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    Carolyn Cooke

    18. Aesthetic Discipline

    By Carolyn Cooke

    My former boyfriend Karim Brazir was an artist and a bohemian. His name rhymed with “Karen,” and in fact his parents, who interestingly misunderstood the name on a trip to Cairo and Istanbul during which Karim was conceived, spelled it that way. His family was eccentric and to me, irresistible. Karim was alluring, sexy, passionate in an intense but oddly impersonal way, almost perverse, maybe even borderline somehow. He used to call me at night in New York, and ask me in a gravelly voice to take a taxi over right away to his loft in a then-vacant part of town. This was romantic, I presumed. Usually, I pushed the brass button next to his name downstairs and he buzzed me up, so that by the time I arrived up the groaning elevator I had to knock on the door, which he opened as if I’d come as a mostly pleasant surprise at 2 A.M.—or a minor interruption to his work. He offered me a beer, or a glass of water, or nothing. Then he pounced, direct and disarming, kissed me roughly, removed my clothes and fucked me with the kind of attention and intensity that he brought to his work, a kind of attention that felt inspiring, even infectious. My participation was welcome, not really necessary. Afterward, to keep me from dozing off, I think, he would feed me something—cold pasta puttanesca from a Ball jar, or some take-out falafels wrapped in silver paper. He’d stand leaning against the loft bed in his kitchen and watch me eat. Then he’d walk me to the street and hail a cab. He’d try to press a five-dollar bill into my hand—not that this would cover the thirty or forty blocks to my apartment—and this insulted me. “Don’t be ridiculous,” I told him, waving the bill away, climbing into the taxi. I was a feminist. . . . Read More.

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