Friday, April 23, 2010

In which I run into a former sort of boyfriend in the grocery store and he tells me he had to get married

When I lived in Springfield, I had two fairy godmothers. They were wonderful women. The first was Mary Linda, my landlady. Mary Linda introduced me to Mary Ann.

Mary Ann put me into the Junior League. I didn't want to join, as I knew I would be terribly out of place with all these former sorority girls who all knew the secrets to accessorizing and makeup and dressing. I always had the wrong clothes at meetings. Always. But Mary Ann told me that I needed to make friends. I told her I didn't want women friends, I wanted a boyfriend. She pointed out that WOMEN HAVE BROTHERS.

I never did meet any men through the Junior League, but I made some very nice women friends who are friends to this day and I discovered the Junior League Thrift Shop, which is the best place to shop in the world and if you don't have one in your town, I pity you.

I did, however, meet some men through Mary Linda and Mary Ann. They knew everyone in town. I met a guy on - he claimed to be a doctor - and asked Mary Linda, whose husband is a doctor, about him.

"Oh yes. I know who he is. He is who he says he is. His daddy was a doctor and ran away with another woman years ago."

Another guy I was dating - met him on my own - turned out to be a big jerk. Mary Linda tried to warn me about him when she learned I was seeing him. "I go to church with his daddy and I've known him since he was a little boy. He is no good. Nothing is ever his fault. You do not want to be involved with him."

I ignored her at my peril, of course, and ended up nursing a severely bruised heart for a while.

They set me up on several blind dates, none of which went anywhere, but it's like buying shoes: you have to keep trying until you find the right fit.

A friend of Mary Ann's offered to set me up with "Scott." Scott was part of an old Springfield family. He worked for the family business. His parents had servants when he was a kid.

He was also single, which was becoming my only requirement. We met at the coffee shop near my house. We were having a good time talking, so when the shop closed at 7:00, he asked if I wanted to get a drink. No, I don't drink and don't like smoky bars, but how about if you come over to my house, I suggested. I live three blocks from here.

I went home and waited. He didn't show. He didn't show. He didn't show.

Sheesh. If he wanted to blow me off, why did he suggest a drink?

An hour later, he knocked. "I went home to take a shower," he explained.

Why? It's not like he was dirty before that. I was confused, but whatever. Weird guy.

We sat and talked. At 9:30, I told him he had to go home because I had to get up early for work the next day. He left, telling me he would call. Again, whatever.

I told the story to my friends Ross and Ken. "I don't get the shower," I said.

They burst out laughing.

"He thought he was going to get laid!" they said.

"What!" I answered. "That's nuts! I had just met him!"

"But you invited him back to your place," they explained. "That's code for getting busy."

"Sometimes, someone just doesn't like cigarette smoke," I said. "Sheesh."

On our next date, he took me to a noisy sports bar, where he changed tactics. When our meal came, he bowed his head and said grace.

I still didn't sleep with him.

Our next (and last) date was at his house, where we watched a movie. I don't remember if there was any food involved.

"You're pretty smart, aren't you?" he asked.

"Yeah, I guess so," I answered.

"Hmmm," he replied. He was not - how shall I put this? - intellectual. Not that I require an intellectual, but I do like someone who can keep me on my toes occasionally.

Then we got into religion. "You're Catholic, right?"


"Yeah. My parents don't like Catholics. My ex-fiancee was Catholic. They wouldn't let me marry her."

Wait. You're a grown man of 42 and you're letting your parents tell you what to do?

He didn't call again and I didn't regret it. I told Mary Ann about it and she said, "What? Why did she set you up with him? Everyone knows that family is rabidly anti-Catholic! His older sister wouldn't even let her kids come to my house to play with [my son] because she didn't want them around Catholics!"

No loss, then.

A year later, I ran into Scott at the grocery store. He looked me up and down and said, "You're looking good!"

I thanked him, then asked politely how he was doing.

"I'm married and have a new little baby at home," he said.

Even though I was trying to hide my astonishment, my eyes flew open. "How old?" I asked.

"One month."

I did the math in my head. One month plus nine months - OK, ten, really - equals two months after he stopped seeing me.

He must have seen my surprise. "Yeah, we had to get married. She got pregnant. I have a two-year-old stepdaughter, too."

Now I really had to struggle to hide what I was thinking. A single mom "accidentally" getting pregnant after dating a rich guy for a couple of months?

Oh yeah. That's how it happens.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

In which I try to decide whether to friend my gay high school boyfriend on facebook

The other day, I got an email from a Fairview actor and comedian. Let's call him John McGivern, for that is indeed his name. John puts on these fabulous one-man shows about his childhood in Fairview - growing up as one of six children in an Irish Catholic family with a working class union father. Primo and I have been to several of his shows and have watched all of his DVDs. He is wonderful.

I'm on the McGivern mailing list. He's doing a new show, "American Fiesta."

The show was written by a friend of mine, Steven Tomlinson. OK, we're not close. I haven't seen Steven for several years, but we are tied by our mutual friend, "Holly." Holly and Steven used to be girlfriend/boyfriend. They lived together, I think.

Then Steven realized he was gay.

Which is always a devastating thing for a woman.

Because you wonder if you're the reason your boyfriend turned gay.

OK. Men don't turn gay. They are or they are not. They might not know or they might be trying not to be for whatever reason, but they are what they are.

But tell that to the woman who has just been left for another man.

It all worked out in the end. Holly met a wonderful man via mutual friends. They were engaged on their third date. Have been married for several years and have four kids. Steven has married as well and his career as a playwright is taking off, which is exciting. I love it when my friends succeed.

So what about me, you ask?

I dated this guy in high school. He was on the swim team with me.* Ken was hunky. Fab body, which is very important when you are in high school. Well, it was to me, anyhow. I am shallow that way. I mean, I was shallow that way.

He had a car and a driver's license, which was even more important, because I went to high school in the Panama Canal Zone, where the licensing age was 17 and where most military families had only one car because that's all the government would ship for them. Ken was an only child and his dad was a pretty high rank, though, so his parents paid to ship a second car when they were transferred to Panama. He had his own car and could drive it. He might have been the only person at school with his own car.

But. Was it really dating? We went out several times. Kissed maybe once or twice. One time, he told me I tasted like macaroni and he didn't like macaroni. The reason I tasted like macaroni? We had gone to a football game, then to the cafeteria after. I didn't have any money with me because I thought it was a date. He bought food for himself but didn't offer me anything. I watched him eat. When he took me home, he wanted to hang out some more, so I told him very pointedly that he would have to sit with me in the kitchen while I ate some supper. The leftovers I ate had macaroni. Hence, when he kissed me, I did taste like macaroni.

I don't remember if he kissed me again. That might have been the only time.

He would come over to my house and hang out with my mom. I thought he was cute until the day he shaved his head as part of his ROTC Ranger initiation. Then, bald bothered me. Now, not so much. To quote Fr Elias, who taught my 12th grade Sunday school class, "All men have the same amount of testosterone. Some of them choose to waste it growing hair."**

Ken dropped me right before the big Christmas dance, even though he and I and my best friend Julie and her boyfriend were all going to go together.

I went years thinking I was so unattractive that my own boyfriend didn't even want to kiss me. It didn't help that I was not asked to any other dances. Not that I am scarred by the fact that I did not go to my prom or anything. I AM FINE.

A few years ago, when I discovered the google, I realized that it was possible to google old boyfriends.

So of course I googled Ken.

I found him.

On a gay athletes' website.

There was enough identifying information that I knew it was he.

He was gay? The whole time, he was gay? Was I his beard? Or did he not even know?

History changed.

It wasn't me. It was never about me. I had wasted all this time thinking that there was something wrong with me - that I was unattractive and that was the reason he didn't want me. Yes. I am a little bit self centered, but really, aren't we all?

It was liberating. A little late, but liberating.

Now I see that he is on facebook. I am friends with an old boyfriend or two. Enough time has passed that there is no awkwardness. Do I friend Ken? There are so few people with whom I have a common biography. When you move around a lot as a kid, you lose your friends. Every single time you move, you lose your history.

Is it worth it?

* All you had to do to be on the team was show up to practice, which explains why somebody with my lack of athletic ability was able to participate. And letter. Yes. I lettered in swimming. Believe it.

** Fr Elias later left the priesthood to marry. He was a chaplain in Vietnam. He said that on Fridays, the soldiers would get their coupons for cigarettes and beer. The Baptist boys*** would give their coupons to the Catholics, but later, as the Catholics and the mainstream Protestants would be playing cards and smoking and drinking, the Baptists would come join the fun.

*** How do you keep a Baptist from drinking all your beer when you go fishing together? Invite a second Baptist.