This is how I lost her

In the last paragraph of my previous post, (Three weeks ago. I know. But when I get the I-don’t-cares, the first thing I stop caring about is this stupid blog.) I mentioned a long-ago dalliance with Bonnie. Go back and reread that paragraph and then come back here. I’ll wait…

This is how I lost Bonnie.

*     *     *

Bonnie was way out of my league. She knew it and I knew it. She was a successful architect and a Yale graduate who had a bitchin’ apartment right across the street from the Museum of Modern Art. She was a Renaissance woman. She dabbled in stage design and performed in a modern dance troupe when she was young. I, on the other hand, had just gotten out of the Coast Guard and had begun an exciting career as a word processor.

She was significantly older than I was. I don’t know by how much because I was never gauche enough to ask, but it was quite a few years. On the surface, you’d think we wouldn’t have anything in common. But I know what she saw in me (aside from my youth). I had an insatiable hunger for experience and knowledge. I hadn’t attended college so I had a lot of catching up to do and Bonnie made an excellent Sensi. She guided me through the literary, artistic and theatrical classics. She taught me all about New York City, which was quickly becoming the love of my life. It fed her ego, which was fine with me. And we were passionate. She still had a dancer’s flexible body and I had energy to spare. We were Bogie and Bacall in reverse.


We would attend functions together and knew that her friends were talking about us behind our backs. We’d take mental notes to ourselves of all the sideways glances and whispers, retire to her apartment, lay in bed, compare notes and laugh our asses off at them. We were awfully, awfully fond of one another, but never in love.

*     *     *

Currently at MoMA is a Post Modern art exhibit. The feature piece is the manuscript of avant-garde artist John Cage’s 4’33. In this piece, a pianist walks up to a piano, sits down and does absolutely NOTHING for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. The “composition” is whatever ambient noises occur in that period of time. Floorboards creaking. People coughing. Programs rustling. Cage was pleased at the premier in 1952 as, according to him:

“… people themselves made all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked and walked out.”

Here’s what the sheet music for 4’33” looks like:

cage-2On August 12, 1992, John Cage passed away. There was a front-page obituary in the New York Times. I was over Bonnie’s apartment and let her know, in no uncertain terms, that I thought Cage was a pretentious fraud and that a front-page obit is wholly unwarranted. I told her that nobody *I* know or listened to was ever influenced by Cage (certainly not Rush) and that four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence is neither music OR art. It’s just lazy. I prattled on for several more minutes and finally ran out of gas. Bonnie looked at me.

“Are you done?”
“My dissertation at Yale was on Cage’s career.”

That was it. I blew up the bridge. That distance between us was never traversed again.

*     *     *

I bumped into Bonnie in the summer of 2012. I was seeing a play with My Bride and she sat several rows behind me. I leaned over and whispered, “Hey, I think that’s Bonnie! Do you think she’d remember me?” I couldn’t concentrate on the play. At intermission I got up and walked to the lobby and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Bonnie get up out of her seat. I stopped her as she walked past.

“Hi, Bonnie. Do you remember me?”
“Oh…I remember you, alright.”

Bonnie ended up marrying a multi-billionaire. You’d know his name if I said it. They were married for a short period of time and then had an amicable divorce. She always wanted to be traveling and on the go and he just wanted peace and quiet. They threw a lavish divorce party for all their friends to show there was no hard feelings. The wheel spins, doesn’t it?

*     *     *

Several people have written to say my Follow button does not include an option to add my site to a WordPress RSS reader. No doubt this accounts for my low readership. It can’t possibly be the content, right? To add this site to a WordPress Reader, go to your reader, click on Edit and add my URL. Conversely, I’ve moved an email subscription widget below the photo of dear St. Lucy and her plate of eyeballs. I blame Obamacare for my Follow button kerfuffle.

45 thoughts on “This is how I lost her

  1. Bet yer glad ya blew that bridge eh?

    I dread to think what my life would be like had my first fiance not given me the heave-ho!

    I’ve had many requests for 4’33” at gigs, or as I like to call it ‘I’m goin’ for a piss’!

    • I liked Bonnie a lot and even though we knew it wasn’t permanent, I was still kind of sad when we stopped seeing each other. She taught me a lot. And that apartment! Criminy! It was beautiful.

  2. I’ve never been a John Cage fan…..I just don’t “get it”….Never did and still don’t.
    Personally, I think there is a lot of “Emperor’s New Cloths” about so very many so called Artists….(Basquiet, is a perfect example….I’m sure that is NOT the write spelling….) And Cage has always been that for me, too. A lot of Pretentious nothing. Harsh sounding, I know…Bonnie would drop me pretty fast too….! LOL!

    • Cage is an acquired taste, that’s for sure. I never acquired it. And I never got what Merce Cunningham did, either. It figures that those two collaborated for so many years. Two confused dudes who got away with it. Pulled the wool over the intelligencia’s eyes.

    • I got why she was upset. I attacked something that was important to her. Remember…it wasn’t just a matter of her liking his work. She wrote a bloody dissertation on him! Everything changed after that.

  3. I hear ya. When someone loves something THAT much, it’s not just a question of taste but of personality. I doubt I could ever be with someone who thought all poetry was a waste of time – we’d just see the world too differently. (Bonnie does sound pretty rad, though. I sometimes like to mentally flip through my ex-lovers and feel proud of myself for – mostly- dating people of quality.)

      • Oh, spare me. If I had a nickel for every typo I made…etc., etc., etc., etc.

    • Bonnie was the right person at the right time, that’s for sure. I’m trying to figure out how to articulate this without sounding like a prig. She was kind of ordinary looking but was so smart and talented and full of life and energy that she exuded a sexuality that drew you in. Does that make any sense?

      • Yeah, but you want to be careful about accusing someone of being “ordinary looking.” Especially a girl. You might look kind of vapid.

  4. Do you remember the documentary about the Beatles I linked to you? Cage is the kind of avant garde composer that Howard Goodall thinks the Beatles rescued us from. Writing a dissertation about someone doesn’t mean you have to become a fan of that person. She lacked objectivity in my view. Did the billionaire give her a big settlement?

    • I do remember it! An excellent program(me)! I think that claim is a bit of a stretch, though. I can’t imagine the masses warming up to the works of John Cage, Beatles or no Beatles.

      As far as her settlement is concerned, let’s just say she doesn’t have to keep her architecture pencils sharp anymore.

  5. Great story – now… given she married then divorced a multi-billionaire surely it was worth a rekindle? Am I sounded too mercenary there? But she did remember you, you should have asked whether it was more for the need for the cab ride home rather than your lack of appreciation for Cage… 😉

    • Now that you mention it, she did compliment my appearance and, especially, my full head of gray hair. The billionaire lost his hair so perhaps that’s an issue with her. One thing is certain…she sure traded-up economically! From a broke word processor to an industry titan.

    • Boy howdy, I sure remember her. It’s nice that she didn’t remember me as the idiot who didn’t like John Cage. It was a nice meeting.

  6. Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog. I know we’ve crossed paths with Le Clown and BBW. Well, you said you weren’t in love so maybe it just an enriching, fun experience to spend time together. It sounds like you have some great memories. My thought was that if Cage was so important to her, I wondered why it never came up in conversation! That Cage concert makes me laugh. I can just picture it. I once saw a modern dance concert, great company, and they performed for an entire 2 hours without intermission! It drove everyone nuts. There were many walk outs. Some artists just want people to feel uncomfortable and push the limits. – Amy

    • Hi Amy. Nice to see you here. It was one of those youthful dalliances that, in retrospect, was so satisfying and worthwhile. Believe me, they weren’t all like that. I had plenty of missteps, too. But the fact that, 14 years later, Bonnie kind of lit-up when she spotted me meant that it was satisfying for her, too, which make me very happy.

      I go to a LOT of theater. +/- 45 shows annually. In my experience, you can’t expect an audience to persevere for 2:00 hours without a break. It’s too much to ask for. And keep it short. If your name isn’t Shakespeare, you have no business writing a 3:00+ play. Okay? I’ve seen masterpieces performed in :90 minutes.

      • I don’t know how it happened! I started going to plays when I first got here an haven’t stopped. I’ve seen LOTS and LOTS of bad plays and you’d think I’d be turned away but I keep going back. In a few hours I’m seeing a revival of LOOT, a comedy by British playwright Joe Orton down at the Cherry Lane. Thank god for discounts.

      • You wife is a fan but how do you feel about it? I liked it. It helps to adjust your expectations beforehand. There isn’t a plot. Just these two seasoned actors batting lines back and forth like a tennis match. They find some humor in it which is helpful. I’ve seen it played straight and it’s not as fun, obviously.

  7. CAge is a genius IMHO, someone too pushed music and art into areas they’d never gone before. He was a teeming porridge pot of creativity and I find him constantly interesting. I’ve performed 4’33” and performed in it, several times, and it still unnerves and surprises people–as well as makes them laugh. 4’33” doesn’t have to last for 4 minutes and 33 seconds either–it can be as long as you like.

    You’ve mentioned Bonnie before. I don’t think it was so much that you don’t like Cage that was the problem, but that you probably dug a very deep grave for your relationship in showing how that aesthetic, for which she has a great deal of love and admiration, is alien to you. You can’t have a close relationship with someone who doesn’t get your artistic tastes. (I could never go out with someone who really is passionate about white rock music, indie, etc.) And Bonnie obviously heard what you were saying and it was confirmation of what you probably already knew–that it was a pleasant cul-de-sac you were in.

    • I’ve evolved enough since that time to move from thinking Cage’s work is pretentious crapola to acknowledging that it has substance but is not for me. My tastes are almost hopelessly pedestrian.

      Bonnie HAD to have known that that day was coming. That the bell would eventually toll. Our life experiences were so very far apart. It was certainly satisfying while it lasted, though. I learned a lot from her. Plus, she introduced me to master magician and slight of hand artist Ricky Jay!

  8. For some reason this reminds me of the movie Cocktail when the young Brian Flanagan hooks up with the rich socialite, then he goes to the art opening and rips the artist’s creations, starts a fight and walks out… except you did punch Cage (though i’m sure you’d have liked to), either way good stuff.

    • Hey, brother. Happy new year. Hope you’re well. Your trip sounded trippy.

      I did not realize that my experiences mirrored that of a bland Tom Cruise film. I will now contact an attorney and consider litigating. There’s hay to be made here.

  9. The affair with Bonnie had probably run its course.
    I like that your Bride knew about it. Early on I decided to tell MTL everything – better he should hear it from me. He didn’t reciprocate which didn’t worry me for some reason – I’m not sure I would have been so understanding.

    • I’m not THAT open! She knows a lot, but she doesn’t know everything. There are a few episodes that I’m taking to my grave with me. It’s for the best.

  10. Terrific story, very well told! She was a cougar before they had a name! i think i would like her…. the idea of schooling a younger man is of no interest to me whatsoever, but i really dig it when someone amazing takes me under his or her wing. Bonus if it goes physical!

    • Thanks, Daisy. Best Monday morning gift I can hope for: A nice word from you about my writing. I never thought about it but you are absolutely correct. Bonnie was a cougar before there was a name for it. She put me on a path that I haven’t strayed from (except this detour to suburban New Jersey).

  11. This is really good Mark. Got a feeling you have quite a backstory. Would love to read more of it.

    Thanks for the tip on the follow thing, I will do that, the e-mail reminders seem to keep ending up in the spam folder… Trent

    • Thanks, Trent. That means a lot to me. Not to sound all full of myself and whatnot but there are some really good posts within.

      If I had know how difficult it was going to be for people to follow I wouldn’t have set up a self-hosted site. Live and learn, I guess.

  12. I don’t know how I missed this post– it’s from the 8th?! Where have I been? Argh.
    Bonnie seems almost too glamorous to be real. I feel that she would be played by Cate Blanchett.

    • Better late than not at all! I’m sure you’ve got dozens (hundreds?) of blogs to follow. Some posts are bound to fall through the cracks.

      Bonnie WAS glamorous! And really, really smart. I like your casting idea. A young Mark to be played by Jared Leto, methinks.

  13. I’m looking forward to it because they are both great actors, and it got better reviews than the other one they are doing.
    As far as the story, I have to admit, I know nothing about it.
    My wife loves musicals, and we’ve gone to see a bunch. One (non-musical) I really enjoyed was The 39 Stepes, I think, which was staged with 4 actors, as a “High Anxiety” like spoof of Hitchcock. Very clever and well done.

    • If your wife loves musicals and isn’t easily offended, you should take her to see The Book of Mormon. It’s as funny as they say it is, although it’s astonishingly vulgar. It’s hard to believe they get away with what they’re doing on a mainstream Broadway stage. Could she stand listening to a catchy tune about her clitoris?

      I see tons of theater but I rarely attend musicals. Only when forced to at gunpoint.

      39 Steps WAS cool. Exhausting to watch.

    • I like to fancy myself a fairly evolved individual but I just don’t get what he was trying to do. I don’t! I also can’t listen to opera. To my credit, I always put my time in and try something before I come to an opinion. I’m not simply dismissive because it’s out of the ordinary.

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