Saturday, May 22, 2010

In which Primo worries about our old age

After the falling out of bed debacle and after hearing that his parents have taken several falls - in the kitchen, in the living room, because his mom's socks were too slippery, because the carpet was too slippery - Primo asked, "Is this what our old age will be like?"

"Nope," I said.

"How can you be sure?" he asked.

"Because we are not alcoholics."

"Oh yeah," he mused. "That's right."

Friday, May 21, 2010

In which the grad school sociopath leaves me twisting in the wind and I TAKE IT BECAUSE I WAS AN IDIOT

I left you with my having returned from Holland after two days, yes, two days, because I missed Rick so much. I had moved my furniture into storage and given up my bargain duplex in Austin which trust me was not easy to find. I was homeless, furnitureless, and not registered for the fall semester. But I was sure that Rick would welcome me with open arms and that Love Would Conquer All.

You'd think a grown woman of 27 would be smarter than that but you would be wrong. I had seen what I wanted to see.

He had already asked my friend Debbie out and did not want to see me.

That's not exactly it. He claimed he wanted "time to think" about our relationship.

I told him either break up with me or date me.

He said he didn't know and that he really needed the time.

I, like an idiot (are you seeing the theme here?), said OK, and let him torture me for an entire semester because he wanted to be Mr Nice Guy, as in he didn't want to be the one to break up.

I have never been that way. It is cruel to leave someone in a state of limbo. If you are not interested, break up. Have the courtesy to tell the person that you are not interested, that the relationship is not going anywhere, and have a nice life.

Don't say you "want to think about it." If that's really the case, you still don't have the right to ask someone to wait around while you stare at your bellybutton and try to figure out what's in your head and in your heart.

You break up. You think. If you decide later that you made a big mistake, the appropriate step is to crawl back on your hands and knees, say that you were an idiot and don't know how you could have made such a mistake and your life is nothing, NOTHING without that person, and beg the person to take you back. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. You take your chances.

But back then, I was not the confident, sassy, whatever chick you see before you today. I didn't have the guts to tell him to go to hell, although I wish I could go back in time to my 27-year-old self and slap some sense into myself.

"He's not good enough for you!" I would hiss. "Listen to your gut about his character. He's a cheater! He thinks none of the rules apply to him. Do you really want to be with someone like this, even if his kisses make your head spin?"

Then I would say, after I had lost about 15 pounds overnight (best diet I have ever found, except I looked sick) and had written a series of very whiny, self-pitying columns for the B-school paper, "Snap out of it, girl! Have you no self respect?" I would have lost all patience with myself.

Instead, I moped and moaned and didn't eat, which was serious because nothing, but nothing puts me off my feed. Oddly enough, this thin whininess served only to make me more attractive to other men and I kept getting asked out. I swatted those guys away like flies: couldn't they see I was suffering? Plus, what if Rick heard I had been dating someone else? Then he wouldn't want me.

Yeah. I know. You want to go back in time and slap me, too.

Wait. It gets worse.

A big group of us went out dancing in the middle of the semester. I saw him in the parking lot. I clung to him and asked when he would know how he felt. "I'll be whoever you want me to be!" I told him. Dignity was my middle name.

This whole time, Debbie tried to talk to me. I wanted nothing to do with her. As the woman scorned so often do, I blamed the Other Woman instead of Rick, who rightly deserved any blame for choosing Debbie over me. I should have been mad at him, not her.

Finally, in January, at the beginning of the spring semester, I asked him for his decision. Oh, he still didn't know.

I snapped out of it. I had been (yes, you knew this was coming) an IDIOT. "Do not ever talk to me again," I told him. "Never. We are not friends."

He protested and I said talk to the hand. If he didn't have the guts to tell me it was over (as if I couldn't figure it out), then I would do the dirty work, but he wasn't going to get to pretend that we were all buddy buddy.

Debbie approached me again. I still didn't want to talk to her, but she insisted. She had things to tell me. I didn't want to hear her, but she sat me down and forced me to listen.

Rick had used the same lines on us. ("Your fragrance is intoxicating" or something stupid like that.) He had been courting her the same time he had been "dating" me. She had asked him about me and he had told her there was nothing between us. He had taken her on a two-week drive from Texas to San Francisco, then treated her very badly on the trip. I won't go into details but he was very mean.

It was liberating. True liberation, not, "I can ask men out so they can sleep with me with with impunity and without commitment" liberation. It was the liberation of realizing that he was a jerk and that he had treated us both badly and that we were better off without him.

He has faded away (yeah, I've googled him - you wouldn't?) and Debbie and I are friends again. Which is how it should be. Who needs a man like that in her life?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

In which Primo proves once again that he is The Rememberer (but fortunately he does not hold a grudge)

Primo would be thrilled to change my political affiliations, but he would be even happier to get me to stay up late with him and not get up early.

He would also be thrilled if I would drink with him. Not drink to get drunk, as appealing as that sounds given his family history, but just share a glass of wine at supper.

He maintains I tricked him while we were dating because on our first date date (not the lunch at The Cupboard that he did not pay for), I ordered a glass of wine and actually drank some of it. I don't think I've ordered wine since. Maybe a Pimm's now and then and we tried a chocolate martini which was not too shabby but worth ten dollars I don't think so, but wine? No thanks.

He tricked me by not farting around me before we were married, so I would say we are even.

Anyhow, the Fourth of July to which Primo refers in this email was 2005, I think. He remembers. I do not.

Me: Do we want to get Adrienne a certificate from The Beauty Shop or Bari* or from The Cupboard?**

Primo: Adrienne is getting married, so a certificate for something nicer than the Cupboard is probably appropriate. I liked Bari. Another place I liked a lot was that bistro in the shopping center next to the theaters downtown--Encore, I think.

I don't remember exactly how good the food at the Beauty Shop was, because I was mad at you while we were eating there. It was when I had flown to Springfield to see you for July 4 weekend, and at some point during the meal you told me that you were getting up to go to boot camp at 7:00 the next morning, while I was expecting a lazy morning (with you staying in bed) because it was a holiday. This kind of recollection is why I am "The Rememberer."

Me: Oh Lord have mercy! You were mad so you didn't enjoy the food? You are crazy! Well, it was yummy. Encore is out of business.

Primo: Yes, I was really mad. I thought the holiday was a day for me to spend with you (and with nothing scheduled unless we decided to do something together).

I used to hate it when you got up for anything earlier than 8:30 boot camp or 9:00 classes at the Y. I hate getting up early! (Just as much as you hate staying up late.)

* Fancy restaurants.

** Not so fancy, but our absolute favorite place in Springfield.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In which I throw myself at the grad school sociopath

As long as I am telling you about humilating relationships, I might as well reveal them all. Or at least one of the worst. I almost lost one of my best women friends over this guy, which would have been a true tragedy. I was better off without him, but Debbie I would have missed.

I don't want you to think that all my boyfriends have been jerks. Most of them have been really nice guys but just not the proper fit. When I moved to Fairview, I looked at 47 houses. I know because I kept a spreadsheet and don't try to tell me that's not normal because I think my friend Ilene, who organized her amazing wedding all by herself while she was also working doctor's hours, did the same thing for the 112 houses she looked at in Minneapolis.

Point is that you can walk into a gorgeous house but it might not have enough bedrooms. Or you want a finished basement. You can love a house but know you can't live in it.

Same thing with men. I was single for a long time before I met Primo, who must have been very tired of the Fairview bar scene because he puts up with a ton of crap from me, including having to be the straight man on my other blog, which means I - in theory - had a lot of boyfriends. I didn't, but I still had more time to date than someone who marries at 24.

But I had some lovely boyfriends and I am not going to write about them here unless it's to say something nice, so if you happen to be a former boyfriend whom I might have met on and who plays the harmonica and gives fabulous birthday presents, like a belt sander, just know that you fall into the nice category and I would never say anything mean about you, mostly because there isn't anything to say but also because I am classy that way and my sister and my mother would beat me up if I hurt your feelings. Even though I know you're tough.

Back to the grad school guy. When I was in grad school, I "dated" this guy named "Rick." My mother was right. If a man is interested, he will chase you. He will call you.

Sure, a man will let you chase him and will sleep with you, but that does not mean he is interested. It just means he is lazy and horny. But if he is truly interested, he will do the work. If he does not call, it is not because his grandmother died or he was hit by a bus. It's because he is not interested.

But I ignored my mother. I had to have Rick. I was an idiot.

I was a many times idiot. I was liberated. I thought, I don't need to follow those old rules about men and women. These are new times! Women are free! Women can ask men out! It's all different now!

But it wasn't. Oh sure. I could ask men out. But that didn't mean that they were more interested. It just meant it was easier for them to get laid.

Rick walked into my operations managment class, oozing sexy, and I swooned. Somehow, even though he was out of my league for I am the nerd girl with glasses and not even Miss Sakamoto you're beautiful! when she removes her glasses and shakes out her hair, we went out.

Probably because I pursued him with the same intensity that I was pursuing a 4.0 GPA: with a strategy that I strictly executed. And probably because I gave off a, Oh yes I will sleep with you yes I will yes I said yes vibe.

I am mortified that this is becoming a theme on this blog because I have always thought of myself as a Nice Girl. I guess I am not. I guess I am an Easy Girl.

He never once implied that he had any romantic interest in me.

He waved red flag after red flag in my face.

Some of the flags were his lack of ethics. He was divorced with a little boy. They had married because his wife had gotten pregnant. She had just left him and taken their son. He was still in the married student housing, even though he had no need of it and even though there was a waiting list to get into it.

He would park in the pay parking but then leave late at night after the attendant was gone so he wouldn't have to pay. When he was in dental school (which he had attended before business school - on his parents' dime - another rich kid), he would sneak into the records office at night to pull his patient records so he wouldn't have to wait the next day like everyone else.

And there were flags were about his lack of emotional interest in me. His parents came to town after we had been "dating" for four months. Not only did he not invite me to meet them, but I learned that they did not know that I existed.

He mentioned running into my friend Debbie a lot, but then would say, "But there's nothing going on with us!" I was puzzled that he even thought he needed to mention it. The gentleman protests too much, I think. But I didn't. Think, that is.

So what that he had seen her at a festival downtown? And hung out with her? She was our mutual friend, right?

We met in the spring. I was supposed to spend the fall semester of my second year at a program in Holland. I put my things in storage, got on the plane after a big hug and a "love you!" from Rick, which made my head spin because he had never said Those Words before, went to Holland, spent two days there, couldn't stand missing him, and returned to Texas.

To find that he had already asked Debbie out and did not want to see me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

In which I iron Gomez's shirts don't hate me

Yes, I know you thought I was done with Gomez but then I ran across this old story in my other blog. Here it is, along with some other things I remember about that trip, like the shoes. Oh, the shoes. I remembered the shoes because on Saturday, I had to make the hard decision to toss my fancy BCBG high heel slingbacks with the pointy toes because I was hobbling after walking one block. That's right. One block. I thought of Gomez because he is the one who told me what BCBG means (Bon Chic, Bon Genre) and because I hobbled with him because I was stupid.

After our first meal, which consisted of bread, cheese and sausage for me and endive for him, which turns out to be about the only thing he eats besides ripe liquid grapes, and of course was at Salima's apartment because he wouldn't take me out IN PARIS because really, the food stinks in Paris so why would you go to a restaurant there, Gomez and I cleared the table and did the dishes, which seemed very normal to me. But he laughed and said, “Oh, ze sings I do for you.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“At home, I never leeft a glass or wash a dish. I pay people to do zat for me. I have a maid who does zat. I mean, I am not exploiting her; but…”

I shrugged. “If I were paying someone to do that work, I wouldn’t do it myself, either.”

And I wouldn't. If I had to do the work I had hired someone else to do, I would fire her because it would mean that she wasn't doing it right. I would love to have a maid, but not a live-in one because I don't like having people in my space, but the kind who comes once a week while I'm at the gym and is like a little invisible fairy who waves her wand and ta dah! the bathroom sparkles and the laundry is done and the kitchen floor is washed (on the hands and knees, of course, because that is how one gets a floor clean).

Then he smoked a cigarette in the kitchen, blowing the smoke out of the kitchen window. I tried to give him an elementary lesson in fluid dynamics, explaining that when he blew the smoke out of the kitchen window, it just drifted back into the apartment through the dining room/living room/bedroom window, but he remained unconvinced, telling me that he had a PhD thank you very much and then he probably lectured me on US foreign policy and hurricane Katrina and how dare there be any poor people in the US.

Oh yeah, I should have said. Show me one child - ONE - in the US with an unrepaired cleft palate or a club foot. Ha. You can't. But I saw them all over in Morocco, so if you care so much about poverty Mr Knowitall, sell one of your Jaguars, stop your son's riding lessons and take care of some of the poor kids in your own country.

And then I should have gone into social mobility and the possibility of getting out of poverty, US 100, Morocco ZERO, but I didn't, even though I could have used the Moroccan taxi driver's line of, "I know what it's like in the US. Here, you work and work and work and you still stay poor. In the US, you work and you get to keep your money."

Back to the shirts. He wore a coat and tie. Every day. Which I thought was cute. At first.

I did him the extreme favor of ironing his shirts. Extreme because I don’t even iron for myself. I hate ironing that much. I just don’t buy clothes that need ironing. I told him I hate ironing and I am only doing this because I like him.

“But if I knew how to iron, I would iron for you,” he said. “You do it so well! It’s like you have a PhD in ironing! You iron better zan my maid.”

“Gee, thanks. You don’t need to flatter me. I’ve already said I would do it,” I answered dryly. “By the way, most women don’t really want to be known for their ironing skills.”

He was genuinely puzzled. “But I sink it’s nice that you can do sings for yourself and don’t need other people to do sings for you.”

The shoes
You know about the coat and tie. Gomez also polished his shoes every morning. At first, I thought oh how cute! What a sweet little quirk and isn't it nice that he is so careful about his grooming! Then I realized I looked like a slob next to him in my jeans, topsiders and sweater. "Don't you have any jeans?" I asked.

He gave me a look of horror and disdain, all mixed up in a bucket. "No," he said flatly.

The next day when we went out, I wore my black leather skirt, a red cashmere sweater and my black high-heeled boots. These boots have 2" square heels, so they are OK for some walking. I was in Paris, after all, and I should make some attempt to represent.

Except I didn't realize that Gomez was such a cheap you know what that he wanted to walk the four thousand blocks to the church where he hoped to find proof that aha! his ex-wife was not Lebanese or Armenian Christian as she claimed and Jewish instead and I was thinking, You are insane, truly insane, I cannot believe you are dragging me on this horrible errand and that I do not have the guts to tell you to go to hell and get my own hotel room until my plane leaves and by the time we got there, my feet hurt. so. bad.

So I said screw it and later, when he wanted to go shopping, I changed back into my jeans and not as uncomfortable for walking the cobbled, dog-pooped sidewalks of Paris shoes, which really made me stand out among the fancy ladies in the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, which is a street with very, very expensive shops.

It is not fun to shop in very expensive shops if there is absolutely nothing there you could possibly ever afford unless you wanted to sell your car and I'd rather have my car than a blouse.

I watched as he spent $1,200 cash on a navy blazer exactly like the one he was wearing, then we went back to the apartment where he drank a bottle of wine and took a four-hour nap.

Oh I am getting mad all over again about wasting those frequent flier miles.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

In which Sly falls out of bed and wants the doctor to write him a prescription for a hospital bed

Disclaimer: I acknowledge that I do not have all the facts in this case and that I have presented the ones I do have in a way that make Sly look as bad as possible.

Primo gets an email from his mom: Don't worry, but your father fell out of bed last night. I couldn't get him back up, so we called the paramedics. They put him back into bed, but in the morning, Dad realized his hip was dislocated. He thinks the paramedics did it. We had to call them again to put his hip back in.

The next day, Primo calls to check on things and discovers that his father fell out of bed again. He learns that his parents have been having a lot of falls: because the carpet is slippery, because his mother's socks are slippery.

"Was alcohol involved?" I ask.

"He fell out of bed in the middle of the night," Primo says. "So probably not in that case."

"This is pretty bad," I say. "Your dad could break his hip. Plus it must cost them an arm and a leg every time they call the ambulance."

"I think their insurance covers it," Primo says.

"Then it costs us an arm and a leg every time they call the ambulance," I mutter.

"If they aren't going to move into assisted living, maybe they could get some live-in help," I suggest. "How about a young soldier who's home and going to school? He'd be gone during most of the day, but there at night when they would need help. He could do some errands in exchange for room and board."

"He would have had to change his position on the war to get along with my parents," Primo sighs.

"OK, what about a middle-aged lady to do the chores and the housecleaning and cooking and your dad sleeps on the floor?"

Primo calls his parents and suggests live-in help.

"What did they say?" I ask.

"They acknowledged receipt of my idea and that was it," he says. Then tells me, "My dad wants to ask his doctor for a prescription for a hospital bed."

"Why can't he just go buy one?"

"Because it will be cheaper if he can get his insurance to cover it."

"But why is it medically necessary for him to have a hospital bed? He's not sick."

"I don't know!"

I go to craigslist. Plenty of used hospital beds - $100, $200, $400. None of them have rails.

"Primo!" I say. "I thought the point of the hospital bed was to keep your father from falling out of bed. These beds don't have rails."

He looks. Acknowledges. Tells me that he has talked to his father again and that another issue is that his father, who is not a small man, has compressed the mattress on his side so that it slopes toward the floor, which might be part of the reason he is falling out of bed.

"So your dad is falling out of bed because he is fat? And has mashed the mattress down? Why doesn't he just buy a new mattress?"

"Because he wants to see if the insurance will pay for it."

"So I could go to my doctor and say, 'My high heels make my feet hurt so I need a prescription for pretty low-heeled shoes' and insurance should cover that? I like this system."