The One Who Got Away - Part Deux

Where we left off from "The One Who Got Away" 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 that fateful day...

"Why so glum, sweetheart?" asked the company Lothario, Kerry.

Kerry was an executive in this Fortune 10 company where I worked as one of the worst executive secretaries known in that firm's 120 year history. According to the CEO's executive secretary, Midge.

Midge's main role, besides being the guiding force behind the man at the helm, was to manage all the executive secretaries in the office. I was the youngest one and a total scatterbrain. Not even six months at the office and she ambushed me to examine my typing and my filing acumen.

Behind me, she pulled open a drawer from the file cabinet. "What kind of filing system is THAT?"

Hearing Midge's voice, my boss popped out of his office. "I ask her that all the time as well."

I looked at them. "What the hell's the problem? I organize by date."

"By date?" They screamed in unison, "ALPHA SYSTEM."

My boss tsked and addressed Midge, "I can't find a damn thing in there. But she's a whiz at writing memos. Once she found out what a memo is."

He never let go of that one. My first day, he called me into his office to take diction for a memo. When I asked, "What's a memo," he groaned and said, "Terrific. A live one."

Then the two of them proceeded to talk about me in front of me, itemizing and emphasizing my inept secretarial skills. Midge pulled out a file with bulging dog-eared papers inside.

"Look at this!" she screamed. "Does she even know how to use a hole puncher? How hard is that to do?"

"Yeah, she's very sloppy at that as well," agreed my boss. The stinker knew the hole puncher was too heavy for me. The damn thing was monstrous and required all my 110 lbs back then to pick it up and bodily force the fucking thing to puncture two little holes. Accompanied with my grunts and moans. He witnessed this firsthand on a daily basis.

"Hello guys, I'm sitting right here," I said.

Midge glared at me. "You still don't know how to use the phone system." Behind her, my boss grinned. He, as well, didn't know how to use push buttons which led to some pretty awful situations when dealing with global subsidiaries.

She wagged her index finger in my face, "I don't understand how you manage." She whirled to face my boss, "And how you can tolerate this." Then she walked away, girding herself up for the next encounter with another executive secretary.

I groaned. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED my job. I had more responsibilities at 23 than I ever had thereafter. I was in charge of corporate aircraft, I traveled to a subsidiary and, due to my linguistic abilities, I socialized with dignitaries and corporate management from all over the world.

Even so, the A B Cs of secretarial work defied me. There was only one reason why my boss supported my shenanigans: I'm an excellent writer. Not only that, but I grasped complex concepts easily and was able to fill in the dotted lines when situations cropped up. And, I had the memory of an elephant and recalled prior gnarly situations from the gitgo, a walking encyclopedia so that no one had to dig into my morass of a file cabinet to figure out what happened when and where.

Midge attacked me several times thereafter, but she knew the score. I sucked as a secretary, but as a manager, I was unparalleled. The clients, dignitaries and overseas staff adored me. I was loyal as a dog and didn't make any waves.

Hard at work typing, I saw his shadow crossing my desk. Looking up at him, I said in dismissal, "I'm really busy. Can you stop by later?"

He leaned over my desk and peered. "Something happened. I can tell. The light went out of your eyes."

A lot of people knew something happened in my life. It was hard for me to conceal: the reddened eyes from crying myself to sleep, the way I slumped over my desk, my general listlessness. I confided in my boss, "I broke up with Herb. He was married and didn't want to get married again."

I confided in my girlfriends at work. I confided in the mailroom staff who constantly wanted to sell me pot. I even confided in the local deli owner. Let's say no one within a hundred mile radius didn't know that I broke up with the love of my life.

My mother was no support. "I knew there was something wrong with that guy. Thank GOD you didn't marry him!"

"Mom, wouldn't that constitute bigamy?"


My brother said to me, "I heard rumors in the neighborhood that he married some woman. I wanted to warn you, but you guys were so in love. I didn't want to ruin it for you."

Great. It turns out EVERYONE in the neighborhood knew he was married. Even his family. And no one said a word to me. I felt even worse, like a walking putz. For Herb was my first love.

In hindsight, I realize he established the precedent of getting involved with unavailable men. Although no others since then were even in proximity of the love I felt for Herb, Herb remains by and large the litmus test of love for me. Which is surprising because I rarely remember him today, if at all. Still, the pattern was set. Thanks loads, Herb.

Getting back to the story, everyone at work knew about the break-up. Back then, this top company was small and operated like a family firm. Even the CEO stopped by and put a hand on my shoulder, "Be strong. You're young."

Kerry knew all about the ex-boyfriend. Later that day, he came to my desk. "Sorry to hear about the break-up."

One of my girlfriends at work, another executive secretary phoned me on the intercom. "He took a shine to you."

"I'm not interested," I said. "Besides, he dates tons of women." He did. He was so fucking gorgeous, he had his pick of any woman in NYC as well as New Zealand, his homeland. Formerly an economics professor, the company picked him up and moved him to NYC.

"But he likes you."

"So what," I retorted and hung up the phone.

I couldn't avoid Kerry. He constantly found excuses to come to my desk. It became a routine. Every morning, he stopped off en route to the coffee tray. Followed up with the men's room. Then, before lunch. After lunch. Back for more coffee. Which didn't make sense as I was down the hall from his office where he had access to the coffee tray and bathroom at his end of the floor. In company conferences, he sidled up to me. After work, at the bar, he bought me drinks.

Then, I decided to do something with the apartment I formally shared with Herb. I wanted to add an overhead hanging ceiling lamp for the living room. I phoned my mother from the office, "Mom, when you and Sveya come out to visit me Saturday evening, can you bring a drill?" Sveya, my kid sister, was sixteen at the time.

"A drill?" screeched my mother. "What do you want a drill for?"

"I want to make a hole in my living room ceiling so I can hang a chain for an overhead lamp."

"You with my drill? No. You'll end up drilling a hole in your hand."

"C'mon Mom," I begged. "I know how to use a drill!"

Resolute, she said no. "Let's just have a simple meal out, ok?"

After I hung up, I saw that shadow over my desk. It was Kerry.

"I've a drill," he volunteered, no doubt eavesdropping on my conversation with my mother.

"Can I borrow it?"

He leered. "I'll do one better. Let me come over on Saturday and I'll drill a hole for you."

I thought, what the hell and we made plans. Saturday morning, he came over with a drill. In seconds, he made the hole and I hung up the lamp.

"Thanks," I said.

"What're are you doing now?"

"Not much. My mother and sister will be over around six."

"I don't know about you, but let's go out to eat. Let me leave the drill here and you'll bring it to work on Monday."

We went out to a local restaurant and he ordered a bottle of wine. I gesticulated while talking and knocked the bottle over. That's when he realized I was a klutz. We spent the remainder of the afternoon walking around. At a farmer's market, I spotted this big tree and said, "Wow - that would be perfect for the living room!"

Kerry bought it and strained his back lifting the damn thing. To this day, I've no idea how we got it back to my place. But right in time, too. My mother and sister were at my door.

"Hi Mom," I said as I kissed her on the cheek. Mom stood there with a slack-jawed appearance. "Hey sis," I said and kissed her as well. For some reason her eyes were wide as buttons. I turned around and said to them, "Oh, this is Kerry."

Kerry shook their hands and said, "Nice to meet you, Mrs. Stone." He smiled at my sister. He turned to me and said, "It was a wonderful day. Don't forget to bring the drill to work on Monday," and left.

After I closed the door, my mother gushed, "O M G! Who was that?"

My sister interjected, "He's GORGEOUS!"

I rolled my eyes. "He's some guy at work. He overheard me talking to you and offered to drill the hole in the ceiling. He also got me this tree." I pointed at the tree he left in my corridor.

"Is he Jewish?" asked my mother.

"I think so," I responded. The love of my life, Herb, wasn't. He also wasn't circumcised. My mother said to me afterwards, "That's disgusting. It's like doing it with an animal. Doesn't it look like a dog's dick? You know, that retractable foreskin."

"Not quite like that," I reassured her.

Dinner that night with my mom and kid sister was all about Kerry. What does he do? How old is he? Is he available?

"He's smitten with you," my mother repeated. "Who in their right mind would carry a tree of that size for just anyone?"

What they didn't get was I still suffered over Herb. Moreover, I wanted to do more in life. If I had a life with Herb, I wouldn't mind not traveling or going around town. But with Herb out of the picture, I felt this keen desire to travel and experience everything that life has to offer. That newfound freedom was a tantalizing taste and no way with no one would I curb it.

Also, the company frowned on office romances. Should anyone engage in a romance, then, one or the other had to leave the firm. I loved my job and didn't want to risk it for no man.

Kerry took me out on several dates afterwards on the sly. He didn't want to lose his job either. The man wined and dined me at the finest restaurants. Front row tickets to the theatre and concerts. Then, he'd take me to his apartment and make love to me. Sadly, it wasn't good. As beautiful, worldly, sophisticated, intelligent as he was, he couldn't turn me on sexually. It had nothing to do with Herb; Kerry didn't do it for me. He left me cold.

We weren't fooling anyone at work even though we thought we did.

One early morning, before we went to the office, he pulled me on top of his lap. "We have to talk."

"What about?"

He rambled on about an office romance that led to marriage and how the wife stayed on at the company. "I want us to be like that."

"What are you talking about?"

"I want us to get married."

"Married?" I repeated and broke out in laughter, tumbling out of his lap. "Married?" I kept repeating. He scowled. "Listen, Kerry, I like you, but I'm only twenty-three. You're 36. You did things in life. I'm barely starting mine. I want to travel, do things. I'm not ready."

He didn't say a word. We went to work together silently; he stopped talking to me. Stopped walking by my desk. Never came round to my side of the building.

My mother called me at work. "How's Kerry?"

I sighed. "He asked me to marry him. But I declined because I'm not ready."

"WHAT?" shrieked my mother. "He's a catch! What the hell's wrong with you?"

"I don't love him. I just got out of one relationship, Mom. I'm not ready for anything. Besides, I want to do things - "

"You can do things with him," stated my mother in rage. "I can't believe this. This is one guy you'll regret losing."

Something told me I wouldn't. Sure enough, a few days' later, my boss pulled me inside the office.

"Did you have an affair with Kerry?"

Averting my eyes, I said, "Uhm, well..."

"Why did you do it?" he yelled. "You could lose your job over him."

"I'm done. He asked me to marry him and I said no."

"That's not the story he's telling. He's going around bragging to everyone he bagged you." I groaned. "Keep away from that guy, he's poison. The way he's talking, you're just another notch on the belt for him."

That was my first taste of how a guy reacts to rejection. A theme I suffered over the years. If they don't get their way, then you're a bitch, a cunt, an easy lay, a clown, a mockery. Which makes me wonder why they bothered with me in the first place if that's how they felt.

I phoned my mother out of my mind. "That Kerry! He's going around the office bragging he slept with me."

"That's because you rejected him."

"Still, Mom, I can lose my job over this. A job I LOVE."

"Make up to him, he still wants you. He's reacting like a child."

"There's nothing to make up for!" I insisted. "I DON'T LOVE HIM! I DON'T WANT TO MARRY HIM!"

"You'll regret it," she said.

A week later, the CEO came by. "Did you see my Kerry-on? I mean, carry-on?"


"Please come inside my office."

That was a biggie. I was never invited in his office. Flanking the doorway, Midge shot me a Cheshire cat grin.

"Take a seat," he said and turned his back on me to peer out the latticed windows. "Listen, you're young, the same age as my daughters. And I know you suffered a very bad break-up so the onus isn't on you. But Kerry should've known better to take advantage of a young woman."

My jaw dropped.

He whirled around. "I'm transferring him to the Australian office. He'll never be able to come back if he wants a job in this firm. You can go."

Red-faced, I left and walked past a white-faced Kerry who entered the very same office. I heard the CEO's voice, "Close the door and then sit down." The following evening, the company held a good-bye party for him which I joined. He glared at me from across the room.

Three months later, all the rumors swirling about Kerry, my affair and his relocation quelled. Until I saw the shadow on my desk. "Hello, there," he said.

I jumped out of my skin. "I thought you're in Australia."

"No, three months are enough for me. I came back to resign. So, how's the traveling?" he sneered.

"On hold for now. I'm going to B-school at night," I informed him.

"B-school?" he was taken aback. "You really were serious about doing more in your life."

"Uhm, Yep!"

He left me alone. Or so I thought. A few nights later, while walking home from school, someone shouted my name from the entrance to Michael's Pub. It was Kerry.

"Fancy seeing you," he said as he ran over to me on the sidewalk. Michael's Pub was not even a block from my apartment. "I want to see Woody Allen play his clarinet so thought I'd drop by here. Wanna join me?"

I was beat. "Thanks, but I had a long day. I'll pass. Another time."

Two nights later, I heard his voice from the entrance of Michael's Pub. "Are you free now?"

I joined him. Then, he phoned and asked me out to a play. This went on from time to time, but I felt uncomfortable. There was that rhinoceros head between us. I couldn't give him what he wanted. A plus side, we didn't sleep together.

I didn't hear from him for a little while. Then, he phoned me. "I'm leaving NYC for good."

"Where are you going?"

"I'm taking a page from you and decided to travel the world before I return to New Zealand." Then silence. There was the rhinoceros head between us.

I said, "Well, bon voyage."

Six months later, I received at my office a post card from Israel. "With your people and having a great time. I love you and miss you. Signed, K."

I asked myself, "Who's K?" I turned around and showed the post card to several colleagues. "Who's K?" They shrugged.

In conversation with my mother a week later, I said, "I received a post card from Israel signed by a K whoever that may be."

My mother gushed, "It's from Kerry!" Then she added, "The one who got away."

# # #

Coming up next:

"The One Who Got Away - Conclusion" Maura's reunited with Herb and Kerry manages to get a word in from across the planet.

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