Monday, February 1, 2010


Another woman, who said she was a therapist, looked as disheveled as a bag lady despite expensive clothes. Someone I would cross the street to avoid, even when I might have shown sympathy after she said she had early Alzheimer’s. She lectured us about how we should get to know each other on the telephone, which she said was an “intimate device.” And there was Doris who kept twisting her face into a scary mask and talked crazy, saying things like “Let’s all limo uptown.” Henry, whom I had told about my getting off sleeping pills, had told Doris, and now she kept wanting little private talks with me about this problem.

There was an almost pretty girl named Roberta who leapt from subject to subject incoherently, except when she was describing how she spurned the advances of a rich ad man. I ran into her at the Modern one say and she said "We have to talk," so we went to the café for coffee and she told me she really did not want to get to know me.

A woman with wild red hair who looked like someone who could be both nice and nasty in an office talked of how she was not only a therapist, she too, but a very good one. Because of coming from an awful family where she had had to please everyone, she understood everyone. She described meeting a man at a hotel swimming pool and going straight upstairs to fuck. “And of course,” she said, “the fact that I had to please both my mother and my father is the reason I am bisexual.” She was not nearly so nice seeming as the one who told the group about how she had connected with a toll taker at the Lincoln tunnel, and crossed to Manhattan and then driven straight back through the tunnel to meet the toll collector at a Day’s Inn near the tunnel entrance. And a woman with a deeply lined face – “Premature because I ski,” she said – said of everyone present, “Pets and children stay away from us.”

And then there was a very gray, fiercely mousey woman named Abigail, whom I thought at first must be a telephone operator, because she looked like a former telephone operator I knew in Nicaragua, though the one I knew there was the opposite of what I had thought when I first saw her, for that one was a brave Maryknoll nun and the leader in a house with younger out-of-uniform liberation theology nuns who helped me gather material on the awful ruling Somozas. There was no indication Abigail had such an interesting life. She talked of being an unrecognized, unemployed academic. She talked of how until recently she had worked in theater in wardrobe, but she hated that, and now she was a temporary office worker, which she hated too but not so much. Nothing at all like the nun in Nicaragua, who had turned out to be warm and amusing as well as smart and courageous.

Abigail did turn out to be extremely sharp intellectually, which somehow made it worse, rather than cause me to revise my first impression. Peter Cooper, who came down to visit from Vermont, went to some meetings with me, and hit it off with Abigail. Before he went back to Vermont he asked me if I would get Abigail’s address for him. So I passed this along to her, and the next time I saw her she had two carefully lettered white cards with all her contact points on them. And I think she winked when she said “This is for your friend. And you.”

It wasn’t much to go on but I knew I was being stalked.

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