The Glass

0

He was about my age, 20, very clean cut, wearing glasses and jeans and a red tee-shirt. I was not instantly attracted to him, but I felt extremely comfortable sharing the outdoor eating space with him, especially since he’d chosen the exact same food and drink I had.

He spoke to me first. “I love Marie’s lemonade,” he said.

“Don’t you just adore the combination of chocolate and lemon?” I asked.

“Oh, yah. Marie’s is my favorite place to get dessert,” he said, picking up his plate and large glass and coming over to my table. “May I join you?”

“I guess so,” I said.

“I’m Jay,” he said.

“I’m Anne.”

He sat down, and we quietly finished our cake.

“It’s good to see someone else has good taste,” Jay said.

“I come here a lot,” I said.

“Are you a student?”

“Yes, but not here. I go to Oberlin. I’m just spending the summer in New York working. I adore New York.”

“Oh, a New Yorker wannabe, huh? What do you do?”

“I’m a typist at Hart, Shaffner and Marx.”

Jay leaned back in the metal chair. He pulled out some cigarettes and offered me one. I took it, feeling daring because I didn’t smoke much.

“What do you do?” I asked, allowing him to give me a light.

“I’m a personal assistant,” Jay said. He pushed his black glasses off his nose and onto the top of his head. He had beautiful blue eyes.

“What does that entail?”

“I’m a chauffeur mostly.

Sometimes, I make meals. Do the shopping. Whatever he wants, really.”

“Who’s he?”

“No one famous. A stock broker. Rich, a very rich guy. I just got off work.” Jay took a puff. “He’s got this great loft about a block away. Would you like to see it?”

I wanted more cake. I didn’t know this guy. But for some reason, I wasn’t afraid of him. He was already calling me names, but he didn’t seem serious.

“Do you have to get up early?” I asked.

Jay turned the corner onto Broadway and in about the middle of the block, he opened a door and went inside. I followed him. Here was this 20-year-old and I in this tiny elevator. What did he want with me?

“Are you gay?” I asked.

“I think I’m bi.”

“I don’t have to go in until 11:30. Why? Are you tired?”

“I go to bed early.”

“It’s Friday night.”

“Well, I can go for about an hour.”

“Hey, I don’t want to corrupt you,” he said, but somehow I could tell that he did.

“Did you go to college?” I asked, picking up my small bag and following him.

“No.”

“How old are you?” I asked.

“I’m 20.”

I knew it. What I coincidence. We both liked chocolate cake and lemonade, and we were both 20. “Did he think I was beautiful?” I asked myself as we were walking down 14th Street. I passed a mirror in the doorway of a Duane Reed, and I paused there to look at myself. I was beautiful.

He looked in the mirror with me. We actually made a cute pair, but I was getting a strange vibe from him. He kind of felt like my brother.

“There’s so many mirrors in this city,” he said. “A person could just go from mirror to mirror.”

He seemed smart, like he’d been to college or was in college.

“Another cigarette?” he asked.

I took one, and he lit it, and I walked and smoked. God, was I cool, wandering through Greenwich Village, smoking, with a boy I didn’t know. I wished I knew how to blow a smoke ring.

“Where are you staying?” he asked.

“NYU dorm,” I said. “I found a deal there. $500.00/month including two meals a day. Where do you live?”

“Brooklyn. No deals, though.”

We walked through crowds, passing people who were out getting air that night because it was such a beautiful evening, clear and warm and the sky full of stars. Some guy in a ski cap was playing the saxophone, and we stopped and listened to him because he was good. Jay gave him $10.00. Jay seemed like the kind of guy who worked all the time, who never had any fun, who had plenty of money, but who was a bit lonely.

“What’s this guy you work for like?” I asked, looking into a boutique which sold lacy turquoise dresses.

“He’s 55, single, bald. He’s wonderful, I guess.”

Why is this guy describing another guy as “wonderful, I guess?”

I found myself rolling my eyes a bit, wondering what this was all about. But I was sophisticated. “Is he your lover?” I asked.

“No, but he wants to be,” Jay said. “We’re almost there.”

Another wannabe, I thought.

Jay turned the corner onto Broadway and in about the middle of the block, he opened a door and went inside. I followed him. Here was this 20-year-old and I in this tiny elevator. What did he want with me?

“Are you gay?” I asked.

“I think I’m bi.”

The elevator opened, and we were standing in a narrow hallway. We walked to the end, and Jay opened the black door with a key on his Mickey Mouse key ring.

Suddenly, we were standing in a huge loft with the most beautiful wooden floor. It was lit by many industrial-looking lights hanging from the ceiling. In the corner was a beautiful, sparkling white kitchen. Jay instantly got on a skateboard and began to skate around.

“Is this his place?” I asked, watching him.

“Yes.”

“Does he care if you bring people up here?”

“He’ll never know.”

That made me nervous. The first time that night I got a little nervous.

“How about some wine?” he asked. Wine did sound good. Maybe the guy would never know.

Does he want to get me drunk? I asked myself. He wants to get us both drunk and make love to me to see if he likes it with a girl. I felt a little indignant. “I’ll take a glass.”

“Try the skateboard,” he said.

“I can’t skateboard,” I said.

“Sit on it, and I’ll pull you.”

I sat on the skateboard; he grabbed my hand, and pulled me around, faster and faster. It was great. I didn’t care what Jay was all about. I knew I wouldn’t go to bed with him. I felt sorry for him even though he was gorgeous.

He pulled me around in circles, and I looked out into the Village, with all its tiny, lights and car horns and zillions of people out getting air. I was in paradise. It was not a heterosexual paradise, where there was the possibility of love-making, sex, whatever you wanted to call it. It was neutral, and Jay, although I’d only known him for an hour, was a friend.

“Do you like your boss?” I asked.

Jay stopped pulling me and wandered over to the kitchen area and began to select a bottle of his boss’ wine for us to drink.

“I like him.”

“What’s his name?”

“C.O., and he’s 55.”

“He’s too old for you,” I said.

Jay pulled out a Merlot and pierced the foil with a wine opener. He pushed the opener into the soft cork. “I don’t get to meet many people,” he said.

“Do you love him?”

“You’re intense, aren’t you?”

“I guess.”

Jay bent down and reached into a cupboard where he pulled out the most beautiful glass I’d ever seen. It was hand blown, with a royal blue globe on a long, grey stem. Then, he pulled out another. He poured the wine into the goblets and handed me one.

“That remains to be seen,” he said.

“You do, don’t you?” I asked.

We sipped the dark wine. It went down easily. Soon, we were drinking another glass. I could feel my resistance going down, down, down. It was 1983; we didn’t really know about AIDS. I wanted Jay. I wanted Jay to want me.

I went to hug him. He backed away quickly, knocking the beautiful blue glass out of my hand. It proceeded to shatter all over the wooden floor, the Merlot making a big purple puddle, punctuated by broken blue and grey glass.

“Oh, my God!” Jay said.

“I’m so sorry.”

Jay came toward me and tried to set his glass on the counter. He missed, and it too proceeded to shatter. Then he kissed me. The kiss was perfect; that’s all I can say. “Those glasses are one of a kind,” he said afterwards. “C.O. has six of them.”

“Now, he has four.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll find two somewhere,” he said. “I’ve got to, or it’s my job.”

“He doesn’t know you come up here, does he?”

“No.”

We walked to Jose’s, which was on Christopher Street. At this point, I was a little confused. His kiss had been magnificent. He said he thought he was bi, which really kind of turned me on. The idea that a man could love everyone equally was a turn-on

I didn’t sleep all night. In the NYU dorm, I lay under my pink cotton tablecloth, which I’d bought at a cheap linen store to use as a blanket, and touched myself because he’d kissed me so nicely. I could not sleep until about 4:00 in the morning; I dozed off, only to wake up at 8:30. I was meeting Jay at 9:00 to go goblet shopping.

I hopped in the shower and washed my hair. At 20, I didn’t need make-up, only peach lipstick. I threw on some shorts and a top and was downstairs, waiting for him.

He picked me up at the dormitory entrance. He hadn’t changed, seemed as though he too had been up all night.

“I think he got those in Mexico,” Jay said, handing me a cup of deli coffee. “All we have to do is find a Mexican imports store.”

The coffee tasted good. It was black, how I liked it. “Why don’t we look in the phone book?” I asked.

“Good idea.”

We both went into the NYU dormitory and asked the lady at the desk for a one. We took it over to a small couch and began to look for anything Mexican-sounding under “gift stores.”

“Here’s one,” I said. “Jose’s. And it’s in the Village.”

“Let’s go,” said Jay, ripping the whole gift store section out of the book. He quickly folded it and put it in my purse. I loved his familiarity.

We walked to Jose’s, which was on Christopher Street. At this point, I was a little confused. His kiss had been magnificent. He said he thought he was bi, which really kind of turned me on. The idea that a man could love everyone equally was a turn-on, but I didn’t want to see him get mixed up with his 55-year-old boss. That seemed a bit exploitative; however, I didn’t have time to think about it.

We stood in Jose’s, which did have hand-blown glasses, but they were mostly red in color.

“Can I help you?” asked a perfectly manicured, Hispanic guy in lip gloss, who I assumed was gay.

“We’re looking for these in blue and grey,” Jay said, pointing to the reddish glasses.

“You can be my blues and greys,” the guy said to Jay.

Jay laughed.

The clerk’s eyes got big, and he seemed to be intrigued with Jay. “All we have is red,” he said. “But I’ve seen those.”

“Where?” I asked.

“A little shop on the Upper West Side. On Amsterdam. It’s called…Carlos’ Mexican Imports.”

“Well, that’s easy enough,” I said.

“What’s the address?”

“I don’t know the exact address, but it’s at Amsterdam and 68th.”

“Thanks,” we said in unison.

The clerk said, “Any time.”

We hopped on a bus going uptown. Not being able to find two seats, Jay sat down on one of the handicap seats and pulled me down on his lap.

“What’s it like to have a man come on to you?” I whispered.

“You should know that,” he said, grabbing the length of my brown hair, kind of straightening it out.

He did seem to be into me.

At Carlos’ Mexican Imports, we found the same kind of merchandise–hand woven blankets, hand blown glasses, gold jewelry, but no blue and grey wine glasses. By this time it was 10:15

“We’ve got to think of something fast,” Jay said, standing outside the store.

“I’ve got an idea,” I said.

“Whenever I want something really nice, I go to Macy’s basement.

They have tons of imported stuff from everywhere.”

“C.O. loves Macy’s. I’ll bet he got them down there.”

We walked to Macy’s. It was another beautiful day, and I was with a beautiful guy. One could not be in a hurry with this guy.

When we went in, Jay sampled the men’s cologne at a small counter. I liked the smell–crushed, wet leaves. Then, we went straight to the basement and found the glassware department. We saw tons of clear glasses and green glasses, even purple glasses.

“We’re screwed,” I said.

But then, there, in the corner, were blue and grey glasses.

He was so happy; he grabbed me and kissed me again. “How did you know?” he asked.

“I didn’t.”

“Let’s buy three, in case we break one,” he said, scooping up three glasses and taking them to the nearest counter.

The clerk quietly wrapped the precious goblets in handfuls of tissue. They were $17.00 a piece. Not too precious, but precious to us. Jay put them on a credit card.

We were almost to the loft when we ran into none other than C.O. C.O. was bald and wore tiny, round, gold glasses. His beard was greying, and he had a pleasing pot belly and a kind of sweet smile. He wore a black, velour jogging suit with white stripes down the sides of the arms and legs. When he smiled at Jay, you could tell there was something there.

“What a surprise!” C.O. said.

I was carrying the Macy’s bag, which I almost dropped.

“What are you doing down here?” Jay asked.

“I needed something from the loft, and I thought I’d take a walk.

Who’s this?”

“This is Anne,” Jay said. “A new friend. She’s staying at NYU.”

I smiled at him, and he seemed to be contemplating me, not with pleasure, but with curiosity.

“A friend,” C.O. said.

“Yes.”

“Where do you live?” I asked C.O.

“Uptown.”

“It’s a nice day for a walk,” I said.

“I have to run my own errands when Jay’s not around.”

“You need the exercise,” Jay said.

“I do. Hey, I have an idea,” C.O. said. “Let’s show Anne the loft!”

This was starting to make me nervous.

“Terrific,” Jay said.

We continued walking downtown.

“So has Jay been showing you the city?” C.O. asked.

“How do you know I’m from out of town?” I asked.

“You don’t seem like a New Yorker.” I was a bit offended.

“We like to go to Marie’s,” Jay said.

“Oh, Marie’s. Best cakes in town,” C.O. said. “What kind do you like?” he asked me.

“Chocolate.”

“Of course,” he said.

My bathtub in my room was a huge, white porcelain tub, an old one. We climbed in and lay in each other’s arms. Jay seemed much older than I, more worldly, but to this day, I never thought it would be like that. His bisexuality didn’t bother me. It made him who he was. It enhanced the situation.

By then, the three of us were inside the little elevator. I could smell C.O.’s cologne. It mingled with the stuff Jay had put on at Macy’s. They both smelled pretty damn good.

Soon, we were in the loft. I quickly looked to see if there was any wine anywhere that had splashed, that we’d missed. There was no wine, but there on the floor, was a sharp, blue shard.

“Welcome to my loft,” C.O. said. “I use it for parties and for walking, getting some exercise.”

“You use it for skateboarding,” Jay said.

“I do,” said C.O., hopping on the skateboard and skating around.

“It’s beautiful,” I said, like I’d never been there before.

Jay was now holding the bag. I wondered how he was going to get the glasses in the cabinet without C.O. noticing.

C.O. skated a good five minutes with us watching him. Among other things, C.O. seemed to be a big ham. Then, he got off the board and went into the bathroom.

That was our chance. We quickly unwrapped the glasses, only two of them.

Just then, C.O. came out of the john, carrying a small pill bottle. “I ran out of Xanax,” he said to Jay, who was holding the two blue glasses.

“Are you two in the mood for some wine this early?” he asked, walking over to us. He noticed the tissue paper and the Macy’s bag, but he didn’t put it all together until he saw the blue shard on the floor.

“You don’t want wine, do you?” he asked.

“No,” we said.

“When were you here?” he asked Jay.

“Last night,” Jay said.

“And you broke two glasses.”

“We were replacing them,” I said.

“You don’t understand,” C.O. said.

“I did not authorize my loft as an entertainment spot.” He stared at Jay, who stared back at him.

“She’s just a friend,” Jay said.

“That’s right. You know Jay, I can’t have this. I can’t have you bringing strangers up here without my permission.”

“What are you going to do about it?” Jay asked, not like an employee, but a lover.

“You’re fired.”

Jay and I lay on my bed in my dorm room. He seemed happy to be free of C.O. He pulled off my shirt and began kissing my nipple, which made me incredibly hot.

“I’m unemployed,” he whispered.

“But only temporarily,” I said.

I called off my job, and we spent the next week in bed, only going out for Indian food, which he bought.

Sometimes, I’d sneak into the cafeteria and steal enough ham sandwiches for both of us.

The thing I loved about Jay was that he seemed to anticipate my actions. In short, he was a beautiful lover.

“Had you ever had a woman before?” I asked.

“No.”

My bathtub in my room was a huge, white porcelain tub, an old one. We climbed in and lay in each other’s arms. Jay seemed much older than I, more worldly, but to this day, I never thought it would be like that. His bisexuality didn’t bother me. It made him who he was. It enhanced the situation.

He seemed particularly interested in my clitoris. He loved my breasts. It was something new for me, being a man’s first woman.

With nowhere to go, we stayed in and talked. He was a good conversationalist.

“I would love to skateboard down the Guggenheim,” he said.

“Do you miss C.O.?”

“No. I miss being employed. I’ve got to get a job. This has got to stop soon. It can’t go on like this forever.” He laughed.

“If I gave you the Guggenheim, would you take it?”

“Of course.”

“Would you turn it into a classy skate boarding arena?”

“I’d run it. I have good business sense.”

“I know. What do you like about C.O.?” I asked.

“C.O. is scared, and he’s not afraid to admit it. He’s weak. Not like you. You’re strong.”

“I’m young. Would you like me to be weak?”

“No. I’d like you to be you.”

“The kitchen would be here,” Jay said, pointing to a corner of my dorm room. “Stove, refrigerator and sink.” He moved to the middle of the room. “You could actually build a partition and create a little bedroom here.”

I watched him as I sprawled on my bed, with curtains wide open and the light from the street pouring in. We had just made love. I was aware that there was a middle-aged woman watching us through the window, but we had agreed that we felt sorry for her and had decided not to close the curtains. The city was full of people watching each other. That’s just one of the things I loved about it. We had nothing to hide.

“I’d put the living room along the windows,” he said.

“Could we have a navy blue couch?” I asked.

“Sure.”

On Wednesday of the next week, there was a knock at my door. I knew who it was. There was only one person who could find out where I lived. It was C.O.

Jay and I lay quietly on my twin bed, covered with the pink tablecloth. We didn’t quite know what to do.

“Jay!” It was C.O.

We didn’t say a word.

“Jay, I need you to come back,” C.O. said through the door. “My business is falling apart. I need help. Everything’s a mess. Anne? Are you in there?”

“I’m going to let him in,” I said, not really knowing what I was doing, not knowing that if I opened that door, it would be over between Jay and me.

Jay let me do it. He would tell me later in a letter that he let me open the door because C.O. lived in New York. I was just a visitor. I think that label bothered me most.

“Hi,” I said to C.O. I was stark naked.

“I knew you were a nice girl,” C.O. said, looking me up and down. He looked at Jay who still lay on my bed.

“You look comfortable, ” C.O. said to Jay.

“I am.”

“How are you?”

“I’m great.” Jay enunciated the “t” on “great.”

“Would you like to sit down?” I asked C.O., still not realizing that I was losing Jay.

“Thank you,” C.O. said, sitting on the other unmade twin bed.

“How did you find us?” Jay asked.

I hoped Jay would wander into the Salvation Army looking for Classics and pick up this glass. I hoped he would buy it. Then, he and C.O. would drink a Merlot toast to me, knowing that for a few weeks I loved Jay, and Jay loved me, and C.O. couldn’t do a thing about it.

“I have a close friend who works for NYU. I gave him the particulars. He asked around.”

“It’s good to have friends in high places,” Jay said.

“Will you come back?” C.O. said.
Jay rolled over on his stomach.

“Can we talk about this later?”

“If I walk out that door, you’ll never see me again,” C.O. said.

“Why should I?”

“Because I love you. The girl is passing through.”

“I plan to move here after I go to graduate school,” I said, defending myself.

“That could be years,” C.O. said.

“Why don’t you put some clothes on?”

“I’m perfectly comfortable,” I said. I don’t know what had gotten into me. I guess, I was protecting what I thought was my territory.

“Do you always greet guests in the nude?” he asked.

“Only the uninvited ones.”

Jay put on a pair of boxers. “Leave her alone,” he said.

“Did you enjoy it?” C.O. asked.

“What?”

“Your flower.”

“You’re disgusting. Just leave us alone.” Jay said. And then he smiled a private smile to C.O.

At that point, I did know Jay was gone. As quickly as he’d come, he was gone.

I went home early that summer. Without Jay, the city seemed cold.

About three months later, I received a package, a heavy one. In it, was the set of seven, hand-blown, blue and grey glasses. No note.

The glasses moved when I moved, traveling from Ohio to Iowa to Pennsylvania and back to New York again. New York City. Now, 20 years later, on 72nd Street, I only have one goblet left.

I saw C.O. and Jay in Zabar’s about a month ago. C.O. looked old, and Jay looked magnificent, greying around the temples, just perfect. They were buying a brick of white cheese.

I was with my husband of ten years, an even, brilliant man with no tendencies toward other men. Or women, for that matter. We were purchasing coffee and olives for a party we were throwing.

I had put down roots, could not be accused of just passing through. If it would have happened again that day and everything was different, I would have gotten Jay; I knew it.

I repeat; if Jay had wanted me that day at Zabar’s, I would have had him. Sure. I wouldn’t have turned him away. But it would have always bothered me. Would he leave me for another man? My doorman? My next door neighbor, Bill? The pizza man?

Would it be the pizza man?

I guessed I was glad I’d never had another opportunity to be with Jay. I had no animosity toward him because we all eventually end up with whom we’re most comfortable, if we’re lucky.

My husband, Vern, would never know the complexity of another man, but he had a way of loving me that made me feel right. And he was a native New Yorker. Did I mention that?

He was a native New Yorker.

Finally, feeling completely over Jay, I decided to donate the glass to the Salvation Army. Someone would buy it, drink out of it, and carry on its legacy, the one of falling in love with anyone one pleased. It would retail for at least $2.00. It was a special glass, full of history, legend. One day, the glass would even be half price–$1.00. I hoped Jay would wander into the Salvation Army looking for Classics and pick up this glass. I hoped he would buy it. Then, he and C.O. would drink a Merlot toast to me, knowing that for a few weeks I loved Jay, and Jay loved me, and C.O. couldn’t do a thing about it.

It could happen.

In fact, it did.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.