The phone rang this morning. Caller id was not helpful. Just an out of town call. I answered.
It was a woman with a flat Northwestern accent. She asked for me, tentatively. I said that yes, this was she.
"Well,um....this is hard," she said. "I don't even know you."
I had no idea how to respond. "What can I help you with?" I finally said.
"Did you know a Frederick Lastname?" she asked.
I smiled. "Yes, I went to college with him. He was my study partner."
"Well, I am, I mean, I was his mother. He, well....he died a few weeks ago and I was going through his things and there is this album he wanted you to have."
I could hardly breathe. "He's DEAD?"
Her voice trembled and then steadied. "Yes, he had liver cancer. We live in Portland. Um...it was pretty fast. He never married and lived just a few blocks from his Dad and me."
I swallowed. I hadn't seen Frederick since...when? Let's see, a long time. We graduated and he went on to med school in Oregon, while I went to Nebraska. I knew he had a girl friend. I supposed they married. We didn't stay in touch, although I did google him once and noticed that he had a successful practice. He always said that he planned to take over his Dad's practice. He was only what...? 49. My age.
"I'm so very sorry," I sputtered out.
"Well, thank you. Do you know why he would want to leave you a Patti Smith album? Wave?"
I caught my breath. Thought before I spoke.
"Um, well...we were both Patti Smith fans," I managed to say vaguely. I was lying. I knew exactly why he would want me to have that album.
"So, I should mail it to you, would that be okay?" she asked.
I told her of course, offered to send her money to pay for it. She demurred, said no. I told her again how very sorry I was. Said that he had been a very funny, smart study partner. She thanked me and we hung up.
Wow. Frederick. Dead.
Frederick WAS my study partner in college. He was also the first man I ever made love with. And he goes in my personal record book as the best fuck of my life. It only happened once and we were both shocked and astonished at just how incredible it was. But, hey...he had a girlfriend in Oregon that he was engaged to and me? I was a lesbian. He had never cheated on his girlfriend and I had never been with a man. Neither one of us was keen on changing THAT status quo.
But...wow. That night. We had been studying. He was a huge Patti Smith fan and we generally studied with the album, Wave, playing in the background. That night was no exception except that we were both exhausted from a week spent studying hard. We quizzed each other and decided to go out for a beer.
The bar had been jam packed and we had gotten on the dance floor and for some reason the DJ put on an old Monkees tune called Randy Scouse Git. We danced feverishly to it, both laughing our asses off, knocking into each other raucously at the middle frenzied part of the song.
We drank just a little too much, but not so much that we didn't know our heads. We left the bar and walked back to our dorms, arm in arm and suddenly quiet and serious. We talked about old family traditions, pets, and high school romances that seemed like they had happened on Mars they were so far removed from us now.
We got to his dorm first. He offered to walk me to mine and I said no, I'd be fine. I did want to stop in his dorm room to pick up my notes, though.
And...yeah. It just happened. One moment I was leaning over picking up my notes and when I stood up, he was just a little too close, his eyes suddenly looking much different than I had ever remembered. We stared at each other and then began kissing like we were in some porno movie and the director had just yelled, "Action!"
It wasn't all ferocious. Once we got out of our clothes, we took our time, an unlikely Romeo with his strange Juliet. I remember laughing a little and then....stopping as things began to go in the direction that we had both decided to venture.
We orgasmed together. I have only done that a few times since and it was nothing like what happened with us. This was like stars aligning or some perfect piece of a poem that you stumble on and think, "YES! That is exactly what I was thinking!"
Afterwards, we fell asleep in each other's arms, comfortable, two peas in our pod. I woke up a few hours later, confused and disoriented. His dorm mate had a girlfriend and seldom slept in the room, so we weren't disturbed, but I woke up anyway, feeling not sure at all that this should have happened.
Mostly, I worried that he would do something stupid like offer to be my boyfriend or something. I wasn't worried about pregnancy, he had grabbed a condom out of his drawer in the heat of things and even then, I had made some smart ass remark about his thinking he needed an extra large....we had laughed then, co-conspirators, two extremely aroused people who got along like a house afire.
I had nudged him awake and said that I needed to get back to my dorm. He had insisted on walking me back, saying that he wasn't going to let me walk outside at 3 a.m.
On the way there, we didn't touch. Neither one of us mentioned what had happened until we were nearly at my dorm. And then, he said, "I don't know how to say this.." just as I was saying, "I hope this doesn't hurt your feelings.."
It didn't take us long to realize that we were on the exact same page. He was in love with his girlfriend and the only reason she had approved of me as his study partner was because she knew I was a lesbian. I had no intention of suddenly going hetero. This was just....one of those things.
We were both relieved, I think. But, just before he left, he touched my cheek and said, "Was it just me, or was that like...the most fucking amazing sex we had, though? I mean...JESUS!"
I told him that it was a lesbian thing. We were all vixens. We laughed, but I admitted that yes, the earth had moved for me too, the stars fell on Alabama and he had done shown me a FINE time.
We stayed study partners and it never happened again. The sex. Neither one of us silently pined for the other or anything like that. We behaved as if nothing had happened and after awhile, it sort of felt like something I had read in a book, not something that had happened to me.
We graduated two years later with highest honors, both of us. His girlfriend came down to help him move and I agreed to help him too. While she was out for pizza, he put on the Patti Smith album and the song Frederick came on. He smiled at me.
I always think of this as you and me on that night, he told me.
I smiled and that was that.
He left and I never saw him again. Well, not in person. As I said, I did google him and found out that he did indeed take over his Dad's family practice, but there was no mention of his marrying anyone. I never knew if he married that woman or not. I assumed he did.
So, now...this album is coming to me from my dear old friend and sublime fuck buddy, Frederick.
If you want to access the song, it truly is one of her more gorgeous, gentle ones. It can't be accessed directly from youtube, but you can go to this site and click on youtube and there you are.
So, Frederick...I will play this song and think of you, buddy. Rest in peace.