Yachta Mache - 9
Shortly after the new year started, we were invited to a party at one of the male nurse's apartment. We did very little socialising with the nurses for some reason. I suppose because we were only around for a year, as were the pharmaceutical and dental interns, we had more in common with them.
Frank Ober was a permanent employee - in his mid twenties. He was tall, slim, nice looking with a blond crew cut, and a wonderful personality. He was always smiling and cracking jokes.
At this party we were served a drink called a Highland Fling. Milk and whisky. It sounds awful, but tasted good, and warmed us up. I was amazed that it didn't curdle, but it didn't.
Frank and I hit it off well, and seemed to have a lot in common. He also loved going to plays and concerts, and said that he and I could go together, Dutch treat, if I was interested. I certainly was, and after that we would get together over lunch and plan out what to go and see. I think the first one we went to together was the Odd Couple, at the Plymouth Theatre, with Jack Lemon and Walter Matteau.
Frank drove his Volkwagen Beetle, so we didn't have to worry about the ferry. He'd lived in New York all his life, so he was very comfortable about where to go, and places to park, etc.
The play is about Felix, who is neurotically neat, thrown out by his wife and moves in with his friend Oscar who is obsessively sloppy. He's also careless with money, an excessive gambler and drives Felix mad with his food habits. But he enjoys life while Felix is miserable about everything. He tries to "improve" Oscar's way of life, and ends up getting thrown out by him too, but he does by the end seem to learn something positive from Oscar.
I thought it was a wonderful play and really loved every minute. Frank hated it and seemed most uncomfortable with the dialogue, but I didn't let him spoil my enjoyment.
A few weeks later we went to Carnegie Hall for a concert of the Four Seasons being played by the Philadelphia Orchestra. I felt I should make more of an effort for that outing, so I bought some material and made myself a little black dress. Carolyn fixed my hair and everyone was watching as I got ready, giving advice and encouragement.
The first think Frank said when I got in the car was, “you stink.” I had been rather lavish with the perfume, but thought perhaps he was a bit over the top. However, I spit on my handkerchief and tried to get rid of some of the smell. The concert was wonderful, and we had a good time, despite my dressing up not really having the desired effect.
A few weeks later we went to a movie together and afterwards went to Frank's apartment, for spaghetti bolognaise. Frank had a cat, a big furry dark grey one, Sooty, and as soon as I went in, she started hissing at me. (I'm not a cat lover, or even liker.) Frank said she was very jealous of any women friends that he had around. She jumped on Frank's shoulder, and he seemed to have her on or around him for the rest of the evening.
Frank had prepared the food earlier, so it just needed heating up. It was my job to set the table. I went into the cupboard and got out what I thought were the nicest plates, flowery delicate china, and put them out, with the usual silverware. Frank brought the dish through and then Frank nearly dropped it when he saw what I'd done. "Those are Sooty's dishes!" he exclaimed. Sooty was the cat. So I had failed yet again in my attempt to please him. He took the precious plates away and replaced them by the bog standard variety, and we ate our meal.
I was somewhat confused about Frank's interest in me, which up to now had included nothing romantic or sexual at all.
"I know you're not really shy, Frank, so it makes me wonder why you've never tried to kiss me," I said feeling embarrassed, yet needing to have the situation clarified.
"Did it ever occur to you that I might not want to?" he asked in a sort of strangled voice. “No,” was my answer.
So that was the rather awkward end of what had started out as a lovely evening. He took me home, unkissed, and when I related the experience to my friends, one said, "But Frank's gay. Didn't you know?"
It had never entered my mind. I didn't know any gay men. I knew there were such people in the world - but I had yet to knowingly meet any of them. Well, obviously I unknowingly knew one quite well. I was flabbergasted.
My friendship with Frank continued on a less frequent basis for the rest of the year but we never regained the ease of being together that we'd had before. And I decided most firmly that I needed to find someone who really did want to kiss me. I took my problems to Otis, and he assured me that there was nothing wrong with me, and any guy who didn't want to get together with me was crazy. He said I just had to relax and stop worrying about it, and things would come right.