June 22nd, 2009

Don't Bother Coming Back

In the bedroom of the cottage on Stearns Lake white curtains swayed in the occasional breeze from the open window. It was our honeymoon, in July.

After breakfast Elizabeth and I walked along a path in the woods. In the shade of massive pines she told me about a job she'd gotten when she was in her early twenties, as an au pair for a high-energy stockbroker, Ted, and his pregnant wife.

One afternoon Ted came into the kitchen while she was making a peanut butter sandwich. After some innocuous conversation Ted said, "You know, little lady, when a guy's wife gets pregnant things get pretty tough in the sex department. And a guy has needs, you know?"

Elizabeth said she finished making her sandwich and was frozen in silence because she had no idea what she was supposed to say. Finally she told Ted in so many words that she wasn't there for that, really, and what’s more she wasn't interested. And she quit a week later when she got a line on another job at Symphony Hall.

Some months later she called the au pair agency to see if there might be another position she might take since she liked that kind of work, but the manager, when she recognized it was Elizabeth, said coldly, "Oh yes, I remember YOU."

She said Ted had gotten very angry because Elizabeth, in violation of the terms of their working arrangement, left the job without sufficient notice, and that was outrageous, considering how nice he and his wife had treated her, and therefore he could not in good conscience give her a good recommendation, and so forth.

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