I can tell you for me that at the time I said it, I meant it. Or thought I did. But in reality, looks like mother was right again, as usual. She always told me that you only ever have one true love. You may have other lovers, but only one TRUE LOVE.
So for me, that would be, first and foremost… Robert. I met Robert quite by accident. I was drunk at the time and had called a cab. He wasn’t the cabbie I was expecting so I stood there on the curb, probably swaying a little in my drunken state. I observed, “You’re not Vivian!” Vivian drove Yellow Cab #83 in San Antonio at the time, 1980; Robert’s was Yellow Cab #81. In my drunken fog, I’d gotten the numbers mixed up when I specifically asked for her cab — that’s called a “personal” in cabbie parlance.
So I let him take me home. We made small talk on the way. We talked a bit about music. Turns out I didn’t know diddly squat about it. I was intrigued by his intelligence, yet put off by his seeming arrogance. I thought he was full of himself. I also thought I was very cute. (I really was back then; I looked like Pat Benatar and had the cutest outfit on, a black wool knit dress that cost me a fortune, it had a full skirt that swing out in a big circle when I twirled in it, a slim bodice, three quarter sleeves and a scoop neckline. Completing the ensemble were my black snakeskin pumps, brass purse and black felt hat. Drop. Dead. Gorgeous.) I thought smugly that there’d be no chance in hell I’d ever take up with the likes of HIM!
After that, for some reason, every time I needed a cab, I’d call him instead of Vivian. Forget about her, she might have been a single mother struggling to make ends meet, but I had Robert on the brain. I’d befriended Vivian because I’d just lost a ton of weight, down to a 10-12 from a whopping 26-28 and she inherited my entire wardrobe. Because up until just a few months previous, I lived a home with my mother so had nothing to spend my money on BUT clothes. So they were pretty nice, silks, wools, suits, dresses, a fur jacket, etc. But then mother died and I was alone.
So one night, I’d decided to go out to my favorite bar, across town. I called Robert. On the way, I stopped at the grocery store to get some cash and a few groceries (including a box of tampons, a Cosmopolitan magazine, a bottle of sangria (for later at home), and some other inconsequential items).
When I got out of Robert’s cab at the bar, he stopped me, reminding me that I couldn’t go into the bar with liquor (the sangria). Robert suggested I leave all that in the back of his cab and he could just pick me up later and it would all be there. Great idea!
So when I’m ready go to home, of course, Robert is nowhere to be found. I end up taking another cab home, but I’m pretty miffed. I thought it was pretty cheesy of him to make off with my groceries. Though what kind of freak would want a box of tampons?
Several weeks went by and again, I was in a cab headed home after another night of drinking. And I was bitching to this cabbie about how Robert ran off with my groceries. I really thought it was an awful thing to do. About halfway home, the cab breaks down. Oh, great. Stuck out here on Broadway at two thirty in the morning. Just fucking great. So he has to call another cab to come get me.
Guess who arrives? Robert of course. I wondered where he’d been. He told me that he had my sack of groceries back at his place, so of course I ended up going there to retrieve them. He said he was thinking about calling it an early night. (He worked the night shift, 6PM to 6AM.) So after we got to his place, which was really just a room in a motel that you rented by the hour, day, week or month, we started talking. I wasn’t sleepy and neither was he. I remember laying on the bed, fully clothed of course, except for my shoes. And he was sitting in the chair across from the bed. We split the bottle of sangria. And just spent the rest of the evening — er, morning — talking. We talked about everything. About his work, about my mother’s death, about San Antonio, about Austin, where he’d just come from a few months previous.
So from there, I guess you could say that love — or some weird approximation of it — blossomed. In other words, I chased him until he caught me. That was October 1980. Later, much later, Robert would tell me that when he met me, he could “tell you were hurting,” referring to my mother’s death. Yeah, it did hit me pretty hard. For many reasons.
But that’s a blog for another day.