Tuesday, November 8, 2011

dinner with a former bad boy (lyn)

“When I was in jail,” begins Stephen (not his real name).  I laugh because I don’t know anyone else who can begin a story with that lead-in.  I am having dinner with Stephen.  He is smart, well-educated, age-appropriate, and interesting.  He is also a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in 14 months.  He lives without TV’s to keep his mind uncluttered.  He reads books on religion and history; the one he has with him is Rock the Casbah by Robin Wright.  (I’m glad he doesn’t see the book I’m carrying, a fun little mystery called Hush by Kate White).  He lost his license for two years because of more than one DUI.  He remains friends with his wife, with whom he is separated, and with whom he would be happy to return.   A year ago he gave up his mistress of 20 or so years, who was 16 when he met her; he was 44. 

Stephen’s stories are about the person he once was, not the person he now is.  He knows we could never be in a relationship, but I doubt that he’d want that anyway.  He tells me that I am the only person he now “dates” even though we have only had one date before, when I met him for the first time in March.

I’ve chosen the restaurant, Vins et Fleurs, a sweet little place in Soho.  We meet before five, as we plan to see an early screening.  The restaurant is empty except for the wait staff and us.  Stephen is a vegetarian and doesn’t eat fish, so he has an omelet.  I order the halibut in a citrus sauce.  While I listen to Stephen’s extraordinary history, I eat and he talks.  Soon, I’m done eating and he’s barely started.

We both get desserts.  My fruit-based soufflé is impossible to describe, but amazingly good.  Over dinner I learn that Stephen rides a bike in lieu of a car, and that he loves opera, but doesn’t like movies. I don’t like the idea of his riding his bike in the dark.  And, the movie is supposed to be a sad one.  I encourage him not to come.  He eventually agrees.   

I go to the screening alone.  It’s a depressing film (poorly namedTyrannosaur) about angry, violent, alcoholic people.  I’m sure Stephen’s bike ride home was a more pleasant way to end the night.

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