It was summertime in Manhattan, dark and balmy, almost midnight, on the Upper West Side. He and I rounded the corner from Amsterdam. Drinks had gone well. Walking me home, he held my hand. I smiled. I sighed and shrugged, flying my freak flag, ruining the moment. I took a deep breath.
Walking me home, he held my hand. I smiled.
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I sighed and shrugged, flying my freak flag, ruining the moment. I took a deep breath. And catch up on all things Modern Love.
He whispered this over the intercom. I entered the lobby and saw them outside, my doorman and my date on the sidewalk, laughing and chatting.
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My date turned to flick his cigarette away, and Guzim took the moment to shoot me a look: He had gotten the scoop and was already wary. I waved goodbye as my date and I walked off.
When I glanced back, Guzim shook his head. I rolled my eyes.
Dating your doorman
What did he know? What could he tell from a minute talk? My date turned out to be sexy and funny, spoke gorgeous Hebrew and partied too much. And so I agreed to a second drink and saw him again, and again, as autumn drew on.
I was always attracted to bad boys. He was kind and well mannered, a gray-haired cross between Cary Grant and George Clooney. Born in Albania in the mids, he hailed from an educated military family; his father had been an army general.
He never married.
When the Doorman Is Your Main Man
Never had children. At 39, he was finally released, and the United States granted his family asylum.
He found a job as a white-glove doorman in New York. In pajama bottoms, T-shirt and Uggs, I skipped up the steps into the lobby, a white paper bag clenched in my hand.
Guzim was resting on his usual stool, half-on, half-off, and looked up from his New York Post. I stopped and looked around. No one was in the lobby. It was well after midnight, so I doubled back.
We stood and talked for two more hours. I was distraught. I thought I had been safe, counted the days and done the math, used protection - most of the time. Two weeks later, I told the father.
He seemed at once delighted and horrified. A few weeks later, he even proposed. I politely declined. Not really. We both knew the truth. He was off the hook, as long as we kept the drama at bay and stayed in touch.
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We three would be friends, if not family. He agreed. Three months later and starting to show, I broke the news to everyone else. My Catholic parents, married over 40 years, feared for my future as a single mother. My girlfriends - married and single, mothers or childless - were mostly supportive. I had asked him beforehand. I got his permission.
Not many people recognize the contributions of people in those kinds of positions. Is he still on this job? Yeah, on the Upper West Side.
You can find him there. One surprising reaction to your story was the number of people who thought you were going to end up romantically with Guzim.
Were you aware of that reaction? Did it always feel like a protective, fatherly vibe? Is it emotional? Except that there are certain visuals where it looks like they took snapshots from my life.
The lobby of the building.
And the actress, with her glasses and the way she dresses. And the little girl. And Guzim in his uniform. He opened the car door and took the car seat out. Did he ever take your daughter out to the American Museum of Natural History like in the episode? No, he never took her out anywhere. But he was always in the lobby for us.
How to Treat Bouncers, According to Bouncers
What in the episode felt most true to your experience? Well, like the opening - whenever I was on a date, I would stop a couple blocks away because I never wanted to get close enough for Guzim to see us, for him to see me kiss anybody good night. In the show, Cristin is a little more courageous than I was about bringing men home.
But he was the only one that had this sort of caretaking relationship with you? Yeah, there was one who used to lecture me about stuff all the time, and later Isabel and I would give each other looks.
Maybe from Guzim but not from you.
My daughter will occasionally open up an account for me. Three months ago she opened up a Bumble account and uploaded seven of my pictures and wrote me a little profile. She wants someone for you? And for herself. So she wants a distraction for you? She wants a distraction for me and she thinks I should get a life, which I should. Daniel Jones is the editor of Modern Love. Modern Love can be reached at modernlove nytimes.