Patrick’s ex-wife’s name was Deborah. She didn’t get up from her chair behind the teak desk to meet me, but I offered my hand and, somewhat reluctantly, she took it. She was a small, full-figured woman who was obviously quite a few years older than I was. As most women do, she sized me up as quickly as I did her. I couldn’t help but notice the resentful look on her face.
She was wearing a Chanel suit, dark stockings, and pumps. I was wearing a grey Donna Karan suit, dark stockings, and pumps. I had purposely tried for an androgynous but classic look, knowing that my age would be enough incentive for her to dislike me. I was right. Her eyes flashed with either resentment or anger, I wasn’t sure which one it was, but I understood immediately that she was not going to be my ally.
I had a moment where I felt sort of sorry for her—and then I got over it. She and Patrick had been divorced for years now. Surely, she had met previous girlfriends. I made a mental note to ask Patrick about that later.
As we tried to force some kind of ordinary civil conversation, poor Patrick was trying to force an immediate relationship, suggesting we all go out for drinks at Oprah’s new restaurant. Naturally, I declared that I thought that was a great idea. But Deborah declined quickly and firmly, looking Patrick in the eye when she said, “I have far too much business to conduct here today. So, no thank you.”
That was my cue to leave, so I replied, “Perhaps another time then,” and I called her “Deb.” Admittedly, that was my fault and I should not have presumed to be so familiar as to shorten her name. It was really a slip of the tongue, but it opened the window for her to promptly end the conversation with, “My name is Deborah, don’t ever call me Deb or Debbie,” complete with a cold, hard stare.