Romance Without Finance is a Nuisance

Candy Lutz is a made-up name. I have to do this otherwise she might find this story and get back at me with one of her own that makes me look worse than the jerk I’m about to make her look like. Pardon my English. She actually wasn’t that bad and really I ought to be grateful to her for being the first to invite me into her pants. I was overdue. But anyway it didn’t go well. I was clumsy and inept and bewailed my fate to the cabdriver on my way home at five in the morning. I must be a homosexual I told him. He kept his mouth shut and for all I know gave up the graveyard shift after that.

Things improved but not by much. I told Candy I loved her. This was a stupid habit I kept up for many years thereafter. I was falling in love every five minutes of my life. Staying in love is another story entirely. Anyway, the thing about Candy was she had money. Then as now I was broke. So Candy loaned me money for everything. She never just out and out treated me. She loaned me money. If we went to a movie and I was broke she loaned me the buck and a half movies cost back then. She loaned me money for drinks at Le Bistro. Periodically I’d get invoiced. Not really invoiced, but she’d say something like, “Okay, I’ll lend you the money for the cab home. You now owe me twenty-seven dollars.”

We decided to go to New York for the weekend. She had a friend where we’d stay and she’d loaned me the twenty bucks for the night train. You always hoped the train wasn’t crowded so you could turn the seat in front of you around and have four seats for stretching out and snoozing on the eight-hour all-night trip. So we lucked out and next thing you know we were going at it like animals. And Candy was the crying and moaning type. An elderly couple across the aisle were even louder in their disbelief and horror. Man, that was some fun!

So we get to the city, find our way to Candy’s girlfriend’s apartment and Candy decides all of a sudden that there’s something wrong with the girl’s lending the boy money for everything all the time – especially in the light of the fact there’s not a hope in hell she’ll ever get any of it back. “It just isn’t right.” I’ve got less than three bucks on me and she says she’s not “lending” me any more money. Oh yeah, the other thing is, her girlfriend is also of a highly ethical nature and says Candy is welcome to crash there but not this bum she’s got in tow.

So I’m in the city for the weekend and virtually penniless. I find a hotel in mid town that’s got rooms for fifty cents. It’s good enough. The rooms are about a foot wider than the cots they contain and there’s the ubiquitous cracked and stained porcelain sink in the corner. That’s it. The walls are made of steel and all night long everything’s clanging like a prison movie. I just need a place to sleep so it’s good enough. Why Candy and I weren’t hanging out all the time I can’t remember. I’d go by the apartment in the evening, we’d fool around, and then I have to split.

Come Sunday I’m on my own all day. We’ve arranged to meet at the Washington Square arch around six, hang out in the Village, and then catch the train home around ten. When Candy finds me in the square I’m staring into space, I’m pale, weak, and can barely speak. “What’s wrong? You look sick.” I basically hadn’t eaten all weekend. And I’m the type that can’t miss any meals or the numerous snacks in between due to a blood sugar situation I’ve had all my life. I am really zonked. Candy suddenly realizes her new fiscal policy might have been poorly timed. She feels bad. But she’s gonna make it up to me. She treats me to dinner at O’Henry’s Steak House. This was a place on Sixth Avenue in the Village that I’d passed a million times and never in my wildest dreams imagined I’d ever get to eat there. It might have been the top steak house in the country. This is a formidable atonement. I order the biggest steak there. I get salad, potatoes, beans, and god knows what. We drink wine. We eat fabulous rich cheesecakes. More wine. Coffee. More steaks. More cheesecakes. Steaks. Raw meat. A live pig. More sugar. Raw protein. It never ended.

One day I’ll ask a scientist how going from starvation to gluttony so suddenly affects the brain. Because for a couple of hours I was higher than anything ever got me before and had the greatest time with Candy, goofing around the Village, making out in the parks, dancing and smooching and whatnot for the couple of hours before we headed for Grand Central and the train home. When I plopped down in that coach seat and the train started moving I started to die. I totally crashed and everything blurred and swam before my eyes and I felt a sickness of the damned welling up from my toes gradually to the topmost hair on my head. “Oh God, is there a doctor on this train? Is there a hospital we could go by? I’m dying. Help me. Save me.” Gradually it passed and we two fell asleep, no monkey business, and life returned to normal.

A week or two later it’s about midnight and we’re walking along Sherbrooke when two or three guys, obviously on the road, rucksacks on their backs, and tired sweat on their faces, stop us. “We just got in and need a place to crash. Got anything you can suggest?” While I’m trying to think Candy is giving them directions to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, just a few blocks away. “It’s a nice place, just go down here turn left go here, etc etc…” I’m dumbstruck. The guys go off and I look at Candy.

“You haven’t got a clue, have you?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Did you actually see those guys? Did they look like they had money? Do you have any idea what a room at the Queen Elizabeth costs? You just haven’t got a clue.”

Candy Lutz looked at me a second, her jaw dropped, she stared another few seconds, turned pale and looked like what I must have looked like after starving in New York City, turned around and walked away. I have not seen her since.

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