That autumn of 1996 brought simply too many men from whom to choose. There was the distinguished record collector, the man with the boat in his yard and the other who swung his own kind of machismo, leaving a girl totally bewildered. I was a homemaker and an auction runner, surreptitious in the way I left pies cooling on the windowsill. The courthouse was too crowded every time I checked on my passport, so I consoled myself with another recipe, jazz record or pattern for an A line dress. The gentleman would perhaps need to wait for me, but not his next first edition. My skills ensured him the next great read of his life; I was way too sharp to let that go. If we’d started a band, would he have died happier?
On a Saturday morning when the whole town was still asleep, I staked out Mr. Boat in my car, camera in hand to take pictures of the autumn leaves. It made me vibrate with urgent jealousy that all of the other women knew where he lived, yet I did not. But soon my mission was accomplished and I was sashaying past the address every weekday morning in my can can skirts. I rustled like the leaves, wearing teal blue like the paint on his boat. It made me smile and twist my film noir hair around my fingers.
But only the bewilderment making man appreciated the heeled espadrilles I wore as I longed for a glimpse of the man behind the boat. He approved of my long legs, tan from the summer sun, peeking out from beneath the tulle. His smile was like sweet tea on a humid afternoon when you’re sitting on the porch swing, praying for the ennui to end. I think I was happy there. I know I could have been if I’d stayed longer.
As I think back on that autumn, I imagine how much easier my autumn leaf photography might have been with a digital camera. I probably should have thought to cut out the middleman. But we used touch tone phones and three day photo shops, none the wiser.