We live together, love each other, plan to be an item forever; we’re even (gasp) monogamous. Who needs marriage?
We’re The Dickster and Nanooch, Coach and Colette. He’s Monsieur le Patron toasting Madame le Chef. When the mood turns Italian, it’s Ricardo and Annunciatia. Could Husband and Wife sound sweeter?
Dick was 80 and I was 65 when we fell into each other’s lives, on a bright October day five years ago. We’re both writers and love telling the story. “We met online the old fashioned way. On line to buy smoked fish at Citarella.”
Lots of big spenders ahead of us at the deli counter, none in a rush, on the Saturday before Halloween. May they all live and prosper, especially a tall fortyish lawyer-couple wordily comparing the varieties of olive as if they were picking a jury. They gave Dick and me time to catch each other’s eye and size up each other’s baskets. He (Aran Islands sweater, Sean Connery eyebrows) was shopping for one. I (in catering mode) was feeding 20. Before you could say Wild-Caught Sockeye, we’d segued from chitchat (hot-smoked versus cold-smoked fish) to an artful exchange of data.
He would be eating his smoked salmon at his desk on West 10th Street while finishing a piece for Forbes; he was a contributing writer after many years on staff here and in Japan, where he’d opened the Asia bureau. Oh, the fishies in Japan. I’d be catering a lunch—cooking professionally was my midlife madness—for two performance artists from Berlin and some folks they’d lured to my place in Chelsea to re-enact, sort of, The Life Swap, a nonfiction book I’d written in the ’70s about trying to be someone else [switching apartments, job, lovers, and breakfast menus] while she was trying to be me.
“You can Google me,” he said. He didn’t quite blush, but he looked endearingly surprised to hear himself say the words. He gave me his name, and I gave him mine and my email, and four long days later, he invited me to lunch on smoked salmon at The Half King, my local pub.
Was it love or the midday Guinness? I kept thinking he was speaking Latin. Whatever he was saying—Arma virumque cano—I wanted more of it. I invited him to look in on what the boys from Berlin were doing—I was all wrapped up in it; and he did. His presence brought needed clarity. The Life Swap was my past. Dick might be my future, a beautiful future. “They’re leaving Thursday,” I said. “Come for dinner. Do you like rabbit? I oven-fry it.”
So we began . . .
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