by Karen Russo
a brief dating hiatus following my two back-to-back "serious"
relationships totalling six years, my male banker friends
have been pretty good about introducing me to eligible men.
"I just want to date," I tried to convince them.
"I don't want a relationship."
They obliged, setting me up with the biggest player they
knew. My friend Louis introduced me to Bill, my very-quickly-ex-fling,
with these words: "I guarantee you'll have a fun time,"
he said. "I can't guarantee you'll go on a second date."
I was up for the challenge. Or so I thought. I had no idea
how good a player can be.
Overlooking the fact that I could look over Bill's head
without standing on my tiptoes was challenging. Ignoring
the fact that he boasted about his Harvard education by
decorating his apartment in "H's" was tough. Even
worse was that his only goal in life was to make money.
To top it off, he ignored me when I spoke. This guy was
NOT what I wanted and I knew it.
Still, I kept answering his phone calls, going over when
he wanted and allowed him to show up at my apartment, drunk
-- of course -- in the middle of the night.
But Bill was not a complete jerk. What I did like was that
he was a fantastic kisser, or was it that he said I was
a fantastic kisser? He is a hard worker, funny and good
looking, with beautiful blue eyes and prematurely grey hair
that curled around his temples. He was affectionate in public
and skipped work to spend a day with me at the movies.
The first weekend we met, we spent nearly 72 hours straight
together. The following weeks continued in much the same
way. His friends were confused by his unusual behavior,
which included introducing me to his parents, taking me
shopping for family Christmas presents and sending me "I
miss you" emails when I travelled out of town. Even
his father was surprised to meet me, explaining that Bill
had not "brought a girl home in a long time."
Was this guy -- this "player" -- turning into
my boyfriend? I wondered. Was it possible?
Absolutely not. Once a player, always a player. Soon enough,
he stopped calling.
A few weeks later, I rang him on a Friday night to tell
him he looked like someone on television. I pretended I
was cool with the "friend" thing, plus I figured
he'd be out and I could leave a breezy message. Surprisingly,
he answered. One thing led to another and the next thing
I knew, my feelings of being rejected by him manifested
themselves in the form of a diatribe about how reckless
he is with people's feelings. He became quiet, sounding
despondent, then said he'd had a really rough week, wanted
to eat his dinner and get off the phone with me. I felt
I had plans to meet my friend, Woody, at the movies and
had an hour to kill. I lived downtown and just a ten-minute
walk from the theatre. It should have been no problem getting
there on time, except that I decided to buy a bunch of flowers
and head to the Upper East Side to cheer up the depressed
I struggled for a moment with the varieties. What is a masculine
flower that says, "I care about your feelings-but-I-don't
Roses? Too romantic.
Carnations? Too cheap.
I decided upon tulips and picked out two bunches of orange
with yellow stripes, then flagged down a cab. I was panicked
about the time, and thought of turning around twice. But
then I thought how much something like that would make me
I got to his door and pushed the buzzer. No answer.
He's probably assuming someone pressed the wrong buzzer,
Again, I depressed the button.
"Who is it?" he asked.
"Karen," I said.
"Who?" he asked.
"Karen!" I yelled.
The buzzer hummed. I arrived at his door and knocked.
"It's open," he said.
I walked in. He was sitting on the couch, staring at me
while sitting next to a skinny blonde.
I was dumbfounded. I could not speak.
Finally, I blurted out, "I felt really bad about what
I'd said. I brought you some flowers," practically
throwing them onto his coffee table.
My voice was shaking. I think I was shaking.
"This is Veronica," the bastard said.
I introduced myself. She had a weak handshake.
"You shouldn't have done this," the asshole said.
No fucking shit, I thought.
How did I get here? I wondered. What sort of masochistic
test am I putting myself through? Am I in a movie? Is this
a spoof on my life?
To top off my pathetic show, I pulled out the champagne
bottle of Cisco Brewery beer that had sat in my fridge for
weeks. I don't drink beer. He does. Seemed like a nice idea.
The Blonde was sweet and invited me to sit and join them
for a drink. She even made room for me on the couch.
You've got to be kidding me I thought. This is my life?
Thank God I actually had somewhere to go.
"I can't," I said. "I'm late to meet a friend."
Boyfriend, dammit. Why didn't I lie and say boyfriend?
"Do you want a drink?" Veronica asked.
Napoleon just stood there with his hands in the pockets
of his faded light-blue jeans -- the ones I told him I disliked;
they made him look shorter. Good.
I think I ran out of the building. I don't actually remember
anything until I was on the corner, furiously trying to
hail a cab. I was so desperate that I actually asked a stranger
stopped at a red light to drive me downtown. A yellow taxi
stopped just then. I told the cabbie everything. He told
me I should've thrown shoes at the guy. He offered to drive
me back there. "We'll have four shoes between us,"
I called my friend Julia for support. No answer. My sister.
No answer. Joanna. No answer. Julia. Christina. Joanna.
Julia. Julia. Julia. No answer. No answer. No answer. No
answer. No answer. No answer. Where was everyone in my crisis?!?
Woody wanted to kill me when I arrived at the movie ten
minutes late, but when we said good-night he gave me the
best gift of the evening: a big hug and a kiss on the forehead.