What first attracted me to the man I fell in love with in college, I confess, were his forearms. He always wore white shirts folded just below his elbows, and sat with his legs crossed while simultaneously smoking a cigarette and sucking a Wint-o-Green Lifesaver.
I worked in Bar Harbor, Maine, during the summer of 1978. He arrived at the door one day, backpack on his back after a Very Long trip by bus from Ohio. He was pretty excited to see me and to meet my employer: a man who’d had a prominent role in NATO years earlier. Both of us were really interested in foreign policy and he’d intended on making a career of it somehow.
Here’s my favorite memory from that summer: My employer’s second wife was many years his junior. One of her friends from France had arrived to stay a few weeks. Both women came into the kitchen one evening as my boyfriend and I were eating spaghetti. They were wearing only shirts, which were buttoned quite provocatively, as I recall, and underwear. He looked at them in the face, then looked them up and down, then calmly resumed eating his spaghetti. They were flustered, left the kitchen quickly, as if having come upon us by accident.
It was no accident; they’d wanted to fluster him and were instead flustered that it hadn’t worked.
He was just 20 years old at the time. I hope he’s remained strong at his core. As for the two women: I wonder if they went on trying to seduce young men.