I'm a goodlooking, down-to-earth middle-aged guy who lives in New York City but originated in England and has lived in various parts of Europe. I'm in the arts and work in the city but I frequently need a nature fix, which can be cross-country skiing, hiking, kayaking, or swimming, depending on the season, usually upstate in the Catskill area, where I have a pied-à-terre. I'm looking for someone warm-hearted, attractive and liberal with whom I can share outdoor adventure, the arts, and a good laugh about the stranger aspects of life in 21st-century America. I'm neither wealthy nor impecunious and am not really into materialism. And I don't have a cell phone. You, my prospective companion, have a great sense of humor, don't drive an SUV, and don't answer your cell-phone while we're making love. And you understand the meaning of compassion. We can talk politics without fighting as long as you don't join the NRA and become a born-again Christian. And did I mention I don't like cell phones?
We arrange to meet on a Sunday afternoon at the Paris Cinema in NYC to see a quirky Romanian comedy about snail farmers in the Carpathian Mountains. While we're waiting on line, you see an old school friend walking by, who tells us he's now a boat-builder and on his way to meet someone from the Russian mafia whose 50-foot yacht, moored at the 79th Street Boat Basin, is slowly sinking and needs repair. He persuades us to jump into a limo sent by the Russian to go and look at the boat. We meet the Russian, board the boat, pump out the bilges, and go for a quick sail. Unfortunately, the Russian, at the wheel, is swigging from a litre bottle of vodka, the tide is at full ebb, and we end up swept downriver, putting in at nightfall at a marina in a French Canadian enclave on the New Jersey coast just as the boat sinks. We inflate the dinghy just in time to make it ashore as a troupe of actors from Québec pile out of a minivan and invite us into a café theatre to see their revival of Ionesco's "The Bald Soprano" in Québecois French (in which you, of course, are fluent, having lived years ago with a Québecois family of loggers in the Laurentians while researching your thesis on deforestation and global warming). It's the most exciting piece of theatre either one of us has aver seen. Afterwards, in the café, you and I argue spiritedly over whether absurdist theatre leaves room for hope vis-à-vis the human condition. Because of the noise, we lean in to hear each other and suddenly we are kissing deeply and passionately as if we've been lovers for years, hungrily inhaling each other's scent. We break apart, call for the check, slip out the door and find the limo waiting.... (to be continued)