Kept man. Now there’s a descriptor that you wouldn’t generally associate with yours truly. Up until the seventies, I was rail thin. I also had what would be described today as an unruly shock of hair that resembled an anime hairdo. I got up in the morning and ran my fingers through it, and that was it. I was always hungry and either buried in a book or practicing guitar. Not having been to college yet, I hadn’t run into too many young women who found this mix to be very appealing. Oh, and I was penniless. So I had meager little to commend me to any self-respecting woman interested in keeping me.
A few women had looked me over for evaluation as a “project” but found the prospects too daunting. I was too stubborn for proper project material. So there I sat languishing in the distressed property bin until Elise came along. Elise was not overly interested in me romantically. She just hated to see potential being wasted. However, with a good cleanup, proper feeding, and some attention to personal hygiene, I’d no longer languish without a proper girlfriend to instruct me in ways pleasing to females.
Out of the blue, she swept into my life one evening at the Harvard Gardens. I was sitting with my fellow neer do wells from the disepitomable crash pad we called the Folkie Palace. After some brief conversation, she pulled out her most successful pick-up line, “Hi sweetie, how about coming home with me for a home-cooked meal?”
Of course, it was love at first sight. Over the next several weeks, she gradually reintroduced me to barbers, inexpensive fixes to the wardrobe that made me look cool rather than ratty, and she fed me. In return, I found that she loved having the back of her neck kissed, holding hands, and other details not correctly discussed in a PG-12 blog. She didn’t even mind my absences on road trips. For me, it was a relationship made in heaven.
I must have started to “grow” on Elise. After a few weeks, she began to realize that not only was there potential, but why should someone else have the potential when I could be hers; after all, I nibbled on her earlobes with the sort of romantic finesse she appreciated.
Elise did not consult me on what happened next. There was a dinner party at one of her friends, and she decided I could be debuted there as her new boyfriend. So first, I was taken to a hairstylist and then to one of the downtown stores to fit out in casual elegance. The final stop was in Harvard Square, where I was introduced to fine Italian footwear of men. The new shoes were elegant with pointy toes and made from thin leather. My greasy calfskin, D-ring, and engineer boots were carefully wrapped in paper and consigned to a paper bag.
I awaited Elise in her living room on the night of the dinner party. When she emerged from the bedroom, she was in a slender Little Black Thing dress and a pair of stiletto high heels with straps. We looked like an elegant couple. I looked like something out of the popular Italian cinema of the time, and she was delectable in all the right ways.
Everything seemed to go well until the middle of the evening. Then, the new shoes proved to be not only uncomfortable but unbearable. I made the mistake of taking them off and then discovered that I could not get them back on my feet in a subtle and non-public manner. As we were about to leave, I was struggling to put the shoes on and was unable to.
At Elise’s apartment later, she told me to pack and leave. I had humiliated her in front of her closest friends. By this point, I was also mad and threw the Italian shoes at a portrait of Elise with a bit more zeal than I should have.
About a week later, I received a lovely note from Elise. It was written on her elegant cream-laid social stationary. She lamented the unfortunate confrontation but felt that we were not the best coupling. Love Always, Elise.
I moved on relatively quickly, as did Elise. But for many years, whenever I saw an elegant woman in an LBT dress and stiletto heels, the image of Elise would appear before me. A cold shiver would run down my spine, and I would sigh with relief at having avoided becoming a project.