I’m bussing tables at a restaurant in the Meatpacking District. I hate my boss because she never tells me whether I’m closing until I’m closing and I hate my uniform because it’s 95 degrees outside. I’m resetting a table on the patio and a handsome man at the next table catches my eye. I smile and go over to say hello.
He’s from Brazil. He’s in New York to meet with clients, but my boss is shouting from the hostess stand and I can’t here what he says he does for a living. He’s a 50 year-old man in better physical shape than I am at 20. He looks dignified, like a prince getting married or a fashion designer at a cocktail party.
He writes his phone number, the name of his hotel and the number of his room on a business card. He says to come over when I’m off of work. I say it will be late and he says he will wait for me. I’m in the walk-in freezer getting olives for the bartender when he leaves, but I’m giddy through the rest of my shift.
I walk out with my tips at 1:30 in the morning. I reach in my pocket and the card isn’t there, because I was wearing my uniform when it happened. I run back inside and the laundry cart has already been rolled onto a truck.
I hook up with a guy on Manhunt. He’s a little bossy in bed, but he’s right around the corner from my apartment. He asks if we can go to dinner the next night and I say okay because I’m thinking about never having sex with him again anyways.
He takes me to a fancy restaurant with no sign on the door. The hostess says she doesn’t have tables, but she’s interrupted by a manager who seats us right away. My date asks the manager about how someone is and how her trip to somewhere went and something about something she’s doing this summer. He tells her we’ll have “some drinks” and “some appetizers” and then orders my entree for me.
He starts asking me questions about myself, but talks over all my answers about some trip to France he’s taking and some interview he’s doing for a magazine.
A waitress walks by with a tray of drinks and he stops her and asks if someone is in “the back” tonight. She says yes and he excuses himself because the someone’s birthday is this month and this someone is “a dear friend.” He keeps saying their first and last name, like I’m supposed to know who they are and confirms the growing suspicion that my date is a complete douche bag.
He doesn’t come back until after our appetizers arrive. He kisses me and says he’s having a really good time.
I’m getting a burger before I see my therapist in Chelsea. I look up and a man is looking at me through the window, smiling and waving. I don’t know who he is. He walks inside and introduces himself. He is Italian and speaks with a lisp. He’s in town from Rome for a conference about something having to do with foreign policy. I don’t understand, but I like him.
We meet for coffee after my appointment. I start talking about why I’m in therapy and I think I’m saying too much but he’s asking questions.
I say I’ve been acting like an idiot since I got to New York and I’ve hurt a lot of people. He says he’s impressed that I’m trying to resolve it. I say that I don’t think I deserve praise for not being an asshole.
He tells me the story of the Prodigal Son, how the older son who stayed home doesn’t think his brother’s return deserves a celebration.
“And the father tells him, ‘But you were here. You have had the life. But your brother was lost and now he is alive.’”
I don’t completely understand. His English is broken and I’m not sure if this is really the story of the Prodigal Son or not, but I feel like he is saying something very powerful that I need to hear. It starts snowing when he walks me home and we kiss under an awning and it feels like I’m doing something right for the first time in a long time.
(Painting: The Abduction of Ganymede (c. 1650) - Eustache Le Sueur)
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