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About the Author
Copyright © 2010 by Jack Stratton
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Writing Dirty Press writingdirty.com
We saw movies. That’s what we did. We saw movies and went to museums.
I met Elise when she briefly worked in my office. She was one of those girls who grew up rich, but Upper West Side rich, not Upper East Side rich. The difference was super-preppy private schools versus super-intellectual immersive savant schools. She went to the latter and left with a rich inner life and a love of art and music and books that most people had never heard of. That, and the inability to really connect with most anyone.
There were the phobias; elevators, undercooked meat, docks, public speaking, crowded spaces, dark alleys, Antarctica, gum. Her worst fear was that she would swallow a piece of chewing gum. She told me she thought about it constantly, though it didn’t stop her from constantly chewing the most sugary, garish pink stuff she could find.
Then there was the OCD and the ADD and the cocktail of pharmacology. She was not trapped within the rigors of counting things and washing hands, but there were little things, more than quirks but less than crippling. There were also the daddy issues because he was like God to her, and the mommy issues because her mother told her she was fat when she was 12. There was a lot going on in this girl’s head.
Oddly, for every phobia there were three fascinations. She loved to travel and had been around the world. She had dipped her feet in the Ganges, but would have nightmares about diner kitchens. She had been to Mecca and the Great Wall and Paris at midnight, but she couldn’t order pizza on the phone without writing out a script first. There was clumsiness and the propensity to stare at people. Also the odd choice of clothing that ranged from “old man chic” to downright strange: combinations of thrift store, knitwear and crumpled couture acquired abroad.
We weren’t dating exactly. I think we were studying each other in hopes of writing papers at some later time. She was certainly aware that I had dalliances all over the city and occasionally interrogated me about the details. She never showed jealousy. Yet in some strange, fundamental way our relationship couldn’t be classified as friendship. There was a “date” quality to our outings, and at the end of the night sometimes we’d stop and kiss in front of her doorman.