Lindy, the end of an affair

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 25 Apr 2022




Now back to Lindy. I waited a few days then called and she invited me over to spend the night, even though she was sick with a mild cold. We had a brief affair which lasted about a month. But in the first days I was truly in love with her, puppy love. To her more practiced eyes I was no more than an interesting, new, boy, good for some fun nights out, a new toy to play with but one that wouldn’t last long. But her kisses and her bed were warm and that was as far as I thought.

In retrospect, I see she was feeling a great deal of inner turmoil at the time, from the desperate way she would fling herself into the night and party with strangers. She had two very different faces. At home, when sober, she was practical, mature, on schedule, a good mother to her three-year-old boy, and even a little cold to me when I happened to be around at such times, as if I were in the way and out of place. Then, in party mode, she was wild-eyed and reckless to a scary degree.

We only spent a few days and nights together in that first mode. I remember the first night I brought over a paperback copy of Baudelaire in English and French and read her some poems, lying in bed with her. She was sweet then and we even made love, despite her mild cold. But most of our hours together were not sober. They were crazy, so much so I kept an exact account of them. Here’s one:

“Thursday Nov. 11th, 1982. Got up after a good sleep, after practising with Mike the night before till midnight. Went to the Café Mediterranean at noon and met Lindy there at one-thirty after talking to Bill B. upstairs about tent construction and design, (he worked at ‘North Face’). I talked with Lindy over a second cappuccino, then as I stepped out with her to get a ride home she suggests doing something like getting a glass of beer. We go to the ‘Bear’s Lair’ and she orders a pitcher (after I suggested a half pitcher). Two and a half hours later, after two and a half pitchers and much talk about Montana, we had to rush to her house to receive a hand delivered package, for her work. We rushed down Telegraph avenue very fast and drunk to her car. We got there just in time for the package, drank the five beers in her refrigerator and she sends me out for beer, vodka and pot.

Very drunk at six p.m. I go get all these things, back by six-thirty. We drink with an older woman friend who puts away (downs) a glass of vodka and water. I, very high, had spilt some O.J. in Lindy’s car and now beer on this very notebook, for I had this and some other books with me, not expecting to enter on such a course of delinquency. I remember I wanted to take the books home when at six I took her car on errands. But she insisted I leave them as ‘collateral’. She used that word. Back at her kitchen table we drank. At eight I’m sent out again in her car even more drunk, for more beer. I could hardly drive, not finding the close liquor store she mentioned, and which I wanted to walk to, but she insisted I drive. I got to the ‘White Horse’ and back.

Dot (her older friend) and a male friend, a cyclist, come over. He leaves in disgust and bad temper after ten minutes of our obnoxious drunkenness. But we feel fine. At first he tried to joke with us in his British accent but then turned on us and left.

At ten we go to the Plough, but not before Lindy invites a total stranger, a black guy over (into her kitchen). He’s pretty strange, in a cowboy hat, but has some pot. We drive to the bar, maniac style. I pay the way in. Lindy talks awhile then disappears, calls me (at home) and has been talking to Paul Bedford at the Plough. I’m very drunk, go for pot, snag her home, play and talk about classical music. We hop in the sack”.

A day in the life of a rake, led by the pretty hand of a serious alcoholic down the road to perdition. What a guy will do to get laid! Note though, after all that drinking, at the end of the day, we are discussing classical music. And I can tell you much of the other talk earlier that day (and which I didn’t record) was intellectual, a strange combination of inebriety and erudition. This is what follows:

“Friday: Wake up with hangover, eat, shave, go back to lying down. Get up by noon, read, walk to Lindy’s house to retrieve the books I forgot there, playing with her child for almost an hour. I come back. Mike comes by about six with beers. We play music. Jim comes over with a twelve pack of beer. At ten Hiram and Richard call and come over with a six-pack, drinking, talking, reminiscing till one A.M. They leave. I crash.

Saturday: Wake up feeling o.k. Reading in yard (the driveway in front of my place) for an hour and meet Bones. He drives me to the bank. I walk back. Noon. Practice with Bones after lunch and reading. Plans made for getting speed. Hamburger joint with Bones. Eddie and Gail (his pretty wife) stop in. 5:30, May, Bones and I off on drug expedition. 7:00, back and starting to get cranked up. Divine stuff. But I feel odd and irritable and go to my pad, waiting for Mike and Jim till 8:30. Mike is ill with indigestion. We practice, gossip, do lines and drink beers till midnight. Bob drops by at ten. Jim and me and Mike go to the Plough at 12:15, very high and feeling good at the pub. I drink two beers, arrange for party, talk to Lindy, Tracy, Bob Mike, and Mike Fahey. There was a little good jamming earlier in the evening but at least Bones got to hear Mike’s tunes for the first time. I wanted them to be friends, but that never happened. Very happy at Plough till closing. Lindy pulls me to a party three blocks away, but I have to get to my own so I insist we leave the dull thing. Home with 18 beers by 2:15. Five people here. 2:30 another case of beer and 15 more people arrive. Party at first with a few records (one hour) then acoustic music with Steve the prime mover. I give lines to Steve and Dan as it’s his birthday. Much drinking, jamming, talking in the living room and kitchen, (the place is packed). I’m very high and Lindy is exuberant and flying from closed liquor store to car talking in Italian, something about frigid air. Then to get cigarettes. I buy, she is driving very drunk the wrong way, and me getting mad. Why do I think so much about her, talking in kitchen and drinking many beers, saying amusing things and smoking pot like a fiend? Lindy leaves about 4. I try to talk her into staying, doing another line, but no. I sit and listen to the jamming in the living room. Steve does a thirty-minute classic version of ‘Desolation Row’. (He knew the entire lyrics to it and sang and played it perfectly). Then we plugged in some electric amps but the back neighbor began banging on my window, so we switch back to acoustic. Most people are gone by now. It’s just Mike, Mike Fahey and a strange conga drummer who just raps for an hour. Fahey stumbles home at dawn, very drunk and burnt. The drummer finally leaves after I spend an hour cleaning up the house in front of him. Mike and I sit and talk, smoke dope, spaced out. I feel pretty good. Bob G. returns from 9 to 10 A.M. irritating me. Mike and I talk about crashing for an hour. He decides to in the garage next door. (This is right before Laurel arrives. He has no place to stay and no money, just a mandolin and a knapsack). I walk to the bank and the café Med, drink an orange juice, very spaced out, writing one short thought in this notebook. Home, I lay down for two hours but feeling good. Mike Fahey comes over with a girlfriend for some dope he left on my table. I buy a bottle of wine at 3:30 and write these memoirs. The memories of my stoned days always fade the first. They’re dim to begin with”.

When I look back at myself in this wild and dissolute role, the party meister, and reflect that five months earlier and the two years before that, my entire social life could be summed up as going to the movie theater twice a year, alone. Well, at first glance it almost challenges belief that it’s the same person.

But when I consider the phrases ‘breaking loose’ and ‘making up for lost time’, I see it as a natural, even common human trait. The wildest revellers are those that have been cooped up the longest. I think this was also Lindy’s case because she told me the marriage which she’d just gotten out of had been ‘suffocating’ her. Maybe this is what drew us together, a new-found sense of liberation.

I had many more ‘crazy nights’ with Lindy over the next two weeks, about every other night, as it would take one in between just to recover from the last twenty-hour escapade. But they’re all so similar in drunkenness and bar hoping and lines and strange encounters and stumbling to bed that they’re too repetitive to transcribe.

I had one more, crazy night with Lindy which isn’t in my journals but I remember it well. It was right after Thanksgiving and it was pretty much ‘the end of the affair’. I’d been seeing her so much that one day she told me we were spending too much time together, ‘almost as if we were married’, as she put it. But I loved sleeping with her any chance I could get so one Saturday evening, after attending a wedding reception for my old college pal Joe, (with Craig and Hiram), dressed in my best suit of clothes, (a white shirt, slacks and my silver, velour, dinner jacket) I show up at her doorstep, already tipsy.

She agreed to party so we headed out to a bar in San Francisco called ‘The Achilles Heel’. We’d been there twice before because it was near where her friend Terri lived, where we could always get coke. We did and spent hours at the bar talking away, sitting beside a sixty-year-old black man, also well dressed and very polite, who kept telling us what a lovely couple we made, all dressed up.

But this repeated refrain rang a bell in my head. We weren’t a ‘couple’ anymore, if ever we were. I decided then and there to quit pursuing her. I asked her to drop me off at my place that night and quit calling her. She did call me once about a week later. It was at 3:30 a.m. and she was looking for a drinking partner. I declined, saying I had work the next day.

As I re-write my past I find I tend to simplify events, trying to end affairs with crisp, clean closures, as one might end a chapter in a novel. But my old notebooks tell me a different story. There was no final date with Lindy to end the affair. It was more like what T.S. Elliot said: ‘Not with a bang but a whimper’.

After it sunk in that she was no good for me (or herself) I wrote and delivered a blunt, honest letter to that effect, in late December:

“Over the past couple of weeks I have noticed and realized that I feel more pain than pleasure in seeing you. I would have told you this, instead of writing it, but you expressed a desire not to talk feelings from the beginning. This left us only the ambiguous realm of gestures and silences, of which I am sick.

We are going after two different objects. I want, quite simply, to fall in love, to meet a girl who can reciprocate affection, with whom I can talk endlessly and share what I have to share. You seem to want only company and diversion, through certain desperate hours when you would not be alone. I suppose you think your life a tangled mess, (and thinking it enough will make it so) that you’re playing for time to sort out your head, want no commitments, no decisions even, to add to the confusion. It’s clear to see from the ambiguous way you treat others. I can’t even tell who you like or don’t like. There have been times when I was sitting across the table from you seriously pondering whether you liked me or disliked me, and I came to no conclusion. Your mood changes rapidly. And the way you drink and party has a vicious, ugly tinge to it, as if you were not sure whether you liked yourself…”

I go on to say that I hope she does well but that I’m calling it quits, that she’ll never lack for bar-room company on her road to self-destruction but that I’m too young for that. I go on to say that if this letter makes her angry at least I’ve effected my purpose in making her not want to see me again.

You would think that handing her such a letter would be the end. But my journal tells me I was still calling her in January. I find this entry from then: “A love poorly buried rises up again, like a ghost”.

A few pages later I resolve not to find my next girlfriend in a bar, advice not followed, as I found my next three girlfriends, not only in a bar, but in the very same bar, the Starry Plough, over the next two years. Explain that degree of ‘Folly’.

But we did see far less of each other and go our separate ways. I like to finish a story so I’ll mention now the last two times I saw her, years later. The first was a very strange encounter, or rather, half-encounter. I was walking up Telegraph avenue one sunny afternoon some two years later, in Winter, and there she stood, like an apparition, standing some ten feet in front of me and talking away to a merchant (a street vendor) about some wares of his. I was struck by seeing her after such a span of time and wondered why I hadn’t seen her sooner as I walked this street a hundred times in the intervening years. Maybe she’d been away somewhere, or else it was pure chance.

I walked up to her side, slightly behind her and stood there. She didn’t notice me as she was so engaged in talking to the merchant. I admired her lovely face which hadn’t changed a bit in all this time and memories flooded in. But now other thoughts intruded. Why didn’t she notice me standing by so close? I hadn’t interrupted her or made a sound, but it had been half a minute already and I still went unnoticed. This seemed uncanny. Now I began to think maybe we shouldn’t meet. I wanted to but it was as if something was wrong. I decided to give it another minute. She talked on with the merchant and listened to him, oblivious to me. But I was standing so close it was creepy. The minute passed and I very quietly took a step back, thought about it, but not to renege on my self-wager, I turned and walked away, marvelling at the experience, as Milton puts it:

In thoughts more elevate, and reasoned high

Of providence, foreknowledge, will and fate

Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute

And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.

Then, the last time in a long diary entry for June 29th, 1985, a Friday night: “1 a.m., high on speed. Then we three head to the Plough, pretty high, where, after getting my first beer I run into Lindy and her boyfriend. She lives in Aptos now (for the past six months). She is pretty drunk. We go outside to the steps around the corner to talk privately, she smuggling a beer out. I ask her general questions about how she likes it there, how she’s doing with her kid and ex., but she doesn’t want to respond, hinting unhappiness. She tells me twice how she wonders and thinks of me with pleasure, as a classical person, how ‘neat’ it is, how our affair was a good friendship. I grimace. She claims to have no friends there, wants me to visit, as a friend i.e. no sex. She looks older and worn, her face harder, not soft. On her way in she talks to George privately. I go in and chat with her boyfriend, who comes up to me and asks about our old partying relationship and drunken nights. I tell him a little and he tells me how she overdoes it and needs to settle down. I wish her well to him. Then they split. I stand by the bar, watching girls, and talk to Mike Huston. After a half-hour she returns to find her glasses, gives me her phone number. I hug her, lifting her up, saying goodbye”.

That’s it for her. That night was full of other, new encounters for me, so I gave it little thought. So much for past loves. “Mais où sont les neiges d’autan?” “Where are the snows of yesteryear”.


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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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