The weekend I pretended to be her boyfriend

Here’s another ALL-TRUE story from my distant past. More sordid tales under the Memoir category.

December 8, 1993

Diane asked me to come up to Boston and be her beard for her office Christmas party. She said she’d fly me up, provide my tux and put me up at the Copley Square Hotel.

[Note: beard [beerd]: slang. Any opposite sex escort taken to an event in an effort to give a gay person the appearance of being out on a date with a person of the opposite sex.]

I got a cab from Logan Airport and the driver was a Rastafarian blasting reggae so loud I had to repeat my destination three times. When we got to the hotel, I realized I only had $6.50 on me. I forgot to go to the bank. I told the driver I was broke. He laughed and said I was a true New Yorker, which I think is an insult. I called Diane and, fortunately, she had an account with the cab company, so everything worked out.

I checked into our suite and first thing I noticed was that there were separate beds. I guess the ruse is over once we’re behind closed doors. The party was in the Copley Square ballroom, so that was convenient. I could anesthetize myself against all those corporate stuffed shirts and not have to worry about wrapping the car around a tree while driving home.

My tux was waiting for me. I had sent my measurements earlier in the week and those idiots sent the wrong shirt. I have a 16½ collar and the shirt they sent had a 15½ collar. I made jokes all night about how I couldn’t swallow my food because my esophagus was squeezed shut. The shirt had studs, not buttons. After putting them in, Diane chuckled and said they were in backwards, so I had to take them all out and start over again. What a fucking rube. The cummerbund was easy enough, thank God. You should see me in black tie. For a peasant, I clean up pretty good.

Diane arrived and got dressed. She was wearing a sequined gown. She looked so beautiful! What a shame. She asked me to zip up the back of her dress, so I grasped the zipper with my thumb and middle finger and ran my index finger up her bare spine. It gave her a chill, which was very sexy. We went down to the packed ballroom at 7:00 where the festivities were well underway.

I was mesmerized by the ostentatious show of wealth. I haven’t seen that many jewels since I visited the Tower of London. These are people who made it and aren’t ashamed to show it. I drank Chivas and soda and Diane drank Johnny Walker Black—all night, all for free. Not only did I not embarrass myself by saying something stupid, people seemed genuinely amused by my well-rehearsed bon mots. Food was everywhere. All you had to do was stick your arm out and you could grab shrimp or lamb or chicken or crab or beef. I tried steak tartare and didn’t like it very much, but it was the first time I tried black caviar and that was lovely.

The room was thick with New England, blue blood accents. I think some of the women were flirting with me but, Jesus, what could I do?! I was with Diane and THEY were there with their husbands/ boyfriends! I strayed away from Diane when she discussed business because I found it so insufferably dull. One time, she asked me to excuse myself from the conversation and later that night she told me they had to discuss firing someone the following Monday. Right before Christmas! How heartless. I chatted with the Head of Marketing and his charming wife for a long while. I told them I was a writer and only working in graphic design until I’m published. That was one of the MANY lies I told that night.

I walked outside onto a grand balcony for a cigarette and met the sons of the owners of the [redacted] and [redacted] football teams. I mostly observed. They were saying terrible things, asking each other if their wives still “sucked their cocks” and saying, “Hell no, are you kidding?!” Then they were bragging about the “great fucks” they’ve had in the owner’s box at the stadium “where [team owner] takes a shit.” THEN they were complaining about the blacks who were admitted to their country club! At first I thought they were kidding around but they were serious. It was like an evil Saturday Night Live skit. One by one, a wife would come out to fetch a husband and when they were out of earshot, they would comment on what a battle axe he was stuck with. It was just awful.

We finally rolled up to the suite about 12:30. I took my jacket off and threw it across the room, sat on the sofa, untied my bow tie, threw it in the opposite direction, undid my shirt collar and exhaled. Diane walked over and sat next to me on the sofa. We gossiped a bit about stuff we overheard and then she lay down with her head in my lap, reached up and pulled my mouth on top of hers. It was a lovely surprise. She tasted like red wine. We kissed for a long time and I started to get frisky so she said that was enough. How do women do that!? How do they just come to a dead STOP?!  Karen does that to me, too.



varvatosGentrification has always been with us and it always will be. Complaining about it is so boring. CBGB’s was over when I was going there but those were some of my best years. And walking past there the other week gave me the blue blues. It made me so sad. I guess I’m just a sentimental fool.

67 thoughts on “The weekend I pretended to be her boyfriend

  1. Those two pictures make me very sad, and I never had a chance to go to CBGB.

    There are plenty of guys who can just switch things off quickly which is the opposite of me.

  2. Never knew you were such a stud muffin but I get why……Your good looking, have those beautiful blue eyes, straight white teeth & in good shape. Ever wonder what happened to “Diane”? Funny I imagine a lot of well to do people are just as you talked about. Deep down-no class; ungrateful & think they are so much better. Ill take my peasant happy life any day!

  3. That was certainly an interesting night Mark. Whew. Hobnobbing with elite. You know I’ve only been around people that rich a few times in my life (other than working in the same office with the business owner, a billionaire, at one job – but he was always in business man mode in that environment) and I really dislike their attitude. Everything and I mean everything – including wives, children, family, realtions, friends, etc – is measured in terms of money. It is sickening to me. I have to take a shower after brushing elbows with the rich – they make me feel dirty inside. But you can’t beat the food and service. Thankfully it’s only happened a few times in my life and is not likely to happen again, so I’m good with that.

    Your lady friend must have had a good position to pay all your expenses. That would be a fun trip – as long as you stayed away from the filthy rich.

    Excellent post Mark. A real glimpse into a world few of us get to see.

    • I fell into the strangest predicaments. I’d meet these interesting, wonder, sometimes odd people and the would show me worlds that are typically closed to someone of my upbringing. Pure luck. There ARE people who don’t allow money to corrupt their spirit. My friend is an excellent example. She’s successful but down to earth and humble about her accomplishments. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a few people like that. But there are the others. The dark side of wealth. Those are the ones who stick in your mind the most.

  4. Great “tale from the cryptic”! I’ve had one or two evenings like that, where I’ve been steered away from “business talk” and overheard things I’ll never repeat. All part of a rich tapestry, I suppose, but I sure as hell don’t miss it!

    • It was colorful, that’s for sure. Because I can put on a corporate demeanor but am in no way corporate, I get these occasional peeks into that world. It’s both wonderful and horrid. The hotel and food were spectacular. Some of the people? Not so much. It’s fun to take it all in but it’s important to not be seduced by it all.

  5. Great recollection. Felt like I was at that party, and that afterwards kissed her too. Only thing short of perfection was that you should have learned the beauty of steak tartare. Deeelicious.

    I’m glad you’re outside the corporate bubble, but get to peek in. That’s the only way I’d want it for myself. I can’t handle that world.

    • The kiss was a surprise. Who would expect anything!? Not I, that’s for sure. Once my hands started wandering, things came to a screeching halt. I wonder is she did it because she’d been drinking or if she felt any affection towards me or felt she owed me at least that much? I’ll never know. As I stated above, she came to my wedding with her girlfriend.

      A lot of the stuff I write about the corporate world is dark but some of it is quite nice. I met (and continue to meet) some pretty interesting people. Not all of them let the money go to their heads. Just some of them. The ones that don’t aren’t all that interesting to write about.

      • I find the corporate stuff odd. The really rich, powerful ones are almost always dweebs, but the one that isn’t is usually a magnet for me. Can’t figure out how they broke the trend. But I hear you, the really corporate ones always have something else going on that is separate, distinct, and often a bit weird.

        So… it’s not that kind of kiss… sorry, a line from Schindler’s List (of all movies) that has always stayed with me.

      • I have a theory that the more money someone has, the more they become defined by that money. And if you have an OBSCENE amount of cash, it becomes an all-consuming obsession. I’m betting that motivations are always questioned. Do they think I’m interesting or are they after my cash? Family dynamics are dictated by the estate. Who’s in the will? Who’s out? Nevertheless, it’s a burden that I’d like to experience for myself.

  6. It must have been an affectionate thank-you kiss for the bearding you did on her behalf. Did you ever ask her if she wanted to have children? She might have used you as the sperm injector. “Close your eyes and imagine I’m a woman” is another line you could have tried.

    • It’s funny you should ask that. Right around that time, she asked me to be a surrogate donor for her and her partner. I’m not kidding! She assured me that I wouldn’t have any financial responsibilities. I thought about it for about a half second and politely declined. Just because I wouldn’t have any financial responsibilities didn’t mean I wasn’t a father, and I just wasn’t ready for that. I haven’t thought about that for a long, long time. If I had done it, I’d have a 20-year old child right now. Yikes.

  7. I’m not asking you do that here, but do you ever look back and calculate what percentage of your time was dedicated to having/thinking/scheming about sex? And then that same calculation in your current life…
    Attended our local theatre’s production of Suds last night, which is an immediately forgettable froth of a revue with the the thinnest of plots serving as an excuse to sing sixties Motown and pop favourites. But it was as close to pro as I’ve seen this company do and was pure delight. For 15 bucks, that’s enough, right?

    • I can assure you with 100% accuracy that I spent much more time looking for sex then than I do now. Keep in mind, this is the stuff I choose to post because it makes for interesting reading. I hope.

      I’ve found there’s no correlation between ticket price and quality of performance. It’s no use adjusting your expectations to the amount of money you spent. Elaine May still owes me $39 for that crap she mounted on Broadway three years ago. I’m glad you support live theater. Hope your rehearsals are going well.

  8. WHY must you post the before and after photo of CBGBs all the time? I feel like I’ve seen it here before. Or maybe you just emailed it to me to torture me. That place was my second home. Stop killing me!
    Why do so many women stop blowing their men after marriage? I wrote a whole post about that. I’ll ever understand that one. Although, maybe in this case, it was warranted. These men were pretty damn crass, talking about their wives while just out earshot.
    You don’t like steak tartare, but you DO like caviar? Is that still true? Ewww. Salty fish eggs.

    I love love love these posts. How many of us here on WP get it? I only know you and me. Maybe Guap. But there must be thousands. Wonder why I haven’t met any others yet?

    • Hi! It’s nice to see you. It’s been a while. It’s funny you should drop in when I post those CBGB photos. Believe it or not, I haven’t posted them before. I emailed them to you the day after I took them but they’ve not been seen here yet. That you would drop by today is an extraordinary coincidence! I don’t mean to kill you. So sorry.

      I remember the post you wrote about how things change after marriage. I don’t blame women for not doing it. It’s not something I’d want to do! Those guys were pigs. I thought they were putting on a show for me but the fact is I was invisible to them. That’s how they are.

      Yes, I love fish eggs. I only had them one other time since then–it doesn’t come up that often–but they were deliciouso both times. I’d try steak tartare again. Remember…that was about 20 years ago. Tastes change.

      My journals are a beautiful and horrible ride. Sometimes I have to stop reading them because they make me melancholy.

      • Oy. It’s been awhile? What have I missed? I did take a bit of a blog hiatus, but please…don’t tell me I’ve neglected you!

        I love your journals. How I wish I had kept a written record of all that went on in those days. My memory is so fuzzy. Because of all that went on in those day.

      • Oh, shit, can you imagine if you had kept a detailed journal? That would be the motherload. Indictments abound.

        Patty Smith is at Webster Hall again on New Year’s Eve. Just in case you haven’t heard, which I doubt.

  9. I’ve never tasted black caviar or been somebody’d beard. Knowingly, anyway, Mark.

    I went to CBGBs one night in the 90s when the big daily sent me down to Manhattan to be in the apartment of Joel Berlinger, one of the two directors of “Brothers Keeper,” when the Oscar nominations were announced live on a morning show. It was a documentary about backwoods brothers upstate here, one who killed the other. The movie didn’t get nominated, I got a good story anyway, and I saw this wild woman half sing and half spoken word, Casey Scott, at CBGBs that night. It might have been already played out by then, but I really dug it anyway.

    • Black caviar is salty and being a beard is a nice thing to do. I certainly didn’t expect a payoff and I didn’t get one.

      That’s as good a CBGB as anyone is going to write. It didn’t make a damn but of difference to me that it’s salad days were over. I had musician friends who would play there and complain that Hilly Kristal wouldn’t share any of the door cover with them. He felt the privilege of playing there was payment enough. The nerve.

  10. Maybe this is an alternate definition, but I’ve always thought a “beard” was someone you designate to cover for you while you were out romping with another person outside of marriage or committed relationship. As in, “My girlfriend Nancy was my beard while I left the house for a few hours to fuck B.”

    Maybe it’s a regional thing?

    Anyway, CBGB: I dated/lived with the rock n roll critic for the (ick) NYPost back in the late 70s/early 80s. When to that dive dozens of times, seeing the likes of Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Cheap Trick and many others in that era. Sad to see what it’s turned into now.

    I was glad to read in the comments section that you are still in touch with Diane. I wonder if you’ll steer her to this blog post?

    • Humm…that’s interesting. I’ve only ever heard ‘beard’ used in the manner that I describe here. Of course, living in NYC, it came up a lot. Not so much anymore, thank goodness. People don’t have to hide as much as they used to. I’m not saying Diane would have lost her job but it’s better than nobody knew.

      It’s too bad you didn’t keep a journal. I wonder which critic you lived with? I’ll bet that wasn’t dull AT ALL. Did you see the CBGB movie with Alan Rickman as Hilly Crystal? It was supposed to be just awful stuff.

      As I mentioned in the comments, not only are we still in touch, she actually came to my wedding with her partner! How great is that?! She does not know about this blog and I think I’m going to keep it that way. Thanks, as always, for your interesting comments. How about a post on you best night at CB’s?

  11. Another great blast from the past. I had the opportunity to attend a black tie event and mingle with the rich. It was so easy to say the wrong thing and be outed as poor everyday man. To my regret, I have experienced women suddenly closing the door when it appeared the pearly gates were about to open. I wonder if any old people have nostalgia when they walk by 10 E. 60th Sreet? Not exactly the same as CBGB before/after but in the same content.
    Keep those old journal stories coming!

    • Hi Tom. Thanks, as always, for your kind words. I’m pretty sure the room took one look at Diane and I and knew what was going on. I can blend in with any crowd and feel comfortable but I wasn’t trying to blend in or pretend I was one of them. That’s when things go horribly wrong. The women who closed the pearly gates on you for being an everyday man did you a FAVOR. They only would have dragged you down.

      10 E. 60th! The Copacabana! I wonder what’s at that address today?

  12. Are there any pics of you in evening attire?
    I remember those business do’s… dullness, even for someone in the business… and there was the wife gossip, which was none to pleasant.

    • Tragically, there are no photos of me that night. Believe me, if there were, I’d post them. It’s been a steady decline since then.

      It really was dullness wrapped in a beautiful package. That’s better than dull in a plain brown envelope. I’ve had that, too.

  13. a sort of related comment…i was the “big shot” once and the MITM had to attend a few events with me as “oh, you’re marrried to savannah? she’s fantastic! blah, blah, blah” but, he would dutifully put on his “monkey suit” anyway and smile for the cameras! 😉 all of this to say, it’s better to know what happens at these events than to dream about attending. i harbor no illusions about the rich and famous. and it seems, nor do you!! i love your journal reminiscences, sweet pea! xoxox

    • I used to travel with some Private Equity Bankers. I did the audio visual and presentation grunt work. The meetings were in spectacular resorts. When I’d check in, it was “Ah…good afternoon Mr. C. We’ve been expecting you.” They treated me like a big shot. They didn’t know I was the grunt. It’s kind of nice, actually.

      Thanks, tons, for your kind words about these journal missives. And thanks for calling me Sweet Pea. That, too, is kind of nice.

  14. Dropping by from Susie’s party. Yup – I also get sad when I walk past the old CBGB’s. Too many great old school spots are disappearing from Manhattan. It’s a shame. The new spots have no soul.

    Great story. I also wonder how a woman can just turn it off like that. Torture.

    • Welcome! Thanks for dropping by. Please wipe your feet.

      Glad you liked the story. There’s plenty more where that came from. I kept detailed journals when I first got to NY. I don’t know how women are able instantaneously shut it off but, apparently, when they’re with me it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

      I’ve read articles from the 1800’s about how “real” New York is vanishing. I know it’s an old argument but, dammit, that was my past and fond memories being swept aside. And for what?! Don’t get me started. Oh…wait…you did.

  15. I’ve never even had black caviar! Not even still. Oh wow, what a life you lead. You got to have all the fun. This is juicy material. You should definitely incorporate this into a story/book. It’s really fun to read. Those guys were a bunch of creeps, an evil SNL skit. That’s a perfect way to describe it. That’s the ugly side. I guess there always has to be that, it seems.

    • I only had black caviar on one other occasion. A girlfriend prepared it for me on a wheat cracker with hard boiled eggs on a memorable New Years Eve. It’s slightly salty. I liked it.

      What a life I lead (past tense), you mean! Now it’s just suburban malaise with an occasional night in the theater thrown in. I miss being young, which probably isn’t a very healthy attitude.

  16. I think that for each lie you may have told that evening you probably heard two. These people must keep the facade too, you know, and their facade has to be much grander than yours.

    If you do miss the caviar, you can get it in a Russian food store. It’s not cheap, but not prohibitively expensive either – per ounce, it’s probably about the same as moderately expensive restaurants charge for their salads.

    I recommend Net Cost Market in Brooklyn – they also have a location in Staten Island, but I’ve never been to that one. And there’s probably plenty of Russian stores in NJ, too.

    • Their facade WAS much grander than mine! But that’s setting the bar kind of low for them. At that time, I didn’t even know how to put dress shirt studs in.

      How is it that you’re able to make recommendations to specialty food stores in Brooklyn? You don’t live here, do you? Thanks for the tip. I wonder why it is I never thought of actually going out and buying caviar. I’m pretty sure I can afford an ounce but I still have a ‘poor-guy’ mentality. Probably better off in the long run.

      • I’ve never lived in NYC, but I’ve been to Brooklyn at least 30-50 times for various reasons. There’s probably at least a million New Yorkers who’d been to Brooklyn fewer times than I have.
        It may not necessarily be the poor guy mentality. There are foods that aren’t expensive nor hard to prepare, but I never think of actually buying – like string beans, for one.

  17. I know I’ve said it before, or at least I THINK I’ve said it before, but I really love your journal writing style – I feel like I’m reading fiction but the type of fiction where you say “Wow this is written so well it sounds real” I know that probably doesn’t make any sense at all, but in my head it does 🙂

    Anyway, I think it’s good enough that it would hold interest for a whole book.

  18. Wow that sounds like quite an event! And those football team owners sound like fantastic assholes. So what ever happened with Diane? Anything? I love this entry. It feels like I’m reading your diary – fun!

  19. Copley Square… memories… have to admit to staying there a few times in the old days when I was paid a ridiculous salary to do a job that involved much flying about and presented powerpoint

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