His name was Howard. He was a waiter at a fancy Italian restaurant in Upper Westside Manhattan. I was visiting from Montreal where I was studying music at McGill.
Every summer since the age of 8 years old, I had been swept away from the rustic back-to-the-land lifestyle that my hippie parents had chosen, to the glittering home of my grandparents: New York City.
This particular summer I was 21. My grandparents took me for lunch at their favourite restaurant. Here, many of the waiters were actors and singers hoping to make it big on the stage. By day, they waited tables. By night, they worked on smaller Off-Broadway shows or rehearsed for auditions. Howard was one of these.
I wasn’t much of a flirt and had no experience with city boys. But Howard was damn cute! He was also super sweet. He had black curly hair and deep blue eyes. He doted on my grandparents. My grandparents liked him so much that they encouraged me to get his number when we were leaving.
“Is this really happening,? I remember thinking.
My grey-haired grandparents, who were so formal and proper compared to my parents at home were trying to set me up with a “barely making it artist” just because of his cute looks and good graces? How could they think he had any promise for my future?
But when I called him on the phone a day later it was quickly arranged that my Grandma would take me to his artist studio and drop me off for a date with him.
The next night my Grandma and I took a long bus ride to Howard’s neighbourhood. He lived on the Lower East Side. I still can’t believe my Grandma dropped me off at that towering metal building where artists lived and worked in a much less safe neighbourhood than her fancy apartment building on the Upper Westside.
Howard’s studio was barely a home. His room was a little cave off the kitchen. The kitchen itself was a walkthrough where you could barely stand or turn around to make food or eat.
In his room, he had a little keyboard, books candles. I was already feeling a spark seeing what it was like to be living and making it as an artist in the Big Apple. It was Howard who first showed me Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way book which changed my life. He also gave me Rilke’s “Letters to A Young Poet” that night. There was something about all of this and the dingy, shabby hole in the wall that he called home.
But then he took me to his practicing room….
Down a long corridor, a door opened into a huge empty room. It was like a ballroom with high ceilings and tall windows. There was nothing in the room. But nothing was needed. Once he began to sing I knew. This room was made for making you feel larger than life, for amplifying your voice, for giving you space to feel and express yourself, to explore and expand, to believe in the power of creativity. This room said it all. This is why he lived here.
My heart soared into the space with his voice. I was to overtaken with inspiration and emotion. He could have had me right there.
But instead we grabbed our coats and went for a night walk in the city.
It began to rain. We clasped hands and traipsed through puddles, went into a small shop for a pack of gum. By now we were both tipsy with adventure and the newness of each other. The rain was adding to the fun and we were getting pretty wet.
Howard had been planning to get me to the bus stop and home at a good hour out of respect for my grandparents. But now he decided we would walk all the way back to the Upper Westside just to have a little more time together!
An hour later we were finally passing the grand plaza in front of Lincoln Centre with its tall water fountains lit by lights. It was here that it happened. Suddenly he swept me up in his arms and leaned me over to plant a juicy, languorous kiss on my lips. I was so shocked and surprised that I almost forgot to kiss him back. It was HOT but awkward. It was like I momentarily became an actor in a play, maybe one of the plays that he was in or wanted to be in,
After that we soon reached my grandparents’ apartment. I went in feeling so many mixed emotions. Mainly that I wanted to re-do the kiss moment. Because I wanted to kiss him back for real. I wanted more….
That night was my only-ever one night stand. So called. Because in my fantasy the kiss turned into more. The erotic charge for me of the whole experience is unforgettable. Who cares that we never actually had sex. It was a sweet and erotic exchange of artistic inspiration; high fun, linking arms, hearing his incredible voice, seeing what a real striving actor in New York goes through.
It was before the days of internet and cell phones. So after that night we had snail mail to keep in touch. We co-wrote a song in the mail that we sent back and forth. Each of us wrote one line to the song and then sent it back for the other to write the next line. It was a cobbled together cute and funny song that didn’t hold water but it kept the energy and friendship between us going for a while.
Even if you have never really had a one night stand, as mine wasn’t really either, what moments have you experienced where you made a special connection with a stranger?
It could have been a look, a touch. It could have swept you off your feet or changed your life forever. These moments of connection and recognition are so special. It’s so special to know there are many in this world who see us, who support us, who admire us, who adore us, who desire us.
Maybe because we never had sex, I have these wonderful memories of that night and I still feel the sizzle that was there. It lives within me forever.
Thank you Howard, wherever you are out there now. I hope you made it big!
Remember, Love is your Nature!