Dorothy Goldberg

What I Thought

He wore an earring in his left ear and a nice black leather jacket, and he was black, too. He smiled as she leaned on his right arm, and she was pale and red-headed (no henna), pretty as they say. Was she his wife? Were they going to live happily ever after together, at least for eighteen months? Was he her pimp, sympathetic because a client in a faintly striped worsted suit had beat her up? She was in pain, one way or the other.

What I Saw

He, too, faced the restaurant that had once been a reflecting pool. I, self-indulgent, trying to make up for being married to a shell of a man who had once been my love, had spent too many denieros on salad, coffee, wine and a nourishing whole grain, roasted vegetable sandwich. I sat at the next table as he unwrapped a dinner roll and removed plastic-covered carrots from a brown paper bag, obviously, brought from home. I couldn't read the title of the book opened before him. Should I speak?

What I Felt

He arrived with flowers ready. His wife had just died six weeks before. My husband languished in the veterans' home. The four of us had been friends for over forty years. I, foolishly, let him massage my scalp. He asked: "What are your fantasies?" I, speechless, thought: I want some tall, handsome intellectual to fall madly in love with me.
He demanded intimate talk. He told me about his sexual dysfunction, a phenomenon not unfamiliar to me. I mused: "Why would anyone want to jump into bed with him, unless out of habit or out of love?" He had rejected a woman who smelled of tobacco, or so he said. Later, I asked my gynecologist (in her forties): "Could I ever have a sex life again?" She answered, as she probed my innards: "Yes, if you can find a young guy. Otherwise, forget about it." I did.

First published: February 2001