Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My How Tempus Doth Fugit!

How many years has it been since they first met, fifty? They had met purely by happenstance. He was the up and coming bright young man in the New York international office and she was on a short term assignment from the home office. No one in the New York office really knew what her assignment was to be or why she was being sent in. She was held in suspicion as being a spy for the west coast office. The politicians planned on befriending her to find out what the story was and who was in trouble. He on the other hand had insolence of youth. He didn't know why she was coming and quite frankly didn't care. His plan was to ignore her and go about his business just as he had always done.

She arrived at the office on a Monday. She flew in over the weekend and was already set up in an apartment in German Town around 86th. Street and Lexington Ave. The Vice President in charge of the International operations made sure she had an office with the appropriate furniture. He called a staff meeting to introduce us and her. The Vice President explained she was called in to help with the new business in the Television end of our business. Television was sort of anathema to us in the movie business in those days since it was siphoning off a lot of our business. Those in the know figured the best way to beat them was to join them. The problem was many of the TV salesmen who were there from the ground floor actually were the rough and tough guys from the clothing industry. They could do a lot of business but they could offend a lot of important people also. She was there to help them through the rough spots of a start up business and once they were settled in she would return to the home office. Every-one breathed a sigh of relief and she was accepted. But he was determined to ignore her.

She, however proved difficult to ignore since he was in charge of finance she needed his assistance on many of the projects she was working on. They would spend a few mornings on these projects but when lunch time came if he didn't have a business lunch set up he would disappear and come back later seemingly walking with a buzz. She suspected and was correct that he was drinking his lunch alone. She on the other hand didn't eat lunch unless of course she had a business meeting. She liked to scamper around Manhattan hitting all the big stores like Henri Bendel, Sax Fifth Ave., Bloomingdale's and the like trying on the most expensive furs, jewelry, shoes and other clothing items without actually buying them. She had the chutzpah to put on enough of a front that the sales people all thought she came from money. One day she asked him where he was going for lunch and if she could go along. He brought her to his favorite bar but she didn't even finish the first drink he bought while he had his three Gibsons, oh how he loved those cocktail onions. She felt comfortable enough to tell him they would have more fun if he would come along with her while she shopped the ritziest stores in Manhattan. AND she was right. The sales people would always make sure to ask him if he liked what she was trying on, including the Pearls that were worth about $5,000. He would always play the game and defer to her saying he had nothing to do with the whole thing and with a wink and a smile they would say they understood but still ask him what they thought. After they left the store and grabbed a quick iced tea they would laugh at the fact that the sales people thought he was her sugar daddy.

She wasn't pretty, was extremely thin but when she walked into a room she caught everybody's eye. She carried herself with assurance and a touch of femininity that caused men to want to talk to her and women to be jealous even though they were prettier and sexier. There were many business affairs during the week that required their attendance with parties to follow. They might spend time together at these functions but every one at the office was getting the idea that a tryst was going on. They never saw each other outside of business related situations. They never saw each other on weekends. But the office gossip was that she was breaking up his marriage. He was married to a beautiful Hispanic very sexy lady who he loved more than life itself but the gossipers only saw this office relationship as a tryst, perhaps because in the industry such cheating was commonplace. The Advertising lady, she was way ahead of her time to be in such a position, took her aside and chided her for being so heartless. That afternoon they went to a restaurant instead of doing the shopping thing. She wanted to know if it was true that she was breaking up his marriage. He assured her that what they had was love but not the kind of love he had with his little Hispanic fireball. He did say that it would be fun to let them at the office think what they want while they would enjoy the relationship they had. That night he went home and told his wife what had transpired. She seemed to understand everything but he sensed maybe a little "something" was there. So that night he was more romantic than ever with her assuring her, he thought , there would never be anyone but her, his fireball.

Two years went by and they became closer exchanging secrets and feelings but never stepping over the line of beingPhilia which is great concern and care as one would have for a family member but perhaps a little deeper than just brotherly love.

And so she flew off to California where she grew in the profession and became famous, married had a great family and made a lot of money. She became one of the most respected women in her profession. He never reached the heights he seemed to be headed for He was a bit too harsh and made some enemies. He refused to take advantages of opportunities as they arose since they would have taken him away from his family for too many months a year. Eventually he left the film industry and settled down into the financial industry in a very boring no-where job that offered security. As she rose in stature he settled into obscurity. Over the years they kept in touch when she would have to come into New York for business purposes and they would sit and talk like the old days for a few hours or so. Eventually their lives became so divergent that they drifted apart and lost contact with each other for over ten years.

His wife passed away after a long illness which caused him to reflect on his life and he remembered his long lost gal pal and wondered what and how she was doing. He was getting on in age and he was aware that he had less time to do many things that he would like to do since the window of opportunity was closing very rapidly. One day going through some old papers he came upon her address. He didn't know if she still resided there but he took a chance and dropped her a note saying he was thinking of her to which she responded that he was in her mind also. Another card came a few months later telling him she had to come to New York on family business and would like to meet. He of course said sure let's do it. So they set a date, time and place.

As the day of their meeting came closer he became nervous about he meeting. He thought she might even not recognize him and after the first greeting what in the world would they talk about. He was convinced that she rose above him in every way and they would have nothing in common, except perhaps the two years they spent together so very long ago when the world seemed very young. The day came and he almost called her to cancel the meeting with some flimsy excuse and he would have done so but he had the nagging feeling that this window would close never to be opened again and they would never see each other again. He asked himself if this could be a premonition of death? Whose death? He just didn't know so with this in mind he went to see her.

He was waiting in the lobby of her hotel for about ten minutes. One of the elevator doors opened and there she was. He recognized her immediately as she was speaking in her bright lady like style to someone getting off the elevator with her. She was older yes but still maintained the energy of youth and the essence of femininity. He was completely bald somewhat out of shape and he wanted to run but he heard her call his name and run into his arms and they hugged and kissed. Laughing she said today we are going to do something like the old days. There were errands to run and we had to pick up theatre tickets for two plays she was going to see which meant we were going to walk all over New York to the final box office which was across the street from where we used to work. The hours spent together was terrific. She did most of the talking and she was as full of life as she was some fifty years ago. She wanted to have a late lunch but he refused because quite truthfully he was bushed and his feet were barking at him. Quite frankly he was showing his age. Just before the parted they reminisced about what only they could know and the moment was sweet. They hugged and kissed warmly perhaps with perhaps a little more love than that Greek word "Philia".

He sat on the Long Island Railroad train going homeward and he thought it was a great day. She is terrific but this will probably be the last time we see each other and finality always has sadness attached to it. He remembered his nagging feeling something dreadful would keep them from future meetings but he pushed those thoughts out of his mind. It is peculiar how there are brief times in our lives that have a lasting effect. He wondered if he took some of the turns in the road that could have led to a successful career would have brought fame and fortune. But he thought not if it would have meant losing his Hispanic fireball who he loved even more on this day for always understanding his love for her was deeper and eternal.            
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