The One Who Got Away - Conclusion

Where we left off from "The One Who Got Away - Part Deux" in the previous post:

At the ripe age of 20, Maura met the love of her life after returning from studying in France. 10 months later, she got a job in NYC and moved in with him in a tiny apartment. After one year, she accidentally found his Marriage Certificate which he purposely left in his favorite jacket for a month. Heartbroken, she threw him out. Meanwhile, the company Lothario, Kerry, kept stopping by her desk to chat. Immune to his charms, Maura ignored him. Until he asked her out. 
They dated under a cloak of secrecy because company policy forbade romantic fraternization. When Kerry proposed and Maura declined, he bragged to colleagues that he bedded her. She was reprimanded by the CEO and he, in turn, was sent off to an Australian subsidiary as punishment. After three months, he returned to NYC, quit his job and stuck around trying to get her back. Thwarted, he left America for good.

Seven Years Later...

It was the Christmas season. For some reason, my girlfriend, Suzanne and I decided to have three separate meal dates in one day with different men for each meal. Together. That meant 6 different men in total. It wasn't an easy thing to arrange, but we succeeded.

I wonder, though, why we did it. It meant something way back then. It could've been the challenge of eating all that much without exploding. Although, today, it seems like lunacy. As well as overkill.

Between lunch and dinner, though, I had to go home and take a power nap. My stomach killed me. Also, competitive feeding wore me out. I phoned Suzanne, "We'll meet up around eight where again?"

Then the buzzer to my front door rang. "One moment," I said to her and walked down the corridor of my apartment, phone in tow. This was the apartment I never left since I moved in 9 1/2 years earlier with my then love of my life.

I peered through the peephole and saw Herb. "Holy fuck," I said into the phone.

"What's going on?" asked Suzanne.

"Maura? I heard that," said Herb. "I know you're in there."

"Listen, Suzanne, I really have to call you back."

I hung up and opened the door. Standing before me was the former love of my life, Herb. He looked almost the same, but slightly older and more filled in. As did I. We no longer were skinny looking kids. We were adults.

"Can I come in?" he asked. Mute, I backed up to allow him entry. "My sister saw you on the subway the other day."

Ah, I totally forgot about that. His kid sister was a nice girl. I saw her on the subway late at night with a gaggle of girlfriends. She asked, "Did you ever move?"

"Nope," I said.

Still in shock that my one dream in life which I fantasized about for seven years came true, namely he came to my door, I stood there at a loss. He strolled into my living room, plopped down on the edge of my sofa and dropped his head into his hands. Just as rapidly, he burst out into tears, weeping uncontrollably. "I'm so sorry for what I did to you. So very sorry."

"Don't sweat it, Herb, I got over it." And watching him, I did.

"I should've married you. But the reason why I broke it off is that I met someone else."

With that admission, I moved over to the other side of the sofa and squatted down at the edge. It's one thing to believe he broke up with me because he didn't want to be married. It's another thing to find out he dumped me for another woman, something I never considered.

"Her father was a senator and promised me a great job if I married his daughter."

I recalled an occasion when late one night I dropped by the building where he was doorman. One of the tenants there, a woman in her mid-thirties judging by her clothing and wrinkles, flirted with him. She weighed around 300lbs and had one crossed eye with a cast in it. I never considered her a contender and didn't pay any mind.

"Wait - was that the fat ugly old woman with the weird eye?"

He ruffled from the description, but hocked his head. "You see, I knew that I'd never get any doors open for a career on my own, or with you because we're nobodies. So I decided to take the easy way out and marry my way into it."

I shook my head in disgust. He traded me for that fugly woman just to have a great job. Whatever love I harbored all those years dissipated in one fell swoop.

He then said, "I used to watch you when you visited your parents."

"Watched? What do you mean by watched?"

"For the first few years, during summertime, I sat across the street from your property behind your cars in the parking lot. I sat there for hours watching you play with your dogs and your sister, swim, boat..."

Goosebumps popped out on my skin. For years, I said to my mother, "I get the feeling that someone's watching me."

Mom said, "You and your active imagination."

Herb continued. "Sometimes I'd sit across the street from this building and watch you come home from work. Or go out on dates."

"What do you want?" I interrupted with impatience, "I've a dinner date and I'm rather tired and want to lay down for a little while."

He bolted up. "Sorry, I just wanted to apologize to you for the way things turned out."

I escorted him to my front door. "Again, Herb, it's not a problem. You did me a favor."

"Can I take you out for dinner so we can catch up?"

With reservation, I smiled. "Sure," and gave him my number.

It took me longer to digest what occurred with Herb than those three meals. A week later, he phoned, "Can I take you out?"

Over dinner at a hotspot restaurant on First Avenue and 50th Street, Herb brought me to speed with his life. "My father-in-law got me a job at IBM. My wife travels a lot, being a comedian. We've an open marriage." He bragged a bit more. "My father-in-law bought us that apartment in the building where I worked as a doorman."

"That's nice to know," I said. His life sounded empty - the only thing he achieved was marrying into money. I, on the other hand, worked hard for what I got. "I'm a bank officer and recently completed an MBA program at night. I've done some business travel both domestic and international. And returned to France several times." While speaking, it dawned on me that I was happy with my lot in life. I didn't need to fill him in on my hobbies, friends, aspirations. A lot occurred over seven years; none of this would've been accomplished if I married Herb.

I also knew why he contacted me: he wanted to get laid while trying to rekindle the good ol' love I gave him, something he didn't have for his wife. I, on the other hand, was curious to see if I still harbored any more sentiments about my true love. Afterwards, I brought him up to my apartment. He tried to kiss me on the lips, but I wouldn't have that. Each time he tried, I coughed, choked and gagged.

"Why won't you let me kiss you?"

"Please, Herb, I've a cold. Do you want to catch it?"

"That's not why," he insisted.

"Do you really want to know the reason?" He looked at me. "Because you repulse me."

"Repulse? I love you!" he screamed.

"Love? LOVE? This is how you treat someone you love? You tossed me aside seven years ago. And now, conveniently, you crawl back while your wife's outta town. Whatever love I possibly could have for you from the past, you killed off," I shouted back.

Livid, he ran out.

A few days later, I received a card in the mail. On the cover was a statement, "Due to the economy," and inside, "I can't invest any more time in you."

I smiled. For inside the envelope was a rambling letter. I didn't have to do anything to get my revenge. The pain he inflicted on me he inflicted onto himself. My presence was just incidental.

I was glad, though, to have closure. For the love of my life, that man, I realized was just an illusion of my youthful romantic nature. The real man was a self-centered, opportunistic jerk.

The very same day I received a phone call. "You may not remember me, but we worked at a Fortune 10 company in the same division. I wanted to let you know that I was on vacation in New Zealand and ran into Kerry. He sends his regards."

I thanked him for the news.

My mother may've insisted to the end of her life that Kerry was the one who got away. But I knew better. It was me.


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