"Brian and I were tenants in the same rundown Greenwich Village brownstone. His apartment was on the second floor, down the hall from mine. This was in 1972. Back then it seemed like everyone I knew got paid off the books, lived in an illegal sublet, or was having an affair with a married man. I was 23 and desperate to get into law school, which seemed my only chance to escape a life of moral drift and group therapy.
Brian often showed up in my dreams disguised as Governor Nelson Rockefeller or Supreme Court Justice William 0. Douglas, each of whom could have gotten me into law school on a phone call. In real life, Brian was 47, old enough to be my father. He thought The Greening of America was deep stuff. I forgave such a sentimental lapse because he was English, and I was in love with his ravaged face.
There was twenty years’ difference between the right side of Brian’s face, where all the stitches were, and the unlined left side. It was beautiful, like driftwood. He’d wrecked a car once, back in England, gone head first through the windshield and had to be put back together again.
I was in love with his voice, too; his English accent all weathered from years of New York City, and his gruff, matter of fact tenderness. He muttered endearments to his calico cat as he ground up the beans for his morning coffee. Old Bum, he used to call her, and made it sound sweeter than sweetheart...."
From "Unmentionable Acts with Shoes" Blues for Beginners: Stories and Obessions by Judith Podell
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