On a late spring evening in 1968, I can remember my Father telling me we were going to Gunther’s apartment. I had been away at college (both physically and mentally) and was home for a holiday, and I was very unaware of all the intriguing machinations that were occurring in my absence.
It was the first time I had been to Gunther’s new, luxurious, modern apartment, but I remember the needlepoint rug that ran throughout the apartment. It was the only thing that seemed to provide warmth and comfort to an otherwise austere and cold environment.
When we walked into the apartment, I immediately noticed Gunther in total despair. He had obviously been crying and I remember wondering where Jack his son was. Gunther was all alone, and had reached out to my Father as a source of comfort. Where were his personal friends and family?
It was at this moment (without my realizing it) that the house of cards began to slowly unravel. These two Master’s of the Universe, who had intermingled each other’s lives and needs, had taken a wrong turn, and no one at this time knew where it would come out.
You see while I was away enjoying the pursuit of life and college, Gunther had decided to fall in love with a twenty-five year old Austrian beauty, who was a model, named Christine. Gunther’s son Jack had dated Christine at one point, and had introduced his father to her. What could be better than a father stealing his own son’s girlfriend?
Now, as I understand it, through the years both of these paradigms of virtuosity had had numerous liaisons, affairs, trysts, etc., lasting no more than some weeks or months. These two could have kept up with any Frenchmen in the area. But for Gunther, in his late fifties (a man older and wiser than my father), late mid-age was a time for rebirth and renewal. It was a time for fast cars, new apartments and a new love.
Why he had to fall in love, I never knew. Why couldn’t he have just taken Christine out in his newest Ferrari and gotten a ticket going a hundred and fifty -four miles an hour. That surely would have proven his vigor and strength.
Why couldn’t he, like my father, simply buy her an apartment, keep her on a round the clock cycle for evening, midweek affairs, and have some nice dinners?
No, Gunther this time decided he was in it for love, and he wanted the world to know it. Boy, it’s amazing how much can happen when you are having fun away at college.
On that fanciful night, Gunther had really done it. He had, the week before, announced to his wife of forty years that he was leaving her for Christine. She had, within a few days, sunken into a total despair and by the end of the week had killed herself. Her life was a social landscape filled with parties, philanthropy and good will. Without her husband’s power she must have felt lost and so empty. It all happened so quickly and so… dreadfully.
Near the end of our condolence visit, Christine entered the apartment looking ravishing. She caresses Gunther, and we take that as our cue to leave.
Within the next months Gunther married his long legged beauty, and life continued for a short while in an attempt to regain some normalcy. It was almost as if his wife had never existed, but she did and she was wonderful, and they had a son. And that is where the story continues.