Once upon a time, I lived in a historic neighborhood, though the history had yet to obtain a capital H. Recycling was required before recycling was the rage. Brick homes resplendent with age, covered with windows; wide, tall windows. There was a private high school three blocks up. There was no way I should have been able to afford that place.
And I couldn’t. But I was resourceful and unafraid of work, of getting dirty, of negotiating to get what I wanted even if it meant showing a nipple or two.
I worked for a small business owner. He also owned rental property. A tenant in his Concordia building was moving to Germany for her M.F.A. She was an artist, mostly oils. In addition, the maintenance man had recently moved on. I never asked if he found a new job or died. I agreed to mind the parking pad, including stray trash, to salting and shoveling the sidewalk in snowstorms, and to sweeping the front entryway in order to maintain an impression worthy of the neighborhood. Rent for the 1,000 square foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom first floor apartment was negotiated down from $950 to $500.
I could afford $500.
Mind you, this was before the wand was dipped in the bottle
to blow the housing bubble. Perspective helps.
I could afford $500 and I took what I owned, moved in, and promptly converted an interior closet into a darkroom.
They say, “location, location, location.” And this location alone was enough to get men. I barely mentioned my neighborhood and boys were ready to fall all over me.
It’s quite sad, now, reflecting back on it.
One such man was Frank. Frank came from a very wealthy family. I said Concordia, he heard Money.
I was looking particularly well that night, and I knew it.
A year prior I had visited Hawaii for a few weeks, and while I was there I purchased an alarming number of handmade dresses. I also fucked the concierge, Skyy. But that’s another story, a very romantic story, one that could have ended differently had I half the spontaneity that I have now.
One of these handmade dresses was the dress I was wearing on The Night of Frank. It was a beautiful blue satin dress with an eyelet overlay—short sleeves, scoop neck, A-line skirt, mid-thigh—paired with the coconut-shell armband, wooden whale’s tail on a leather necklace, and braided leather sandals. There were silver earrings and a silver necklace and a silver belt, but they were not what was noticed that night.
Introductions led to drinks. “Hi, I’m Frank and fuck it with the pick-up lines.” Drinks led to conversation. This was one of the best martini bars in the city. Conversation led to laughter. There was such an easy flow. Laughter led to touching. Touching led to driving to my place. Neither one of us should have been driving.
Coming in through the front entrance gave the best impression. It was not my everyday door. I came in through the back door, across the dismal parking pad, past trash and recycling bins, up four stairs, through a locked door, and up more stairs to my door (which was almost always unlocked). I dumped my purse on a little, wobbly table, hung my keys on a nail, and tossed everything else on the dining room table. That was my door, and it was drab.
Coming in through the front entrance opened to a beautiful stone and brick stairwell with a scrolled handrail. Four steps—light and bouncy, skirt swaying—my door was the first you came to. Two locks later the door opened to the garden room lit with the glow of yellow street lights, the curtains still open from the afternoon sunshine. We entered. Frank wrapped one arm around my waist as I shut and locked the door. He grabbed my hip, turned me to him, wrapped me into a hug, and kissed me.
And then he asked me to marry him.
To which I said no and kissed him some more. We kissed and hugged, came close and backed off. We laughed and touched and danced into the middle of the room. And then he asked me to marry him.
To which I said nothing because at that moment, outside my building, which was at the end of my small side street that came from nowhere and ended nowhere, some jackhole found himself at The End of a didn’t make the news car chase. It was brick walls or cop cars, three by this time, lights blaring. He chose handcuffs. Frank’s car was blocked in. He paced, window to window, grumbling and cursing. I pulled him close, pushed his hand to my ass. I kissed his neck and whispered, “You can’t see this from the bedroom.”
“But my car,” he answered. “God! Will they ever turn off those fucking lights?” He pulled away.
Frank opened the window and shouted something embarrassing. I opened another window. Information was exchanged. Frank could move his car whenever he was ready.
We shut the windows. He pulled me close again. “You are amazing,” he said and kissed me before I could answer. “You are hot.” He leaned back, licked his lips, and looked me hips to chest. “And you obviously come from money,” he said and kissed me again. “You speak well,” he said, “and fuck if you didn’t get that cop to do exactly what I wanted him to do.”
And then he asked me to marry him. To which I said no and Frank moved his car, all the way to Mommy and Daddy’s house.
Featured Image: Rich Man (Public Domain)