Before I became Frau Kolb, I was a single girl growing up in Manhattan, New York.
Despite the fact that I always wore combat boots and thought myself some sort of punk; boys and men liked me and I went out on lots and lots of fun dates. (There are so many opportunities for a beer drinking girl, that likes to listen to men talk, to be taken out in a city full of bars, and no need to ever drive a car.) I like boys and men, too. I’ve always seen them as those two distinct categories.
Boys are cute, sexually attractive beings, with little else to offer.
Men are sometimes handsome, sometimes NOT, yet always come with financial muscle.
Boys you play with and get over, because they are out there playing and getting on with being boys.
Men are dangerous. One must be cautious. Listen. Say, “No!” often. You don’t want a man to get the impression he can do whatever he wants with you. Never. Men will take you for a ride if they believe they can. You must pay attention. You must be ready to run or fight. Don’t be scared, yet don’t be vulnerable.
Anyway, that said…
One love affair blended into the next and I dated some truly amazing men. Having left home at age seventeen, by the time I was twenty-one, I’d lived with a man that got me my first job cooking at an exclusive health club in Manhattan. I’d go into work at five am and “cut down a crate of carrots, onions, celery, wash the turkey, season it, turn on the convection oven…” I’d be there, focused, cooking… day after day… I made a turkey every week day for almost two years, straight. Until I was promoted within the company to a better, more luxurious location at the Atrium building on 57th Street.
So… from my beautiful, former model, tall and slender, blue-eyed Mayflower WASP professional bartender boyfriend, I learned: cooking as a way of making a living and to this day, I can make lunch for a hundred with ease. Serving food is my forte. I cook daily, at home and it means the world to me to do so. Every time my husband and I have people over for a seamless dinner I thank good for my EX, boyfriend, who taught me how to keep it sizzling. Every time.
Yet, I left him for a man, with big green eyes, dark hair, creamy colored thick smooth skin, fat lips… ah! I found him so sexually appealing, he looked like a man, he was twice my age, but really he was just an old boy… he had no clue how to make a living and I guess he was just waiting for his mother to pass away so he might inherit the house… whatever… I had to pay half the rent; this boyfriend was a chronic smoker of what is now called, “Medical.” This boy-man and I sent a lot of time drinking and exploring horizontal positions. We were happy children together, yet I had to pay half the rent, even though he was twice my age and I was… well frankly a long leggy stunner…
Leaving room for the next boyfriend to slip in with his wallet. I left the cozy, comfortable, German and Irish, beer drinking, and self-help book reading, Boy Toy Man that could barely pay his half of our East Village rent for the rust-funded Little MAN that dominated my life, ate my peace, destroyed my ability to earn a living working in restaurants, by taking me out to eat almost daily, to expensive joints in Soho, while showering me with presents and cash. I was, seriously, his sugar baby. I had no idea that was what I was. I thought he loved me and that we would someday marry.
At first, I felt so bad that he had a girlfriend living with him when we met. Yet, he assured me… he pursued me, he seduced me with his elegant script on fine paper love letters… Ah! At the end-of-the-day… I’m a Romantic. My grandfather was Spanish… I have a soft spot for Picasso and bleeding bulls.
This important EX taught me about ART, Fibonacci wave patterns, and the stock market. (Lest we forget: he was mind boggling between the sheets, a true artist.) I loved him… but I was immature and… I kept finding myself with other guys, including that Irish/German Hippy apologeticallyStoner Dude, mentioned before… and the English boyfriend, the one with the golden red hair… oh, no… now my time line is messed up… anyway… there was some overlap. The Little Art Man from California, challenged me, “I can’t marry someone who hasn’t gone to college.” He said smugly, one day. Thus, I decided to apply to many a school, I got into all my choices, and was offered a full scholarship at Columbia University in the city of New York.
The boyfriend story, however, continues:
Then came H. We met at the bar at the brand-new Reebok Club in NYC. I was a student at Columbia University, looking for a quite, refined place, to read my material for a literature class. He was making Monica Lewinsky jokes, the news was on an old television set over the bar. He was funny. He was cute, big brown eyes. He said he was 52 years old and yet, he looked great to me. I was no ageist.
Soon it became redundantly clear that he was really rich. He introduced me to the pleasure of drinking fine red wine. In his company I learned to eat as many oysters as I pleased, and to distinguish between luxury and everything else. I loved him. I would have gladly married him and had his Jewish babies. I would have converted with pride and become more Jewish than any other convert. Yet, it turned out that he had lied about his age, he was actually 72. I was 24. He was fitter than I, and I was fit. He was still running marathons. He did advanced yoga. He was a physical marvel. I wanted babies. He was over it. His sons were older than me. I only met one of them, at his Hampton estate, and I felt ill at ease: he could have been my father! So...
Toward the end of our six or seven month relationship, we met up in England… no I was in England, in London for the summer, staying with a friend and his girlfriend, chasing the red-haired Oxford illusion… that boyfriend, which actually, was a brief yet… not easily dismissed… I was 17 and he was 18, when we met… he was in NYC for the summer, it was his first job, mine too, at a restaurant on the Upper East Side. He was staying with his classmate, whose father was the second at the British consulate. (They used to call me, “The Pretty Negress.”) So… he had a whole floor in a brownstone in the best location… near the crappy restaurant, where the EX boyfriend that got me my first cooking job when RED left me to go back to his life of privilege and life quenching adherence to antiquated notions of propriety. Ah… the British… love ‘em, hate ‘em… they continue.
Anyway… RED, gave me insights into the mentality of a vaguely aristocratic or rather POSH mentality, which to this day irks me. He was the most unapologetically classist being I’d ever met. (I guess IF a system works for you, then you work to uphold it…), which I found refreshingly honest. I liked him, a lot… I liked his voice: proper English. Listening to him, chatting with him… is blissful, at times… we stayed in touch for years, I’d call him and he’d share his adventures, until recently… when it became clear that he was taking ME, Frau Kolb, totally for granted, he’d become used to having me share of myself with him. Further more, he secretly prefers to date young black girls from the wrong side of London… a secret, which offends me. Thus, I let go of that attachment, only recently.
Back to H.
We were not together for very long. He got along famously: both New Yorkers. He was from the Bronx and had grown up struggling. I loved his Alfa-Male energy. Yet, he was very old and very wealthy. I was completely at ease in his company. I felt safe allowing him to make decisions… the only topic I knew more about than him was art… He started collecting Miro… I would have gladly married him. He was the only person I ever met that had the capacity to keep me completely entertained and at ease; no need to work, invisible servants catered to our every whim when we lived together at the Hampshire House. I had my own room, filled with books, and a wonderful view. Every night we went out to New York’s best seafood restaurants. I ate oysters. He ate grilled fish and salad. We drank VINO, together. He was the BEST, until he dumped me.
Yes. It is true.
The lessons he taught me: he taught me that CASH, a big wad of it, waved at anybody in service with get you whatever you want. Drop a hundred dollar bill on a host in a restaurant and you will get the best table. Moreover, make a habit of giving to others more than they expect and then leave them when they get addicted to your magnificence and they will remember you for life.
* Special thanks to my husband Hartmuth, for helping me, sort out my history and for not being afraid of ghosts.