Bob was a dangerously handsome dilettante, a bad boy in every sense of the word, and I fancied him madly.
We met at the Parker House. Years later, the Bull & Finch pub down the street would become famous thanks to the sitcom Cheers. But for me, the Parker House was my private game reserve.
Bob and I had two encounters. An intimate convo over drinks he paid for, with a chaste but tantalizing make-out session when he dropped me off home. And a jog around Walden Pond followed by whisky and sweaty sex at his place. He didn’t call me the next day, or any of the days after. No worries: savvy slut that I was, I’d left an earring. I waited a week and then called him, leaving message after message. When I finally reached him in person, the earring my excuse, he asked for my work address and promised to mail it to me. So much for Bob, I thought. But Bob kept me on his list, the kind of list that belly and crotch people keep for when cooch was scarce. He’d call once in a while and I’d meet him and his friends–you never know if there might be a cute one, but I never slept with him again. Savvy sluts know when to close the kitchen.
The meetups never resulted in anything but hangovers, and I can only remember two of the gang from back in the day. One was a very young woman I took to be Bob’s daughter and said something to that effect when I introduced myself. He corrected me. She was his girlfriend. Take a beat. And then there was Herb Millard, which he alone pronounced “Mill-aahd.” Herb was a middle-aged trust fund baby who was a Bob hanger on, probably hoping to cull his leftovers. Herb did “business deals” with the Middle East and was the only person I’d ever met who owned a pair of baby-blue suede Gucci loafers, because that was what you wore to the island–Rhode or Fire. Herb was neurotic and desperate and obsessed with me, which at the time was a mystery: my only interaction with him was telling him to fuck off, get his hands off, or go away. He told me once he wanted to get married and have children, three specifically, so that if one died, he’d have two left to carry on his lineage. It was my closeted opinion that Herb never got any love he didn’t pay for–and it was easy to see why.
One January evening after the bars closed, we found ourselves at the Longfellow Towers. Twin apartment towers with an Olympic-sized pool between them, LT was where the rich people lived–and Herb (of course) had friends there. He offered to call someone so we could go inside and drink some more.
“What about a swim instead?” Bob asked.
Herb protested: locked gate, security guard, winter. But well-insulated by alcohol, a swim sounded fine to me. Undaunted by what Herb took as obstacles, I removed my stilettos and handed them to him for safe keeping. Bob grinned like a demon, like he knew what was coming–such a delicious deviant. I climbed onto a low cement wall and proceeded to scale the topper—a five-foot wrought iron fence. I dropped into the pool area. Meanwhile, Herb must’ve buzzed his friend: he appeared with Bob poolside just as I stripped down to naked glory. A life-changing cold consumed me as I dove in, and two truths emerged. First, I was miraculously sober. Second, I was done with Bob, with Herb and their whole toxic scene. I wasn’t as it turned out, quite yet done with being self-destructive, but I was ready to switch poisons.
I swam a few laps trying not to die, then pulled myself onto the deck. Herb ran over with a towel, who knows from where? I dried off as best I could, swatting Herb away, and put my clothes on. Bob was nowhere to be seen. I made my way to the lobby door.
“Marry me,” Herb said, trotting after me. “You’re Austrian, marry me.”
I was, but what did that have to do with anything? I asked the doorman to call me a cab. Herb hovered over my shoulder, clutching the wet towel, his proposal on repeat. “Get away,” I said.
“You have to fuck me.” Herb is yelling now.
“Fuck yourself.” I go outside to wait. I can’t feel any part of my skin.
“Austrian genes are superior. You have to have my babies!”
The cab arrives. I want to scream at Herb Millard that eleven million Jews would disagree with him. But I do something better, wiser. Close the door and get the hell away.