I remember that in them I had the slim physique girls craved and men simply expected, without understanding all the work that went into it. I remember thinking the jeans were too revealing. I remember thinking, the damage was already done. I remember thinking what could Rob expect for Dutch treat?
I remember I wanted to meet him in the street. I remember Rob insisted I come up to his room to see his ties. I remember pausing at the base of the stairs. I remember it still felt strange to be walking around in the world.
I remember looking up through smoke and seeing silhouettes of bearded men in Kaiser helmets. I remember the light was afternoon bright, though it was evening. I remember Rob started his night shift at eleven. I remember ascending the stairs, every man watching, every man looking.
I remember Rob had a gold tooth and wore bondage pants and big lace up boots. I remember I had no desire to smile back. I remember he complimented me on my outfit. I remember thinking, he’s relieved that I’m up to his American Wine Bar scene. I remember there was a giant raving insect in the window. I remember it was really a plant.
I remember Rob kept the door to his room open. I remember being aware of the bikers on the landing. I remember Rob’s fluttery up and down art school voice. I remember he had only a slight New York accent.
I remember his pock-marked skin and jet dyed hair. I remember his trembling finger tracing the line of the electrocardiogram on the tie. I remember him showing me where the line went flat. I remember he explained that this was a heart attack. I remember him smiling his wet hazel-eyed smile straight into my eyes. I remember feeling a little deaf, like someone had dropped an M-80 just by.
I remember he wore a purple shirt. I remember the sleeves were rolled up. I remember him noticing me look at the blue bruises on his arms. I remember him telling me “Sometimes I try to pass myself off as a junkie.” I remember thinking, He is a junkie.
I remember he said that he got the electrocardiograms from a friend at the hospital. I remember he told me he got his insulin for free. I remember being jealous that he’d got himself organized to become a permanent student at St. Martin’s, also for free. I remember feeling stupid that I wasn’t organized.
I remember him saying stealing electrocardiograms was against the rules. I remember thinking that nothing was worth doing unless it was against the rules. I remember thinking his being diabetic meant he was weak. I remember feeling sorry for him against my will. I remembered my cousin’s wife had just died of diabetes at age 31.
I remember Rob telling me he’d never met his father. I remember him telling me that in New York he and his mother lived downstairs from Joey Ramone. I remember him telling me his mother was a beatnik. I remember feeling better about him because he was a New York Jew.
I remember his height, walking next to me. I remember splashes of red phone booths and mail boxes in the leafy green. I remember a solid street of chipping white painted hotels.
I remember a blond American actress greeting Rob at the wine bar. I remember feeling under surveillance by her and other trendy expatriates. I remember fern and chrome and light wood. I remember sipping Chablis.
I remember how the evening sun wouldn’t stop. I remember the Wine Bar played no punk or new wave, only iconic American. I remember the soundtrack playing Sloop John B. I remember having heard it in the early hours of that morning.
I remember Rob telling me that at his other job, sweeping up at a rock club, someone thought he was Sting. I remember looking at his pasty, deeply scarred skin, his outsized, jagged features and thinking, the haircut and cheekbones, that’s all.
I remember looking look at his blue bruised arms again.
I remember the worse I felt, the happier Rob seemed.
I remember seeing a tall man with dreadlocks and a leather hat. I remember telling Rob I had to go. I remember on the way out, it wasn’t a tall man with dreadlocks, but a hat on a stand with a dark scarf trailing down.
I remember telling him if anyone came looking for me at the front desk, to tell them I went home to America. I remember outside it was finally dusk. I remember walking zig-zag through crowds in the middle of the street. I remember stopping before his building. I remember we were green under sodium lights. I remember he bent down and kissed me briefly on the lips.
I remember he said “I didn’t mean to be presumptuous.” I remember he looked down. I remember he looked up. I remember he looked like Sting. I remember he said, “Well, actually I did.”
I remember thinking that this was a line. I remember stiffening. I remember him grasping my upper arm. I remember him saying, “You are the most uptight girl I’ve ever met!” I remember watching his big boots bound up the stairs. I remember thinking, I made him feel like a man.