Mary Marcus: Once Upon A (Near) Date Rape

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Sometimes one doesn’t want to freeload on friends. Sometimes, especially if one is married, one wants to be alone.

When that happens, and I’m in NY for a night or two, I try and stay at the Excelsior if I can get a deal.

Excelsior, The Excelsior, Hotel, Rapist, New York City, NYC, Hotel, English Law, Mary Marcus, Mary Marcus FictionI’m at the Excelsior now, typing this in the lobby and checking my email. I lived here, when I was first in New York. It was cheap enough to live by the month. And I did that, off and on, until I could get a place of my own. I was young, green and I didn’t really get it that older successful men asked young girls out to dinner to talk about business chiefly to see if they could get laid.

I’d known him through my first real job. I was writing publicity at that time and he liked my work enough to invite me to dinner with him and his girlfriend when we were all working on a project in another city.

He was the American president of a very old English firm whose name practically anyone would recognize. I called him when I moved to New York, to touch base and ask for freelance work.

He replied by asking me to dinner.

I assumed the girlfriend would be there. And the wife would be home in the suburbs. I could tell the woman he traveled with was his girlfriend. And in the press release I had written, I had the info that he had a wife and three children and they lived in the ‘burbs outside of NY.

I guess, on a subconscious level l also knew I wasn’t his type. So I felt safe.

After dinner, he offered to drop me home and the struggle began almost immediately, the second we got in the cab. He was winning; the cab driver was doing nothing to help me out. And I was calling for help and pleading with the man who was pinning me down.

“I’m not even your type, I can tell I’m not. Why are you doing this?”

He took a beat. He thought about it. We were tussling.

And yet he took the time to tell me, as if he were proud of it, as if it were a totally original idea, like the theory of evolution or something.

“I like your wrists; they’re so small and vulnerable.”

Maybe he gave up. Maybe it was too much work. The cab was stopped at a red light. We were on the Upper West Side. And this unpleasantness had been going on since West 9th Street or thereabouts. I escaped.

I stood on the sidewalk and stared at them both:

“Shame on you!”

Then ran down the street to the Excelsior.

It was old and scary in those days. Not like it is now, this pleasant place where I’m sitting in a padded seat and can look up and see the nicely dressed attendants and the prosperous looking guests. There’s a restaurant with a fancy name—back then it was just above an SRO. The denizens were down and out, the elevators were slow, the hallways creepy.

When I got back to my room the phone was ringing. Those old hotel phones really knew how to ring. Nothing like the simulated computer ringing of one’s cell phone. I went for it, thinking it was a guy who I was crazy about sneaking out to the nearest phone booth to commit telephone adultery. It was the president rapist on the line. Why, oh why had I told him where I was staying?

I’ll never forget his calm implacable voice.

“I’m downstairs. Are you sure you haven’t changed your mind?”

“Yes I’m sure.”

He took a beat. I heard him breathe.

“OK,” he said at last, then he broke the connection.

I could see him downstairs in his expensive suit getting my room number, maybe even with a twenty, getting a key as well. I shoved the dresser in front of the door; underneath I found a dead roach and a condom still, thank God, in the wrapper. I lay awake for most of the night, waiting for the dresser to move.

Flash forward a few years later. I am walking on the sidewalk in front of MOMA at my lunch hour. I am very pregnant. I’m so big that the next week my advertising agency sent me home because I was scaring everyone. I even think they gave me two weeks severance. And the opportunity to get my job back six weeks after the baby was born. It wasn’t exactly a very enlightened time. My boss, a charmer, who the following year stiffed me out of a three thousand dollar job, was in the habit of chasing me around the office telling me pregnant women turned him on.

There he is on the sidewalk. The Queen had just knighted his direct boss.

“RAPIST!”

That’s what I shouted at him. I saw him cringe and turn away, running scared of me this time.

I just googled him. Nobody’s heard of him anymore. Not even Google. Good. Excellent. Just someone with the same unusual spelling of his name and the right age, living in Summit, New Jersey.

Mary Marcus

Mary Marcus is the author of The New Me and the newly released Lavina. Visit her website for

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On June 3, 2015
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One Response to Mary Marcus: Once Upon A (Near) Date Rape

  1. Peter Seth says:

    Very strong writing, Mary.

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