This is a love story without a happy ending. Like most love stories. Except the one about the Jewish American Prince who asked the Jewish American Princess to marry him. She said no. And he lived happily ever after…

 

 

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

Then again, when do fantasies ever happen the way your mind designs them late in the night? Or, when the midday sun blinds you from recognizing the furniture truck speeding down the sidewalk?

My plot had Kate approaching me. It was me she was going to move towards, not the other way around. She was going to come up to me laughing and smiling that charm and beauty that smothers a man’s willpower. She would say: How good it is to see you again. I’ve missed you.

And I was supposed to act gracious, and confused. I was going to fumble about saying that after that serious concussion in the helicopter crash — in Siberia where I fled to escape the ache of her absence – that I have forgotten so much and so many.

And then, as my fantasy goes, I suggest a long walk and talk to help me remember her. As in: You got a few spare 22 years?

Hmm…

I am talking here about someone with whom I shared a last kiss goodbye 22 years, 8 months, 2 weeks 3 days, 7 hours and 33 minutes ago.

But who’s counting?

Anyway, fantasies, as I have discovered, should be kept as fantasies. Because what happened this weekend at the annual wine tasting festival in Philadelphia’s celebrated Girard Estates was like Romeo and Juliet killing themselves off again – only this time because they wanted to.

So pour me another and I’ll tell you no lies about how Kate and I never met again.

I know it sounds as if I am obsessing. And after all this time I should have finished drinking myself through it.

But guess what? I obviously haven’t. And I don’t give a damn. We’re all fools – even if love is a delusion that one woman differs from another.

Sometimes things just happen and you want to hold tight onto the memory. We all remember what we try to forget.

For, a reminiscence, like the wind, is nothing you can grab onto. But when the blustering mental breeze gales upwind it slows you down, like a plane to landing speed, until it roots you in the ground — where your feet are cemented with thoughts that no longer take flight.

I don’t recall what it was: Her beauty, her charm, her laugh, her disarming assets, her ability to be amused at every stupid thing I did…or simply every vivacious millimeter that made her Kate Smith.

No, this isn’t ‘that’ Kate Smith. It was her maiden name, from Polish parents, that served her well in her political consulting business.

We first met in a mutual business client’s office. After a time we discovered we were both desperately escaping terrible relationships. And after a few phone conversations we went to lunch.

On the way, one of her big, stylish earrings unclipped from her small ear lobes and disappeared down a sewer grate.

I immediately bought her another pair in a boutique I sometimes entered just for the treat of being there. It was merely the beginning of the daily Valentine’s dance of lovers decorating each other.

Everyone knew Kate because everyone wanted her. Was seduced by her. Whether we were skiing in Colorado, or biking with my brother in California, or attending conventions in New York, men of power and aspirations – and even women—flocked about. She was, to put it modestly, an asset for business and pleasure.

But we each had our dreams. Hers was to get to Washington where a woman of such beauty and brains could make the right political connections. Mine was to get back overseas where as a journalist and entrepreneur I could pursue the adventures that always tugged me away.

We talked about it at length. But like the man said: When you come to the twain in the road – take it.

And she did it first. She attended a number of political seminars about the country where she met people that could help her.

We were diverging. Then a former Philadelphia mayor who later would become governor introduced her to a tall, dark and handsome Adonis congressman from Michigan.

And so the tale was to unfold.

It didn’t end well. We were both terrible at endings. And at the end we were both just terrible.

The fact is, our short year together wasn’t built on promises but sanctuary. We had found a retreat in each other’s arms.

Now she was ready to return to the stormy seas. So, she moved on. And I, too, needed to saddle my horse and trot out of town.

We sealed our goodbye with that one last kiss.  Its lingering embers still smolder brighter than the burning ashes of my cigars. We knew we would never see or talk to one another again.

We couldn’t. We wouldn’t. We shouldn’t.

It happened. It was over. Forever. For better or worse.

And so it was. That is until the other day at the grand wine festival in Girard Estates in South Philadelphia. It’s not a place or festival I’ve been to before. But a lot of cigar buddies from the Twin Smoke Shoppe were going to be there. So I went.

I shouldn’t have. For as I was exploring all the wonderful food and wines, I parked myself next to the stage of delightful music. I was near the sponsoring table of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

I nodded to some city councilmen and union goons.

And then I saw her face amidst all the political hacks and venal, vapid lawyers, and guys with bent noses.

I wasn’t sure at first. But as I noticed her greet and meet and make all the wives feel at ease, I knew. I could close my eyes and still marvel at her details. Her soothing blonde hair constantly brushed by manicured nails. Her long, tall body always waving hello. Her face still smooth as our last kiss. We were close in age, but unlike her old lover, time had not begun to decorate her.

For once in my life nothing seemed to be coming easy. I didn’t know what step to take – backwards or forwards. At first I couldn’t move. But eventually I merely moved away.

I’m a coward. I was afraid to ripple still water. Someone had told me years back that she married that former congressman and had another kid. Her life, as well as my life, had moved on. So why move it back?

Soon after, as the large crowd shifted, I thought I saw her leaving with one of my least favorite city councilmen. I sighed. And berated myself.

An hour later I found myself wandering towards the band stage again where people were dancing. Like Kate and I once danced, and people knew not to disturb us.

And as I turned around, there she was, moving alone to the music.

So, on the spot I decided: What the hell…What the hell…What the heck. Hang myself up by the neck. The hell with my fantasy. And why not!

I approached. Tapped lightly on her arm, and as gallantly as an ill-timed burp, broke thru 22 years, 8 months, 2 weeks, 3 days, 8 hours and 37 minutes of rust: “Say, if you’re Kate Smith, I’ve been saving this dance for you.”

She never looked into my eyes.

I repeated: “You are Kate Smith?”

She extended a hand and shook mine like a politician. “No,” she said. “But that’s a great line.”

She had no desire to recognize me. She merely dismissed me politely like any other guy hitting on her. Or, more like an old Truman Capote story: she just simply forgot what she forgot – like me and she.

Wow…

“Well,” I said, readjusting my composure while pulling out a business card, “If you do ever see her, tell her Drew still has a pair of earrings for her small ear lobes.”

“That’s interesting,” she said.

“Life is full of surprises,” I replied in a steady manner that ends most business meetings. “Sorry I confused you with someone.”

“It happens.”

“Yeah. As we get older and look back there’s a lot of territory. It all starts looking familiar.”

She paused for a moment. And then offered: “I stopped looking back,” she said without any inflection. “It makes life too confusing.”

Indeed. That way everybody lives happily ever after.

And dats yDrewIS on DIS penal colony.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then again, when do fantasies ever happen the way your mind designs them late in the night? Or, when the midday sun blinds you from recognizing the furniture truck speeding down the sidewalk?

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