Monday, December 12, 2005

Ms. Cynthia

"Be careful who you spend your time with. You can fall in love with anyone."

My childhood best friend’s mother, Ms. Cynthia, was the queen of such axioms. She uttered them in an unapologetic Alabama lilt and I believed her every word. During our carpools from ballet class to tennis lessons to Sunfish regattas and back again, I would drape my long, straight 12 year-old body over the center console of her Nissan station wagon and listen intently to her romantic wisdom, imagining the day I could actually put her advice to good use. I never thought I would lose my way. In between picking the perfect gentleman suitor—“not you or you, oh yes, you'll do just fine” (choosing a boyfriend, I had decided, was just like selecting the chocolate truffle with the preferred praline filling)—was an elegant world of charm bracelets, opera-length kid-leather gloves and tinkling ice cubes. Bliss was in arm’s reach. “All you have to wait for now, Belle,” I mused, “are breasts, a tube of Clinique ‘Almost Lipstick’ and a curfew past 7:30.”


My first year in the city and the breasts, lipstick and non-parentally controlled SoHo apartment were in place. I was ready for my Yankee prince. I was ready to be courted. I was open. I was soooo open…

And I was lost.

If a trainer at Equinox told me he liked my work-out pants, I would arrange cocktails at the Bowery Bar. If an Argentine busboy smiled and said, “Que haces, mi linda? Quieres tomar una copa?” I would meet him at “Novecento” on West Broadway for a glass of Malbec. Sleep with the men, no—that’s never been my style. Waste my time and my brain space on them? Yes. Between working at the news channel and going on terribly inappropriate dates, I somehow forgot about myself, my writing and dear, wise Cynthia.

Then, one day I stopped. I opened a notebook. I wrote down my thoughts, wisdom passed down, anecdotes. Cynthia, Granddaddy, Mamma and all the rest poured onto the page. It felt good, I felt good. Of course, I still need a little bad... maybe that's why I went with an old flame to "Scores" Thursday night...

"Be careful who you spend your time with. You can fall in love with anyone."

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