I had been driving for about a year when it happened to me.
I was cruising down Lexington Avenue in the 30’s late one afternoon in the fading sunlight between tall buildings looking for a fare, when I happened to spot the older sister of a former girlfriend exiting a swanky bar with a couple of her “rich lawyer friends”. It had been a couple of years since I had seen her.
My girlfriend at the time, had been invited by her recently-divorced older sister to dinner in her new apartment and as a courtesy, my girlfriend had asked me to come along. Unrealistically assuming that perhaps one day this young lady would be my future sister-in-law, and always grateful for a home-cooked meal, I readily accepted. Diane (not her real name) was the divorced mother of a four-year-old girl. It was a pleasant enough evening and, during the course of conversation, she expressed some regret at not being able to take her young daughter to the Thanksgiving Day Parade, as she had to work that day. Being a graduate art student with a somewhat flexible schedule, and, I confess, in a shameless attempt to ingratiate myself with my girlfriend’s sister, I volunteered to return the next day to take her child, who was still in a stroller, to the parade. I remember it being so crowded at one point that I felt it necessary to remove the little girl from the stroller and hold her in my arms to protect her from possible injury due to the masses of people. Although somewhat of a harrowing experience we survived and I returned the child in her stroller to her Mom later that afternoon and went on my way.
A few months later, my former girlfriend suddenly announced to me, upon my arrival at her apartment in Manhattan, that she “was getting married and moving to Tuscon”. Aside from the shock of the news and the accompanying feelings of rejection, I was also a tad annoyed that she couldn’t have just told me over the telephone, and saved me from having to make the long subway trek into Manhattan from Brooklyn. But perhaps she wanted to tell me to my face.
My face wasn’t any happier about it than I was.
To make matters worse, her new fiance was on his way to her apartment that very instant and would be there in a matter of minutes.
For the first time in my life, I felt a strange unwelcome desire overtake me. A powerful feeling that was difficult to control, gradually welled up inside me. I was possessed by a vilolent urge to sieze her and throw her through the third-story window of her apartment and onto the street below. Getting a grip on my feelings instead of her neck, I tactfully suggested that we leave her apartment and wait outside for Prince Charming to arrive.
In a few minutes a little white imported truck arrived, and its driver got out and casually walked over and kissed my girlfriend on the cheek. It was as if the kiss suddenly transformed her into someone else, someone who was as much of a stranger to me at that moment as he was.
As I stood there dumbfounded, gazing at the two of them, it suddenly seemed to me as if they had been together for years.
He was nothing like me. I thought, “…if this is the person that she chose to be with instead of me, what the Hell was she doing with me….?” It seemed as good a time as any to say goodbye.
And so I did.
And then I turned around and walked back up the block and did not look back.
A few minutes later, feeling like a piece of crap, I descended into the bowels of the subway system and came out in Brooklyn.
I couldn’t escape the feeling that for nearly a year I had been used. That I had been tricked somehow. That I had been played with.
Shortly after that, she called and wanted me to back over. Looking back on it now, I can’t believe I was stupid enough to go. But I did. Apparently stupidity was a part of who I was, at least emotionally.
On the subway back into Manhattan from Brooklyn I had an hour or so to ponder my next move. It should have been to get off at the next stop and go back to Brooklyn.
Of course I didn’t.
When I got to her apartment it was very clear that she was in something akin to a state of mourning, although I realized later that the only thing that had seemingly died was her engagement to be married. I spent the evening babysitting a wounded animal.
In a couple of days I called her again from Brooklyn, she asked me to come right over, and of course, like the fool I was, I did.
We went for a walk in her neighborhood. It wasn’t very long before I learned that all her plans for her future without me were back on again and her hopes for happiness and wedded bliss had been miraculously restored. I didn’t ask for the details.
She left me sitting misty-eyed on a park bench in front of a high-rise apartment building on the Northeast corner of twenty-third Street and Ninth Avenue. But before she happily walked away she assured me that everything would be all right and that I would eventually find someone else.
Of course she was right.
And in some cases, those women were even worse than she was.
Years passed— and so did any happy feelings I ever had toward my former girlfriend.
In time, those unhappy angry feelings toward her were replaced by an idea, a very bad idea.
An idea that came to me not too long after my former girlfriend’s sister and her two lawyer friends walked out of that swanky bar.
As I got into the left lane, and slowed down and approached, the three of them were walking hurriedly toward the street and it was obvious to me that they were looking for a cab. I was positioned perfectly to make the stop.
They all got into the backseat of the cab, and continued chatting happily.
I pulled away from the curb without asking where they wanted to go and no one bothered telling me. No one had to tell me because I knew where Diane lived, I had been to her apartment for dinner a few years before. I was kind of hoping that Diane would recognize me, but she was so absorbed in talking merrily with her friends that my identity was of no concern to her.
I drove down Lexington Avenue and turned left onto 15th Street and pulled up in front of the doorman building where Diane lived. She said goodnight to her friends got out of the cab and proceeded to go into the building. In one last desperate attempt to enter into her consciousness, I rolled down the window and said, “Good Night, Diane!” to her.
She turned around and smiled. “Oh, Good Night!” she said with a slight chuckle. She still didn’t recognize me and no doubt, assumed that I had overheard her name in conversation as we drove along.
The doorman held the heavy glass door open for her and like her sister before her, she too, disappeared from my life forever.
There was a dead silence from the previously merry young couple in the backseat. “You KNOW her…?” the man asked.
“Sure”, I replied. “All the guys at the garage know Diane.”
I then asked where they wanted to go, and they told me Brooklyn Heights.
It was a long way to the Brooklyn Bridge, made somewhat longer as we passed the rest of the trip in total silence.