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between them. After dinner, he would put her in a taxi and
The Not-So-Perfect Man
accept a chaste kiss on the cheek. He d say,  If you want to
use me to get over Sam, I m available.
That job was slow going. She lost hours of sleep thinking
about Sam, things they d done, things she d said. She al-
most called him a million times. Within days of the
breakup, she d reconsidered everything she d thought. Had
her reservations been real or imagined? How could she
turn her back on the greatest passion she d ever known?
Had she Learned Nothing from Gregg s Death? Certifiable
bliss was to be clung to at all costs, even if what came with
it wasn t the perfect fit.
Ilene, meanwhile, told Frieda that passion didn t last. It
was scientific fact.  Once the lust goes, you re left with a
guy who disappears for weeks at a time and has no
money, said Ilene.
Frieda countered with,  But it was love at first sight. You
of all people should understand.
Ilene said cryptically,  Love at first sight may not mean
love everlasting.
That day, Frieda had received a direct-mail package from
Sam s theater company. He d put her name and address on
the mailing list when they d first hooked up, nearly a year
ago. No Sudden Movements Players were returning  tri-
umphantly! to City Center in October to present a fully
staged revival of Guys and Dolls. On the cover of the
brochure was a picture of Sam, smirking in Damon Run-
yon regalia: wide-brimmed hat, sharkskin suit with wide
lapels. The picture was fetching. He looked funny and
handsome and happy, and she wished she were still in a re-
alerie Frankel
lationship with a man whose face was on the cover of a
vivid four-color direct-mail package.
Inside, she read that he was starring as Nathan Detroit.
An asterisk next to his name. She read the footnote at the
bottom: Sam Hill was represented by International Creative
Management. Well, he d gotten a good agent. Frieda was
happy for him. His improved status only meant that he d
have to travel more, she figured. And what if he became a
big success? Why would he want to have anything to do
with her? Her destiny had been set when she d become a
mother, become a widow. His life was just unfolding.
Frieda realized that letting him go, however much she d
been regretting it, was the right thing for him. She folded
the brochure into smaller and smaller squares, and then
threw it away. She picked up the phone and called David.
She agreed to go on a real date with him, and she would
possibly sleep with him, since she was very vulnerable
right now.
David had jumped at the chance, and wanted to take her
out tonight. God, he was easy. Frieda put on a new dress
from Banana Republic and took the subway to Le
Bernardin (no clue how he d gotten a reservation on such
short notice). The roses. The Producers (no clue how he d
gotten tickets on such short notice).
Arranging the roses, she looked across the kitchen
counter at David.  Justin seemed to like it that I was going
to see you tonight, she said. Actually, he d been whiny
about her leaving.
 You re great with Stephanie, he said.  I didn t mention
The Not-So-Perfect Man
this at dinner, but Georgia has been offered a job at a con-
sulting firm in New York. Something she set up at the Jav-
its convention in June. If all the pieces fall where they re
supposed to, Stephanie might be back in New York in a
couple of weeks.
 How will you get her into a school? asked Frieda, all
too aware of the competition to secure coveted slots in New
York s private schools.
David said,  I m good with short notice.
 I noticed, said Frieda.
 In theory, he said,  if we got married, she could go to
Justin s school on their sibling policy.
 Theoretically, said Frieda.  Wouldn t that be a story in
New York magazine, the lengths people go to for a spot in a
private school?
 Or we could get married for real, he said. David came
toward her. She braced herself. He was going to kiss her
now. She d already decided to have sex with him. It d been
a while for Frieda, over four months since the last time she
and Sam were together. Frieda didn t expect to feel the
same explosive chemistry with David. But how bad could
it be? He had an excellent body. As soon as they got down
to business, she d forget about her nerves and think only of
nerve endings. Maybe she d forget about Sam.
David was one step away. She turned toward him. He
reached out. And took her hands. He held them in his own.
Kissed her knuckles. Little pecks. He said,  We could make
a family, the four of us. The kids get along so well.
This was not the time to talk about family or the kids or
alerie Frankel
private school. Or marriage. Frieda said,  You haven t
shown me the bedroom yet.
 We need to talk for another minute, he said.
 Enough talking, David, said Frieda.  We talk and talk
and talk. I m ready to stop talking.
He said,  I m nervous.
She flashed back to the first date with Sam. No dinner,
no expensive wine, no show, hardly any conversation. Just
Scotch in his dumpy apartment. It d taken him mere min-
utes to get her naked. He had much more confidence than
He searched her face. He wanted to know that it was
okay to be nervous. That it would go well. Frieda said,  It s
okay to be nervous, David. It will go well.
 I want it to, he said.
 Why wouldn t it? she asked impatiently. He continued
to clutch her hands. They were getting slippery. Fatigue
was settling into her shoulders. If he didn t act like a man
and make a move in the next three minutes, she was out
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