Whatever Exists – Marriage & New York City: Act III, Scene I

Credit: Peter Gallagher Photographer

by LJ Frank





Our luncheon occurred at a delicatessen not far from Columbia University. My colleague was an associate professor in Anthropology. I was somewhere in academia. But where? Like the rusted saying I was somewhere between what is and, what might have been. I have no complaints. Only surreal fantasies of a Muse in black walking away from me.  

My colleague and I sat down at a table near a window so we could casually glance outside at life on a New York City street.

Who was the woman I saw you with the other day. My colleague’s eyes peered over their eyeglasses.

Second wife. We were commiserating. Are you familiar with Elaine’s.

You mean Elaine Kaufman’s old place?

Yeah…on the Upper East Side in Manhattan.


It closed after she died over a decade ago.

I recall reading the obituary.

It’s where I met my second wife, the woman you’re referring to.

Wasn’t she an author and doctor?

My second wife was an author… my third wife is a psychiatrist.

Your third wife?



No. Buddhist leaning with an Epicurean sensuality. Quirky. But I like quirky. She amusingly quoted to me the French psychologist Emile Coué’s every day in every way I am getting better and better.


Met my first wife here at Columbia. Entrepreneur of sorts. She couldn’t make up her mind with whom she wanted to entrepreneur, so to speak. I told her whatever made her happy. Jealousy is a wasted emotion. Lasted five years until she fell in love with a Republican. Then I met my second wife at Elaine’s, she was the author. She was loquacious, had connections. She fell head over heels in love with her literary agent. And the psychiatrist I met at her office to help me better understand my insecurities. One session consisted of a dream interpretation. The next thing I knew I was on my knees in front of her asking for her hand in marriage. 


Nothing to do with Jesus. She understood that all lust begins in the brain. Her philosophical approach to life was influenced by the philosophies of Buddha, Epicurus and Simone de Beauvoir, the feminist existentialist.


What about you?


Augmentation? Seriously? Where?

Where do you think?

Sorry. I’m eating lunch.

It’s about the end result that’s sought.

All in working condition?

A work in progress.

Existence is. I’ve had haunting concerns.

Like what?

My wife’s first and middle initials.

I don’t understand.

It’s R.A. for Riley Ann. She has an identical twin sister, Rachel Ann. Same surnames. Both are psychiatrists. They have offices in the same building down the hall from each other. My wife’s assistant observed they sat in for the other with a certain patient or two on occasion. Compare notes, or?

Or what?