I was having a Dos Equis at Life Café. It was summer, and New York City was blazing. I sat under the restaurant patio’s awning, watching the hazy movements of mothers’ pushing strollers into Tompkins Square Park, skateboarders blurring by, squirrels nesting in the huge trees that line 10th street.
My androgynous waiter delivered my nachos and chips. “A nice spicy dish on a hot day,” he said.
I detected a faint accent. British? “It’s addictive,” I said, meaning the food, but it might have been vague.
“I’m Seymour,” he said, tucking a long strand of thick hair behind his ear.
“Evan,” I said. “I’ve seen you here before.” The café was one of my regular watering holes. Summer was my slow season. I was a freelance hair/makeup artist/poet/musician. Seymour was all those and even more, so many that I nick-named him “Slash.” I popped into the Life Café because it was close to home, coming or going. I lived in Stuy Town with my best pal, Trudy. It was temporary digs, I’d been booted from my lower east side illegal sublet. She was sweet to take me in, but she already had a room-mate, so I slept temporarily on the foldout living room couch.
Turns out he was English. Seymour was just exotic enough, lived way west on 14th street. When he told me his last name was Freeshow, I couldn’t stop laughing.
“Don’t you get it?” I finally got out.
“I just don’t think it’s that funny. It’s my name.”
I tried, I really did, to stop. That was the first time we kissed. We were out walking his two humungous mastiffs. Folks walking toward us on the West Side Promenade parted like the Red Sea on either side. We stopped to look out across the mighty Hudson, churning a rubbish gray. Jersey loomed in the distance, a mirage of tall buildings, beige breathing outlines. I looked at Seymour, staring into the expansive view. He wore a pale blue tank top, and camouflage shorts. I got lost admiring the way the wind blew his shiny hair, he had smelled of peaches and bicycle grease. I felt like I was seeing him for the first time.
Then he turned to face me. And it was like one of those slow close-up movie shots. I forget who kissed who, but there were fireworks. And that’s one of the many things I love about New York. We just let loose, right there on the West Side Highway. And no one gave a rat’s ass except us. Okay, his dogs were a little jealous. And I didn’t want to get Marmaduke 1 and 2 any reason to wreak havoc. They both outweighed me.
I drove a Ford F-250 that I’d stored at my sister’s house in Bronxville. The next weekend, Seymour (now “Simo,” as his English friends called him) and I took Metro North to Janet’s house. I drove upstate to Woodstock. We hiked in the remarkable Catskills. I took him to the Omega Institute outside of charming Rhineback. We shared a hammock by their lake and took a romantic nap. We ate a delicious vegetarian dinner. That night, returning back to Manhattan, I asked him to stay overnight. He said yes before I’d barely asked.
It’s always strange to sleep with a new boyfriend. Well, I’m not a great sleeper to begin with. But add to that mix: Trudy’s living room foldout couch, her room-mate Mary, whose boyfriend Larry was also visiting from Pennsylvania. (Trudy and I dubbed them the Mary & Larry Show). And Trudy also had two cats that became a little nutty around 4 in the morning.
Needless to say, lots of tossing, turning, until sometime in the early morning, maybe nine or so, finally I was dreaming. But no, Simo was going to town under the sheets. Morning wood. It felt amazing being woken like that, despite the exposed room. I used my pillow to keep the moaning muffled. I was swept away, didn’t hear Trudy open her door and walk past us on her way to the kitchen. We were busted: it was too late to stop.
“Wish it was me,” Trudy said.