Monday, July 25, 2011

That Afternoon on 25th Street

25th Street, 2008

They arrived together and left separately, she to her family and dinner, he to his wife and a fight.

Strictly speaking, they didn't arrive together, just at the same time. She stepped out of a yellow taxi. He stepped from a black chauffeured Mercedes. Both were regulars at the cafe, albeit at different times during the week. She brought her children here every Friday afternoon on their walk home from school. He and his wife came each Sunday morning before making their customary rounds of the neighborhood art galleries.

It was taking a big chance meeting here. They usually met uptown in dark paneled hotel bars in the late afternoon.

Carlton, the cafe owner, would certainly make over the presence of two of his most famous customers. Sitting at a table by the window would make them visible to anyone walking down 25th street. For people who knew them only as celebrities their presence together would not be questioned; one assumes that a famous director and a famous actress are friends and have coffee together. Only their families would have questioned their meeting.

Besides, they thought they were ready to be public. His marital problems were tabloid fodder. She was convinced her husband was seeing someone else. Even before they slept together he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. They knew what they were doing would cause a lot of pain to their children. They knew that what they’d found together was worth causing that pain. They were people who did not shy away from drama, who could be content to part rather than create collateral damage. They accepted that their merging of affections and body fluids would result in difficulty that would not go away easily or quickly.

And indeed all this would happen—because people like this go through life making waves that knock the innocent around—but in time, not today, and not as a result of this public meeting in the café on 25th Street.

When they had been seated at the table and Carlton had left to get their drinks she told him that she could not go on with him. She could do a lot of things. She could leave her husband. She could even leave her children. But she could not leave the other man in her life.

Yes, another man. Is there no honor among the unfaithful? She was seeing another actor on Wednesday afternoons between the matinee and the evening performance. They were not so chaste, though, as to just have drinks in a hotel bar. They were upstairs in his room having sex and dozing in each other’s arms until the car came to take them back to the theater.

And so they left separately, she to her family and dinner, he to his wife and a fight.

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