Tuesday, February 23, 2021

11

2019

Becca did not answer the phone. No surprise there.  Becca did not answer the phone before there were answering machines. Caller ID and voice mail must have seemed like a gift from the almighty to her. I left a message after hearing a predictable Becca message.  Flat voice, matter of fact: “Richard and I are not here now. Please leave a message.”  

I knew there was a Richard or knew that at one point there had been a Richard. Apparently, there still was a Richard.  I’d met him a couple of times, once only a couple of years after Becca and I had stopped dancing.  Another time about a decade later. Not much to Richard. Did not say much. Lugged a camera around his neck and grunted hellos.  A doctor of some sort.  The kind that made money unlike the kind that I had become.  After the beep, I said hi to them both.  Then I asked Becca to call me, trying to relay an urgency without ratcheting up anxiety.  Must be an urgency she’d have to think. I had not called her since the Carter administration. 

The first thing that Becca did when I got back from the trip in 1974 was suggest I take a bath.  I did not think I was that ripe, but she met me outside her apartment, gave me a hug and a kiss that reflected longing but also some reluctance.  We walked up the stairs to her apartment and she immediately turned right and headed into the bathroom. She left the door open and started running the water in the bathtub.  It was only about 5 in the afternoon. I looked at her. She nodded her head and said, “You need a bath.”

Then afterwards we had sex, pretty good sex as I recall it.  A month without sex when you are 24 kind of sex.  Becca was a prig in many ways for sure, but she liked to dance.  It was in fact she who first seduced me.  We had gone to Niagara Falls for a date. Probably our third or fourth. Drove back to my apartment and had a drink.  We were kissing in the living room on a couch that came with the apartment and looked like it came with the place when Al Jolson starred in the Jazz Singer.  The living room/couch was right on the beat of anyone who came into the house.  After two of my roommates-- strangers to her--plodded through the living room and did not even register our necking presence she nudged me and whispered that we should go upstairs to my bedroom.  She came into the bedroom, told me it was sweet, and then went into the bathroom. When she came out I could smell the spermicide used on diaphragms.  I figured either she liked me, or this was the 70s, I was available and—as far as she could predict—I was likely to be armed.  

I asked if we were going to have sex when I smelled the stuff. She looked at me and said something like, “well it does not have to be right now.”  Usually right now was fine with me, but that night for some reason I felt we might be rushing it a bit.  Then after a couple more passionate smooches I stopped wavering.

I had a tiny single bed in a room that was probably 10 by 8.  A single bed, a small dresser, a desk, a tiny closet, and that was it. Roll out of bed, take two steps and you are out the door. One more step and you are in the one bathroom for four men, bathroom.  

She must have just about died having to use our bathroom to put that diaphragm in.  When I stayed at Becca’s apartment, nothing was out of place. She lived with two other students, none of whom got along with any of the others, but the place was dust free.  The bathroom had three toothbrushes standing at attention, the soap in a proper soap dish, some knick-knack around the sink for who knows what and a picture on the wall, again for who knows what.  

Despite the apparent uniformity suggested by a tidy three-person apartment, the tension between the women became such that by April Becca had moved on to a place she had by herself.  And it was there, where she ran the water for the bath when I returned, and it was there that she listened to some stories about my trip.  Not sure how much she heard as, being a child of the 60s and 24 herself, and also having gone a month without a fellow, she was sort of anxious for me to soap up.  But I told her about the trip while I was washing. I left out the scary parts then.

The next day, I showed her the map and the log.

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