suppose you could call it. He was from California somewhere, L.A., I suppose, but did business here often, so he had purchased a small carriage house in the French Quarter. I remember framed Audubon reproductions on the walls and a tastefully dull plaid sofa in forest green.
Of course you're all thinking you know where this is leading, but, alas,
I'm not that kind of girl.
No, we sat on the dull green plaid sofa and talked. I'm sure I asked him all about his job. I'm sure I was dutifully attentive. I'm sure he talked and talked and talked all about the intricacies of Whatever Inc. I can't remember. He asked me about my ambitions. I told him that I had just started grad school, that I'd hoped to be a writer or a journalist or something equally ridiculous. It sounded like something I ought to say.
Most of all, I remember that he seemed very lonely, and that I felt bad for him.
Somewhere in our conversation, he suddenly offered me a proposal.
He insisted that he would set me up in a house. He showed me photos of the house. It was a beach house in Malibu, no less. It wasn't particularly lavish, but still. It would be all mine. He'd support me and I'd be able to "write." He explained the deal enthusiastically. I was equal parts flattered and horrified.
Before my head could get too big, however, he told me about his former "protege", sighing about how "good looking", he'd been, but how temperamental and "not nice" he'd also been. I realized that he wanted to skip the looks for "nice" now.
He proudly showed me the pictures of his former kept boy. In a crystal frame was what seemed rather like a second rate male model from a 1980 Sears catalogue, all bushy moustache and tanned physique. I felt very plain.
I'm sure we had more small talk after that. I'm sure I told him how "flattered" I was and "thank you" but how I didn't think "that would be right."
I don't remember.
I know we parted genially, and I assured him that it would be "great to have dinner with you again if you come into town."
Of course, that never happened.
Anyway, I hope he's all right, where ever he is.