Thursday, December 30, 2010

In which I have my first kiss and discover love is fleeting

My dad was in the air force, so we moved a lot. Both my mom and dad are from a small town in Wisconsin (they met at the bar at the bowling alley, which is not as sordid as it sounds as this is a very very small town where everyone knew who everyone was, even if they didn't know each other personally). Between moves, we kids would spend a lot of the summer in Dorchester, playing with our cousins and other kids in town.

The summer I was 12, we spent some time in Dorchester.

The main thing my brother, sister and I did to kill time after walking to the small grocery store to buy Frosty Cream Soda, which was not, as far as we knew, available in Lubbock, Texas, and which was a great complement to the Cap'n Crunch that my grandmother, on her small fixed retired dairy farmer income, bought for us (sugared cereals and soda being unavailable chez nous) was go to the swimming pond in the park.

The park was four blocks away, across the train tracks where the wild raspberries grew. There was a lifeguard, a pool house, and a raft in the middle of the pond. It cost a quarter to get in and my grandmother would give us the money to go. My siblings, my cousins and I would spend hours there. Then my cousin Angie, who is only nine days older than I am and my best cousin (out of 26 first cousins), would wash our hair in the pool house with Suave Strawberry Essence shampoo, which I suppose is not an important detail except even now, the smell of strawberry shampoo reminds me of summer.

Sadly, the pond has since been filled in. The town must have decided they couldn't afford the liability of a potential drowning.

But when I was 12 and when the pond was still open, there was a guy.

Stan M.

He lived on the farm right next to the cemetery, on the south side of town, across from the lumberyard.

Stan was hot.

Not that I used the word "hot" when I was 12. He was cuuuute!

He was as cute as a 12 year old farm boy can be. Tanned with dark curly hair and a bit muscular because farm boys at that time were expected to help with baling hay.

I didn't think anyone could be any cuter.

He would come to the swimming hole and flirt with me, as much as a 12 year old boy can flirt, which usually consists of splashing water on the object of desire, pushing her head under, and many other ways of expressing affection that are probably illegal on playgrounds today. I know the doubleknit polyester navy blue two-piece swimsuit with the anchor applique on the high-necked halter top that my mom had made for me was probably driving him wild. Nothing like a very modest bathing suit on an underdeveloped, plump seventh grader to inflame the passions.

I don't know how we made the transition from splashing each other to kissing, but one day, we walked back to his house together. We got as far as the creek on the north side of the cemetery. He wanted to kiss me, but I didn't want anyone to see because I don't know why. Which was stupid because we were on a gravel road by a cemetery on the outskirts of a town that didn't - still doesn't - even have a stoplight, so it's not like there was a lot of - or any - traffic.

I insisted we walk off the road and down to the creek. Not like anyone would see us there, standing next to the tiny bridge that crossed the tiny stream.

He stepped toward me. I stepped back into the cattails, then stopped. How could he kiss me if I was moving?

He stepped toward me again, kissed me and I thought,

Is this it? Is that all? Is that what a kiss feels like?

I had recently embarked on an ambitious project to read every trash romance novel ever written, including all the Harlequin romances and Sweet Savage Love, which has the typical plot of a defenseless woman forced to fend for herself because of being orphaned or sold to settle her father's debts, who encounters an alpha male - cowboy, cop, firefighter - who despises her upon first sight as much as she despises him. Yet they are thrown together by circumstances beyond their control. Their mutual attraction overwhelms them and they sleep together, but then come to their senses and vow that will never happen again, by golly.

In the meantime, they fall in love with each other but neither wants to admit that love because each is sure the other still despises him/her. Fortunately, Something Happens and They Admit Their Love and Live Happily Ever After.

There are usually some sex scenes, which interested me a lot when I was a teenager but now I skip because I am married to hottie Primo and can have wxyz whenever I want and sex scenes never advance the plot. Zey are boring to me now.

So before Stan kissed me, I had very high expectations for kissing, which is an argument for not teaching kids to read because imagine how much less disappointment in the world there would be if nobody had ever had her expectations raised from reading Sweet Savage Love. (Ha. Imagine what my first time of wxyz was like if I thought the earth would move with a mere kiss!)

Disappointed, I stepped back again, this time into the creek, which was OK because I was wearing flip flops but still was not the sophisticated exit I had wanted to make. I mumbled something about needing to get back to my granma's for supper and fled.

The prince turned into a frog. With one kiss, all the romance was gone. All the cuteness was gone. How could it all vanish so quickly?

We left a few days later, so I didn't have to avoid him for very long. I saw him again the next summer and wondered what had happened. He had been so cute! And now he was so short! What had I been thinking?

I would like to say I learned an important lesson with that kiss, but if you have read any of the other stories on this blog, you know that's a big fat lie. All I learned was you have to kiss a lot before you find someone who rocks your world. And even that is not enough.

Monday, December 27, 2010

In which I stalk a boy in high school and reject another

Chickadees, I have not been writing much lately. Fortunately, the Sly and Doris drama has diminished and I hence have less material than usual.

So I am forced once again to reach way back into a past that I really don't remember that well and tell you some pretty much true stories, a skeleton of facts embellished with what may or may not be true details to make things more interesting.

1. In which I stalk a boy

I was on the swim team in high school. Ha. Don't get the wrong idea. All you had to do to be on the team was to show up to practice. We didn't have a lot of competition, as we were the only American high school within 50 miles. We swam against the American high school on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, against the American junior high school, and against Canal Zone Junior College. Or maybe just the other high school. I can't remember. It's been a long time. But we had more than one swim meet a year, so we must have gone against the junior high and the junior college.

None of these details matter. What matters is that there was this guy, Ray, who was also on the swim team and who lived a few blocks from me.

I thought he was a hot hot hottie.

This was before the Swim Team Boyfriend Who Turned Out to Be Gay showed up.

But until STBWTOTBG made his entrance, Ray was it for me.

I lusted after him on the school bus. I lusted after him in the halls. I lusted after him at swim practice.

He had no interest - zip, zero, nada - in me.

That didn't stop me.

I was liberated. I was cool. I called him and asked him to the movies.

He was so surprised he didn't know how to say no.

I was so excited that I probably put on makeup, although looking back on my high school photos, tenth grade was a decent year and I was looking pretty good as long as I wasn't wearing my glasses, which had that brown so cool tint on the top that actually didn't look cool at all but made me look very very tired.

My skin was so nice when I was in high school (yeah, those days are gone) that a few teachers actually stopped me in the hall to tell me how gorgeous my complexion was. They did the same for my hair, which was artificially blonde and shiny from all the chlorine and sun.

Yet I did not appreciate having lovely skin and hair at the time, just as I did not appreciate having a smooth neck and eyes that did not get puffy after just two pickles. I did not appreciate being able to walk in high heels without pain.

OK, the high heels came later because in high school, I could not walk in high heels at all. My mom got heels for me for my high school graduation, which I attended under duress and still wish I hadn't attended because we moved before my senior year of high school and I was one of two new seniors in a class of 648. Can you say crummy crummy senior year?

I had to practice walking in those shoes, which had heels of perhaps 1.5", to do it right. I later moved to 3" heels when I was working and never had a problem. But now? I had to surrender my almost new BCBG black slingbacks that I found at the Junior League consignment shop for just $20 after Primo and I went to a play downtown and I was hobbling after two blocks. After the play, Primo went to get the car so I wouldn't have to walk. Primo is an angel.

I did not appreciate any of the aspects of my body's youth. How I wish I had those aspects back.

I had my cool green jumpsuit that I had made myself from the crinkle cloth I found at the BX for $2.95 a yard and with a D-ring fastener on the green crinkle cloth fabric belt.

Or maybe I wore my Sears overalls that I ordered from the catalogue and paid for with my babysitting money as my mother refused to subsidize a clothing item that she used to have to wear to work in the barn when she was a kid.

Or maybe it was the white painter pants with the cool hammer holder running from the pocket to the seam because you never knew as a 10th grader when you might meet an errant nail.

Oh yes. Looking good.

Ray came to my house because my house was on the way to the movie theater. It didn't make sense for me to go to his house and then double back. Plus in retrospect he probably didn't want his parents to know what was going on.

We walked to the movies but I noticed he didn't seem very excited. My big clue was that I was walking on the sidewalk and he was walking on the grass. Almost on the curb. Almost in the street. As in, he wanted to be as far from me as possible.

He used the same seating strategy: leaning far far away from me. At least he didn't leave an empty seat between the two of us, as so many of the young GIs were wont to go lest their sexuality be questioned. Plus the seats were kind of small and young GIs like to sprawl, so alternating seats gave them more leg room.

I got the hint. I did not ask him out again and he did not ask me out. He later went to Oral Roberts U, which made me realize that we had no future together anyhow as the beliefs of the kids who go to ORU don't really mesh with the beliefs of the kids who go to CCD.

2. In which I reject a boy and I am mean about it and I am still sorry

Drew N. was in my chemistry class. He was a little bit obnoxious, although I realize now that most high school boys are a little bit obnoxious. My friend Sue (name changed to protect the guilty, the guilty now having three boys of her own and the guilty probably thinking she would punch any girl who treated her boys meanly) and I were chemistry lab partners.

We were also partners in mocking the classmates we didn't like. This category of course included Drew because he was obnoxious. Our favorite thing to do was to sing our lyrics to the song, "Close to You," under our breath whenever Drew bugged us. Our lyrics went something like,

Why do worms suddenly appear?
Every time you are near?
Could it be
They want to be
Close to you?

There were undoubtedly more outrageously clever and cutting lyrics but I can't remember them now.

Point is, I never did anything to Drew to indicate that I might be interested in him. I didn't talk to him unless I had to. I sure didn't flirt with him. I didn't know how to flirt. I went straight for the jugular: "Hey Swim Team Hottie who has shown no interest in me. Do you want to go to the movies on Saturday?" Finesse was not my style. Blunt force. That's where it's at with me.

Yet one day as we were walking from the lab back to the classroom, Drew cornered me alone in the hall.

"Do you want to go to the ROTC ball with me?" he asked.

What? Where was this coming from? NO I DID NOT WANT TO GO TO THAT DANCE WITH HIM!*

I stammered and hemmed and hawed and said something dumb like I really didn't get into all that military stuff which was a BIG FAT LIE because HELLO! My father was IN THE AIR FORCE! And I lived on an AIR FORCE BASE!

Sue walked up. She had overheard. She started to laugh, which is a reaction I can completely understand because we thought Drew was the most obnoxious loser in the world, but still. We weren't ever mean to his face. Just behind his back, which is the right way to be mean.

"You think she would go to a dance with YOU?" Sue asked.

Drew, humiliated, scurried away.

He never asked me out again. Sue and I continued to sing about him. And 32 years later, I still think about that and think we could have been a little nicer to him.

* This one event gives lie to my frequent assertion that I was not asked to a single high school dance. Technically, I was asked to one. One dance. By someone I did not want to dance with.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In which I am called a gold digging castrating Catholic ho who won't get a job

Actually, my friends, I cannot write about what I put in the title. Husband request. Just use your imaginations and take comfort in the fact that I have taken copious notes and will write about the event as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I leave you with this.

Primo: Why can't they [Sly and Doris] understand that I'm happy?

Me: You're not happy. You just think you are.

Primo: That's right! I'm too stupid to know that I'm not happy!

Me: Which makes their head spin. How can someone as smart as you are and who is [a holder of the proper political opinions] be so stupid as to be tricked by somebody as stupid and mean as I am?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In which Primo admits that "some people" = "his parents"

Primo: Some people think you're mean because of some of what you write about me on your [other, public] blog.

Me: Who thinks that?

My friend Ilene, who reads my public blog: Yeah, who thinks that?

Primo: Some people.

Me: Who? I want names.

Ilene: Yeah. Who?

Primo: You know.

Me: You mean your mom and dad?

Ilene: You mean people who already don't like her?

Primo: I guess that's it.

Ilene: So the people who already don't like her don't like some of the things she puts on her blog.

Primo: Well. Yeah.

Me: Like I care.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In which I give myself a black eye and almost everyone at work won't look at me or say anything

I wrote this story several years ago. What I left out is that when I went to work on Monday, still with a black eye, almost nobody said anything. My first thought when I see someone I know with a huge black eye is to do what my boss did, which is to ask, "What the heck happened to you?"

But the liberated, swaggering, field-hockey scholarship female VP of my department, who never met clogs or ugly shoes she did not like, averted her eyes when she saw me at the coffee station. We chatted for a few minutes, probably about how she had spent the weekend cleaning her house even though she had a stay at home husband and two teenage daughters - but the maid had quit! what was she supposed to do? - and not once did she say, "Wow! That's quite a shiner! How does the other guy look?"

Nope. She looked at the floor, behind me, over my head, everywhere but at my HUGE BLACK EYE while she was talking to me.

Even if she thought that a boyfriend had beat me up, shouldn't she have said, "You know, you can get help. You don't have to stay in an abusive relationship?" [Not quite sure where to put that question mark. The whole sentence is a question but the latter phrase is a statement.]

Now the story:

Friday night, I wake up to use the bathroom. The next thing I know, I am lying on the floor by the window. The first thought that flashes through my mind disgusts me because it is such a cliché, but I think, "Where am I?"

Really. Can't I be more original than that?

I am dizzy and nauseated and my head hurts and my hip hurts. As I pull myself up, I realize that I must have fallen, my left cheekbone striking the windowsill as I fell. I must have landed on my left hip. My neck must have snapped when my head hit, because those muscles hurt. I could have put my eye out!

I make it back into bed and do not sleep well the rest of the night. The next morning, I have a red patch on my cheek and a little swelling, but it doesn't look so bad. My hip hurts, but not badly enough to be an excuse not to run. I run six miles.

When I get home, I notice that my eye is starting to turn lavender. As the day wears on, my eye and my cheek get puffier and more colorful. I hold a bag of frozen cranberries to my cheek in hopes of preventing further discoloration, but to no avail. I keep my sunglasses on when I go to the grocery store and the library. I don't want anyone to think my nonexistent boyfriend beat me up. I would never take physical abuse. Just emotional.

I wonder what happened. I don't remember falling. Did I pass out and then fall? Did I just slip? If I had slipped, wouldn't I have felt myself fall and stopped it?

I must have passed out. But why? Maybe I have a brain tumor. It could be a tumor!

Hmm. If it's a brain tumor, I could have one of those non-disfiguring terminal Hollywood diseases. In the movies, any time anyone gets a terminal disease, she just becomes more beautiful and luminous as she dies, inspiring everyone with her bravery. No one ever looks bad in the movies, no matter what. They obviously don't know what chemo is really like.

Anyhow. What if I have a brain tumor and am going to die? Maybe I could get Ted [not Primo's half-brother Ted but a different Ted, whom I should re-name and maybe I did, but now I can't remember] back. He would hear the news (how? I need to figure this part out) and realize that he did indeed love me and we didn't have much time. He would rush to my side, beg my forgiveness and ask to remain with me until the end.

I would torture him for a little while, of course, but not too long. He deserves some punishment, after all. But then I would relent and take him back and we would live happily ever after.

Until I died six months later.

This is where the fantasy needs some work.

When I go to church on Sunday, my eye is still colorful. I tell everyone I got in a fight. That afternoon, I go to some open houses. After ten minutes with one realtor, who keeps looking at me sideways, she looks at my eye and says, "My ex used to beat me, too."

"I fell!" I tell her.

"It looks like you fell into someone's fist!" she replies.

"I promise, I fell," I say.

"Oh, honey," she sighs. "My ex-husband used to beat me. I know. I know."

"I don't even have a boyfriend!" I protest, but she is unswayed and proceeds to tell me the story of her second marriage and her drug-abusing, wife-beating, philandering surgeon husband. The first husband opened a strip joint nine years into their marriage.

"After that second divorce -- which I got nine months after I got married, which is really embarrassing -- I decided I wanted nothing to do with men for a long, long time," she finishes.

I insist that is not what happens but she doesn't care.

Friday, November 19, 2010

In which Doris joins facebook

Are any of you guys on facebook?

I am.

I waste way too much time there. I post almost every day and sometimes more than once a day. I don't get too personal - I posted this exchange there once and took it down almost immediately because TMI. Here, though, it is relatively anonymous. Those of you who know me in real life can just pretend I am a complete stranger if it makes you squeamish to read this.

Primo: You're just going to have sex with me because you feel sorry for me. You really don't feel like it right now.

Me: Yep. This is pity sex.

Primo: That's fine with me.

See? A little personal. But it did not last long - maybe five minutes. The post, I mean.

I don't write about politics. I try to save my trash talk about Primo's parents for here, although I did chronicle the entire Christmas of Ought Nine disaster on my FB wall. On my mother's advice, I removed it. Good thing my mom doesn't read this blog because she would learn more about me than she ever wanted to know and more than I ever wanted her to know. Fortunately, my family has boundaries and we respect each other's privacy and don't go where we're not invited, unlike some others I could name but won't.

But I still write about my life and I don't want Doris to be part of my life.

Maybe that's mean.

Maybe I'm mean.

But you don't get to complain to my husband that I should be over that threatening not to come to our wedding and don't marry me by now if you have never apologized to me. Heck, you've never even mentioned it.

And you don't get to be my friend.

Not that I spend a lot of time holding a grudge or nurturing anger against Sly and Doris. It's more that I just don't want their presence in my everyday life.

So imagine my distress when Primo told me today that his mother was on facebook and she had friended him.

"What am I going to do if she tries to friend me?" I asked.

"I don't know," Primo sighed. "I have to accept her. She's my mother."

Which is true. I would never ignore my mom's friend request on FB. I might not tell her about my double secret probation blog just to maintain some discretion and privacy in our relationship, but I would never not be her FB friend.

"If she asks, I'm going to tell her no," I told him.

And I would.

But then I posed the question to my FB friends: What do you do when your husband's mother goes on facebook?

And that's when I learned about the BLOCK function.

Oh block how I love thee.

If I block Doris, she will not even know I exist on FB. She will not see me in Primo's profile. She will not see anything I write on Primo's wall. She won't see any comments I make on Primo's posts. Not that I ever comment on his posts because all he writes about is politics and sheesh - I argue enough with him in person. I don't need to argue about politics on FB. With anyone.

Now all we have to worry about is if she asks Primo if I am on FB. I am telling him to lie. He is all "the end justifies the means" (that's what his political arguments always reduce to), so this should not bother him.

In which Sly asks Primo if we will take one of their cats

Primo: My dad says that Puff (cat #1) is terrorizing Snow (cat #2) and would we maybe take Snow.

Me: No way.

Primo: I know. We have two great cats. We are not taking my parents' cats.

Me: What did he say when you said no?

Primo: He laughed. I think he was just joking.

Me: Yeah. Right. Joking. Hey, he does understand that if they die before the cats do, we are not taking the cats, right?

Primo: I don't know.

Me: Maybe he should know that.

Primo: I guess I should talk to him about it.

Me: I dunno. It's really not your problem. Except what is their plan for the cats?

Primo: They don't have one.

Me: So it's in our will [actually, in the extra instructions I have given to my sister] that our cats should go back to the cat rescue place with a $3,000 donation, but they don't have a plan? They're 50 years closer to death than we are but it hasn't occurred to them that they might outlive their pets?

Primo: Yep.

Me: So now it is our problem because we'll be stuck finding a place for the cats when they die. Great.

Primo: I'll say something to them.

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!"

Monday, November 1, 2010

In which Ted and I go to the movies and neck BUT WE'RE NOT DATING!

Ted left me a message he had gotten some really good chocolate that he needed to share with me. I left him a message that he should bring it over to my house, if he wasn't too scared to be around me. I told him that the main reason I exercise is so that I can eat chocolate. His message back to me was this: "To me, you are sexy with or without the gym, with or without chocolate. You are the one who mentioned exercising, not me."

But he never brought me the chocolate. And we still were NOT DATING.

He called four times in three days and I was not at my desk for any of the calls. I didn't return the calls because I was a little annoyed with him. I decided to call him back on Wednesday, but when I got home, an ice storm had knocked out all the power lines. We didn't speak again until Friday. I told him I wanted to call him on Wednesday but couldn't and that because I didn't have light to read by, I just went to bed.

He said, "Too bad you couldn't reach me. There's going to bed and then there's going to bed."

I didn't respond. I couldn't figure out why he is talking like this if he was the one who wanted us to be 'just friends' for now. [Now I understand completely. He is a manipulative jerk.]

I mentioned that I was taking off work early and going to a movie. He said that he could meet me there. My heart raced. I hadn't seen him in three weeks. We agreed to meet at the theater.

When I got there, he was on the phone. When he was done, he walked over to me, stopping just inches away from me. He looked into my eyes, smiled and said, "You are indeed captivating." [It's like he got his dialogue from a Harlequin Romance.]

When we were in our seats, he asked if I want a mint. I nodded yes, and he took one, placed it between his lips, leaned over, and kissed me, passing the mint to me. It was a dizzying, swirling kiss, full of promise. We spent the entire movie kissing. He whispered, "You are so beautiful and smart and funny and sexy." [Harlequin.]

But we were NOT DATING.

When the movie ended, we put our intertwined limbs back in their public places and waited for the theater to empty. As soon as everyone else was gone, we kissed again until the attendant entered to clean. We walked out reluctantly, stopping at every corner and hidden space to embrace. At my car, he hugged and kissed me, but I was too cold to enjoy it, so we moved into the car and kissed some more until the windows steamed up. I finally, reluctantly had to leave as I had made other plans for the rest of the evening.

When I got home, I found a message on my machine telling me what a wonderful time he had and how he was not going to be able to stop thinking about me.

But we were NOT DATING.

In which Ted tells me he is attracted to me BUT WE'RE NOT DATING!

Ted called me at work. "A bunch of us are going out to dinner. One of the women who is going is the older one with the crush on me."

"She has good taste," I said.

"I've tried to get across the idea that I'm not interested in her, but she's unconvinced."

"What does this have to do with me?" I asked.

"Maybe if you're there, she'll give up."

I laughed. "Sorry. I have other plans for tonight. You're on your own."

Later, I left him a message. "I've thought about it. Having me there would make her even more determined. Some women are into competition. It's not enough to win the guy -- you have to take him from someone else."

When I got home, I found a message from him. "I disagree. If she could see how very attracted we are to each other -- how hot we make each other -- she would realize that her efforts are futile."

But remember - he told me we could not have a dating relationship.

In which we have another version of the class reunion meeting with Ted

I have found an old journal with very detailed notes. I'm glad to see that I have remembered the basics of the Ted story, but there are additional details in my notes.

He had walked me to my car and we were standing there with that wonderful tension you have before you kiss someone for the first time. This tension had been present every time we had seen each other the past few weeks but he had never acted on it. I couldn't stand it anymore and blurted, "Are you going to kiss me or not?"

He said, "I want to kiss you. I've thought about it a lot. But we need to have a conversation first."

"OK, so talk," I said.

"Not here. When we get back home."

Thinking he was going to tell me something like he moved back in with his parents after the divorce and until he completed his residency -- which I already had figured out -- I said "OK" and stepped away from him and toward the car.

And he kissed me. We ended up sitting in the back seat of the car, kissing and talking. I hadn't done that since I was in college. Appropriate that I was back in one of the same parking lots I used to visit with my college boyfriend. We talked until 2:00 a.m. He said, "I've been attracted to you for a long time."

"Oh -- since we first met at that alumni thing last month," I said.

"No. Since we started talking on the phone in August."

"But you hadn't seen me yet," I protested.

He leaned over, caressed my cheek and whispered, "But we had spoken. How could I not be drawn to you?" [Tell me you wouldn't have fallen hard for a line like that.]

He said, "That evening, when we met in the airport, when I saw you walking toward me, you were so beautiful. But you had been so casual in your messages -- 'maybe' you would meet me there!"

"I was playing it cool," I explained.

"Why?" he asked. [Because I didn't trust you and in retrospect, I was right.]

He had already turned my stomach into knots that evening. When I got to the Class of '85 reunion dinner, I saw him standing at the bar. None of my college roommates were going to the dinner and I had no one to sit with. I walked over to him. He looked at me and said -- and this is the first time a man had ever said this to me in my life, "You are gorgeous." Up to then, I had not known what his feelings were about me. We had talked a lot, but had not been out on a date and I didn't know if he was attracted to me. I have lots of men friends who are nothing more than friends; he could easily have been one of those.

He looked into my eyes and said, "You are gorgeous" and I couldn't catch my breath.

"So are you," I whispered, and it was the truth. He was smart, he was articulate, he was passionate. [He was also manipulative and a liar and nothing was ever his fault, but whatever.]

We had spent hours on the phone and I had not gotten bored. I couldn't believe that I had met someone so interesting this late in my life. I had just about given up.

At dinner, we sat together. I didn't know anyone else at the table [except Sam and his wife, but yeah yeah yeah. Primo was there as well but I had not met him yet. Sam probably introduced us but the wedding ring on his finger made him dead to me], but didn't mind talking just to Ted. I took off my glasses and laid them on the table.

"Why don't you wear your glasses?" he asked.

I considered telling him a lie: that they hurt my ears or nose. But I told the truth. "Because I'm vain," I admitted.

He looked at me intently. "You are beautiful with or without your glasses," he said firmly.

Two weeks later, he had the, "I'm hot for you but we can't date" conversation that I have already written about. Do you see why I was confused? Oh it gets worse. I'll tell you all the humiliating details. But ten years later, it is still hard to write about this stuff. Jerk.

In which Ted comes over for supper and tells me that he and I think exactly alike

I finished the birthday cake and called Ted to arrange the return of his cutting board and roasting pan. I asked if he was going to the wine tasting the next night -- he could come by before that. He was not. Disappointed, I said, "But I wanted you to help me with my attic. The cord has been snapped off and I'm not tall enough to reach the edge of the door."

"You're probably going to need a new cord put on," he sighed.

I stared to say, "Yeah, but I can do that," but then I caught myself. I have read Men Are from Mars, Women Are From Venus and now know the rule is that men like to rescue women. True, opening recalcitrant attic doors is not exactly slaying dragons, but it's better than nothing. By the time a woman is 37 years old, she had better have learned to take care of herself. But it doesn't hurt to play the game.

"Yes," I said, trying to be coy but probably failing miserably. Down to earth Texas girls don't do coy well. Helpless and clinging are even further away from my lexicon. I stuck with a simple "yes" and hoped that did the trick.

He came over that night and we cooked risotto. When I got out a chunk of parmesan to grate, I realized it wouldn't fit into the rotary grater my mom sent for my birthday. Ted looked at me and said, "You have to cut a chunk of it off."

I turned to him, surprised. "You don't know that's what I was thinking!" I said.

"Yes, I did," he assured me.

Later, I was refilling our water glasses. I didn't remember which is which. He looked at me, then said, "Mine is the one on the right."

"How on earth did you know what I was thinking?" I asked.

"All I have to do is look at your face and I know exactly what's in your mind. You and I think exactly alike," he answered.

It was one of the sexiest things anyone has ever said to me.

Weeks later, he told me, "I've never had that happen with anyone else in my life. It was eerie."

While we were cooking, I asked him about his job. How did he avoid being overwhelmed? He told me that he had had to learn to leave the pain with the patient. He washed his hands every time he finished a session. "I imagine myself washing everything away," he said.

"I had lunch with a customer today," I told him. "He is middle aged, divorced, new to the city. I tried to keep the conversation very businesslike, but he kept talking about his life. His loneliness was so strong. I had to fight it. I didn't want to hear it."

"Why not?" Ted asked.

I stirred the risotto and thought. "I don't have room for it," I said.

"Why not?" he asked.

I just shrugged. "Everyone has pain," I said. I hardly knew this guy. It was not appropriate to say, "Let me tell you about my father's excruciating eight-month battle with and subsequent death of cancer."

After we ate, he went to fix the attic. When he pulled the attic door open, he realized that the cord was not broken but that it was just pulled through to the other side. He drew it back down so I could reach it, then asked, "How do you want me to leave this?"

I answered flirtatiously, "That depends on whether you want to have to come over here every time I need to get into my attic."

He turned around, pulled the cord back through the door, then turned to me and smiled expectantly. I caught my breath and held it. I couldn't figure out what this guy wanted from me. He made me a cake and was flirting openly, yet had told me we couldn't date. I didn't know what was going on. Right then, we were in a perfect kiss moment, but he was not kissing me. I sighed and said, "Better leave it out so I can get to it when I'm alone."

Monday, October 25, 2010

In which Ted takes me to meet his parents and then tells me we can't date

One night, when Ted was working late at the hospital near my apartment, a week or two after we had returned from the class reunion, he called me. Finally! He had to pick up something from home, he said. Would I like to ride with him?

That was a date, right? Sure, he was calling me ten minutes before the event rather than the Wednesday before, but as the prosecutor explained to us when I was on jury duty, premeditation for murder doesn't have to mean that you planned for weeks in advance. It simply means that the thought, "I'm going to kill that SOB" has to cross your mind before you pull the trigger, even if it's only seconds between the thought and the deed. Premeditation means that you thought about the act and then did it, as opposed to an accident or in self defense.

By that standard, I would guess that Mary Winkler did willfully and knowingly kill her sleeping husband by shooting him in the back, because it's not like a sleeping person causes an instinctive self-protective reaction, especially when one would think that an instinctive, not premeditated action would have led to the calling of 911 after one saw the bleeding body on the bed rather than the unplugging of the phone, the loading of the van with the children, and the fleeing to Alabama.

But I digress.

It was a date. He called and invited me to do something and then he picked me up. That is a date.

We drove to his house, aka his mom and dad's house, aka pathetic for a grown man to be living with his parents and why why why didn't I see that?

Oh but he had just divorced! Was finishing school! So much more practical to live with mom and dad!

Maybe. But sheesh. At that age, have some self respect and get your own place.

He showed me around the basement, his living quarters. He wanted me to know him. To see how he lived. Progress.

He introduced me to his mom and dad, who said, "So you're the one Ted has been talking about!"

He told his parents about me? Remember the grad school jerk, whom I had been dating for a few months when his parents came to visit and not only did I not get to meet them but I learned that they did not even know I existed? If someone told his parents about me, he must be serious. Oh deepening crush.

A few days later, he called me again. Could he take me to lunch?

Definitely a date! Definitely!

We went to a small Vietnamese place near my house. I was starving and ordered a big bowl of pho tai. Before I started to eat, Ted told me what he had been trying to tell me for a while.

He said, "I cannot start a relationship right now. I'm afraid that if I do, I will kill it. I am trying to sort a lot of stuff out from my divorce and I know I am not emotionally ready for a new relationship. But I like you a lot and see a lot of potential with you. I would like us to be just friends for now. Later, when I am through this, and if you are not seeing anyone, I would like to have a dating relationship with you."

I lost my appetite. "I've never had anyone break up with me even before he started dating me," I joked weakly.

He took my hands in his. "I'm not breaking up with you," he said earnestly. "But I can't do this right now. It wouldn't be fair to you. I've just got so much stuff. I'm going to a counselor to try to work these things out. But once I'm through it..."

I sniffed and a few tears rolled down my cheeks. He leaned over and wiped them away. "I'm sorry that I've been giving you mixed signals. It's not that I'm not attracted to you -- I am. But Big Southern City was a mistake. I let my emotions take over." I thought to myself that this is not such a terrible thing -- that if your emotions tell you to kiss someone, that that's what you should do (well, if you are both single, etc.).

We continued to talk, leaning in closer and closer until our knees were touching. I held his hands in mine as he told me about the divorce. At one point, I brushed my lips against his fingers. He closed his eyes and took a sharp breath. I kissed his finger. "That feels wonderful," he whispered.

On the way out to the car, he put his arm around my shoulders and pulled me close. In the car, he rested his hand on my thigh. When we got back to my house, he gave me a hug, then kissed me once. I leaned into him and he threw up his hands and stepped back. "No," he said. "No. I am not starting this." When he left, I am confused. His words and his deeds didn't match.

The next day he called me twice. I asked him more about this 'just friends' thing. "Define the difference between being 'just friends' and dating," I said.

"With friends, you don't have the emotional or the physical involvement," he told me.

"Does that mean we can't hug?" I asked.

He thought about it. "No, hugging is OK."

I thought this could work. You can't rule your heart. It's not such a bad idea to limit the physical stuff and if he spends time with me as 'friends' or dating, it's the same thing to the heart. If he was going to fall in love with me, it would happen whether he wants it or not.

I was so naive.

A few days later, he called four times, wondering where I was, leaving messages: "Out with some other guy, I suppose." The next night, he called twice. I was planning to meet Leigh and Megan at the Wednesday night wine tasting. Ted said that he might show up. When I got to the restaurant, they told me that the tasting had been canceled that week. While I was waiting for Leigh and Megan, another wine taster showed up. He had his own wine with him and asked if I would like to share. As he was asking, Megan walked in. We decided to sit with this guy and drink his wine while we waited for Leigh.

Ted didn't show up until late. His friend Richard had intercepted him in the parking lot and told him that the tasting was canceled. When I got home later, I found a series of messages from him telling me that the tasting had been canceled, that I could find him at the restaurant, that he had his cell phone with him (he usually left it in the car) and that I should call him.

So Leigh and Megan and I talked to this guy. Ted and Richard joined us for a while, then left together. I stayed -- we are just friends, after all, so I was not going to follow him to the parking lot. I left shortly after he did and the phone rang as soon as I got home. It was Ted. "I'm housesitting for my sister," he said. "She lives a few blocks from you. It's really cold over here. Why don't I come over and sleep with you instead?"

"I'll lend you some blankets," I told him.

"But it's late! Why don't I just stay there?"

"You may sleep in the spare room," I told him.

"But I'd rather sleep with you!" he answered.

"I don't sleep with 'just friends,'" I said.

"Well, if you don't sleep with friends, who do you sleep with?"

"Significant others," I answered.

"And I'm not significant to you?"

"Hey. This whole 'just friends' thing was your stupid idea, not mine. You live by the sword, you die by the sword."

He laughed and said goodnight.

Months later, after it was all over, when I was seeing the therapist, she told me that he had indeed been courting me hard. My head was spinning from all the mixed messages from Ted: I want to spend hours talking to you! I like kissing you! Meet my parents! But no - STOP! NO DATING! FRIENDS ONLY! I didn't know if I had read everything wrong or if he had been messing with my head.

The therapist assured me I was not mis-reading things but that I should not be involved with Ted now or in the future because he was toxic.

I should have told him to go to heck, or, more nicely, just stuck with my assertion that I did not want to be just friends and if that's all he wanted, he could stop calling me thankyouverymuch.

Instead, I agreed to his terms because half a Ted is better than none.

Yeah. Not so much.

In which Ted calls me every night while I'm out of town at a trade show and then we see each other at our class reunion and neck in my rental car

The week after my birthday, I had to go to California for a stupid trade show. Of course it was on a weekend. My industry always had trade shows over the weekend so nobody would have to miss any work. Heaven forbid we actually spend a weekday discussing the company's products with customers and prospects. That's Saturday work! Or Sunday!

Ted called me every night I was gone. At the hotel. I was at the show for three days. Wait. Maybe he called only once. I remember that for sure, because we talked for about two hours. Still, though, even once on a three-day trip is good, I thought.

On my way back into town, I ran into him in the airport. I was arriving in Springfield from California, he was leaving, on his way to Big Southern City for the reunion. We stood, almost nose to nose, breathing in each other's air. Noted lightly that we would see each other in Big Southern City. (He went early to visit friends.)

When I got to the Saturday night reunion party, I scanned the room. I didn't see him. Rats.

Suddenly, he was standing next to me.

"You look gorgeous," he said.

Well, I did. But to hear him say it - my knees weakened. He didn't look too bad himself.

We sat together at supper.

We sat at the same table with Sam and his wife, Sam being Primo's best friend and a friend of mine from our college days working at the faculty club and eating the "badly cut and not worthy of being served to a professor" piece of pecan pie inch by inch as we went in and out of the faculty club kitchen.

According to Primo, he was at the table as well.

I don't remember him.

Probably because 1. I was in lust with Ted and 2. Primo was still married at the time. Ring on the finger meant invisible to me. I don't mess with married men. I did that once (kissed one who had been flirting with me by phone for months and didn't bother to tell me he was married until we started kissing, which was in person, naturally, but he was so mortified and ashamed that I suspect he never did anything like that again) and vowed to avoid such in the future. I didn't want to be That Woman.

Which is a (small) shame, because Primo was already trying to figure out how to leave Isabel and maybe if he'd had a little nudge (not kissing, but maybe some light flirtation? an awareness of what was out there and what he was missing? except he probably knew that already and actually, yes he did, because the decision to finally leave Isabel came when he realized he was about to have an affair and he didn't want to be That Man), he might have moved more quickly and we wouldn't have gone through all that divorce drama. But then I would have felt guilty for breaking up a marriage and I sure wouldn't want that on my conscience. I have enough there already.

Ted and I talked almost exclusively to each other. When I got up to leave, he said he would walk me to my car. We stood outside the car until he finally kissed me. We kissed and kissed and kissed, then moved to the back seat of the car, where we kissed some more.

No clothes were removed in this endeavor and fortunately, the campus police did not come by with a flashlight, because even if you are fully clothed, having the campus police shine a flashlight in the back seat when you are 37 years old would be a bit embarrassing.

Kiss, talk, kiss, talk. He Opened Up To Me (women love that) and told me about his Bad Childhood and his parents' Bad Marriage and how he didn't want (another - he was divorced) marriage like that and how he Just Wasn't Heard as a child.

"What did you want to say?" I asked, genuinely puzzled, for I had not been through therapy yet (thanks to Ted, though, I would have my chance) and did not know the language.

Just To Be Heard, he insisted.

He finally returned to the party and I left, swooning.

A few days later, Sam emailed me. "What's going on with the chaplain?" he asked. "He sure took a long time to walk you to your car."

"Oh nothing," I answered airily.

And nothing seemed to be the proper answer, for I did not hear from Ted again for a while. But I was not going to call him. I had learned that lesson. I was vigilant! I would wait for him. Oh would that I had stuck with that.

In which Ted surprises me with a chocolate-raspberry terrine on my birthday

Ted and I had been talking and talking and talking. He would call me as he drove from work back home (living with his parents! red flag! red flag!) or out to make house calls. He told me he had gone over his minutes talking to me the first month. Talk talk talk talk talk.

Once or twice, he had met up with me and my friends Leigh and Megan at the weekly wine tasting at a restaurant near my apartment. Not officially a date, but at least we were in the same place at the same time.

It was the night before my birthday. Ted called me at work. "Will Leigh be at the wine tasting tonight?" he asked.

Crap. Why should I be surprised that he was interested in Leigh? What man wasn't interested in Leigh was more the question. She is funny, smart, nice and as cute as can be. Men fall to do her bidding.

I sighed. "Yes," I answered curtly. "She'll be there."

Why had he bothered to call me all this time? Why was he asking me about Leigh? Couldn't he just call her directly? No wonder he hadn't asked me out. I was the person to talk about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Q documents with. She was the one to date. (Not that Leigh couldn't have talked about these things, but she had a lot more work to do at her job. I could goof off a lot and waste time on personal phone calls.)

Fine. I was still going to the wine tasting to see my friends and sulk.

I got to the restaurant. Leigh and Megan were there. Ted was there. We talked and talked and talked and I lusted and lusted and lusted. But still, he would not ask me out. At least here, though, I could lust in person.

It was late. A work night. I finally said, "I need to go home."

He said, "Wait."

Leigh smiled and squirmed with excitement.

Wait? Why?

He went into the restaurant kitchen and returned with a roasting pan. Leigh ran behind him and brought out plates and forks.

He placed the roasting pan in front of me and removed the lid. Lifted the contents out of the pan.

It was a chocolate terrine. He pulled out a container of raspberry sauce. "This goes on top," he said.

My jaw dropped. I had no idea what to say.

He started to sing "Happy birthday" and my friends joined in.

"Cut it!" Leigh urged.

"I don't have a knife," I said.

Ted reached into his pocket. "I brought this," he said as he handed me a box of mint dental floss. Dental floss is the right tool for cutting cinnamon rolls and for delicate cakes.

Remember how I was unhappy about how Calvin would forget my birthday? Up until a later boyfriend's cool gifts, including a belt sander, this was the best thing anyone outside my family had ever done for my birthday.

We ate our cake, which was delicious. Ted repacked everything into the roasting pan, including the layer of ice on which the terrine had rested, and carried it out to my car for me. "I spent some time in Home Depot figuring out how to engineer this," he said. "It had to stay cool and it couldn't get bumped."

He had 1. remembered my birthday even though I had mentioned it only casually in passing, 2. thought about my birthday and what I might like, and 3. gone through a lot of effort to execute the plan, including involving/invoking Leigh to make sure I would be there.

Tell me you wouldn't be seriously crushing on this.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In which I become disastrously involved with the clergyman I meet at an alumni event

I have waited to write about Ted because I am still mortified that I didn't see the red flags that were so big and so wavy that they covered my face and almost smothered me. By the age of 37, I certainly should have known better. It's not as if I hadn't been through Red Flag relationships already.

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.

Friday, October 22, 2010

In which I become disengaged

The last we spoke, I was in New Jersey for a three-week training program. Did I mention that there were twice as many men as women in this program? And that is was a sales training? And that companies usually hire rather outgoing, nice-looking men to be sales reps?

Calvin was a great guy, but he was rather quiet. Kept to himself. Didn't like to be the center of attention or to do all the talking, which, in retrospect, makes him perfect for me as I want to be the center of attention and doing all the talking, but that was then.

I was having a lot of fun. There were new guys to have crushes on. Not that they reciprocated: the one guy with whom I got along best was engaged. There was another guy, who has become a rather well-known singer/songwriter on the East Coast (oh yes I can googlestalk), who had no interest in me whatsoever, despite my frequent phone calls to him once the training was over.

What's that you say? That phonestalking a guy is not the way to his heart? Even if you've had one, exactly one, necking session with him late at night at a party where people were smoking pot, which is not something I had ever seen before? Not that that didn't go on at Small Private School, but I ran with a pretty squeaky clean crowd. Oh sure, we were sleeping with our boyfriends, but we didn't do drugs. We had our limits.

So no future with cute future Birkenstock-wearing singer/songwriter (now completely bald and slightly chubby, neither of which are disqualifiers, as hair is unnecessary and slightly chubby can hit all of us, but Primo is still a major hottie at 45, plus he wears nice shoes), who asked as we started said necking session, "Aren't you engaged?"

"Not any more," I answered. One does not promise to marry one man and then kiss another.

The kissing went no further. That Monday at training, he more or less pretended he didn't know me. That might be too extreme: he treated me as he had the rest of the time, which was polite indifference. Apparently, he had to be drunk to want to kiss me. I think I was just available.


What I realized was that if I could be that attracted to someone who wasn't Calvin, perhaps I was not ready to get married.

"NO KIDDING!" the audience is shrieking. "YOU WERE 22 YEARS OLD! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?"

Here's where it got complicated (other than the obvious parts of having to cancel the church, do something about the dress, and hurt someone I did care about but did not want to marry): I had moved out of my apartment before I left for training and stored the few belongings I owned in Calvin's apartment. The plan was I would stay with him on my return until I got another apartment. I saved a month's rent! That was a big deal back then. It was worth it to move out of an apartment to save $250 plus phone and utilities. Now it takes a lot more for me to move, but I was a poor recent college grad taking peanut butter sandwiches to work for lunch then.

How was I supposed to stay with Calvin if I had broken our engagement?

I had a brilliant idea. I wouldn't tell him until I moved out!

Oh yeah that was so smart.

Fifteen minutes after he picked me up at the airport, he wanted to know what was wrong.

He didn't believe me that it was nothing.

I told him.

It did not go well.

To his credit - he is a far more gracious person than I because I would have kicked my ex-fiance's butt to the curb - he did not make me move out of his apartment.

But it was an awkward week or two while I slept on the couch at night and hunted for a new apartment after work.

I still can't believe I did that to him. I still owe him an apology for that part.

I did apologize for being so indifferent to his feelings. That was years later, right before he was going to marry one of my college roommates and after the grad school jerk had been so horrible to me. Unfortunately, I think my apology was almost as bad as my original transgression. I told him I was so sorry for hurting him and that I had had no idea how it might have felt until I was mistreated by GSJ.

What I basically told him was that it had caused me no pain to break up with him. Nice, huh? Perhaps he is better off without me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

In which I almost get married

Sorry for the long time since the last post, chickadees. On Thursday, at the crack of dawn, Primo and I returned to the scene of the crime: our college reunion. We met at our 20 year reunion and just had our 25 year reunion. We got back late last night and tomorrow, I am going to see my sister in Next Big City Over, where she will be for a neo-natal nurse practitioner conference, all of which means I don't have time to go into a lot of detail about why I broke my engagement with Calvin. I will say, however, that it was nothing he did and that he is a good person. But I'll get to that.

We were engaged. I had a sparkly ring, which is not something I ever thought I wanted but once it was on my finger, I was very happy to have it, for is not a diamond a status symbol of sort for a woman? It says, "Someone values me enough to 1. spend money on me and 2. commit to me." At least, that is what it said to my 22 year old self. When Primo and I decided to get married, he wanted to buy me a ring but I had realized that I do not like wearing rings and would much rather have a nice kitchen trash can, which he finally got me with much reluctance and only after the SimpleHuman trash can I wanted went on sale at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

We did agree that we would both rather take the $5,000 a nice ring would have cost (I am guessing that is what they cost) and spend it on a grand trip to France.

As it turns out, we spent it getting our driveway re-done this summer, which is almost as glamorous as a voyage to Paris.

Calvin and I were engaged. We had the Meeting of the Parents. Calvin's mom and dad came from Austin to meet my mom and dad at their house in San Antonio. There were hors d' - there were appetizers. There was polite smiling. I am guessing there were thoughts of, "They are too darn young to be getting married." They were correct.

We set a date. July 26. My mom reserved the church. She and I argued over the reception venue. I, who was not investing my own money into this proposition, wanted to have it at a fancy restaurant. She and my dad, who were funding this (and who I now know had almost no money to pay for this), said that the officers' club on base would be fine.

I got a dress. I shopped alone.

Who shops alone for a wedding dress?

Someone who 1. isn't ready to get married and 2. ends up with a dress that looks awful on her.

There may be some women who look good in a pure white puffy muffin dress, but I am not one of them. At the time, I was blonde. White washes blondes out. Now, white is no problem as I am a former blonde who is covering my gray with Clairol #24 Clove, but then, I looked like death warmed over.

And the puffy skirt? I looked like I had walked out of a meringue factory.

Why did I get such an awful dress? Because I was clueless and because it was a floor sample on sale for $250. Penny wise, pound foolish.

When I married Primo, I wore a sleeveless red and white dress with a V neck and a high waist. It looked fabulous and I have worn it several times since. I had a bit more sense when I shopped for that wedding. I still shopped alone, although this time it was because I had just moved to a city where I had no friends, not because I wasn't excited about getting married. Wait. I wasn't that excited about my wedding to Primo because of all The Drama, but I was very excited at the idea of being married to him. I would have happily skipped the wedding and wish I had insisted on eloping, but I guess I'll save that for my next marriage.

My mom asked me what color I wanted for the bridesmaids' dresses. My mom was more excited about the wedding than I was. My parents loved Calvin and rightly so. He's a great guy. He just wasn't the guy for me in the end.

When my mom asked me about the bridesmaids, I shrugged and said, "I don't care."

That should have been a clue.

Maybe it was.

Three weeks after we got engaged, I went to New Jersey for a three-week training program for work. It was there, in the company of the many young, handsome, outgoing men in the class with me that I realized I could not get married yet.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In which Calvin proposes by burying a ring in a tin of Snickers

We had been dating for three years when Calvin proposed. We had been talking about marriage for a while, but it was time to be formal. We were so smug: all those people who were still uncoupled! They would die alone! But not us. We had even named our children.

Oh, karma can be nasty. After I broke off our engagement, I was uncoupled for many many years. Calvin married a few years later, but it took me much longer, which gave me ample opportunity to contemplate and regret my smugness.

I had already quit grad school in English, not that I don't think knowing how to read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in middle English wouldn't have made me even more employable.

Calvin was in his fifth year of college, not because he was slow but because he was majoring in electrical engineering and in physics. Apparently, there is not a lot of overlap between those fields.

It was Christmas 1985. I didn't have any vacation, but this was old-time employment where we got the Monday before Christmas Eve, which was Tuesday, off. We also got Veterans' day, Columbus Day, and Washington's birthday. Plus a turkey at Thanksgiving. And the coffee and donuts cart came around at 10. And everyone left work at 4:30. The good old days. Except I don't miss the smoking in the office. At all.

Calvin was in Austin with his family. We drove up to Waco for the state 3A football championship. Our friend Randy was from Daingerfield and his high school team was playing. Daingerfield is a small mill town in northeast Texas. Randy's parents didn't go past 8th grade, I don't think, and his dad worked in the steel mill. Randy, however, got his PhD in chemistry at Harvard, which makes you wonder what his parents could have done with the same opportunity.

If you watch Friday Night Lights, you know a little bit about how important high school football is in Texas, especially in small towns. Dillon might be a 3A school. Who knows? My high school, Converse Judson, was a 5A school, but my senior year was a big fat waste of time. I only went there my that year and it was not, as my friend Leigh coaches me to say, my favorite. I didn't care at all about their stupid football team.

But I did care about Randy's school's team and a statewide championship is a big deal no matter what, which was why we were driving 100 miles to sit in the cold and watch a football game.

But this story is not about football (although Daingerfield won, which is cool). It is about a marriage proposal.

On the drive back from Waco to Austin, Calvin casually asked me to hand him the tin of Snickers in the back seat.

Calvin did not usually carry large supplies of candy bars with him, so I was suspicious.

He had in the past threatened to give me an engagement candy bar rather than a ring because he teased that the chocolate would last longer. Which, in the end, was prophetically correct.

He asked me to give him a candy bar, but I refused. "Get it yourself," I said. I was really suspicious.

He kept insisting - he wanted me to dig around in the tin.

This was not how I wanted to be proposed to. I was not very gracious.

But I did as he asked. And found a box. That contained a ring.

"Stop the car!" I demanded.


"Stop the car!"

He stopped. "What's going on?"

"Get out."

He didn't want to, but I insisted. I got out with him.

"Now get down on one knee and propose properly!" I said.

Are you thinking this is when he should have put the ring in his pocket and said, "Forget it?" Because you would be right. Really. Who gets bitchy about how she is proposed to? I could have been a lot nicer. But I was young and full of visions of moonlight and roses and romance novels and it didn't seem right.

Instead of telling me to take a hike, he did as I asked, kneeling on the graveled shoulder and asking me to marry him, which was more than I deserved.

I smiled and told him yes, then admired the ring, a diamond solitaire, which I had never thought I wanted, all the way back and then on my drive from San Antonio back to work in Houston, where the VP saw it and groaned that they had been so excited to hire a bright young woman and that they wanted me to be a VP someday, not married, which confused me because I did not see the two as mutually exclusive.

A month later, after reserving the church and buying a dress, I broke up with him.

Monday, October 11, 2010

In which I get a crush on one of Calvin's friends and break up with Calvin in hopes that the friend will ask me out but he doesn't

Don't hate me. I was young. And easily distracted. But yes, I had the hots for one of Calvin's friends. And I even broke up with Calvin over it for a little while. How I wish I had kept a diary back then because now I cannot remember if I broke up with him before or after we - you know - for the first time, which was (of course I remember the date - don't you remember yours?) Oct 18, 1983. I am coming up on my 27 year virgin anniversary.

Disclaimer: It is easy to remember my virginersary because it is the day before my birthday. But I think I would still remember it had it happened on another date.

Our junior year of college started. Calvin and I had been writing letters all summer and were hot to see each other again. He had been working for his uncle out of state all summer, so we had not been able to see each other. School started late August, which is just when everyone wants to be in [hot southern city]. It's the best time of the year.

I kid, I kid.

July is better.

I need to back up a little. All of our sophomore year, Calvin and his friends had been talking about their friend, Laurence, who had gone to Small Private School our freshman year and then spent his sophomore year elsewhere at Big State U where there would be more and prettier girls. The male-female ratio at Small Private School those days was almost 2:1, which was great for the girls but not so great for the guys.

And I will go out on a limb here and venture that the smart girls who end up at an engineering school are not necessarily the same girls who have a clue about hair, makeup and clothes. As in, if you made a Venn diagram of Small Private School girls and pretty, flirtatious, cutely dressed and accessorized girls, there would be very little overlap. Sure, there were some extraordinary young women on campus who were both smart and really put together, but the rest of us were either clueless or didn't care.

There was a certain reverse snobbery at Small Private School. In the same way that suddenly, the athletes were at the bottom of the social scale (not the least because it was uncommon for Small Private School to ever win a football game - oh, how I miss the SWC), the girls who (obviously) tried were also scorned.

It was an inverse of the high school universe, where many of us (or maybe just me and I am projecting my NOT BITTER AT NEVER HAVING BEEN ASKED TO A SINGLE HIGH SCHOOL DANCE on others) had been on the sidelines looking in at the cool, popular kids. Nerds are not valued in high school, but at Small Private School, almost everyone was a nerd. But everyone was weird in his own way. Nerd was the necessary but not the sufficient.

Laurence was one of those rarities: smart, athletic, good looking and seemingly unaware of his looks. He could have had just about any Small Private School girl but maybe he thought he could do better. Or maybe he just needed to be closer to home for a year.

[Primo is also smart and athletic and good looking, but he was not athletic in college, unless you count drinking beer as a sport. Since he and I started tennis lessons last summer, he has become a pretty good player and will only get better, but his parents didn't put him in any sports. Any. I was a total klutz and my parents forced me to play soccer in 7th grade when Lubbock started the first girls soccer league. Primo's parents, however, are intellectuals and didn't think sports were a good idea for Primo. They were so wrong.

Primo was also not as cute in college as he is now. He was a skinny little 16 year old runt when he started, but he grew and put on some weight and his skin cleared up and he figured out what to do about his hair and now he is a hubba hubba hottie.]

Laurence returned for our junior year.

I had never met Laurence.

The first time I saw him, he was stripped to the waist doing I don't even remember what. Painting the dorm room? That doesn't seem likely. Why would a student waste his own money on paint? My freshman year, my suitemates and I painted the bathroom bright yellow, but that was just because Laurie's dad paid for the paint.

Whatever he was doing, he was half naked.

You've seen the abs on the sculpture "David?"

Laurence's were better.

I kid you not.

And you know all that stuff about how women aren't as visual, blah blah blah?

In Laurence's case, I made an exception.

He was gorgeous.

And NICE! He was also nice!

I fell in lust.

I looked at Calvin, for whom I had also felt lust, but this was stronger. It was lust unadulterated with You were late to pick me up or You forgot my birthday or We had a fight. It was pure fantasy you never fart lust.

After a few days, I broke up with Calvin. So many men! So little time! I was sure that Laurence, who before the breakup and indeed, ever since, including the time we met up in France for a day when I was on vacation and he was working there, has never shown one squidge of interest in me, would ask me out.

But even if he didn't, surely other guys would. Two to one, people! Two to one!

They didn't.

Not one single guy.

What was going on? Was I hideous?

No. At least, I don't think so.

I had been dating Calvin for several months.

I was branded.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I waited a few weeks just to give it time, but no luck. There was not one single other guy on that campus who wanted to ask me out. Or who would ask me out, better said.

So I went back to Calvin.

Nice, huh?

This has to have all happened before The Event or I would not have broken up so easily. I hope.

Calvin was skittish. We went out to eat at this Italian restaurant in Montrose where we got adventurous and ordered snails, which was not my best food moment, as I have decided I do not wish to eat anything that I want to keep out of my garden, but if you put enough butter on anything, it will taste good.

He told me that when I broke up with him (the Laurence breakup - I haven't gotten to the big breakup), he was waiting for his parents to jump on the bandwagon and tell him that they didn't want him to be their son any more.

I should have stuck with the breakup, given that's where the relationship was going to end up anyhow, but. Well. I have no excuses. I was barely 20 - not even. What did I know? Thrashing around and bruising hearts in the process.

Friday, October 8, 2010

In which Calvin's parents don't like me

Calvin's parents didn't like me.

That was a shock.

I was not used to people not liking me when I was in college. Oh sure I knew I wasn't part of the cool crowd and in tenth grade, Sally D suddenly turned on me after I had been her BFF in ninth grade, but in general, I didn't inspire enmity in people. That I knew of.

The parents of my very short-term high school boyfriend, the one who turned out to be gay, loved me. LOVED ME. In retrospect, there were probably other factors at work, as in, they suspected their son was gay and didn't want it to be true for the sake of his desired career, which was military pilot. Even though he only kissed me once, although we spent several evenings alone at his house, watching the videos of Mork and Mindy that his uncle sent from the States, I never suspected he was gay. I thought he just didn't like kissing or he didn't like kissing me.

I digress.

Mr and Mrs Calvinpere did not like me.

I would hope it was because they didn't want their only child to marry too young and make a mistake and never have the glorious career for which he was destined and not because of me personally. I usually don't invite that kind of animosity in people.

Except for Primo's parents, of course, and his best friend from high school, George, who has also decided he doesn't like me. Many and varied are the reasons George does not like me: I blogged once that kids should be out of diapers by the time they are four; I am not Catholic enough (even though if I were more Catholic, I would not have married non-Catholic, lukewarm at best Lutheran Primo); and most recently, I pulled a practical joke on him that he did not think was at all funny and I think he is way over-reacting.

The good thing about George is that I can probably reason with him, which I intend to do. We will be in each other's lives for a long time and there is no reason for us to be enemies. Unless he decides that I am absolutely unlikeable, even after begging forgiveness for the joke, which WAS funny and had Primo's blessing. And George's wife, who also thought it was funny and if she didn't, she should have warned me AS SHE WAS HELPING ME TO EXECUTE IT.

So I will call George after he has cooled down and we will Talk About It Like Adults, which is something that could never happen with Sly and Doris, as they are not interested in liking me at all [See: I am a Bad Bacon Eater].

I would write more about George and The Joke but he is Primo's best friend from high school and he would be bothered if he stumbled on this blog. George! I like you! I want us to be friends, OK?

And if I ever write that bestselling memoir, I will not include any of the George incidents in it because of course I would write the book under my real name. Primo, who has his eye on that Key Biscayne condo, has encouraged me to publish now under a pseudonym, but what is the point of having a bestselling book if the people you went to high school with don't know about it? You know Jen Lancaster has to be feeling smug now that she is at the top of the NY Times (a New York City newspaper) list. Take that, suckers who fired me! she is probably chortling as we speak. And more power to her.

Ooops. I have strayed from my topic again.

When I met Calvin's parents, I sensed a certain coolness. I attributed it to his being somewhat of a mama's boy, although not from his end but from his mother's. He is an only child, but I don't think that is the situation his mother had wanted. He had never had a girlfriend and there had never been competition for his attentions before.

Still, they were nice enough to me. His dad built me bookcases when I moved into the loud sex apartment in Other Southern City, which, to my everlasting shame, I broke down and threw away when I moved from Other Southern City to Houston, where I had gotten a job, because I could not fit them in my car. I could at least have called Goodwill.

But I don't think they approved of me. I can't imagine why.

I ate Mrs Calvinpere's salad
We had dinner at his mom and dad's house. The table was round and small enough that the place settings were rather crowded. I, who had worked at the faculty club for two years and had set the table for formal dinners there, looked at the salad on my left and the water glass on my right. And the salad on my right and the water glass on my left. Which salad was mine? Which water? Logic dictated that the salad that was easier to reach was surely mine. Who would have a diner reaching with her right hand across to a salad on her left? Not I! And that was when I ate Calvin's mother's salad.

At the faculty club, we served the salads by placing them in front of the diner. So much for my fine dining table waiting experience.

I flipped a crab leg over my shoulder and spattered butter on Mrs Calvinpere
They took us out to a nice restaurant. I made the huge mistake of ordering crabs' legs. How does one eat a crab leg if one is not going to pick it up with the fingers and suck the flesh out? Open it along the side using a fork, of course.

If you stick a fork in a crab leg and then begin to saw it open, you are mimicking the forces used on a tiddlywink.

So when you press down on that crab leg in just the right place with enough force, the leg flips up and over your shoulder, spinning and casting off butter as it goes. The butter lands on your boyfriend's mother and on the pink silk blouse you borrowed from your roommate.

I used the Company Towels
I was at Calvin's mom and dad's house for supper. Needed to use the bathroom. The half bath was right behind the kitchen. The half bath had nice white starched lacy towels hanging on the rack. Towels that had never been used. Towels that were obviously decorative.

But my hands were wet. From washing, duh. I do not pee on my hands. Who does? Are the hand pee-ers the ones who get so bent out of shape about other people not washing their hands? Because if you don't pee on your hands and use your foot to flush the toilet (in a public restroom, natch - it's too hard to flush a home toilet with your toes), then there shouldn't be much of an issue, right? I got over my squeamishness about this issue after living in South America for two years, where there are not hand washing facilities conveniently located next to each outhouse.

I needed a place to dry my hands, but a battle in my mother's voice raged slow motion inside my head: Dooooon't uuuuuuse the Coooooompany Toooooowels! vs I need to dry my hands!

In retrospect, I should have just wiped my hands on my pants, which is what I end up doing half the time now anyhow, as those stupid air dryers never work fast enough. Doesn't it defeat the purpose of using less energy if you have to run through four cycles of the dryer?

I used the Company Towels.

The roof did not fall in.

But the next time I was at their house, there was a small stack of paper towels next to the sink.

I got the message.