I received a phone text from Lucinda, and all it said was “come.” That morning she sent me a series of images of herself that first I presume were selfies, but after looking at them for a while, I realized that someone must have taken these photographs of her. One is a portrait of her dressed in a pleated gray skirt with an oversized men’s white shirt. Her hair is red, has faint freckles on her face and throughout her body. I’m in my 60s, and she is 35, and for whatever reason, she is attracted to me. It is tough to ignore when you reach my age, and a younger woman shows affection toward you, especially eros. But now, realizing that these are not self-portraits but taken by another person, I’m now obsessing over what or who this person can be. I know very little of her friends, and she mentioned to me that she had a boyfriend, but she found him to be conservatively sexually, and one thing about Lucinda is you can’t tame such an intense flame.
I looked back on the other photos she sent me of herself, and yes, they were taken by someone. None of them are nasty, but they are seductive and were shot or made to attract those looking at these images. I feel bad or guilt may be a better word, being attracted or allowing myself to be drawn into her world in such a manner. At first, I thought the relationship was between her and me, and therefore what is the problem? But now, looking at all the photos she sent me, it strikes that there is a third person in our relationship, and I’m not sure how that individual fits in the puzzle that is our affair. Even more puzzling, I find myself aroused at the thought of someone else in our private world.
I met Lucinda at the French Bistro on Vermont, where they have seating on the sidewalk. The tables there are small, and two people have to sit close to each other. This is not a problem with me, and I hope not for Lucinda. I told her that I find the photographs extraordinary and when they are texted to me on those days, it brings a happy feeling. “And, that is the purpose of the photos, “ she said.
“I notice something interesting, and I hope you don’t mind if I bring this up. But, at first, I thought these photos were all selfies….”
“They’re not,” she said.
“Are they taken by the same photographer?”
Her directness, as well as not adding any more information, made me feel confused. “Do I know this person?”
She thinks about it and then gives me the answer, “no.”
I put on my sunglasses and looked directly into her blue eyes, “has this photographer seen you in the nude?”
“Of course, many times.” She smiled at me and said: “you are very curious about him, aren’t you?”
“He is him.” Yes, I have to admit I’m curious.”
“I would say something about him, but I don’t want you to be jealous.” Of course, once she said that, I felt the long arms of jealousy wrapping around my torso. “You know you can tell me anything, Lucinda. From the very beginning, we have said to each other we must be honest at all times.”
“Yes, I know, but still, there are secrets to be maintained…
“No, no, Lucinda, secrets are for jealous people or those who are not sophisticated in a manner that we are. Please. Tell me everything.”
“I don’t know. I would like to, but… I think you may not be able to take it.”
Like showing an ant to maple syrup, I took the bait, and each moment lasted longer than it should, by my thinking of their relationship.
“Ah, but you see, I don’t care, Lucinda. I’m not trapped in the chains of ownership or knowing everything about my lover. I paused for no reason but just for stylish reasons. “There is no reason for us to dwell into our inner worlds if one doesn’t want to share.” I paused again, thinking that I needed to know as much as possible about her and her boyfriend, and I must know everything.
“I’m so happy to hear that because I don’t want to talk about him with you. Thank you for understanding,” she said. This is going in the wrong direction, and I need to reverse or somehow get her back on track. “On the other hand Lucinda, if you ever have the need….”
“I won’t, she stated. The subject matter with her is from the past, and she no longer or has any desire to prolong or make this into a present subject matter. The feeling of vertigo or losing one’s control came over me in waves. I imagine her and him, whomever it is, because, in my mind, his face is blanked out, but I see her body, her expression of eros on her face with the blanked face. The face that is not mine. According to my favorite author P.G. Wodehouse, he had written: “When you have been just told that the girl you love is definitely betrothed to another, you begin to understand how Anarchists must feel when the bomb goes off too soon.”
I feel a slow eruption taking place in front of me.
“I understand. I truly understand,” I commented to her, and I could see she was already thinking of something else. Perhaps him? No, I think she is tired of this subject matter. But the more tired she gets, the more energy I feed off her tiredness. Something inside me becomes a surgeon, where I need to operate or dig more t get to the source. And once I hit the source, I always feel unsatisfied. The journey is the destination, and her beauty is the ride.
We made plans to get together at my home later that evening, but she texted me 10 minutes before our agreed appointment that she couldn’t make it. All it said was, “I can’t come over tonight. Talk to you later.” Perhaps it is due to my age, but I'm not too fond of communication on the various social mediums and text. It is never a complete sentence, but more of an expression relayed in a manner that is not thought over, or the lack of a writing style annoys me. How one presents oneself to the world is essential to me, and the casualness of a text or email is an entrance to an uncivilized world.
I now sit on my chair, with a book on my lap, trying to read the new David Bailey memoir, and thinking, where have all the pleasure has gone? I was so much looking forward to a night of eros-delight, but now, I sit here thinking of maybe her pleasing another man. A man who replaced yours truly in a situation where I needed the pleasure more. I don’t know the other fellow, but I think I should be pleased first due to my age and temperament by the law of nature. I can give pleasure as well. It’s very much a two-lane street with no stop signs. As I look at the clock, and it is later in the evening, I imagine the worse has had happened, and perhaps they’re asleep. Or if he is full of energy, maybe it is still going on. As I look out the window and see the full moon, I imagine that we can see the same image. Due to experience and shared history, I know she likes to be on her back and look at the moon. Then again, the idea in my head overpowers anything in nature, magnifying the feeling of worthlessness and doubt.
As a senior citizen, I hold on to the past as if it was a secure home. The truth is, I never had security, and I’m very much part of the wind that comes through Southern California. Although I would love to own another, I’m more likely a prisoner of memory or the illusion of being on the same vista as Lucinda. She loves me, this I know, but it’s the idea of such a romance that is present. I have nothing, but her admiration, which you can’t take to the bank, you know.