My Uncle Carmine had a theory that the reason for the longevity of women was due to the fact that their sex makes men wait for them and every minute and hour of a man’s waiting is stored within the genetic code of a woman’s body. In America that advantage of life over death is more than five years and I swear that I’ve felt the tug of their vampiric vacuum on more than one occasion, but never more than when I made a date with a young model to see a movie in Lincoln Center.
The year was 1981. Her name was Julie. Neither of her eyes looked in the same direction. I had a thing for wall-eyed girls. We met at the filming of DOWNTOWN 81. The set was Danceteria on West 45th Street. Jean-Michel Basquiat was the star of the movie. I was an extra, so was Julie. She could have passed as a double of Francoise Hardy, the 70s French pop singer. I still had a thing for the Yeh-Yeh Girl.
Julie said that she was a painter. She was studying arts at FIT with Manny’s daughter. Her old man had a diamond store on Canal Street. I was good friends with her brother, Richie Boy. It was a small world and the four of us ran into each others at a nightclub. Richie Boy swooped on Julie like a vulture hitting a baby lamb. Julie wasn’t impressed with his Crassanova tactics and sought refuge with me. Jean-Michel came over to say hello. He had once painted my refrigerator. I didn’t tell Julie that I made my hillbilly girlfriend wipe it off. She laughed at my joke. That was always a good sign with a woman and even better she agreed to see Werner Herzog’s AGUIRRE WRATH OF GOD with me.
“It’s a German movie about a conquistador seeking the cities of gold in the Amazon.”
“I’ve heard about it.”
“There’s a Five o’clock show at Lincoln Center.”
“I’ll meet you at 4:45 after my class.” She scribbled a phone number on a napkin and left with Richie Boy’s sister. They lived together underneath
5 O’clock Show.
I arrived at the theater 30 minutes early and bought two tickets. 15 minutes passed without any sign of Julie. 4:50. A no-show. 5 on the nose. I searched the faces on the sidewalk. She had stood me up and I sold my tickets to a couple holding hands. They were very grateful, since the show was a sellout.
My friend was tending bar farther up Broadway. I had two drinks and told him about my non-date.
“Typical of women in this city. Always saying yes to a back-up plan.”
Julie could have had 13 plan Bs. She was that beautiful and my soul was wandering through a vast abyss of emptiness. Something was sucking my energy without any chance of my repleting the loss. I paid for my drinks and wandered back downtown, thinking I might watch a XXX film at ShowWorld on the Minnesota Strip. The girls on screen weren’t real, but they were always punctual.
As I neared the theater, I lifted my head and spotted Julie running to the ticket booth. She was over two hours late. Her breathing was off pace and her out-of-synch eyes wavered in their gaze between mine, as if she were hypnotizing a cobra.»
Photo by David Paul Ohmer
“Am I late?” Her question swirl as a life-sucking fog around my body. If I answered ‘yes’, those lost two hours would be banked in her longevity account. The first seconds of 5o’Clock were fleeing my soul and I fought for my life by saying, “No, I just got here too.”
“Really?” Her mesmeric stare was transformed by doubt. Men waited hours for beauty like hers. Disappointment broke her mirror of confidence and the stolen time of the past two hours snapped back into my eternity.
“Sorry, I’m late. You still want to see the movie?”
“Sure.” I bought two tickets and we entered the theater. She kissed me during the credits. I thought that it was an apology, but later in my life I realized that it was a kiss of surrender. It was the start of a short affair. She left for France to be a model that summer. I drove her to the airport.
We saw each other in Paris. Only as friends. She could only love someone who would give her his time and I wanted to live forever. I guess that she thought me selfish.
As far as I know Julie is alive in Paris. I hope that she lives long. Most women do and it ain’t no secret why.
Least not to me.
Peter Nolan Smith left New England in 1976 for the East Village. The nightlife became his vehicle for traveling the world; Paris, Hamburg, Nice, and London. His career ended at the Milk Bar in Beverly Hills in 1995 and devoted his years to traveling in the Orient, supporting by his new profession as diamantaire. Most of his 21st Century has been spent in Thailand, although economics forced his return to the USA in 2008. Peter NolanSmith currently lives in Brooklyn and Sriracha, Thailand. He is the editor and writer of www.mangozeen.com.