We took the car out from the expensive lot, piled the suitcases back in, and drove
through the Midtown tunnel onto the Long Island expressway. The top was
down, and we were on our way to Montauk, New York, to visit my son Roger and his family. I particularly loved going to the Hamptons. I had spent many wonderful summers there and had sublime memories.
As soon as I left the city, knowing where I was going, a feeling of peace
and happiness came over me. I was familiar with the drive out, enjoying it year
after year: first the tunnel, then the congestion, then about 45 minutes out
of the city, there were signs to the small towns off of the expressway. Farther
along, we passed exits to Fire Island, where our family had spent summers.
Finally, we reached the turnoff that said “Montauk.”
The corner gas station on Route 27 indicated we were almost there; South
Hampton, one of the most beautiful places on earth.
A delightful café, the Golden Pear, sat on the corner of the town and
was always packed with people. We waited in line for a table and ordered
bagels and tea. Afterwards, I took Xavier on a quick tour of South Hampton,
showing him the magnificent mansions, one after another on the sea. They were exclusive homes passed on from generation-to-generation, with tennis
clubs snuggled between.
I suddenly became silent, going back into my thoughts remembering my unforgettable
love affair with Gerhardt.
One afternoon, I went to the famous Drivers Seat restaurant, a great summer
hang out, to the afternoon bar to have some fun. I spotted an extraordinary looking
young guy, with long blonde hair, wearing black pants, a white shirt,
and a black-leather shoulder bag strung over his shoulder. He took my breath
away. He looked at least ten or twenty years younger than I was, but I found
dating men my age to be much too serious. There was no challenge; I wanted
new experiences, perhaps picking up when I was nineteen.
The year was 1978, I was forty-two, he was twenty-eight.
Gerhardt was engaged in talking to another woman, his full attention
focused on her. They didn’t look like a match, so I decided she wasn’t for him.
I waited for the right moment, never taking my eyes off of him. My heart
was pounding at the thought of meeting this unusually sexy guy, who looked
different from anyone else. I was able to get a bar seat next to where they were standing, and, at the first opening, I practically pushed the lady to the side and
said to Gerhardt, “I have been standing in line waiting to meet you.”
He was spontaneous, a flirt, the more the merrier for Gerhardt, I learned,
knowing he was hot and desirable.
“Oh yes?” he said, with an accent and a laugh. I handed him my card and
we quickly made plans for him to call me that evening. There was a party in town and
I decided I would invite him to come.
After I did, I gave him back to the other lady. Later, he told me she
thought I was rude. She was right.
Gerhardt was the most unusual guy I had ever met until then. He was
German, with a thick, but soft, accent. He didn’t work, traveling the world on
a trust fund, and was probably the most unmotivated person ever, sleeping all
day, rising at four in the afternoon, and then beginning his day. . He was like
He intrigued me, just listening to him talk was enough to set me afire.
It mattered not what he said. I loved his accent, amusing laugh, and how he
would move his adorable behind. As he spoke, he would roll his own cigarettes,
looking up, then looking down, and finally finishing and putting one between
his lips, sex oozing from him, his long blonde hair falling over one eye. He
would throw his head back when his locks blocked his vision, and I would
swoon. To me, he was like watching a movie on the screen, starring a character I adored. He was always late, driving me insane waiting for him; but when he
walked through the door, nothing else mattered.
I would wait on him hand and foot, experienced as I was, in doing so
during my marriage. I would cook dinner and serve it to him on a silver platter,
setting the bed as an elegant picnic table with candlelight, using my best linens,
Lenox china, and Grand Baroque silver. He didn’t lift a finger.
Gerhardt taught me what freedom was. He taught me how to leave and
do what I wanted to do, how to break the rules, how to be anything other
a suburban housewife, even though I was still acting like one. Sex was not
as important to me as the affection and attention he gave me when we were
together. He would put his arms around me, talking to me for hours and hours into the early morning. I could not get enough of him nor would I dare to end the evening by falling asleep.
The Hamptons was our place. We would glide through the night in my
station wagon going out for late drives. My sleep patterns were completely
destroyed. He would call at unusual hours and come to see me in the middle
of the night. There were no guarantees, except for his irregularity. He was the
complete opposite of Norman and the stability he had brought to my life.
My children were grown, Leslie, at twenty, was in England; Eric, at
seventeen, was on a cross-country bike trip with a friend; and Roger, fourteen,
was in summer camp. I stashed myself in the Hamptons, thinking I would
spend the whole summer with Gerhardt. He had no such intention. It seemed
he had another girlfriend all along; and, if it weren’t her, it would have been
something else that kept him on the move.
My sister Judy and I were on the outs. I had lost the two dearest people to me that
summer, Judy and Gerhardt. I was miserable and lonely. I locked myself in my
cabin and slept for almost a week, sleeping off my depression.
I was going to travel, do exciting things. I had gotten out of my boxed in
marriage, only to throw myself right back in jail—Gerhard’s jail. He was
possibly the worst drug I ever had. My ego was low; my self-image non-existent
from my two terrible hurts. After that summer he did come back again and
again to my New York apartment, amazing himself that we went on for so long.
Our on-and-off affair went on for three years. It was not a wonder as I put up
with everything and anything. When I told him I loved him, he responded,
“Thank you.” Toward the end, I prayed for it to be over, but not before he gave
me the biggest surprise of my life.
Gerhardt said he was in Europe. I had not heard from him for a while and
I missed him terribly. I was lying on the beach in South Hampton, dreaming
about him, longing for his arms to be around me again, longing to see his face.
The beach was packed with July vacationers. At that very moment, I looked
up and there he was, walking along the sand, coming towards me. It was as if
he walked out of the sea from Europe, out of my dream. I’ll never forget the shockwaves that went through me.
I jumped up and said, “Gerhardt, my Gerhardt,” practically jumping all
over him on the beach. “I’m so thrilled to see you. I was dreaming about you,
not more than five minutes ago, and look, here you are.”
“Yes, he said, “I am here, I am here.”It wasn’t long till he began to steal my energy again. One day, I woke up, and it was over. I never wanted to see him again.
I came out of my reminiscence as we continued to drive through the Hamptons, from South
to Bridge to East Hampton. I told Xavier little stories along the way. He had never been to most of the places I was showing him during our road trip. The
beauty throughout the Hamptons surpassed all other places, certainly Miami,
the vegetation lush with vegetables, fresh fruit, and rows and rows of Long
Island potatoes. There were polo fields, bays and harbors, quaint shops, longstanding
and short-standing restaurants, the hangouts where we would meet
guys, and the romantic beaches. The Hamptons never became commercialized
and remained practically the same as I knew them, so many years ago.
The road leading from Amagansett to Montauk is one of my favorite drives.
After passing the deluxe fruit stand, which is a landmark, the road turned. Then,
before our eyes, we witnessed the crashing waves of the sea coming from out of
nowhere. My heart pounded, the view, thrilling me, over and over again.
“Xavier, get ready for one of my favorite rides. The view is spectacular.”