Becky Robs the Cradle

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Hello faithful readers. It’s been a while since I added to my “It’s My Life” series. In the meantime I’ve decided to write about something that happened a little more recently.

This happened in the mid 90’s. I was divorced from Mike and we were through, once and for all. I had moved to a larger city and had gotten a job as a clerk in a library.

I was pushing forty, alone and lonely, when I first noticed the young man. Typical of me, he had his sights already set on me much earlier, but I had not noticed.


Chapter One – “He looks like “The Beaver!”

“Oh, Mrs. Browning?” my co-worker Anna chirped in a sarcastic tone. “Your favorite patron has a request for you.”

I looked up from the pile of books I was trying to put in proper order to be shelved, and saw Robert on the other side of the counter with a big smile on his face.

Robert had on his traditional shirt and tie, which must have been the required uniform for his job as a student legislative assistant for a downstate Assemblyman, and his smile got wider when I greeted him in my usual manner.

“Morning Robert!” I said as I took his request from his hand. “What can I do for the future Governor?”

“The boss needs copies of a couple of articles,” he replied.

As I wrote some additional information on the cards to make it easier for the stacks staff to retrieve them, Robert made his usual small talk.

“That’s a pretty blouse, Mrs. Browning,” Robert said as he fidgeted nervously.

“Thank you Robert,” I said. “That’s how you’re going to make it to the White House someday. One fib at a time.”

I didn’t mind taking a compliment for a two year old blouse, especially when Robert was so sincere about it.

“That boy has got it bad for you,” Anna mentioned to me as I took care of his request.

“And that ain’t good,” I replied. “He’s got charm, manners and impeccable grooming. Everything you could ask for in a man. Too bad he’s just a boy.”

That was an exaggeration, of course, as I knew he had to be at least 18, but he wasn’t much older than that. Since I was at least twice his age, it was just a crush by a lonely kid. I enjoyed being the object of any man’s attention, but I did have my limits, or so I thought.

“He’s a real cutie though,” Anna added. “You know who he looks like? The Beaver! You know, like on Leave It To Beaver?”

“I guess,” I said, hoping Anna would fall down the elevator shaft at lunch so that she would stop riding me. “I suppose that makes me his teacher. The one he had a crush on. What was her name… Miss Landers?”

In reality, he DID look like the Beav. Chubby little cheeks, and bad haircut and always looking like he was wearing his father’s clothes, Robert was as cute as could be, especially with his perfect manners and gentlemanly ways.

“Hey, you could do worse – and have before, right?” Anna reminded me, reaffirming my own commitment to never tell anybody about my past again.

I smiled and rolled my eyes, not letting on that the very same thought had crossed my mind just as she was saying that.

Chapter Two: Spit it out.

It was couple of days later when Robert returned with another request. Actually two requests. The first request was easy enough to handle, as all I had to do was look up the Dewey Decimal number on the computer. The second request was a lot more work on both of our parts.

“I – um – er, well. I was thinking. You know. If you wanted to that is. I just didn’t know and you don’t have to because it’s okay.”

This went on for at least a minute. I watched my usually mild-mannered and eloquent Robert stammer and mumble almost incoherently as he tried to get a sentence out. His face grew red and sweat was beading up on his forehead, and I feared he was going to have a seizure right there on the public floor.

Robert had gotten off to a bad start seconds before, when I caught him peeking down the front of my blouse. Not usually the type to flaunt myself, this purple V-neck top was about as revealing as I would get a work.

The blouse was a barometer of how desperate a guy was. If he took the time to peek down there to inspect my sad little orbs, then I knew that the guy must either be extremely horny or in need of a laugh.

Lunch. It had something to do with lunch, I finally surmised.

“Spit it out Robert,” I finally said with a chuckle. “I don’t bite – at least not in public.”

He wanted to know if I had gone to lunch yet, and if I hadn’t, would I like to join him in the park?

“Sure,” I said, looking up at the clock. It was 12:05, and I didn’t go to lunch until 1. “Wait a second.”

I went back to Anna, who was on her way out the door, and asked her to switch lunch times with me. Not usually a big deal between us, but she was halfway out the door when I caught her.

“Who am I to stand in the way of romance?” Anna quipped as she put her lunch back on her desk. “Can you fit a sandwich and a quickie in before one?”

“Get your mind Eskort out of the gutter,” I cautioned her, after thanking her. “He’s a gentleman.”

“It wasn’t him I was thinking about.”

Chapter Three: In the park with Robert.

Lunch in the park with Robert was an extraordinary affair. Never in the history of mankind has a woman had more doors opened for her in less than an hour. I was pampered and treated like a Queen, or at least as much as one could be while sitting on a park bench (wiped off with a napkin by my personal Sir Galahad, of course.

It was way over the top and silly, and I loved it.

During that lunch, Robert was a dazzling conversationalist. He was interested in me and my past. I told him about my ex-husband Mike, leaving out the parts about him being a user and a scumbag, while omitting my mindless compliance with his every wish.

Robert told me about himself; he was 18 (almost 19 – in only four months he made clear), and had been accepted to Cornell in the fall on a full academic scholarship. He was very interested in politics, and when the chance for this internship came up he leaped at the chance to see the process up close.

“Girlfriend at home?” I asked, and was surprised at his reply. Not so much the fact that he said no, but more the way that he answered, as if no girl in the world could be interested in him.

Hell, I thought he was wonderful, and while I admit to not always having the highest standards, the fact of the matter was that this was just a nice kid – man, I mean.

As we walked around the area after eating, Robert explained the different governmental buildings that surrounded us, and what their functions were. He told stories of the history of our state government and the people that ran it, and occasionally ran it into the ground. He was a walking encyclopedia, and spoke to me as if he weren’t instructing but merely talking.

“I’m sure you know all this,” Robert said. “I just find it fascinating that all of this is happening around us.

“Some of it,” I said, and didn’t mention how little I did know.

I had lived in this city for five years, and was embarrassed that somebody half my age and who had grown up 150 miles from here probably had forgotten more about the city than I even knew. I barely knew who Alfred E. Smith was! Robert knew all the governors of the state in order, from Mario Cuomo back to George Clinton.

“George Clinton?” I asked. “Isn’t he in a group? Parliament or Funkadelic or something like that?”

Robert didn’t know what I was talking about, which made two of us. I was just trying to make sure he wasn’t pulling my leg.

“George Clinton was the first governor, and he was also vice-president under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, so I think he must not be the same one,” James informed me.

“Oh, THAT George Clinton,” I said, giving his arm a little squeeze.

If Robert had suspected that I was an idiot, my playful hug of his arm erased all that, as he seemed very excited over that brief show of affection.

“I had a wonderful time,” I exclaimed as we ended up in front of the library a little after one. “I wish I had a longer lunch.”

“You do?” Robert said.

“Of course, didn’t you enjoy it?”

Robert went into his spastic mode again, and because I had to get back to work, cut him off after a few seconds.

“Look, do you have a pen and something to write with?” I asked, and Robert came up with a scrap of paper but nothing to write with.

“How’s your memory?” I asked, and gave him my phone number. “Some night if you get bored and want to talk, give me a ring. Maybe we can get together sometime.”

The sight of Robert silently mouthing my phone number over and over as he stuck out his sweaty hand for me to shake, and continuing to do so earnestly as I went through the revolving doors, gave me goose bumps.

I was certain that Robert would remember my phone number, and so I wasn’t really surprised when my phone rang. The fact that I heard it ringing the moment I unlocked the front door of my apartment building after work, and kept ringing while I climbed the three flights to my apartment, and continued to ring as I fumbled with my keys – now that was a little surprising.

Chapter Four: A date with Robert.

Robert was five minutes early when he arrived at my apartment that Friday evening. It was hard to tell that it was a Friday night, because Robert arrived in a shirt and tie again, even though the blue shirt was a little snazzier than his usual white or ivory ones.

“You look like you’re going to work,” I commented as I let him in to my very humble home. “Feel free to lighten up after hours, babe.”

“Oh,” Robert said nervously as his eyes darted around my apartment like he was waiting for someone to yell SURPRISE! and throw confetti. “You always say that I look good when I go to your work, so…”

“You do Robert, I’m just teasing you,” I told him. “How do I look?”

I was decidedly less formal than Robert was, and the fact that you could see my nipples trying to tear through the silky white fabric of my blouse, was not lost on Robert. Good thing too, since I hadn’t been priming my nipples for my own benefit as I went to answer his knock.

“Beautiful,” he mumbled. “You look beautiful.”

Obviously Robert was a little bit of a tit man, or maybe more accurately a little tit man. Whatever, my little cones had a fan in Robert, that much I had already figured out, so I was prepared to use whatever I had to keep his interest.

How the date came about was rather interesting. When I finally got to the phone that afternoon, at around a quarter to six, Robert talked. Then I talked. We talked until 9 that night, and while we talked I got undressed, threw a Lean Cuisine in the microwave, went to the bathroom, ate dinner, trimmed my toenails and even brushed my teeth.

“Sorry,” I said when Robert asked what that noise was in the background, and what he had heard despite my best efforts to muffle the mouthpiece while he spoke. “I was getting ready to hit the hay. In a few minutes you would have been in bed with me,” I said with a giggle.

“What time is it?” Robert asked after stammering and sputtering a little, and when he discovered how late it was, apologized profusely.

“Hey, it was a conversation, Robert,” I reminded him. “If I didn’t want to talk I would have ended it a long time ago. I enjoy talking to you – a lot.”

That was no lie. Robert was much less nervous speaking on the phone, even more relaxed than he had been in the park, and the conversation never lagged for a moment. He spoke about having few friends in school, of being picked on a lot, and about how lonely he was up here so far from home. I told him about my loveless marriage, leaving out a lot of the more lurid details, and how I was lonely too.

How did he end up asking me out? He didn’t. I asked him. I wasn’t going to make him go through his nervous ritual, and there was always the chance that he wouldn’t ask, so I took the initiative. Call me what you will.

“Maybe go to the movies,” I suggested, mentioning a local theatre that was in walking distance.

“I don’t have a car,” Robert said.

“Me neither,” I reminded him. “We can walk there. And don’t worry about paying for it. It’s my treat.”

Having heard of the pitiful pay he got from his job (apparently wage laws don’t apply to office holders – they only pass laws for others to comply with), I knew there was no way he could afford to take anybody out on a date, and while I was far from affluent, I was doing alright in comparison.

“Unless you’d rather not,” I said, suddenly realizing that maybe he didn’t want to see me in that kind of way.

“NO-NO-NO!” Robert yelled into the phone abruptly. “I mean, I want to. Yes, but I can pay for it,” he insisted, and after a little sparring it was determined that we could split it, since Robert made it clear that he was not going to have me pay his way too.

The weather was our friend, as it was a very nice evening for a walk. What we would have done if it had rained? When we got to the local theatre, which was a small two-screen theatre that showed a lot of art house stuff, the movie we had planned on seeing was sold out. This left us with only one choice.

“Two for ‘The Incredibly True Story of Two Girls in Love’,” Robert said without making eye contact with the ticket seller, which probably would have sent him slinking into the pavement in shame.

The movie was indeed incredible, and even though I’m sure I enjoyed it more than Robert did, his reactions during the film showed that he liked it as well. As we left the theatre we passed through the mob assembled outside the lobby for the next show, and as we walked through, someone that worked on another level of the library called out my name. I waved, too far into the current of the crowd flow to stop and chat, and after we reached the cool air of the street, we looked around.

“How about a drink,” I suggested, and then mentally gave myself a boot in the butt for forgetting he wasn’t about to get served anywhere. “Or a cup of coffee.”

“That would be great,” Robert replied.

“That must have been embarrassing for you back there,” Robert said after we headed down the street. “That person recognizing you – with me and all.”

“Me?” I answered, pausing on the middle of the sidewalk. “You’re the one that should feel weird. You probably feel like you’re out with your mother.”

“No I don’t,” Robert said with that earnest look in his eyes, although this time with a little fiery touch added. “When I walked through with you back there I felt like I was a celebrity. You know – when they walk out on the red carpet and people call out to them. Never felt special like that before.”

Anybody other than Robert saying that would have caused me to laugh in their face. Even with Robert, I let out a little chuckle before controlling myself.

“Follow me,” I insisted, and walked back to the front of the theatre, grabbing Robert’s sweaty hand and dragging him with me.

“Carol,” I said as we reached the woman that had called out my name. “What are you going to see?”

“Two Girls,” Carol said, looking at me and then at Robert, standing at my side.

“It’s a great movie, we just saw it!” I told her. “Carol, this is my date, Robert.”

Carol smiled at Robert and greeted him warmly, and I noticed that Robert wiped his hand on his pants before shaking her hand, and the hand of Carol’s husband.

“Good to see you, and nice to meet you, Robert,” Carol said as the throng began to move inside the building, taking them away from us and leaving us outside in the flashing lights of the marquee.

“There, now you’ve met the common folk that follow us celebrities around,” I told Robert. “Now how about that coffee?”

Robert wasn’t even shocked when I grabbed his hand again and held it, and as he led me down the street there was a little bounce to his step that might not have been there before.

Chapter Five: Second date.

We spent the rest of that evening at a coffee shop near my apartment. After three cups and a glazed donut, I was wired and ready for action. Robert had other plans.

“Sure you don’t want to come up?” I asked as coyly as I could manage, as I stood on the bottom step of the landing.

“Thanks, but I have some things to do early tomorrow morning,” Robert answered. “Can we do this again tomorrow night?”

Anybody else, and I would have assumed that to be bullshit, but when it came out of Robert’s mouth I believed it, or at least gave him the benefit of the doubt. I told him that after checking my mental date book, by some incredible coincidence, it appeared that I was still free on a Saturday night and would be happy to see him then, although he was welcome to come up for a drink now.

It wasn’t like he was going to get into my pants or anything. I never gave it up on the first date, but we could have played around for a little while. Just because he wasn’t going to score didn’t mean I wasn’t going to let him run the bases some.

“Well, do me a favor then,” I said after he politely declined, and undid his tie, pulling it out from his collar and unbuttoning his top button.

“You wear a tie around here at night and somebody will think you’ve got a buck in your pocket and you’ll get mugged for sure,” I told him. “And around your place it’s probably even worse. Here – take this with you.”

With that I threw the tie around his neck and pulled his face to mine, planting one of my patented Becky lip-locks on him before he could get away.

“That’s so you don’t forget about me before tomorrow night!” I told Robert, who was dumbstruck and reeling from the kiss, almost like he had never been kissed before.

“And no tie tomorrow night!” I cautioned him before skipping up the steps and into the building.

Chapter Six: Saturday night.

Robert wore a polo shirt and looked much more relaxed to me the next night when he arrived at my door. We walked over to the theatre again, but this time we got a little damp from the light rain that started just as we neared the theatre.

We watched the movie we had tried to see the night before, one of those Tom Clancy submarine movies, and this time when we left the theatre it wasn’t like a red carpet but more like a blue ocean.

After standing under the marquee and watching it rain, we looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders in unison.

“Let’s go!” I yelled, and took his hand and raced down the street. After a thorough drenching, I pulled Robert into the doorway of a bar.

I moved him past the bored guy at the door who was supposed to be checking I.D.’s before he or Robert knew what had happened, and into a booth near the bar.

“What do you want?” I asked Robert as a server approached us. “And stop acting like you haven’t been in a bar before. You like beer? Yes? Then just say Bud or something when she asks you. what you want.”

I ordered a vodka and tonic, and Robert managed to blurt out “Bud” sounding much like those frogs did in the commercial. All well and good, and no questions asked, although I realized I was already corrupting the boy.

“I like the other movie better than that one,” Robert said as we watched a band finishing setting up at the other end of the room, assuring that any conversation would be short-lived.

“Really?” I said in surprise. “I though the other one might be a little too much of a chick movie for you, in more ways than one.

“No, I thought that was interesting, and the two of them together seemed more natural the more I watched it,” Robert said. “Does that happen a lot?”

“You mean girls and girls together?” I asked. “Well, it happens, but I don’t know how much. Have you ever been interested in another guy?”

“Me – Oh God! No!” Robert said, acting all spastic again. “I don’t think it’s the same with guys as it is with girls. Girls are just so attractive looking, but guys are just… guys.”

“I guess so, unless you’re a girl, or a gay guy,” I told him.

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