I got home and called my friend. "I had the best time," I said. "I just love him."
I never saw him again. I e-mailed him after a day or two saying I hoped he'd had as good a time as I had, and asking him a quick question about something he'd said. "Who was it you said said, 'Man wants but little here below, but wants that little longer'? Was it Oliver someone?" Of course I knew the answer.
His reply was brief. "Yes, Goldsmith, but not but, it's nor." Not another word.
"Oh my God," I thought—"you're a dick!"
But being 70 has its advantages. I did not spend any time wondering what I'd done wrong, or what I could or should have done differently, whether I was too old or too fat or asked too many questions. I am who I am and it has taken me a long time to get here. But part of me was sad, because I liked him, and we did have a good time. The date was like an island you stumble on with a stranger, and you spend a few pleasant hours together there, but you can never find the island again. I ached a little.
And then oh God, I suddenly remembered waiting for a glimpse of my first serious crush, Tony Wallace, as he drove up or down the hill outside our house. It was 1956, I think. I swear I could hear his car coming 40 miles away, and I'd rush to the window hoping for a glimpse of his elbow sticking out the driver's side if he was driving up the hill, or a girl in the passenger seat when he was driving down. Either way I was filled with love and longing, an ache that was almost pain. Tony was tall and gentle and beautiful with sad, sad eyes. He was a few years older than I was. He had asked me out a few times, and it was he who taught me how to French kiss on that hill overlooking the Hudson, the smell of wisteria everywhere, but finally I was just too young. "Oh Tony," is all I'm thinking now.
"Where are you?"
Abigail Thomas is the author of A Three Dog Life (Mariner) and Safekeeping (Anchor).
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