The oldest item in my closet is a 1968 Teaneck football T-shirt, given to me by a Teaneck, N.J. High School cheerleader named Maryann, who I was hoping would ask me out on a date. And there is a pewter bulldog paperwieght that belonged to a woman named Peggy, whom I secretly/not-so-secretly loved for a decade. I also have Bonnie’s New York Yankee baseball cap, though I never had Bonnie the way I wanted her. Not even close. If I’m honest about it, a good 25 percent of my closet is taken up by clothing and gifts of love that used to belong to or were given to me by the women I loved, or the women I have not quite been allowed to love. Wearing their gifts, gripping a Waterman writing pen or slipping on an Hawaiian friendship ring, is a way of keeping these women close to my heart, when life, or sometimes even death, has taken them elsewhere. Each piece of clothing or gift of love brings back not only the women from my past, but also visions of who I was when I wore a younger mans clothing and the places we went when I was with them. After all these years, I can still remember when love was brand new-that terrible, glorious state- finally, I now know that hidden in every man, there is a part of him that wants nothing more than to be wrapped in the arms of his beloved. And if it isn’t really love, and only a season of love, and not a lifetime of love, won’t that time of wanting more convince you to stay and wait for the day when she is ready to calm down and come around? If you hear a hint of voodoo in what I’m saying, that’s because it is voodoo. We men have been conjuring love spells since the begining of time, and when mine fail, as they often do, I choose a sweet souvenir that will soften further with time. Nina’s United Airlines writing pen, Wendy’s miniature ivory Buddha, Bernadette’s Tiffany key ring. When I rattle them in my hand, it’s 1992, and I’m back on the rooftop of the Kennedy Center drinking Absolute and tonics, and Bernadette is laughing at something I”ve said about the Redskins, her gentle brown eyes smiling into mine. But only for a season.
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