Saturday, November 13, 2010

In which Sly and Doris deign to go to Stephanie's house for Christmas

Primo: My parents have let themselves be talked into having Christmas at Stephanie's.

Me: What do you mean, "talked into?"

Primo: They're going to Stephanie's for Christmas.

Me: They didn't want to spend Christmas day with their grandchildren?

Primo: I guess not.

Me: So they think they are doing Stephanie a favor* by going to her house for Christmas?

Primo: Apparently. They think they are doing the kids a favor.

Me: Because the kids really want to be with them?**

Primo: Oh yeah.

* After years of whining about having to host Christmas at their house and not wanting to do it because it's too much trouble, which it can be, as we who have hosted a dinner party at our house know. But they don't want to go to Stephanie's, either, because that is also a huge huge hassle. You know. To drive 15 minutes to someone else's house for a meal. Oh the humanity.

** The kids' dad, Jack, told Sly and Doris that the kids don't like spending time with them because they are so critical. [See: Sly criticizes Maria for saying "exTRACT" instead of "EXtract," even though 1. she did say "EXtract" and 2. everyone would have understood her even if she had said "exTRACT" because who makes pizelles with lemon exTRACT?]

This was after Sly and Doris asked Jack why the kids seem so reluctant to come over to the house and why they don't want to accept Sly and Doris' frequent corrections on their choices of grammar, clothes, grammar, jobs, grammar, college applications, grammar, food.

Jack had just had dental surgery and was not in compos mentis when he blurted out the truth. Sly and Doris were livid and sent several emails to Jack telling him he was wrong. They also involved everyone else in the family, because that is their way. They still have not gotten the real answer about the kids. As in, it can't possibly be that the kids don't like being around them. It has to be something else. Has to.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In which I find out three years later that Ted was an even bigger jerk than I thought

You didn't think the Ted story was over, did you? Oh no! There is more.

Fast forward to a few years later. Two or three. I can't remember. I am organizing yet another alumni party. I do this once a year. The alumni office sends the invitations; I collect the RSVPs. Yes, I know that "RSVP" isn't really a word, but you guys know what I mean.

As I cannot exactly tell the alumni office not to invite Ted, he gets an invitation.

And he emails his response to me.

His email address has changed from to

What is the next logical step? What would any normal scorned woman do?

This scorned woman goes to, which turns out to be - as one might expect - the website for Ted's marriage to Sue.

Who's Sue?

Oh just a woman he mentioned to me many times.

Whom he saw frequently when he made eight-hour drives to attend church events. Where Sue just happened to be.

Who was "just a friend."

Which should have made me suspicious because Ted and I were "just friends" and as we saw, Ted had a rather elastic definition of "friend."

In the section about how they met and became engaged blah blah blah was the fascinating news that they had met in 1998 and started dating in the fall of 2000.

Which is the same time when he and I were "just friends."

You can do the math.

Yes yes yes yes.

He was dating Sue at the same time he was telling me we were NOT DATING but maybe in the future he and I could have a relationship, that there was "potential."

A bullet dodged, I think.

In which Ted calls me eight months after ditching me

It’s a Friday in August. I come home from work, humming a John Denver song (to myself -- I don’t want to be ticketed by the hip police), looking forward to my "run" in the morning and my afternoon with Mary and her daughter and two days of sleeping late and sitting on my front porch with a good book.

My answering machine light is blinking. I listen as I put away the dishes in the drying rack. The recording is bad - cheap answering machine - and I have a hard time making out the words. It is the voice I recognize first.

It’s Ted. After nine months.

He says, “Hi, it’s Ted. This is probably unexpected for you. [You think?] It’s unexpected for me as well. Anyway, I noticed the bank putting up a ‘for sale’ sign at 123 Main Street. I know you have been looking for a house in this area. You could probably get a good deal if the bank is selling it. Hope you’re doing well.”

I press ‘play’ over and over. I can’t believe what I am hearing. What is going on? Why is he calling?

At work, I interrogate my male friends about the meaning of the call. Leigh thinks maybe it is just what it appears to be -- a call about a house.

My men friends, however, scoff. “He doesn’t care what kind of house you get or if you get a good deal,” Jerry says. “He wants to see you again.”

Don echoes the sentiment. “That’s so lame,” he says. “He wants to see you again. Tell him to go to hell.”

Lenore says to send him an email that I have already bought a house. Jerry disagrees, saying that I need to leave a phone message so Ted can hear the tone of my voice and know that I am receptive.

Three days later, I leave him a message at him. “Thanks for your call about the house, but I bought a house in May. It’s at 1644 Oak. Come by for the grand tour sometime,” I say.

Days go by and I hear nothing. Whatever, I think, to the world, but inside I am disappointed. [Despite all the evidence to his jerkiness - how pathetic is that?]

In the mean time, I run by the house he told me about. It is right across the street from his grandmother’s house, a few blocks from mine.

Six days later -- Saturday -- at 7:00 in the evening, he calls. “Sorry it took me so long to call back,” he says. “I didn’t get your message until late last night when I went by my mom and dad’s. I’ve moved into my grandmother’s house.”

Even though I know full where the house is, I play dumb. “Where is it?” I ask.

“Right across from the house I told you about,” he tells me.

My heart flutters. He wants me to buy the house by where he is living! But I am cool, calm.

We chat, although I am chatting on eggshells. I keep waiting for him to say something about how he was such an idiot and such a jerk and can I forgive him and will I give him a second chance. [Not that I should!]

But he doesn’t. We talk for two hours about random stuff. Thinking of things to talk about has never been an issue for us.

Finally, he says he has to go. “Let me give you the phone number here so you can reach me,” he offers.

I am silent for a few seconds. Finally, I say, “If you want to talk to me, you can call me.”

“I thought that’s what I just did,” he says.

“Last January, you made it pretty clear that you never wanted to speak to me again,” I say.

“I never said I didn’t want to speak to you again,” he answers.

“Whatever,” I say. “I would love to talk to you. I would love to see you. I think it would be really good for us to talk. But I am not going to call you. If you want to talk to me, you will have to call me.”

See how I finally got some sense? Will you lose more respect for me if I tell you that I was still disappointed that he didn't call again?

In which Ted and I sleep together and it ends in disaster

The only way I can write this post (heck, this blog) is that I am positive my mother does not read this blog. There are things I just don't want her to know and that I think she would rather not know. I have never told her about this blog (both because of my own interest in maintaining some dignity with her and because the deal with Primo was that if I wrote the truth about his mom and dad, I couldn't let anyone he was related to read this) and considering it is mostly strangers who read these stories, I can't imagine anyone else would have, either.

This is the kind of stuff you tell the person sitting next to you on the plane, not mortifying stories you share with people you will see again. That said, I open a book as soon as I sit down on a plane because I usually get the people with boring tales. No! I don't want to listen to you talk about your hobby of making decorative items with a crochet hook and the cardboard innards from the toilet paper roll! I am not that nice! If you are dull, leave me alone!

Back to Ted. And the Big Ending. Well, the penultimate Big Ending.

Despite the "just friends" pronouncement, a few weeks later, Ted came to my house for supper. I had been out of town for a week and I had returned to this message from him: "Welcome back. I hope you had a great time. I look forward to hearing all about it." He lowered his voice and said, "I was going to leave a lewd message, but didn't want your coworkers to overhear."

I called and asked if he wanted to come over to cook dinner the next night. I warned him that this was to be a platonic evening -- he had been pushing his own boundaries and I was tired of being the police. After all, he was the one who wanted this stupid "just friends" thing, not me.

We flirted on the phone. I told him I needed to go, that I was meeting somebody at the wine bar. "Be careful not to get too many irons in the fire," he told me. "You might get burned."

I told him I would be happy just to see a fire.

"There are some fires you can't see," he assured me. [Oh brother. I can't believe I bought this crap.]

The first thing he did when he arrived was kiss me. I was happy -- perhaps he had finally overcome the "friends" thing and was ready to admit there was more between us than platonic feelings. We made ravioli and drank wine and talked and laughed. When we were not rolling out the pasta dough or boiling the ravioli, we kissed.

I was not sure where the boundaries were. He kissed me first. As he was rolling out pasta dough, I kissed the back of his neck. I got no response and complained about it.

"That's because you're playing nice," he commented.

OK. I decided to play not so nice. The next time I kissed him, I got the response I wanted. He started it. He gave me permission. That's how I look at it.

I lit candles. He looked at me and said, "You are beautiful by candlelight."

He paused, then continued. "Of course, why would you be any different by candlelight? You are beautiful all the time."

But we were NOT DATING.

I was ecstatic. I sensed a shift in attitude here -- a willingness to acknowledge the attraction that has been drawing us together. I was also stupid. Why should I trust a come here come here come here! go away go away go away! man?

We ate supper.

We walked into my bedroom.

I told him I didn't want to sleep with him and never hear from him again.

He told me not to worry, we weren't going to sleep together.

Well it takes a stronger person than I to be half naked and necking with a guy not to go all the way. Especially when I wanted that anyhow.

He maintained nothing was going to happen, but he was certainly willing to play around and to remove key parts of his clothing.

So we did it.

He said some really romantic things that I cannot bring myself to repeat here, but if I ever write a memoir, I will print because then it will be for money.

And he left, saying he couldn't stay the night because he didn't have anyplace to put his contacts.

I waited for the post-coital phone call of, "Last night was great when can I see you again?" but it never arrived.

I steeled myself not to call him. Let him call me.

Two weeks passed without a phone call. TWO WEEKS.

I broke down and called him. Left a message. The next day, I got home from work to find a message from him.

The essence of it was that I had lured him to my house under false premises and with bad intent and that without trust, there can be no relationship.

[This might be a good time to point out that the reason he left the seminary on the other side of the state was because he was kicked out for having an affair. Yes, he was still married at the time. No, he did not tell me about this. How did I find out? A friend who had known his parents for years told me. "He leaves women in far worse condition than he found them. Nothing is ever his fault." Where was the trust with this, huh?]

I was stunned. The blood drained from my face. He was accusing me of having my way with him without his consent. Sure, there were silk scarves involved that night, but seriously? THIS?

I called him and left four long messages protesting my innocence and asking him to call. I explained that I had not planned for us to sleep together but that I wasn't sorry it had happened and that I had never wanted the stupid just friends thing anyhow.

He didn't call back. I wrote him a great letter telling him I really didn’t think he thought I was dishonest and that the real issue here was the intimacy and that it scared him.

Oh yes. Way too many self-help books. Not enough "Learn to recognize manipulation" and "Don't let yourself be an idiot" books.

I said that we connected on all levels -- emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical -- and that that evening was the best time I had had in ten years. I asked why he wouldn't want that all the time.

On the back of the envelope, I wrote indignantly "If I were guilty of premeditation, don't you think I would have had on fancier underwear?"

He never responded and I was left reeling.

All I could think was, "If we hadn't slept together, I would still get to talk to him. It is my fault!"