I’m watching a movie, and in that movie, Love in the Afternoon is playing on a TV in the background. It stars Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn, and I saw it once, long ago, when I was a teenager. My memory is that it wasn’t much of a movie … Cooper was twice Hepburn’s age and their affair wasn’t believable. But the truth is, I don’t recall much about the movie, because of the circumstances under which I watched it.
I was at a friend’s house, a girl for whom I had a long-standing and terrible crush. We watched the movie, we made out, we watched the movie some more, I slipped my hand down her t-shirt, we watched the movie some more. Her mom kept coming in to check on us, see if we wanted a snack or a drink … I suppose she guessed there was some minor hanky-panky going on. The point is, I couldn’t tell you much about Love in the Afternoon, but seeing it in the background of that movie today, I instantly recalled my hand inside that shirt. I’m reminded, as I often am (more so the older I get) of Everett Sloane as Bernstein in Citizen Kane, reminiscing in his old age about a girl he saw once when he was young:
A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl.
As for our advancing ages, I should note that I am the same age now that Gary Cooper was when he made Love in the Afternoon. I’m not on the prowl for women half my age, but my wife can tell you that I’m still interested in the hand inside the shirt.