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Scot On The Rocks
By Brenda Janowitz
Red Dress InkCopyright © 2007 Brenda Janowitz
All right reserved.
As I walked back to my apartment that day, on my way home from work, I had a feeling that nothing could go wrong. You know that feeling you get when everything seems to be right with the world? When the planets seem to be in alignment? One of those days when you're actually running on time, your apartment is (relatively) clean, and you haven't gotten into an argument with your mother/best friend/boss/therapist in at least a week? That was exactly how I felt as I strolled home from work down Mercer Street to my apartment on 301 Prince Street.
I had left my office that evening at 8:30 p.m., whichat Gilson, Hecht and Trattner, the large Manhattan law firm where I work is actually considered early, so I was feeling as if I had the whole night ahead of me. And I was going home to pick up my gorgeous Scottish boyfriend so that we could go out and meet friends for supper at some fabulous little downtown brasserie where everyone is European and the waiters only speak French, so I could hardly wait. I had the perfect New York City evening planned out.
Since I usually got out of work closer to 9:00 p.m. than 5:00 p.m., I considered myself lucky to have a boyfriend who liked to eat dinner late. I once dated a math teacher who left work at 4:00 p.m. and was in bed by ten. That relationship was destined tofail. Ditto for the guy who traded foreign something or others who started his day at 3:00 a.m. and ate his dinner before I even thought about getting lunch. My boyfriend, Douglas, on the other hand, thought that people who ate dinner before 8:00 p.m. were uncivilized.
I walked into the lobby of my apartment buildingthe poshest building in all of Sohowith a skip in my step. The Soho Triumphe, a building so fancy that, in addition to its staff of eight doormen, it boasts a twenty-four-hour concierge who can get you into any restaurant in Manhattan (not like Douglas ever needed any such help). It even has in-house dry cleaning, like at a hotel. I said hello to the evening doorman who, despite the fact that I had moved into Douglas's apartment a full two years ago, still couldn't quite remember my name.
"Um, 32G?, he asked with a pained expression that indicated to me that he was thinking, at least, very very hard about who I was. I nodded my head yes and pulled my hair out of the bun I usually wore at work while he checked his book for deliveries. Douglas loved my hairdark brown with natural auburn highlights that was so long it fell down my back to just below my bra strap so I always took it down right before I got up to our apartment.
The doorman handed me a mountain of dry cleaningfive custom-made Italian suits (Douglas's), five monogrammed shirts (Douglas's) and one skirt (mine). I checked the mail and took out four bills (Douglas's) and the Barneys New York Spring Look Book (mine)or maybe it was Douglas's. You never could tell with European men.
Balancing it all in the crook of my arm, with my oversize work bag forcing my body to lean perilously to the right, I made it to the elevator just as the door was about to close. I kicked my foot out and stopped the door with my leg. Inside, I could see a tiny little man furiously pressing the "door close" button.
"You could lose a limb trying to get to your apartment," I said to the man with a laugh. Rather than being embarrassed for not holding the elevator for me, he looked annoyed that I had made it in.
"Or you could just wait for the next elevator," he replied under his breath. And they say that chivalry is dead.
With my free arm, I pressed the button for thirty-two. My work bag slid down my shoulder, catching my long hair underneath the strap. I tried to jump up to release my hair, turning my head quickly to the left as I did so. The dry cleaning began to slip from my grip and I begged it not to fall, whispering "We're almost there," to it as if talking to a small child. The man looked at me, his expression saying, " The economy must really be bad if our co-op board let this woman into the building."
But I didn't care. The night would still be perfect. No doubt I would get back to my apartment, and Douglas would be waiting for me with open arms. Seeing me with all of my packages, he would grab them from me, throw them on the couch and kiss me passionately. In his charming Scottish accent, he would say, "Darling, I missed you so much today I could barely stand it," or something as equally romantic and heartfelt and we would go meet our fabulous friends for a fabulous evening out. On our way to the restaurant, he would turn to me and say, " How is it that you look even more beautiful after working a full ten-hour day?"
I bet that that tiny little man in the elevator didn't have a gorgeous Scottish boyfriend to go home to. Or, actually, maybe he did. He was wearing really, really nice shoes.
But I did. I walked in the door to my apartment, starving to death (because, let's face it, I'm totally uncivilized), and before I even had a second to put down our dry cleaning, my gorgeous Scottish boyfriend broke up with me.
Normally, my life isn't this complicated. You see, I'm a simple girl with simple hopes. Up until two weeks ago, all I really wanted in life was for my boyfriend Douglas to buy an engagement ring. And he did! He just didn't give it to me. But I was fine. Even though the breakup was difficult, I remained very dignified.
Well, not so much dignified as a screaming crying mess. But it's not as if I embarrassed myself or anything. Unless you'd call throwing yourself at the tails of someone's suit jacket embarrassing. Which, luckily for me, I do not. We had a very mature conversation, really, if you think about it. I sweetly said, " Please don't go! Please don't leave me!" Okay, so maybe I was screaming it at the time, but you get where I was going with that one.
"I'm sorry, Brooke," Douglas said. "It's not you. It's me. You are an amazing girl. You have so much to offer. It's just that this doesn't feel right. It's just not the time for us."
Now isn't that mature? So, I answered him in kind. "And it is the time for you and thatthatbimbo? What the hell is her name?"
"That's not even a naaaame!" I bellowed.
"Brooke, let's not get hysterical," Douglas said. Hysterical? I was, like, so not hysterical. "Can't we make this friendly? Can't we try to still be friends?, "Okay. you're right. Friends." See how mature I was being?
"Right then," he said, sounding very Scottish. How I loved that accent. "I'll be going."
This may have been the part where I lunged for the tails of his suit jacket and he then dragged me about twenty feet to the door.
"No!" I was screaming. "No, please, no!" Okay, yes, now that I'm telling you about this, I distinctly recall being dragged across the f loor screaming, " Don't go!"
Oh, please. As if you never did that, too.
As a last ditch effort, I cried, " You can't do this! Please don't go! It isn't right!" In an instant, his expression changed. I'm getting through to him, I thought. I lightened my viselike grip on the tails of his suit jacket.
"you're right. I shouldn't go. It isn't right."
I shook my head in agreement and breathed a sigh of relief. As visions of wild, passionate makeup sex f loated through my mind, he said, " After all, I own the apartment." And with that, he opened the door.
I should never have let go of the tails of his jacket.
Really, I blame the breakup on Trip's wedding. That's when everything started to go downhill between Douglas and me. And what's worse, everyone I know thought that I shouldn't have gone to the wedding in the first place. Somehow, everyone who knew me just knew that Trip's wedding would be the end of Douglas and me. (Except little old me, of course.) I really hate being a foregone conclusion.
When I told my mother that I was going to Trip's wedding, she said, " Trip's wedding? Trip who?, (As if Jewish girls from Long Island know that many men named Trip.) "Trip from law school Trip? What woman, in her right mind, would want to go to that?"
Vanessa, my best friend from law school, initially RSVP'd no to the wedding, since she assumed that I wouldn't want to attend. When she found out that I wanted to go, she later called Trip to tell him that her "big case" had settled and that she and her husband, Marcus, would be therebut not before asking me approximately 472 times if I "wanted to talk about it?"
And when I told the partner I worked for at my firm that I would be out of town for a four-day weekend to take my boyfriend to L.A. to go to Trip's wedding, even he asked me, " Why the hell would you want to do that?"
I could have sworn that I even saw my therapist look at me sideways when I told her that I was going to my ex-boyfriend's wedding.
Okay, so I understand that this isn't exactly your typical "girl goes to wedding" kind of situation. But, just because Trip is my ex-boyfriend from law school doesn't mean that I care more about this wedding or am more nervous about this wedding, or that this wedding is any different from any other wedding in any way at all! Because it's not. Trip's wedding is just another wedding. And Trip is just another friend of mine. Even if he is my ex-boyfriend.
What's an ex-boyfriend anyway? Everyone has an ex-boyfriend. Everyone. I mean, even some lesbians I know have them. Nothing special about them, right? I don't care any more or less about him just because he's my ex-boyfriend. He's just a person. And staying friends with your ex is a piece of cake. I barely ever think about him and how he may or may not have been my last chance at happiness in this cruel and unforgiving world.
Really. I have the satisfaction of having a great career and a great independent life filled with fabulous friends and, of course, even more fabulous shoes. I am such a woman of the new millennium that I can go work a full ten-hour day, keep in touch with friends through e-mail, do a few errands on the way to meet my friends for dinner, and then go meet cute guys over martinis at the bar after I eat. All in three-and-a-half-inch heels. I am such a woman of the millennium that I can do anything, even things that previous generations would have thought completely impossibleBetty Friedan be damned! I can even stay friends with an ex-boyfriend.
And it's not like Douglas was jealous or anything. Douglas wasn't really the type to ever get jealous. He was far too manly and European for such things.
When I told Jack, my best friend from Gilson Hecht, about Trip's wedding, he simply said, " You and Douglas are going to break up."
"What?, I practically screamed as I slammed the door to his office shut and sank into his visitor's chair. His computer screen was turned slightly off center and I could see in the ref lection of his window that he was working on his fantasy football league.
"Ignore me. I don't even know what I'm saying," he said, one eye still on his computer screen as he f lipped it back to the brief he was drafting. "I think it's great if you can go to your exboyfriend's wedding. In fact, if we had dated and then broke up, I would fully expect you to come to my wedding."
"We did date and break up," I reminded him, picking up the silver paperweight from his desk and turning it slowly in my hands. It was engraved Congratulations on Your Graduation and signed With Love from all three of his older sisters.
"One kiss does not constitute us dating and breaking up," he said, baby blues now burning into me, as he brushed his shaggy brown hair out of his eyes. This particular conversation always made Jack nervous for two reasons. The first was that he was the one who called things off, and being the gentleman that he was, he never liked to do anything that would make a woman unhappy. The second was that he hated the implication that he would ever act in such an unprofessional manner by running around kissing associates who were junior to him.
Excerpted from Scot On The Rocks by Brenda Janowitz Copyright © 2007 by Brenda Janowitz. Excerpted by permission.
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