Thursday, April 29, 2010

In which I finally break up with Gomez, which I should have done a long, long time ago

After I met Primo in early November, I stopped calling or emailing Gomez. Yes, I know I should have broken up with Gomez immediately. It was poor form to leave him dangling, or, at the least, to be "involved" with two men at the same time, even if one of them was on another continent and the extent of our relationship after my return from Paris was a twice-weekly conversation in French from my cubicle while my co-workers pretended not to listen as I flipped through my French-English dictionary and then, exasperated, switched to English because really, who cares if they heard me talking to him about my division's soon to be disatrous (but not because of my efforts) SAP conversion?

He was the one saying all the "Oh mon amour I mees you I mees you" baloney. I wasn't saying that stuff because really, I was having some misgivings.

I was! I had lost my job, he wanted me to track down his born in New York ex-wife's birth certificate because he was worried she was Jewish, we completely disagreed on how children should be raised, and I had realized he had never had to work for a thing in his life.

I don't have a problem with inherited wealth (really, wouldn't it be nice if we all had inherited wealth and didn't have to work? how nice would that be?), but I also don't have a lot of respect - OK, any - for people who don't work.*

If you are lucky enough to have enough money that you don't have to work for it, then by golly, you better be doing something to make the world a better place. Yeah, you can party and gamble or whatever if you want - it's your money and your business what you do with it - but I don't want to be a part of it. I saw no evidence that his little hobby hotel was a legitimate business. Just a way to look like he was respectable.

So I stopped calling and emailing him.

And he stopped calling and emailing me.

This from a man who professed to loooooove me. I knew he was full of baloney. Who falls in love after just a few weeks?

So I finally had to break up with him. I was hoping he would go first. You know, a disgusted email saying, "Pah! You Americaine! I am done wiz you! I loaze you! You have no respect for me! I break wiz you, I break wiz you, I break wiz you!"

I know breaking up by email is tacky, but what was I supposed to do – fly to Morocco? Please. I had wasted all my frequent flier miles on the Paris trip. I sure wasn't going to waste any money on a millionaire who hadn't even bought me supper IN PARIS.

I didn’t want to call him, either, because my French wasn’t good enough to do it at work and remember, I was in a CUBICLE so couldn’t do anything in English. On the weekends, Primo was visiting me and I didn’t want to do it in front of him.

Primo told me he would give me the privacy to do it, but I really just didn’t want to talk to Gomez. I was chicken. And lazy.

So I sent him a very nice email in which I told him that the differences in our values (religion, money, how children should be raised) made a long-term relationship between us impossible, that I thought he was a great guy (except for the extreme anti-Semitism thing, which I thought made him an awful human being and was a total deal breaker) and that I wished him love and happiness. I had been coming to those conclusions anyhow. Marriages between Catholic girls and Muslim boys, even Muslim boys who claim to be non practicing, rarely work.

He tried to call me twice (on Skype, the free internet long-distance calling service, which was how we talked to each other, even though he was a millionaire with not one but two Jaguars looking at Bentleys and Lamborghinis and he cheated on his taxes and lived in a country where live-in help cost almost nothing so had even more money than an American millionaire has) and that was it. Finito. Over. So much for true love. (On his end. I never said such a thing to him. Ever.)

I broke up with him around Thanksgiving.

He never answered the email.

But he tried to call.

In February.

Using Skype.

Yeah. He cared.

* I work, OK? I cook, clean, cut the grass, do the laundry, do the shopping. I have worked in the corporate world. I have been a lifeguard, a Woolco clerk, a Macy's clerk, and a swimming teacher. Yeah, I am also a gold-digger living the life of Riley off my husband's sweat, but he has clean clothes, a clean bathroom, and three hot meals a day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In which Gomez and I clean his cousin's apartment

Lest you think the Paris trip was nothing but horrible, let me tell you about getting Gomez to do household chores.

He is very quick to warn me the first time he washes the dishes and sets the table that he does not do this at home. “I hire people to do zis for me. At home, I do not leeft a finger. Do not get a wrong picture of me,” he says.

He persists all week in telling me this until I finally ask, exasperated, exactly how he thinks this makes him any different from other men. Having maids who clean up after him keeps his house from being a pigsty. But not cleaning up after himself does not make him different from most men.*

After lunch the second day, I say I hope Salima has a vacuum cleaner because those crusty French baguettes are leaving crumbs on the carpet. A few minutes later, when I emerge from the bathroom, he is vacuuming. I am impressed. I praise him profusely, as this is the way to get men to continue to doing housework, even though it’s unfair that we women do this sort of stuff every day and never get a word of thanks, no we don’t, do we, but this is just the way life is, so we deal with it. [Yes, I am in my indignant feminist phase, if it's not obvious. Now I am in my living the life of Riley eating bon bons on the couch phase and it is much more pleasant.]

“If my mother could see me,” he sighs as he shakes his head.

We do a full cleaning of the apartment before we leave. Actually, by midweek, I have started doing some real cleaning just because I can't stand it. Yes, I know it is a grave insult to clean another woman’s house without her invitation. What you are really doing is saying, “You are a lousy housekeeper,” but really, such is the case. The apartment is a pigsty. Salima is a rich brat who is obviously accustomed to life with maids. She has apparently never heard of the concept of "cleaning the tub"** or "cleaning the shower curtain" or "cleaning out the shower drain" so I have shuddered and thought of England every time I have bathed.***

I do a thorough cleaning of the kitchen and the bathroom, using flavored vinegar for the mirrors, sinks and fixtures because I can't find proper cleaning supplies. The apartment smells like salad but looks great. When Gomez walks into the bathroom, he gasps and exclaims, “Eet sparkles!”

When Gomez loses his shoehorn (yes, this is a man who packs a shoehorn and shoe polish and three suits but no blue jeans for his trip to Paris), I find it under the bed. When I tell him that’s where it is – I refuse to reach under there for it because the dust is so thick – he looks and says, “That’s what eet gets like when someone doesn’t live in an apartment for a few months, n'est pas? I’ll vacuum eet later.”

I just nod and say, “Uh huh” even though I am thinking, “No, that’s what it gets like when someone doesn’t off her lazy butt and clean under the bed for a year.”

When we are doing the final cleaning – washing towels and sheets by hand -- Gomez gets out the vacuum cleaner again. That’s when I learn this is the first time in his life he has ever used a vacuum cleaner. His cousin Ayisha and I had talked about the dishes and other chores. “Oh, he’s totally spoiled,” she told me. But I didn’t realize he had never in his life held a vacuum cleaner in his hands.

Then he impresses me even further. He grabs a rag and starts to dust. And not half-hearted dusting, either. He dusts the piano,**** the TV, the coffee table – he is a man with a mission. He looks at the candle holder on the table and says with dismay, “I just cleaned this yesterday and now eet’s dirty again!” He is shocked, shocked at real life. It must be hard to face reality. At least he gets to return to The Bubble.

* I generalize, I know. Unfair. And Primo does clean up after himself. Primo is so superior to Gomez in every way.

** My cousin tells a hilarious story about her husband's relative, bless her heart, who grew up in a household with maids. The girl married and moved into an apartment. After about two months, the young woman was horrified to see something on the tub. She called the apartment manager to come repair it. It was dirt.

*** You all know about my bathing thing -- I will betray my country rather than stand in a filthy, mildewy, standing water tub, even though I have showered my way through the F and G hotels in South and Central America. Maybe that's why I have this aversion. After you have stayed in a pay by the hour hotel in Panama City, you either develop a lifetime immunity or you swear that with God as your witness you will never shower in a filthy tub again.

**** She has a piano but no Ajax. Honestly.

In which I tell you the embarrassing story of Gomez, Part 4 - It ends and not a moment too soon

I return to Springfield, ignoring the many, many red flags that were thrown into my face in Paris.

Gomez and I continue to talk. The red flags continue to fly.

"I am so sirsty," he sighs.

"So drink something."

"I cannot. Eet is Ramadan."

"I thought you weren't a practicing Muslim."

"Oh, eet is part of the culture. I must."

Right. Because Christians who aren't serious fast during Lent.

A week after I return from Paris, I lose my job. I am laid off in what is maybe the eighth round of layoffs my company has had in four years. I guess I should be happy that I lasted this long.

I tell Gomez I have lost my job.

"Oh you will find anozer one," he dismisses me.

"I don't know. I had a really hard time finding a job when I got out of the Peace Corps. I'm worried."

He is nonchalant. I have no need to worry! This job thing - pfft! For poor people! Why am I concerned? He changes the subject almost immediately.

I mention a co-worker whose teen son wants her to buy him a car.

"Why she does not buy him ze car?" he demands.

"Maybe she thinks he should work for it."

"But eef she can afford ze car, she should buy eet for him."

"Kids shouldn't get everything they want just because their parents can afford it," I retort.

"Why not?"

"Because kids should be taught that you don't get things without working."

He is unconvinced. But then, he has never had to work for a thing.

And yet. I put up with crap because he says things like this:

Mon amour, I miss you, I miss you terribly, I cannot tell you how much I miss you, it has been unbearable not to talk to you.

In French, of course. I am starting to understand why French used to be the language of diplomacy and why countries (=gullible Americaines) surrender to it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In which I tell you the embarrassing story of Gomez, Part 3 - We meet in Paris

Gomez has called me. Not on the real phone. Via skype. He won't email. Makes me nuts because I prefer to write. Plus he calls while I am at work and as I am no longer in an office but am in a cubicle because my spineless boss let another department have my team's offices, I have no privacy. The good part is that my French is improving, as I speak it rather than be overheard by my co-workers, who are sitting right next to me in cubicles, not offices.

"Meet me in Paris," he urges. "I can spend the week with you."

He does not offer to pay for my ticket. What's a thousand dollars? Pocket change! Who thinks once about a thousand dollars?

I should have insisted he buy my ticket. I do not ask that he do so. I am a Liberated Woman. I Pay My Own Way. I don't want to be a Bought Woman. Ha. I was an idiot. I was a many times idiot with Gomez.

I cash in frequent flier miles for my ticket. I go to The Gap to get clothes for his seven year old son. ("The Gap is so expensive here," he tells me.) $115 I spend.

My friends, the clerk at The Gap, the women at the Junior League Thrift Shop where I seek the perfect dress, are all thrilled at my adventure. It's like a fairy tale. I have visions of True Love, of Being Rescued and Living a Life of Luxury. A Life Where I Never Have to Clean the Bathroom Again.

I arrive in Paris. He does not meet me at the airport. I am bothered by this. I mean - Primo has always picked me up. OK, I don't know this yet, but instinctively, I know that The Man Picks The Woman Up.

Gomez's excuse is that he is flying into Orly and I am flying into de Gaulle, but so the heck what? Is he a gentleman or not?* Can't he take a cab from one airport to another?

We meet at a cafe near his cousin's apartment, which is where we will be staying. When he said, "apartment," I had envisioned a place with you know, bedrooms. And a cousin. As in, a place where it would be easy not to share a bed or bedroom with Gomez because I am positive that You Know What is not going to happen because I am not That Kind Of Girl.

But it turns out to be a studio. Empty. The cousin, Salima, is not there. She has been summoned home because it's high time she married and her parents don't mean maybe. In the meantime, she keeps the apartment for her occasional jaunts to Paris.

Rich kids.

Being as it has been a while for me, I do prove to Gomez that yes, les Americaines are indeed facile. I am indeed, That Kind Of Girl. Oh, the shame.

I show him the things from The Gap. "Here's the receipt," I say politely. That's American middle class code for, "You may give me my money now."

Apparently, to a rich, never has had to work for his money Moroccan, that means, "Here is an insignificant piece of paper."

He does not give me my $115 until halfway through the week and that's after I flat-out ask for it.

I want to walk around Paris, go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, to Versailles, to the markets. "I 'ave done all zat," he says. "Zat is boring."

He wants to go to his bank. To the Ferrari dealer. To The Gap.

Yes. To The Gap.

We go to the Paris Gap not once, but three times.

We are in Paris and we are going to The Gap?

This is not what I had in mind.

We eat in almost every night because Gomez doesn't like restaurants.

"I eat at restaurants all of zee time," he says. "Eet is boring."

The one time we do go out for supper, it is with friends of his who speak English but prefer French. My French is not good enough to keep up with them, so I spend the meal gagging over the cigarette smoke - the couple next to us goes through an entire pack of cigarettes while we are there and no I am not making this up - and being bored.

We eat lunch in. After lunch, at which he drinks an entire bottle of wine, Gomez changes into his Frette pajamas (a fancy brand I had never heard of before) and takes a three hour nap. He drinks another bottle of wine at supper.

You'll be glad to know that he recyles the empty bottles.

I get tired of doing nothing while he sleeps, so insist on going out by myself. I am late returning one afternoon and Gomez is in a tizzy. I am five minutes late. Five minutes. Not five hours.

"What eef I don't know what happens to you?" he asks.

"I've been to Paris several times and I speak French," I tell him. I am torn between being happy someone is worried about me and being annoyed that I am being treated like a child.

He tells me about going to college and grad school in Paris. His mother send him to college with a Mercedes and a servant.

We are from different worlds, indeed.

We have lunch with one of his cousins and his aunt one day. The aunt refuses to talk to me. Ayisha, the cousin, is fine. She and I chat the entire time while the aunt alternates between giving me the evil eye and ignoring me. This is our only lunch out. We eat Chinese food.

The high point of the trip is Gomez's anti-Semitism. He is divorced and has custody of his son. His ex is American. We spend an afternoon walking (Gomez doesn't spend money on taxis, but he will spend $1,200 on a new sportcoat, which is another shopping adventure we have) to a Lebanese church so he can ask them about their records and his ex-wife's surname and is it really Lebanese Christian or - oh no - Jewish.

"Why does it matter?" I ask.

He gives me some BS answer that makes no sense to me - something about how he himself is not anti-Semitic but he is sure she lied to him about being Christian instead of Jewish and he's not anti-Semitic really - the ambassador from Israel lives down the street from him and is his friend.

When I return to Springfield, he asks me to get a copy of his ex's birth certificate. I refuse and tell him I want nothing to do with this little project of his.

He wears a suit and tie every day. I have jeans.

He smokes. In the apartment. Even though I ask him repeatedly not to.

He lectures me about US foreign policy.

He asks me to iron his shirts.

I put up with all of this.

Idiot, idiot, idiot.

* No, he is not.

In which I tell you the embarrassing story of Gomez, the Moroccan millionaire, Part 2

I left you with my stupid, low self-esteem decision to see Gomez again, despite his attempt to manhandle me. Norah thought I was nuts, but Norah was already married to a wonderful man and had a cute little baby. Gomez was all, "Oh you are soooo wonderful and sexy and you would be the perfect wife" and he was saying it in French and I?

Was an idiot. I mean, what kind of man talks about marriage on the first date?

A man who is trying to get laid.

But he was trying to get laid in French. It sounded great.

So I agreed to see him again. We would meet at his hotel,* where we planned to eat in the hotel restaurant.

Henry laughed. "The guy owns the place! Like he's going to care that his employees are around? If he tries anything funny, they'll just avert their eyes."

Well, probably, but at least I would have an easier escape, as the hotel was only three blocks from Henry and Norah's apartment.

We sat in his restaurant. I ate. He didn't. He smoked. Don't they all? We spoke French. Why French, the language of the Colonial Oppressors of Morocco? Because that's what most educated Moroccans speak (in addition to Arabic and maybe Berber). Gomez also spoke English. Of course. But his French was flawless, as befits a man who got his PhD in economics in Paris.

He behaved. I knew he could. When he was behaving, he was super charming. Rich, (reasonably) good looking,** PhD.

He asked if he could take me to the airport the next day. Asked me in French.

"I'll have to check with Norah," I told him. "She's already planned to take me."

Norah was thrilled at the idea. "I have a meeting," she said. "I'd rather not miss it."

Again, I met Gomez at the hotel. Yes. I was a fool. A man who will not bother to pick you up? Wait. Maybe he did pick me up. I had luggage. Whatever.

Anyhow, we ended up back at the hotel for something. He told me he wanted to show me the roof view. What he really wanted to do was neck. I was OK with that because there was something so recklessly glamorous about the whole thing: handsome foreigner throwing himself at me.

Or, you could look at it this way: Foreigner thinking, "American women. All alike. Easy."

Then he wanted to "show me one of the rooms." Where I had to fight him off again.

I know. I know.

But it was somehow very exciting.

He waited with me at the airport, bought me a coke. He said he would call me and I thought, yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever.

I flew home to Springfield and couldn't sleep from all the drama, so I went to Walgreen's in the middle of the night, bought some Natural Instincts Cinaberry and dyed my hair red.

* You are asking, "How does one own a hotel that apparently makes no money?" Well, one is born the child of wealthy, third-world parents in a country where those parents have strong connections to the royal family. Gomez' father died before he was born, so Gomez inherited that money, which consisted of factories. And stuff. Then his mother, who was wealthy in her own right, remarried and I think gave Gomez money as well.

** Not as handsome as Primo, for sure.

In which I tell you the embarrassing story of Gomez, the Moroccan millionaire, Part 1

I realized I had not told you the whole, mortifying story of how I came to even date the Moroccan millionaire. I have been too embarrassed, but hey - I'm a stranger to most of you and the rest of you have seen me in my underwear when we shared a bathroom in college. How much worse can it get?

I was in Morocco visiting Henry and Norah, my Peace Corps friends who met at the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Group that Norah, Leigh and I started in Springfield specifically as a way to meet men. It worked for Norah - she met Henry at an RPCV party. They decided they wanted to work abroad and ended up in Morocco, where Norah was the business manager for the Peace Corps there.

I had broken up with J.T., my boyfriend of several years. Once again, I was convinced of my imminent spinsterhood,* a long life of cats and Saturday nights doing nothing but listening to Prairie Home Companion.**

Henry and Norah had mentioned this guy, Gomez, a few times. "He's sophisticated and educated and rich," they told me. "He owns the hotel where we stayed for our first month here."

Henry mused, "We can't figure out how that place makes money. We were almost always the only ones there for breakfast."***

"We should introduce you," they said.

They did. We went to the hotel he owned one morning to meet the driver who was going to take us to Fez or someplace. Gomez was in the lobby. He made his way to us almost immediately. I had wet hair and no makeup, but I was dressed in that typical American slut way with a skirt that covered only my knees and 3/4 length sleeves. I was obviously asking for it.

We chatted. Then Henry and I left.

An hour into the ride, the driver's phone rang. The driver handed the phone to Henry, who spoke for a few seconds and then handed the phone to me. It was Gomez. Would I like to have supper that evening?

I liked that. No messing around, no worries. He asked me out. I didn't have to wonder if it was a date or not or what was going on. He wanted to have supper with me.

I met him at the hotel and much to my surprise, he took me to his house. In his Jaguar. Which was pretty nice. I am a Toyota girl myself, so I was impressed with a nice car.


Oh yes. Despite my intellectual snobness, I am as attracted by glitter as much as the next girl. Or maybe more.

Why not a restaurant? I asked.

Oh, I have a chef at home and it's so much nicer! I have to eat out all the time for my job and I get so tired of it. Seemed somewhat reasonable, but I should have insisted on a restaurant.

He had a gorgeous house that he (said he) had designed himself. The kitchen, however, was in the basement and horrible. I guess if you don't do the cooking yourself, you don't care what the kitchen is like.

He insisted on giving me a full tour, including his bedroom, which made me a bit uncomfortable. Honestly, if I had been a bull, by now the matador would have been dead. But me, I forged ahead, saying to myself, "Red flag? What red flag?" And I rationalized that it couldn't be that bad because his nine year old son was at home and had a friend there for a sleepover. What kind of funny stuff could someone do with a couple of little kids in the house?

We ate. Well, I ate. He had some salad. That's it. But he drank.

Then we sat by the pool and had more wine. We=he had more wine. Then he moved over next to me and asked me to kiss him. Nope, I said. I don't know you well enough.

Oh please please please. You are so beautiful! So intelligent! When I saw you this morning, I thought I had to have you.

I know you are all rolling your eyes and gagging at this, but here is the part that you don't know:

He was saying it all in French.

You have not been seduced until you have been seduced in French.

OK fine. One kiss.

You know that saying give a man a kiss he'll grab a boob?

All's I can say is it's a good thing I worked out with weights three times a week because I had to fight him off. I mean, really really fight him off. I was angry. Threatened to tell his mother. Told him to take me home.

You'd think that would be the end of it, wouldn't you?

But no I was even more dumb.

He started kissing me again when we were at the car. If you haven't been kissed for several months, it can feel really nice. Then he wanted me to take care of him, if you know what I mean. I told him he could go without and honestly, just take me home, but he put my hands where he wanted them to be. By now, I just wanted it to be over with and get away, so I - um - helped.

Yes. I am mortified. Mortified.

He dropped me off, asking if he could see me again.

No way, I answered. See? I finally got some sense.

Please! You are so wonderful blah blah blah.

To my everlasting shame, I agreed, but set the condition that we would have to be in a public place the entire time. I was an eediot. ****

Norah asked how it went. I told her everything. "I would never go out with him again," she shrugged.

She was right. I shouldn't have.

I'll tell you more tomorrow.

* I was 42 and never married. People would ask, "Why haven't you ever married?" and I never knew how to answer. All I heard was, "What's wrong with you that nobody has wanted to marry you?" I would say defensively that I had been proposed to. Now I realize - I hope - that what they were really saying was, "How is it that someone as fabulous as you are has not been snatched up?"

** This was before Garrison Keillor got so nasty and political on the show.

*** We figured out later that it probably didn't make money. Gomez had converted his mother's childhood home (a six-storey mansion) into a boutique hotel. I suspect it was his hobby and not a profitable business. He was really just a trust fund brat in another language.

**** Although really, is any experience like this ever a waste for a writer?

***** Please don't lose all respect for me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In which Sly and Doris are in complete denial about their ability to stay in the house

Me: Did you talk to your mom and dad about moving into assisted living?

Primo: They didn't want to talk about it. They don't want to face that they can't stay in the house much longer. They get takeout instead of cooking. My dad can hardly walk.

Me: What is their plan?

Primo: They know they have to be ready to look by next year when Stephanie and the kids move [away from the state].

Me: Not just ready to look but ready to move.

Primo: Yes. But I might have to help them do the research.

Me: How hard is it to do the research? You identify the assisted living places near you. You call and ask for information. You visit. You decide on the criteria that are important to you and evaluate each place on that criteria. Then you make a decision.

Primo: You're right.

Me: I hope they understand that having you do all of this is not an option.

In which Sly and Doris get rid of their wheeled trash cans because the garbagemen always leave them open

One of the big deals for Sly and Doris is taking the trash out every Sunday night for Monday collection. They accumulate it in the garage in trash bags, then load it into a trash can that has to be dragged out to the curb. Sly has a hard time dragging the trash can and the recycling box, so Michael goes over to help. I asked Primo why they didn't just use a trash can with wheels.

Primo: I asked my dad why he didn't use a wheeled trash can.

Me: And?

Primo: Because the trash guys used to tear the top off and leave the can halfway down the street.

Me: They tore the lid off? Off its hinges?

Primo: No. Like our trash cans. They'd leave the top off.

Me: You mean they'd open it and leave it flipped back?

Primo: Yes.

Me: Well so what? All you have to do is flip it back.

Primo [deep sigh]: They always have a reason.

Me: So would the trash guys really leave them halfway down the street?

Primo: The one this morning was about ten feet from the curb.

Me: Hardly halfway.

Primo: Yeah.

Me: So what happened to the wheeled cans? Were they stolen?

Primo: No, they just stopped using them.

Me: To use ones without wheels instead?

Primo: Yes.

Me: Oh good grief. How does that make things better?

Primo: And my dad is a total micromanager, so when Michael comes over to help with it, he has to run things.

Me: Because Michael can't put out the trash without instruction?

Primo: My dad wants everything loaded a certain way.

Me: You have got to be kidding me.

Primo: He wants the kitchen trash on the bottom.

Me: It's driving me crazy to hear this from you. I can't imagine how insane it made you to hear this firsthand.

Primo: [sounds of forehead hitting the wall]

In which Primo screams like a little girl because he sees some mud daubers in my basement but takes a step toward smarter foreign policy

Primo is an engineer. A singer. An arranger of knives. He can fix almost anything wrong with the computer or the car. He repaired my washer and dryer. He replaced my car battery at midnight. He knows how to use every single one of his nine remotes.* He can cook with fire - his steaks are perfect every time. He is smoking hot sexy.

And he is scared of bees.

Not just, "Oh there is a bee how annoying" but scream like a little girl when he sees anything resembling a bee, like any flying bug.

I suppose I shouldn't be too harsh on him because I am scared of - well, not bees. Not snakes. Not rats. Although I would rather avoid those things than not. But I don't scream. Even though I am the one who had 14 rabies shots in her stomach when she was five after being bitten by the mouse in the window well that my mother had told me to leave alone. You'd think after that that the very sight of a rodent would paralyze me, but I just get grossed out.

In fairness, I do have to disclose that Primo is the one who took care of the dead rat in my basement in Springfield. It had already started to putrify and it was covered with maggots. But I didn't scream when I saw it. I just said, "Ick." My stomach turned, and I asked Primo to get rid of it. But if he hadn't been there, I would have done it myself.

Back to the bees and bee-like insects, such as wasps. And mud daubers.

When I lived in Springfield, I had mud daubers in my basement in the summer. Mud daubers are brown flying bugs that look like big, slow wasps. They are brown. They are not yellow and black. They do not sting. They live in the basement because it's cool and dark in there. My mud daubers and I had an agreement: they stayed away from me and I stayed away from them. I would descend the stairs to the basement holding a laundry basket and the mud daubers would buzz, but would never get closer than two feet to me. Me, I believe in peaceful co-existence with all of God’s creatures, so I just ignored them. I left them alone, they left me alone. We had a MAD policy. It worked for us.

One day, while I was in the front of the house, I heard the door to the basement open and Primo descend the stairs. He went there to turn off the water in preparation for replacing some – stuff – in my shower. I’m sure there’s a technical word for it but I don’t know it. It was the thingy to make my shower stop leaking. I was very grateful to him

Then I heard a horrible scream.

A scream of the, "I have fallen and broken my leg and the bone is protruding from my flesh" magnitude.

I ran. Panicked. My heart was racing, adrenalin high. My True Love was in pain. I had to get there.

I ran halfway down the stairs to where Primo was - standing.

Standing. Swatting his arms around his head.

"What? What's wrong?" I panted.

"Wasps!" he gasped.

Wasps? I didn't have wasps in my house. I had gotten rid of the wasps' nest that used to be outside the house the year before.

"What are you talking about? There are no wasps here."

He pointed. At a few slow, brown, lazy mud daubers that hovered far from his face.

"Oh those. Those are the buzzy things," I said dismissively. "They're harmless."

"No! They're wasps!"

I sighed. "I have been in this house for five years. They have never bothered me. They are not wasps. Look at them."

But Primo, the liberal “we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq,” was ready to go to war. Go figure. But it's good to know that if he is personally threatened, he'll take action.

The action took the form of killing two of the buzzy things so he could identify them. At first, he thought they were regular wasps. Then he thought they were wood-boring wasps, which led to the obvious joke that they corner you at a party and talk your ear off about wood. Then he decided they were spider eating wasps. Then he thought they might be mud daubers. None of the latter are human-stinging wasps.

But that didn't stop him from going to the hardware store for major, not environmentally friendly chemicals to destroy them. Primo. The "oh we must be at one with the world kum bay yaher" turns warrior.

* For four electronic components: TV, DVD player, stereo, VCR. Me, I just touch the actual machine because I am not interested in learning all the permutations on the damn remote. If it's not intuitive design, I'm not interested. I want to be entertained and I don't want to have to work for it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

In which Primo Remembers and I do not

Primo is the Rememberer in our relationship. A few months after we started dating, he would say, “It’s been three months since This Event or That Event.”

“Really?” I would muse as I tried to hide the fact that I couldn’t even remember the event in question. “That long, huh?”

Then came the Six Month Anniversary of Our First Kiss. He Remembered me about it. Yes, Primo is a guy. And he remembers these things. And I do not. Holy smoke. We had a first kiss? Yes, I suppose we did. Every couple does. I mean, Yes! We did! And it was fabulous! Well, actually, it was. Primo is a wonderful kisser. He’s an engineer and anyone who has ever seen “Revenge of the Nerds” knows the truth about engineers.

That’s why he remembers everything, too. That engineer brain tracks everything with computer-like precision. I don’t stand a chance. I’m a language person. I’m all about subtext and relationships (well, in books, anyhow – I don’t do so well with the people kind). Math? Pffft. I gave all that up after calculus and differential equations. The liberal arts is where it’s at. I’ve never even balanced my checkbook. Who needs that stuff?

I’m not big on ritual and formality, either. The only reason I went to my high school graduation is because my parents made me. I didn’t go to my graduate school graduation because why bother? I was going to Europe for the summer and graduation wasn’t until ten days after finals were over and I wasn’t going to stick around for it. I’ve never cared if a boyfriend makes a big deal about Valentine’s Day, especially when BF is wonderful throughout the rest of the year, which he usually is, although I am kind of a stickler for my birthday but that’s because of my college boyfriend birthday trauma, and anniversaries are meh – so what? Especially anniversaries of the three- and six-month variety.

But I am very impressed that Primo remembers this stuff and I am trying to get better about remembering so I can keep up. I am very competitive, you know, even though I am a liberal arts person. I did remember the one-year anniversary of our meeting, mostly because it fell very conveniently on Veterans’ Day (or somewhere around there – that’s the beauty of having a blog – you can look this stuff up – we met at our college reunion, so it’s documented), so I sent him an email about it. Then the subsequent one-year anniversaries came right after that, right around Thanksgiving, so I was able to get pretty close – first date, first kiss (which was at the wine shop -- see, I remember), etc.

But then he tested me and proved he’s still better than I am. He gave me one of my Christmas presents when he was here this weekend – a Christmas ornament.

“Do you remember where I got this?” he asked.

“Nooooooo,” I said. I didn’t know there was going to be a pop quiz.

“We saw it, you liked it and I made you go somewhere else so I could buy it as a surprise,” he said.

“Oh! When we were in England?” I asked hopefully.


“At the arts fair in Fairview?”

He shook his head. “No.”

I looked up and to the right, hoping to find the answer on my ceiling. “At the farmers’ market in Florida?”


“Ummmm… At Ilene’s wedding?”


My shoulders slumped. “I give up.”

“At the Pink Palace fair. Remember you waited for me where they were making sorghum? Didn’t you wonder what I was doing for so long?”

“Well, no. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

He rolled his eyes and shook his head. It’s amazing he hasn’t broken up with me yet. It's a good thing I can cook is all I can say.