Some of the flags were of my own creation, which makes it even worse. Am I the person he accused me of being? A strumpet who seduces men against their will? The blood is draining from my face as I even think about it.
And then there is the fact that Ted is someone Primo knows from college. Primo did not know the Ted story. It's been five years that Primo and I have known each other and I've been too embarrassed to tell him about Ted. What would he think of me? But worse than not telling Primo would be for him to read the Ted story here, so I spilled my guts a few weeks ago. Actually, right before we went to our 25 year college reunion. The last thing I wanted was to run into Ted there and end up at the same table at supper with him and his wife and Primo.
To his credit, after hearing the story, Primo said that he had no idea Ted was such a jerk and we should avoid him at the reunion, hey?
I love Primo. He is the best.
Back to Ted. I had moved to Springfield and was plotting ways to meet men. Alumni associations are good for that, right? Common biography, instant bond.
I organized an event. Ted showed up. Whoa! Instant, oozing hotness!
You'd think by that point - post grad-school jerk, post former Marine who had jumped out of helicopters behind enemy lines but couldn't be bothered to tell me he didn't want to see me any more after I made the dumb mistake of sleeping with him AND HE WASN'T EVEN ANY GOOD IN BED and yes, his purple bikini underwear LOOKED DUMB - I would have been very suspicious of instant chemistry and of charm. But I wasn't.
Part of the reason I wasn't suspicious was because he was a hospital chaplain in his last year of divinity school. If you can't trust a clergyman, who can you trust?
I know. That's rhetorical. Please don't answer that.
Ted and I talked and talked and talked. He was so smart. So smooth. We were the last ones to leave the event.
He called me at work the next day. We talked forever. He was on his cell, but stopped at Wal-Mart to use the pay phone there so he wouldn't use all his minutes. He called the next day. He emailed. We spoke ALL THE TIME.
Yet he wouldn't ask me out.
Yes, I know that is a huge red flag, but I believed him when he said he was still getting over his divorce and was trying to take things slow.
I was still convinced he really liked me, though. He revealed deep secrets: that he had a child with a woman he had met when he was working on a kibbutz after college but he had never seen the kid because he (the son) lived in Italy. Ted claimed that the mother had just wanted to trap him into marriage and a move to the U.S.
What a bitch! I thought.
This is where you may figuratively slap me because I took Ted's side instead of the mother's.
Yeah. Horrible woman. Gets pregnant from a guy she meets at a kibbutz and it's all her fault that he wants nothing to do with her and their baby.
Another red flag.
Then Mary Linda, one of my fairy godmothers, called me one day.
"I heard you've been seeing Ted," she said.
There were no secrets in Springfield. Plus she and Ted's parents went to the same church.
"I've known him and his family since he was a little boy. He is bad news," she told me. "Do you know about him?"
"Oh sure," I told her. "He's told me everything."
She paused. "Are you sure? Ever since he was a little kid, nothing has been his fault. He always finds a way to blame someone else."
I waved away her concerns. What did she know?
Turns out she knew plenty, as I found out a few months later, after he had accused me of forcing him into bed against his desires and then did not speak to me again for nine months, when he called me out of the blue to tell me that the house next to his grandmother's house, half a mile from my then-apartment, was for sale and hadn't I been looking for a house to buy?
By then I had been through nine months of therapy, so I knew he was full of crap. But I had to go through some drama to get to that point.
And I will tell you all about it.