I remember like it was yesterday: his crushed velvet drapes, the slate hearth, a black and white Ansel Adams lithograph, the sleek, tall black plastic CD tower filled with weighty $30 CDs, standing like a skyscraper next to the TV stand, on which sat his Phillips compact disc player, on top of a stereo balancer, on top of a VHS player, on top of a radio tuner. Over a romantic dinner of veal filo parcels and haricots vert with bechamel, I was seduced by a bottle of 1987 vintage zinfandel, one year cellared, which I sipped through a small-mouthed goblet as I listened to his lusty tales of life on the trading floor. I blushed as he leaned over to tuck a frayed strand of permed hair out of my eyes, so I didn’t get chocolate fondue in it. “Girl, you’re making me crazy,” he said to me, gazing directly into my soul through his horn-rimmed reading glasses.
We slow-danced to “Electric Blue,” he with one steady hand in the small of my back, where the satin bow was pinned to my dress, and the other gripping the nape of my neck, buoyed softly by my shoulder pads. As Iva Davies howled along with his lonely electric guitar and keyboard synthesizer, we pressed together, his box pleat slacks against my sequined, tiered skirt. It was microwave hot in the nooks between our legs. The air had the snap of suspenders. He reached up and undid my alligator clip; my Bottecellian hair tumbled down around my shoulders, full of bounce from Pert 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner.
When Genesis hit the high, clear notes of “I will be theeeeeeeere” in “Hold on my heart” I realized I was in trouble. He picked me up, as if I weighed no more than a single rose, told me I took his breath away, and threw me on his waterbed. Wooed by Mick Hucknall crooning “Holding Back the Years” he tied my hands to the headboard with silk scarves, and ruthlessly littered pillowy kisses on the soft skin of my wrists, inner elbows and clavicle. Writhing, I bit my dark plum lipstick and rubbed my pantyhosed feet together in ecstasy. Glistening with sweat, he fed me sections of a chocolate orange. The music segued to Richard Clayderman running his hands up and down a piano relentlessly, setting off cascades of tremoring arpeggios and scales. Glancing sideways as I arched my back, I noticed the neat space-saving design of his wardrobe—shirts hung on coathangers with multiple tiers, special racks just for business ties—and cried out, “No! No! It’s too much, I’ll die from the pleasure!”
Just then he took off his shirt—undoing the French collar and cuffs with an intent stare, dropping his treble clef cuff-links into a silver ashtray—then reached sideways into his intelligently designed wardrobe to retrieve a bronze saxophone from its retractable stand. Wetting his lips, he placed the reed into his mouth, slammed a pleated-trousered-computer-sock-wearing foot onto the waterbed, and blew, sending ripples through my body as I bobbed to his ravaging overture of wails, squeaks and improvisation, my skin on fire, my breasts chafing against my pointy black lace bra under my turtleneck. The night became a blur, my last recollection one of screaming, “Play Kenny G’s ‘By the Time This Night is Over’!”
Afterward, we nervously snacked on avocado halves filled with French dressing from Dartington crystal avocado dishes. We speared cheddar cubes and cocktail onions sheepishly with toothpicks as we sat still, I wearing an oversized business shirt of his, under a boxy grey blazer, and he reclined in ginormous hypercolor boxer shorts. We smoked. As he led me out to a cab, rousing my crunchy hair one last time, the street was musty and full of the energy of raw crime and class separation. I leapt into the backseat before I could be stabbed or robbed, and blew him a kiss through the thick, partitioned glass. Grasping my Diners Club card, I watched as the city flashed by in neon, acid raindrops speckling my view. It was the last time I would see him.