NEW YORK CITY, 2010 — After my marriage to Mark had ended, my mother was ridiculously excited to have me date this rich, conservative, business tycoon Charles Rosenthal. She was positively giddy at the thought of having him as a son-in-law.
THE HAGUE, 2012 — It’s funny how unimpressed my parents were with some of the guys I’ve dated. With Charles, I think my mother liked him a lot more than I did. I found some of his values problematic and sometimes I’d be embarrassed by things he’d say at a party or social gathering.
I have to say, he was amazing in the bedroom. What is it with Republicans and sex? Does all that “liberal angst” render a guy, IDK, “less potent” or something? And all that blinkered, unbridled confidence of doubt-free conservatism yeilds, well, confidence? IDK. Maybe I just liked him in the bedroom because he couldn’t say anything embarrasing to anyone else there. In the end it wasn’t enough though. We only dated a short while and I was relieved when it ended. IDK if he realized that the last night we were together was going to be the last night, but I was very aware of that. It was a strange amalgam of feelings, of relief, but also that I was feeling something I probably wasn’t going to feel again for a while, or maybe not ever feel again in this way.
This story has an unexpected, bittersweet ending to it. The last time I saw Charles was in 2010 September. He died 7 months later in 2011 April in an auto accident in Montmartre. I was surprised at how distraught I felt on hearing the news. I wound up flying to his funeral where I cried buckets for a man I hadn’t really cared that much for.
The funny thing is, when Charles was alive, I was so critical of him. I thought everything he said or did was wrong. And then once he was gone none of that stuff really seemed to matter. All I could think of was how kind and thoughtful he was. Even how funny he often was. In life I had been over-critical and not seen how good he was. In death I was over-complimentary and built something of him that he maybe wasn’t. The real man was neither of those men, but someone less simple, more complex, and more nuanced.