The stories you hear

Featured image
The Cherry Blossoms in peak bloom along Park Avenue. Photo: JH.

Monday, April 17, 2023. A very early Summer like weather over the weekend touching 80 degrees at one point and low 70s by late evening; cooling some — into the high 60s. And the leaves are beginning to burst that beautiful baby fresh soft green.

The change in the weather definitely helps moving things along at a simple but steady pace. The city is very busy. The restaurants are very busy. Although the dinner hour for many has apparently moved back a bit, starting at 6:30, even 6 with families. So by 7:15, the joint is jumping, the place is packed. But then by 9 it’s already begun to empty out. New York is an earlier town these days.

I had dinner last night with an old friend I hadn’t seen in awhile because she’s away down there by the sea in the winter months. We’ve known each other for a long time and have watched each other’s lives move along and change as it does with time. So our “reunion” dinners are fact-flavored, and a rundown on what she’s been seeing and hearing down where I ain’t never. Or much.

Naturally in recounting her life down there in the Sun, New Yorkers are always part of the conversation, a kind of keeping a record of lives as time moves along. Everything changes with time and those changes are  always The Story. And of course they are often told in the context of private lives; the very personal experience of being alive. Those stories often fall in to the Gossip Bin, but in reality there is often a source to its origins.

When it falls into the he/her, she/me category it eventually evolves to family history. I have always personally lacked the moral authority to pass judgment on the private lives of anyone (with the obvious criminal exceptions), and I have listened to scores, maybe hundreds over the years, of individuals, male and female (mostly male), lie about their own sex lives or sexual interests while at the same time condemning another individual’s personal activities both sexual and otherwise.

Not long ago I listened to a well-educated young man in the investment business excoriate a former President’s character with the media flaunted buzzwords: “moral flaw.” Politics aside, in this same conversation he offered up his idea of moral perfection: one of America’s most venerated and successful CEOs, whose huge public image is a combination of Superman and Financial Genius.

I did not tell the young man when he mentioned his “hero” that a few years ago, this highly admired (even idolized) individual lunched at a very prominent power restaurant here in Manhattan with a group of people including a female friend of mine. After lunch, the Corporate Hero offered a couple of ladies (including my friend) a ride home in his limousine. Why, of course, they both accepted.

The car dropped the other woman off first. And then, after they continued on their way to my friend’s building, our Hero/god (who is married) very matter-of-factly, without saying a word, opened up his pants, extracted his private organ and began the age-old process that adolescent boys used to be warned the practice of which would grow hair on their palms.

My friend, shocked — and understandably outraged at the presumption and the trespassing on one’s personal dignity — didn’t want to give her host the satisfaction of acknowledgement, so she said nothing and just looked out the window. Meanwhile our Hero continued his activity, groaning loudly as if he were in the privacy of his own room, until they reached my friend’s address. Beside herself with fury, without ever looking at him — he who was still immersed in his passionate self-dalliance — my friend said to her ride as she got out and closed the door behind her: “Thank you … and be careful you don’t hurt yourself.”

This story, like so many stories of men (and very occasionally women) of a certain class and position of power, would never see the light of day with names attached to it. First of all, the women (or, if the case, men) would be too discreet to reveal it to the wrong sources — where ultimately “shoot the messenger” would apply, and secondly, the media wouldn’t touch it for a host of reasons (I can think of a half-dozen off the top such as: whose business is it anyway?).

“To wipe off the froth of falsehood,” Swinburne wrote more than a century ago, “from the foaming lips of inebriated virtue, when fresh from the sexless orgies of morality and reeling from the delirious riot of religion, may doubtless be a charitable office.”

Recent Posts