I’m sitting with a faded telegram and wonder how we ever found love without cellphones, WhatsApp, Tinder. Simple: extra effort. And no cellphones.
The telegram reads: New Library upstairs 1605. Day after tomorrow, Wednesday. Before your 1700 shift. Please please please. If you feel half as miserable as me you feel terrible.
Cliché forever – ABC. A fabulous love letter delivered in caps; white strips. I look at the faded orange envelope, delivered to my doorstep on the 12th floor of my flat a lifetime ago and for the life of me can’t remember if I made the rendezvous.
I hope I did because he paid per word for that telegram. My little Aristotle with his grey hair and black frames … and I was too stupid to be his Jackie O. How I regret it.
This little American worked around us not having phones: telegrams instead of emojis, a taxi long before the word Uber existed. A telegram? Was always bad news – and delivered to your door with a sense of urgency – unless it was from Ari who could pay for the extra pleases even though he lived three blocks from me and I’m a block from the rendezvous. Style, I call it.
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He, after all, wrote for Reader’s Digest at 20c a word in the late ’70s and used my pearls. And hoped I would get into James Michener’s The Drifters. I never did, but still got the book inscribed: From Ari, This Book, to Carine – my ABC.
But he did introduce me to Advocaat, yellow, sticky and sicky, in a club at 3am. I hated it and walked out with the glass. The bouncer took exception until Ari slipped him five bucks – and, true to form, the bouncer was knifed just after we left. Ari was ecstatic.
We changed the world through a bribe – a word not in my vocabulary 40 years ago, just saying. But I’m sitting with a faded telegram and wonder how we ever found love without cellphones, WhatsApp, Tinder. Simple: extra effort. And no cellphones.
Three rings from a public telephone, post office box you gave your parents after the movie. Pick me up, I’m safe. A telegram delivered to my door? I am so unsafe. But we walked your extra mile, Ari. No emoji, ABC. That’s my real smile a lifetime later.
Thank you, artful dodger. You stole my fantasies. You must’ve loved me.