The International Writers Magazine: Regrets? I had a few
Resident of the Month
I was having another drink, trying to relax. I don’t know why I was nervous; it was just something for our little retirement community newspaper. When I retired as vice-president in charge of the San Francisco office of the country’s fourth largest ad agency I’d moved there. I’d become a pretty avid golfer and the community was built around a golf course.
I hadn’t planned to do much else, but somehow I got involved in a few of the community’s committees, joined a few clubs, then I was elected to the community’s Board of Directors and in my second term was made Board president. I suppose I was a prominent member of the community. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when someone from our monthly newspaper called and said they’d like to do an article about me. They had a feature they called “Resident of the Month.”
I told them “Sure, come on over,” and this afternoon was the interview. My doorbell rang at precisely the time we’d set and there was a guy I knew from one of my committees, Paul Lerner, who also wrote for the newspaper. I’d bought one of the larger houses, on the golf course; a bachelor, I lived alone but I liked to have friends in and to have an occasional party there. I invited him into the living room, offered him a chair and also a drink. I still had mine. “No, thank you,” he said. “Nice house.”
“Thanks. I had some help fixing it up. Well, shoot. What can I tell you?”
“Let’s see. You did very well in advertising, I know, became head of your agency’s San Francisco office. How did you get there?”
I thought for a moment. “Let’s see. I grew up in a small town in upper New York State; you never heard of it. Went to college on a football scholarship.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Yeah, I was a pretty good fullback. Anyway, after college, I moved to the City, New York City, that is, had no money, stayed at the YMCA. I had three goals, get a job, get my own place to live, get a girl. Well, I got the job at the agency, selling space, was pretty good at it. Got a couple of raises and got an apartment. It was the 60’s so there were plenty of willing girls around. You don’t have to put that in your story. I was on top of the world. Then the agency offered me a job in their San Francisco office., a promotion. Naturally, I took it. I worked hard and became a vice-president.”
“Someone told me you were married?’’
“I was, twice, and divorced twice.”
“That’s okay. Didn’t work out. One of my exes helped me decorate the house.”
“Okay, let’s get to what you’ve done since moving here.” Lerner went on asking questions, covering my golf and all my other activities and of course my being President of the Board of Directors. He wrote everything down in a steno’s notebook. Eventually he said, “I guess that about covers it.”
More life moments
“Good,” I said, relieved.
“You know,” said Lerner, “I think I will have that drink now.”
I poured him a drink and another for myself. Lerner looked around and said, “I see you have a lot of books. Funny, with all your activities I wouldn’t have taken you for a great reader.”
I shrugged. “I did a lot of reading after I retired. You wouldn’t believe it but before coming here I was a bit of a recluse, then I decided I’d better get out and start doing things.” I didn’t mention that I’d also been doing a lot of drinking along with my reading.
We talked about books some more, then Lerner said, “You know, I somehow feel I haven’t gotten the entire story about you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, two marriages that didn’t work out, still a bachelor. Do you ever have any regrets? ”
I considered, then decided, what the hell, why not? “Yeah, there was a girl, in New York. I said there were a lot of willing ones but she wasn’t so willing and naturally this was the one I wanted. By the way, this is all off the record.”
“Sure. Go ahead.”
“Her name was Marilyn. Not like the others, a sweet girl. She was slender, had big gray eyes, brown hair, soft voice, serious, but when she smiled it was like the sun coming up. I don’t know what might have happened if the agency hadn’t offered me the job in San Francisco. Who knows, my entire life might have been different. But I was ambitious. I couldn’t turn it down. So I said good-bye to Marilyn. She cried.”
“Why didn’t you ask her to go to California with you?”
“I don’t think she would have gone. Anyway, she would have wanted to get married. I was on my way to California, all those San Francisco girls. Marriage wasn’t in my game plan at that time. A few years later when I visited New York I asked around about Marilyn. She was married and had kids. I told myself she’d probably had gotten fat. That was the end of that.”
“Too bad. Do you still think about her?”
“Nah, that was a long time ago, in a different life.”
“I see.” Lerner finished his drink. “Thanks. I hope I haven’t been too nosy. That’s what happens when you’re a writer.”
“No problem, just don’t put in that stuff about, you know.”
“I won’t. Thanks again.”
After he left, I sat and thought for a while. I don’t know why I’d told him about Marilyn; maybe the drinks I had, maybe because I’d bottled it up for so long. But I’d lied to him about not thinking about her any more and about having no regrets. I thought about her every day. I regretted losing her every day. I poured myself another drink.
© Martin Green March 2012
After The Tennis Match
Paul had always thought the patio was the best thing about the club, somehow it was always cool and pleasant there, even in the heat of a Sacramento summer.