‘Twas a rainy November night in Evanston, Illinois. I am 17 years and 364 days old, a college sophomore theater major from The Bronx. I am walking around aimlessly, Jewish brown eyes crying in the goyische rain. I have left my apartment which I share with Alexis, an exotically gorgeous leading lady who is a senior, her musician brother, and Pam, an also gorgeous senior ingénue. I met them the previous summer in Michigan City, Indiana, where we were all in summer stock together, and I had gleefully accepted their invitation to move in with them in the fall. I was in passionate secret unrequited love with Alexis, who was completely unattainable, and I was on the verge of getting an ulcer from what I feared was going to be terminal virginity.
My watery peregrinations brought me to downtown Evanston, where I discovered my unconscious aim: an ice cream shop, where the waitress was an acquaintance. I disclosed that my birthday was the next day, and ordered a hot fudge sundae. I suspect that, observing me, she shrewdly diagnosed acute neurasthenia, and kindly made the sundae my first birthday gift. I drowned my young sorrows in it, fervently, incipient ulcer be damned.
Upon returning to my apartment, the rain on my face indistinguishable from the tracks of my tears, I was told by Alexis that I was to meet her in the apartment tomorrow at 6pm, no questions asked. “Sure,” my broken heart and I agreed.
The next evening, I waited in the living room, and out from their rooms emanated Alexis and Pam, shimmering in vintage thrift shop gowns. Candles were lit and I was served champagne and home-made chicken liver pâté with crackers, my beloved Ella swinging on the stereo. The door bell rang, and more than half a dozen of my friends entered, all of them very cool talented fun people. I was commanded to get my coat and whisked into a car. We were soon all seated around a big table at an Italian restaurant, with candle drippings on Chianti bottles and Dean Martin crooning in the background.
I don’t think I ever felt more surprised or more loved, in my life, ever. This never happened to me.
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