By Karen Rempel
George has given up on marrying me off. He realized his well-meant words of advice were falling into a black hole, where they disappeared into the galaxy. His final words to me were, “You’re on your own, kid.” I’ll miss his meddling. But the stories continue.
Thanks to everyone who stuck with me to the gruesome end of the Keith saga. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, but it wasn’t the expected romantic getaway for two. Your comments online were especially juicy and funny this time, with Bruce’s alliteration bomb and Tim’s sexy ruminations about glorious manhoods. Love it!! This month, I invite you to travel back in time with me to autumn 2015 for the next “Catch and Release” dating story…
I was at the 42nd Street-Bryant Park subway station, on my way home from a comedy writing class at Gotham Writers. It was about 11 PM. It was eerily quiet, and I noticed that virtually every single person on the platform was looking at their phone. I started to make a video of the moment for my “New York Love Affair” art project on YouTube.
See what I mean? A couple sporting matching Mickey Mouse sweatshirts came onto the platform after I began filming, but the stationary folks were mainly glued to six square inches of glass and metal. You’ll notice one exception—the man in the navy wind-breaker. Let’s call him Harvard.
Harvard smiled the first time my camera went past him, but by the time I did a three-sixty and returned to his spot on the platform, he’d assumed the New Yorker’s indifference to his surroundings. I felt buoyant and sexy, fueled by a creative surge of energy from the writing class—a small seminar with eight hilarious New Yorkers and our even funnier comedienne teacher, Nelsie Spencer. I was wearing adorable five-inch Shellys of London platform lace-ups and a grey Rebecca Taylor just-above-the-knee pleated skirt. This was before the loss of David Bowie, and I still had long flowing chestnut tresses. Hard to believe, I know! I sashayed over to the one man on the platform who could stand to be in his own skin. Under his unattractive blue wind-breaker he was wearing a pale blue shirt, unbuttoned at the collar, and he had a decent amount of close-cropped graying hair.
“I noticed you’re the only one on the platform not looking at your phone!” That’s me. Just jump right in, no talk of the weather.
He smiled. “I just had dinner at the Harvard Club. I’m savoring the feeling of being in the city.” He looked a bit rosy, and I imagined the dinner included a few libations.
“What brings you to the city?”
“I was meeting with my foundation, a psychology and arts program for not-so-privileged youth.” Hmm, fascinating. The man has a foundation! And it’s creative and compassionate.
“I was just at a writing class,” I told him.
“What do you write?” He looked at me with genuine interest and I felt like teasing him.
“I’ve written articles and reviews, fiction, poetry, erotica…” His eyes lit up another 100 watts. “Right now I’m taking a class on humor writing.”
A roar started to fill the air, increasing to maximum volume as the downtown train pulled into the station. We naturally drifted into the train to sit next to each other and continue the conversation.
I was going to the West 4th Street station, closest to my artist studio in a brownstone on West 9th Street. He was going to his pied-à-terre in SoHo. He wanted to know more about the erotica, so I named a few publications I’d published in. Women in Power. Libido. Both now defunct.
“Would you like to come for a drink in my apartment?” he asked, eyes twinkling. Ballsy move! Uh, I don’t think so, Prudence said. “I could show you some of my writing,” he added.
“Oh, you’re a writer too?” I avoided answering his invitation.
“Yes, I teach at Harvard’s psychology department, but I also write poetry.”
“I’d love to some other time,” I said, forestalling any further objections from Prudence. In truth, I agreed with her. No way, no how was I going to this man’s apartment! But somehow I pictured it vividly. Black leather couches, lots of bookshelves, literary magazines, large plate-glass windows looking out over night-time SoHo. I was very curious to see it, and could even picture myself on one of those couches, drinking a glass of wine with him. But I could also picture what would come next. My mama didn’t raise no fool.
“Can I call you?” he asked.
He seemed like someone I’d like to know better, with his multitude of accomplishments, his foundation, his poetry. I gave him my card.
“Senior documentation specialist,” he read out loud.
“Don’t let the title intimidate you! This is me,” I said as our train screeched into West 4th Street.
“Here, a token to remember me by.” He gave me a flat square of Harvard chocolate with the Harvard logo on it. Wow! I was super impressed.
“Bye!” I jumped out of the train as the doors whisked shut.
When I got home I put the Harvard chocolate on my desk beside my laptop. It glowed like a magic talisman. Harvard! The Harvard Club! Entry into a forbidden, exclusive, magical world. Not just academia. Harvard!
I wondered what might happen next. He looked like a middle-aged nerd, but his nervy invitation hinted at hidden depths of passion.
Tune in next month to find out if Harvard asks me out. And take a peek at this month’s Karen’s Quirky Style.
P.S. For more photos, view this story at karensquirkystyle.nyc.