I promised you that I would tell you about the older man who jumped out of helicopters or planes or whatever behind enemy lines during the Vietnam war* but wouldn't send me a darn email telling me he didn't want to see me any more. What is it with some men and breaking up? Get some backbone.
I was working and traveling for my job. I had gone to a trade show in California. On my flight back to Springfield, I was in line behind two men. Our flight was delayed and I made some inane comment that Plane Jumper thought was clever, so he started talking to me.
He oozed sexy. I wasn't too bad myself in my fitted suit and high heels. He was 21 years older than I,** but still sexy.
Yeah, I am bad about falling for that. Fortunately, Primo oozes sexy but is also respectable and responsible. What is it with me? Was I trying to make up for the tragedy of not being invited to any high school dances? Did I think being wanted by a Bad Boy made me more alluring to the entire world? Low self esteem that I would fall for crap that other women would dismiss without a second thought?
We bantered and flirted and I went into the bathroom and saw that my face was flushed. It was a coup de foudre.
He emailed. He called me from Japan and Germany and New Zealand. We would talk for an hour or two. He wrote me letters by hand. I got a 12-page letter telling me how desirable I was that he wrote when he was in Belgium. It is still stuck somewhere in my files.
No, he was not married. He was divorced, had raised his five children by himself. In his first marriage, he told me, he fell victim to "only white woman in the jungle" syndrome. That is, he was working in Guatemala and she was the only other American. When you are traveling or living abroad, being American is a lot to have in common. The two of you united against a foreign culture. But when you return to the US, that's not enough. There has to be more than a common nationality. Hence, the divorce.
A month after meeting, we both attended a trade show in Florida. He had late meetings with investors, but rode with me to the airport. We necked in the taxi, which seems so tawdry in retrospect, but it happens in New York all the time if the novels I read are to be believed. I felt very sophisticated then. Now - ick.
We got to the airport. We kept necking. May I say in my defense that we found an emtpy, unlit gate area. But yes. Tacky, tacky, tacky. May I also say in my defense that I hadn't been kissed for a year or two.
He kept calling and emailing. I could talk to him at work because at that time, I had an office. It was before my spineless boss let another department take our group's offices and banish us to cubicles in the converted warehouses 13 miles away. Oh yes I expensed my diet Coke every time I had to go to an offsite meeting. Make me work where people got carjacked on a regular basis and then you want me to pay 75 cents for a coke when I could just pull one out from under my desk where I stored the 12 pack?
The next month, there was another trade show, this time in Chicago. I am hearing wedding bells with this guy. I don't know why: he has given me no reason to think that he is thinking along those lines. I wait in my hotel room for him to call, skipping what would have been the politically smart dinner with colleagues.
Yes, I am self destructive.
Plane Jumper had said we would go out to eat, but then called and said he couldn't. He came over after and well. You know.
He wore purple bikini underwear, which I found shockingly inappropriate for a man his age.
The next night, he did take me out for supper and spent the entire time telling me about the tragedy of his childhood with an alcoholic mother, even though I was wearing this fabulous clingy dress that showed off my 20-pounds lighter body. I wanted to talk about me or at least be courted; he wanted to spill his sorrows.
Lord have mercy.
I thought I had a Marine and instead I had a 68er who was In Touch With His Feelings.
He did not call or email again.
I thought he was dead.
I called his place in Florida. Left messages. Finally got his roommate*** who said that of course Plane Guy was fine.
I realized what had happened and left him a scathing message that he could at least have bothered to tell me to go to hell.
To reinforce my lesson that this was a Bad Choice, I lost $5,000 when I invested in his company, which turned out to be a massive flop. Who knew that selling produce over the internet wouldn't work? He was a VP who had years in the industry and I had inside information. I think about that loss, which was the money my mother gave me after my dad died, saying that she thought my dad would have liked us kids to each have a small inheritance, every time a get rich quick scheme looks attractive. Nobody gets something for nothing.
* At least he didn't burn his draft card, which is what another Bad Choice did and then told me about proudly. Yes, I have dated many older men. Yes, I am now married to a man younger than I am. Yes, when Bad Choice Draft Card Burner told me what he had done, I asked, "I am the daughter of a career military officer who spent a year in Vietnam. Do you really think I am supposed to think what you did was OK?" We broke up shortly after. I never should have gotten involved with him in the first place, but not because of the draft card.
** And a year older than my mother.
*** Who lives with a roommate at that age?