Let me set the scene.
Well even before the scene, a little background. Things are a little tight at home. So I’ve been looking for some side work. Don’t worry, it’s legal. I mean literally — legal side work. A little per diem. It’s a thing. And, it is necessary, because submitting applications into the great black hole of the Internet hasn’t been working out for me.
Internet job search, if you aren’t familiar — that’s when, in response to an advertised position for which you are qualified, you put the digital best version of yourself out there — you enter information about your past, your hopes and dreams, your goals, your abilities, your salary requirements and references — you put it all out there. Raw.
You click “Submit.”
But if you listen carefully you can hear it, the whoosh as your qualifications are flushed down the Internet toilet . . . “because in space, no one can hear you scream . . .”
But I digress, and I turned to Craigslist and answered an ad.
Admittedly, I had reason to be skeptical. The ad was barebones. No details, at all, not even the crappy stock language about working in a fast paced professional environment blah blah blah. The ad was only clear about one thing: The pay was not high. (Huh, what does that mean?) But as I said, things are as tight as a Kardashian dress so I replied anyway and attached my resume. (Accidental rhyme)
Lo and behold — a response!
However, no information.The email said that “they” have “someone” in my area the next day and asked if I could be at a local diner at 1:30. You know how when anyone says “long story short” they have already gone on for far too long? Well, long story short, I said I would be there. After not getting a confirmation of the meeting, or any details at all — like the name of the business, who I’m meeting with, his or her contact information or even their gender, I finally received a weak apology via email, “Sorry, I was in a meeting” and “Someone will be there a little after 2:00pm.” I replied, confirming I would be there at 2:05pm.
I went to the diner, dressed nicely and actually with some makeup on. It wasn’t a busy part of the day so as soon as I walked in the manager offered to seat me. I replied, “Well I’m meeting someone,” and looked around like I was looking for him —or her. The manager asked, “Do you see them?”
“No.” (But how would I know?)
So I sat at a booth facing the door. The waitstaff must have been just really bored because the server pounced on me,
“Can I get you something?”
“Not yet, I’m waiting for someone.” So . . . she brought me two menus.
The second time she asked me if I wanted something I ordered coffee.
The waitress brought the coffee and two glasses of water, because, well, I had said, repeatedly,
“I was meeting someone.” (Who? Who was I meeting? I didn’t know.)
Now, if you’ve read some of my other blog posts you know I often go out alone. Always have. Not a big deal. But the two water glasses — they threw me. Those glasses were evidence that I was not really eating alone. I was expecting someone. And that someone was not there.
Then — hope! A professional looking man with a briefcase came in alone and sat in the booth next to me and opened his laptop.
I asked him, “Are you here to meet someone for an interview?”
“No, I’m not.” He looked at me and shook his head. I can’t be sure, but the threesome in the booth next to him looked fleetingly in my direction.
I crawled under the table and assumed the fetal position. Well, I wanted to.
I had no computer. No reading material. Just my phone. But that was useless.You see I was never given a phone number of the person I was to meet or of the business, for that matter. I had no one to call or text to say, “Um — are you still coming?”
I finished my coffee. I told myself I would wait a half hour, which was way too long. No one emailed me.
The attentive waitress asked, again, “Are you ready to order?” To which I replied, as I was fishing for cash to pay for my coffee,“No . . . I think I’m just going to go.” The waitress said, “Okay,” but didn’t look particularly surprised. I left the money on the table, got up, and quickly walked out. I must have looked upset, because I was. I was murmuring inaudibly . . . Shady ass Craiglist lawyers wasting my time . . . I don’t have to stand for this shit, I’m out . . .
And then I realized– to the restaurant staff and patrons it would appear that I was some unfortunate woman on a date who just got stood up! Like I was rejected in my quest for love instead of just rejected in my search for some extra money.
I wanted to go back in and scream . . .
IT WAS NOT A DATE!!!!!!!
But, that would invite more pity.
And that would be a shame.
And there was already enough shame going around.
Just Me With . . . . one coffee, two menus, two water glasses, no food, no money.
Alone posts. Wait, why are there so many?
Pissed: Parking and Dining Alone Fun fact. This was the same diner.
Deja vu. I have written about this guy four times before. Four times. And I admit that to begin this post I copied and pasted part of my last writings about him, because he just keeps coming back and it’s all the same damn thing, over and over again . . .
I ran into him again. But wait, please peruse the following to you can get the full picture. This has been going on for . . . years! YEARS!
1. The Landscaper Guy — Not Digging Him — I meet a man.
2. The Landscaper Guy and the Female Chandler Bing — I give him a shot. (I shouldn’t have.)
3. The Landscaper Guy and A Phone Smarter Than Me — I shoot him down, and miss. I have to take better aim and shoot again.
4. The Landscaper Guy, Freaking Part IV — I shoot him down, again. He expresses concern about my single status.
Are we all caught up? If not, that’s okay because it’s always the same.
Fast forward to now. It was very hot, and you know how they say to check in on older people in hot weather? Well I had to get my Mom out of her sweltering house, so we went for ice cream at an outdoor place. As I was looking at flavors, a man looked at me.
I smiled, because that’s what I do.
He said, “You look familiar.”
I replied, “Well, I’m from here, so you know . . .” It’s a smallish suburban town. You can’t swing a dick with running into someone you know. (I’m paraphrasing from Sex and the City because Anthony the Wedding Planner cracked me up with that line. I like funny. Note to men: Many women enjoy humor.)
And here’s where I can just cut and paste, because it’s all so familiar.
“You live on Maple Street, right?” He asked.
“Yes.” Oh geez. It was coming back to me, like a bad debt.
I should have known, the white t-shirt. He had on a white t-shirt . . .
I walked away. I was only there to check the flavors for my mom and report back to her. She was waiting in the car. So that’s what I did. I just walked away.
I hoped, I so hoped that he would be gone when I returned.
My hopes were dashed on the jagged rocks below.
Oh he had gotten his ice cream and was getting into his car — but his car was parked right next the the place. Just my luck.
“Still don’t want to go out with a brother?” He asked me.
Incredibly, he had asked me out again. As I mentioned before, this has been going on for years. Check the dates of my posts. Years.
And still the answer was, is, and will always be, “No.”
Though I clearly said “no” the man continued, just like he had many times before. As he sat in the driver’s seat he motioned to the empty space next to him, “I mean — ice cream. You can sit right here. What’s wrong with getting some ice cream with me? It doesn’t have to mean anything.”
(Except that it would mean that I wanted to get ice cream with him, which I did not.)
And again, I tell you, I tell him, “No.” But like a call and response, I added, without conscious effort to do so, “But thanks anyway.”
(Why am I so polite? Oh well. At least I didn’t attempt to give a reason this time.)
He shook his head as if to say, “What is wrong with this woman ( or bitch)?” He seemed genuinely baffled that I declined to take him up on his offer.
I walked away, again, thinking, “Well, I guess I have another blog post to write.”
I was seconds from a clean get-away, but the Landscaper Guy in the white T-shirt called after me,
“You’re still beautiful, though.”
Well shit. I can’t argue with the brother.
Just Me With . . . ice cream for two — Me and my Mom.
It’s that time of year when singles of all ages and backgrounds lament about being alone. It’s holiday time, right? People tend to couple up and cuddle or enjoy family traditions. For many folks one tradition is being asked, “Are you seeing anyone?”
(My family never asks this, by the way, as if such an idea is just crazy talk.)
But there are things that are really cool about not having a significant other during the holidays.
Here comes a list.
- No splitting holidays!
How many have done the — “Okay, we’ll spend Christmas Eve with your parents, Christmas Day at my Grandma’s and Christmas dinner at your sister’s.
Or this year we’ll go to your family and next year we’ll visit mine — as if your respective families have some sort of court ordered visitation schedule forced upon you. Children of divorce have been during this for years. Once you are half of a grown up couple, you’ll find yourself doing it again.
Single? You can sit at your own mom’s house — or your own damn house.
“I ain’t going nowhere.”
2. Less Gifts To Buy
AKA save your money for something for yourself, charity, or pay off credit card debt you racked up when you had a honey to buy for, his/her family to buy for and back when you bought all the crap to make you look good 24/7. It makes sound financial sense to be single, particularly from Black Friday until right after President’s Day.
The money blogs tend not to encourage break ups, but they should, and say:
Ways to build wealth:
First, cut up your credit cards,
Second, cut loose your BAE.
(Yes, I said BAE, I’ll show myself out.)
3. Less Gifts to Receive
I’ve gotten some bad ones. When I was only a mere 19 year old a future brother-in-law gave us a gift card — to a hotel!
A HOTEL GIFT CARD AS A CHRISTMAS GIFT TO BE OPENED IN FRONT OF THE WHOLE FAMILY!
And then there was a time when slim, young,and I thought pretty damn cute me was given a pink nylon track suit.
The kind you see worn in nursing homes.
Wait, what? Have you seen me? I mean I’ve never been a slave to fashion, but I’m not completely devoid of .. of . . .giving a shit what I look like! C’mon, now!
And then I had to find a way never to wear it, or claim that it didn’t fit and return it. (I believe I returned it, although it was clearly a one size fits all situation.) And I still had to endure the disapproving looks from my husband.
Later on my my marriage we used to go to a white elephant Christmas party where everyone brought ugly, useless, yet nicely wrapped gifts to exchange for laughs. I had a seemingly endless supply of tacky items that had actually been given to me — lighted moving flowers in plastic cases — that was a crowd favorite.
Anyway, when you’re single you get less —- crap.
4. Your decor, or lack thereof,is your own
It doesn’t matter if somebody is allergic to real trees. You can get one. It doesn’t matter if you’d rather hang lights on your potted plant or toilet. It doesn’t matter if you would prefer not to decorate anything at all. It doesn’t matter if a lapsed Baptist girl wants a Menorah. You don’t have to start or maintain anyone else’s traditions or preferences. It’s all you, baby.
5. No work party discomfort
You don’t have to convince a significant other to go, and you don’t have to explain why your significant other is not there with you (“He’s working tonight.” This was my favorite work party lie.) But when you are single, you can show up on your schedule, make the rounds and leave whenever you damn well please. (All the big stars leave early. Look at the talk shows.)
Or, if you’re having fun you can stay until the bitter end without having your date do the raised eyebrow, tap the invisible watch, shoulder shrug combo which means,“You promised we wouldn’t have to stay long. I want to go home and watch Die Hard.”
6. And the best one?
You have no idea what things will be like next year.
Being uncoupled, you haven’t promised to honor the same — time-sharing, lame gift giving and receiving, fake tree, awkward party-duty, 24 hours of A Christmas Story — Christmas simply because that’s what you did with your partner last year, and every year.
Nope. You’re free.
Next year, you might try something different.
Next year, you might be someone different.
Next year, you might be with someone new, or not (remember to consider cleaning house mid-November, your bank account will thank you).
The possibilities are endless.
Just Me With . . . no one. And that’s alright with me.
See also Annual Holiday Christmas Party
I have written about this guy three times before.
1. The Landscaper Guy — Not Digging Him — I meet a man.
2. The Landscaper Guy and the Female Chandler Bing — I give him a shot. (I shouldn’t have.)
3. The Landscaper Guy and A Phone Smarter Than Me — I shoot him down, and miss. I have to take better aim and shoot again.
Well, I ran into him today. Again. Seems he has a vehicle now, a vehicle that needed gas, as did mine.
He was, again, wearing white but topped it with a blue jacket. No head scarf this time.
I said a passing hello like I would to a stranger, a stranger who looked somewhat familiar. He said “Hi” back with a look that said, You don’t have anything else to say?
I smiled at him, being polite, but not starting any kind of conversation. It was, after all, 7:45am.
He followed up with a “Hellooo” drawing the word out, raising his eyebrows at me. It was that kind of ‘Hello’ that wasn’t a greeting but rather a complaint of some sort. It said, You got nothing else to say to me?
I gave the ‘I’m just being polite‘ smile and thought, “Shoot, I’m supposed to know this guy. I have no idea who he is.”
He said, reading my mind– or my face, “You don’t remember me, do you?”
“I’m sorry, no, I don’t. Are you a neighbor?”
“Yeah,” he humphed (Is that a word? Because that’s what he did. He humphed.). Then he said, “Yeah, a few houses down. You live on Maple Street, right?”
“Yes.” I was starting to remember, but not his name. “Um . . . Oh yes, we talked a couple of times.”
“What’s wrong with dinner? You didn’t want to go to dinner?”
“Um . . . ”
“You still feel that way?”
“Yes.” What the hell?
“Why?” WHY DOES THIS GUY ASK WHY? WHY WHY WHY????
“I’m just not going out much lately.” This was the response that had failed me previously. It was all I had at 7:45am.
“But dinner? What’s wrong with that?” And he let out a humph again, “Just you and your dog . . .” (I ask you — Why’d he have to bring my dog into this? Oh, my dog was in the car, looking at him, probably judging him, I hope. Woman’s best friend and all . . . )
“I mean, you’re single, right? ”
“Yes.” I refused to lie, and he refused to STFU. As discussed in Where Did I Put My Fake Boyfriend there are some aggressive men who only accept the reported presence of another guy as an acceptable reason to decline a date.
“Well, I don’t get it. What’s wrong with dinner? I’m not talking about a relationship or anything. Dinner,” and he wasn’t done.
He added, incredibly, “I mean a woman like you shouldn’t be alone — for years — like this.”
WTF? I cannot believe he said that to me.
“I’ll be alright,” I replied and offered a purposely fake smile, one that I hope really conveyed, ‘You, sir, are an asshole.‘
He laughed. “Well.”
“Well. You have a nice day, now,” I said. This is the way Northern US women say the Southern US women’s ‘Bless your heart‘ which really means, ‘I’m done talking to you. Kiss my ass.’
“Alright,” he replied, shaking his head, which probably meant, ‘Bitch’ and truthfully, I don’t give a shit.
Just Me With . . . a full tank of gas, next to an ass.
For other run-ins with the men in my neighborhood, see:
My Ex-Husband had pissed me off again, with a modified Nanny text that illustrated the fact that the inconvenient visitation schedule is my obligation to uphold and his option to ignore.
I’m sick of it.
To the inevitable comment that “at least he seems them, ” I refer to Misplaced Praise of a Father is Not Good Manners.
The whole thing sucks. No other word for it. Well, there are other words but that’s the one I’m going to use.
I was pissed. Actually, I don’t even want to talk about it. There are so many things wrong right now and I have so very few acceptable or advisable or helpful responses or resources. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. Five kids ain’t no joke. Yes, sometimes things get to me, despite my blessings. I’m human, and often treated like much less.
To cool down I went for a drive. Well, I drove and parked. First I parked at the kids’ school, then the grocery store parking lot, then the bank lot, then on the street outside of a pizza joint. When I remembered that I hadn’t eaten in almost twelve hours I figured food would help my mood. Since I was alone I figured I could treat myself to dinner at a diner. The diner would be open for another hour and a half or so and there were some people still there so I went on in.
I took a booth for comfort. No reason to perch on a stool when there were so many empty tables available. I was thankful no one I knew was there. I was not feeling like small talk. Overhearing one waitress complaining that she was so tired and that her shift was just too long and another waitress complaining that she’d only made $9 the whole day, I made a mental note to leave a decent tip.
I enjoyed the quiet, the children can be, let’s say, over-stimulating. (That sounds so much better than saying my offspring can be a pain in the ass, don’t you think? Don’t worry, I’ve withdrawn my application for Mother-Of-The-Year.)
I ordered and resumed my texting and tweeting.
When I looked up all the other patrons had gone. I was the only one left. Basically, the restaurant was staying open just for me.
I took dining alone to a whole new level.
I ate quickly and gave a fifty percent tip on a cheap meal. I was calmer by the time I got home.
Just me with . . . NO ONE!!!!!! I mean it. Nobody at all. Whatever.
I’ve been invited to a dinner party. A fancy sit down dinner party with a cocktail hour preceding it. It’s a happy occasion, celebrating the wife’s successful battle against cancer. I still remember her tearful message on my voice-mail, canceling her son’s lesson because she had found out she had cancer, “I just want to see my boys grow up,” she’d said.
But after multiple surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy treatments, she’s been cancer-free for ten years, hence the party. I’m not usually invited anywhere, let alone a society-like dinner party. And even though I often avoid social settings, I decided that I would go.
The pink invitation was addressed to me, “and Guest.”
I immediately started to think of who I might bring, though no good choices came to mind. It was a bit of a stressor, still, I fantasized about what it would be like to bring a smart, well-spoken man who knows his way around a dining room table. My old college friend (with seldom used benefits)? No, too complicated. As I was pondering my situation, I eventually checked my voice-mail. Cheryl had called to make sure I’d gotten the invitation. She was afraid I’d gone away on vacation and would miss it. She added that she didn’t know whether I was seeing someone or had someone I take to events like this but she wanted me to know that she’d be happy to see me come alone. She said I should feel totally comfortable coming alone and that would be just great. They’d just be thrilled to see me, and I could come alone.
That was nice.
She wanted to make me feel comfortable about COMING ALOOOOONE.
I delayed in responding. I’d recently attended her son’s graduation party alone and though it was nice, I was a bit uncomfortable and felt very conspicuous. See I Almost Crossed One Off of My Bucket List of Men to Do.
As I continued pondering, a possible potential date came to mind — a man I’d met through group therapy. He’d recently quit group so it was completely appropriate (if freaking weird) to see him outside of the therapeutic context. I was going over in my mind how I’d introduce him. “We used to work together,” sounded plausible. (Yes, we worked out our tortured psyches, but no one need know that part.) It would be weird, maybe too weird, since he knows much more about me than a casual friendly date would need to know. But he’s a smart guy who, I have no doubt, would be able to talk to the people at this dinner. I tweeted a random query about it to my friends who live in my phone about whether that would just be too weird. I received a response that I should just go alone because being single is awesome.
There it was again, “Go alone.”
Suddenly I felt that it was some sign of weakness that I even considered bringing a companion.
In the end, I left a message for Cheryl saying that yes, I would love to attend, but that, “As it looks now, I’ll be coming alone.” I guess I just wanted to leave the door open, even just in my mind.
Shortly after, I happened to be outside when Cheryl drove by my house (in her very nice Jaguar convertible). She stopped and exclaimed how thrilled she and her husband were that I would be coming. Then she elaborated. She said she thinks it’s just great for me to come alone, that she was single for a long time and she became so tired of bringing someone she’d have to entertain. She started going places alone, she explained. “I can’t tell you how many weddings I went to alone. I’m just like you. It’s better not to bring just anybody. If it was somebody special, sure, but there’s no need to have to entertain somebody else. Plus, there will be plenty of people you know. Some of the folks from the graduation and The Martin’s and . . .” She proceeded to name couples.
The one couple I did, in fact, know, but I’ve ever had any meaningful conversations with them. At the graduation party they extended a warm hello and then walked around the pool hand in hand. I can’t fault them for that, I mean, it’s not their job to entertain me.
Then Cheryl said — again, “I’m just thrilled you’re coming and I think it’s great that you’re coming alone.”
I know she meant well. I do not fault her at all. But it had an effect on me. I abandoned any thought of bringing an escort.
But why wasn’t I encouraged to bring a date? This is a dinner party! It’s not a wedding, Baptism or Bar/Bat-Mitvah. For family religious ceremonies it doesn’t really make sense to bring a rent-a-date. Those occasions are sacred and there will be pictures that the family will look at forever — and I don’t want them looking at a picture of my random date and think — “Who the hell was that?”
But a dinner party? Why not bring a companion, even if he’s not someone special?
I know why. It’s the new black. It’s the new black for women to go alone.
Well, it’s not so new for me. I’ve done it for years, both before and after my divorce. See, ” The Night I Became Cinderella” and “The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman, Going Out Alone.” My ex-husband hated going anywhere. I could get him to go to my work formal once a year and that was about it for those kind of events. Other times I went solo and told people my husband had to work. After we had children, I would just say my husband was home with the kids. So for me, I’ve done the new black. For me, it would be the new free to go somewhere with a man.
I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’ll talk to people. I’ll be my own designated driver and won’t drink. See, “My Kids Think I’m an Alcoholic.” I’ll be prepared to be seated with all couples. But truthfully, sometimes that’s just not festive. See, “I Went To A Wedding Alone.” Yes, as Cheryl pointed out, I would have had to entertain a date, but he’d also have to entertain me. If the couples are uncomfortable or just not gregarious I’d know I’d have someone to sit with. Let’s face it, this isn’t a get together with old college chums or a girls night out. It’s a sit down dinner party in the wealthy suburbs, and all that that implies.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but being single means I can have a date if I want, right? Isn’t that the bonus of being single? Choices? Options? — Even if the options put me outside of my comfort zone? But according to Cheryl, my only logical and fiercely independent option seems to be to go, bravely, alone, yet again.
Damn it. I’ve been out of the game for so long now I’m not even allowed to have a partner — for anything!
In the end, even though the invitation originally said I could bring a date, the multiple congratulatory comments persuaded me to RSVP for one. ( I chickened out.)
I needed Cheryl to say, or for me to say to myself, “You can go alone, but it’s fine if you want to bring a date, or companion, or whoever.” Oh the sweet freedom — to bring a male friend, or gay male friend, or hell, a paid male friend (not that I could afford that — heh heh heh).
But because of the new black, it has been made abundantly clear to me (in my warped mind) that I should go alone. So I will.
Screw the new black. Next time I want someone to walk in and out with, and know who I’ll be sitting with ahead of time. Yeah, yeah, I can go alone, but I don’t have to, damn it.
Oh well. Maybe I’ll get lucky. Or maybe Cheryl is planning to fix me up with one of the older men of means who is similarly unattached.
Just Me With . . . no date, boldly going where no man has gone before . . . or with . . . at least, not as my date, anyway.
A while back I wrote a Bucket List of Men to Do. On it, I included an Too Old For Me Rich Guy saying, “At this point in life this is my only route if I want to be photographed as the pretty young thing on someone’s arm.”
This past weekend, I thought about checking that one off my list.
I had been invited to a graduation party of a former student. The student’s family is wealthy. Not surprisingly, it appeared that their friends are similarly well off. As per usual I attended alone. As per usual, it appeared as though I was the only woman attending alone, except, of course, for the widowed grandmothers. As per usual, I was the only woman of color, and as per usual I knew hardly anyone there. The point is, I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb. Well, maybe not sore, more like a bare thumb, among French manicured pinkies. But these are really good people, we go back a long way, and I was happy to have been invited. Sometimes I just tire of going solo — all the time — but I digress . . .
I got my food and took an empty seat among strangers, though the host did eventually join us. He introduced me, explaining that I was his son’s music teacher.
Well, an older gentlemen seated across from me was simply fascinated, almost smitten. Now I don’t discuss the specifics of age but considering my wealth of life experience, a man significantly older than me has got to be pretty darn — experienced. Nay, old. But this man, by his dress, demeanor and comfort level led me to assume that he had means. I seriously doubt that this dude needed to check his balance before going grocery shopping.
I didn’t catch his name. But let’s call him Jack. Jack was quite complimentary, noting that he certainly would have stuck with his music lessons if he had a teacher who looked like me. “Wow,” he said, and inquired as to whether I had any openings . . . heh heh heh. “I don’t know how the boy could learn anything with you as his teacher.”
I tell you, I almost giggled. This flirtation from an older gentlemen of means made me — me, a grown-ass woman of feminist sensibilities — positively girlish! I’m not sure, but I think I may have flipped my hair.
I took the comments in kind and did not pursue the matter, but . . .
Let the record reflect that I object to the way younger women romantically involved with older rich men are maligned, called gold diggers and such. It’s offensive.
But hey, Gold Diggers, I get it now. (Shhhhhhh)
Just Me With . . . giggles. I really wanted him to buy me something shiny. I’m just saying . . .
I’ve written before about being a nosy neighbor, being hit on by Brian, the strange man who lives around the corner, and feeling uncomfortable (at first) about saying no. See, I Turned Down a Dinner Date With An Ex-Con.
Recently, I saw Brian again. I’ve seen him, on and off, of course, from time to time, but since I’d turned him down he hadn’t stopped to talk or come by to borrow things.
I have creepy neighbors, but I also have “normal neighbors.” The kids and I help normal neighbors with their new puppy, Bailey. And by “the kids and I” — I mean, usually, me. When I was walking Bailey the other day, I found myself walking in Brian’s direction.
It was a deer in headlights situation. I was walking toward him. He was walking toward me.
Brian’s appearance has changed — again. It’s Winter now so he doesn’t go shirtless anymore. He’s cut his hair, which is a good thing, because he seemed disheveled before. I’d seen him on crutches a couple of weeks ago, but now the crutches are gone — as are his glasses. He looks different without his glasses. I wonder what happened to his glasses? But I digress . . .
Bailey the puppy is a bit timid, but once a stranger speaks nicely to her, she gets very excited and friendly.
She was terrified of Brian.
He tried to be nice to her. He did what you’re supposed to do — offered his closed fist, fingers down, for the pup to sniff, but Bailey was still afraid. She started to run (on the extendable leash) and when I pulled her back she was visibly shaking.
It begs the question: What does this dog sense about this man?
“Hello, Roxanne, I got your name right this time!”
“Yes, yes, you did.”
Brian has found at least two other names that sort of rhyme with Roxanne that he’s used. But on this particular day he got it right.
We exchanged the “How are you, blah blah blahs.”
“I saw your daughter the other day,” Brian added, “and I thought she was you. That just tells me how young you look. But you won’t tell me how old you are.”
“No, I won’t.” (Dude, will you please STOP asking how old I am. That is so not cool.)
A dog can be a nice distraction, and as I turned to calm the puppy and explained she wasn’t mine, Brian placed his hand on my back and slowly and deliberately caressed me with his thumb.
What the hell?
It was a move too “familiar” to be casual.
Why is he touching me?
I backed away, continuing the small talk, and making my excuses to leave. But then he put his arms out to hug me.
“Well, it’s good to see you,” he said.
It was a reflex really, but I allowed a hug. I don’t know why. I don’t know why. I DON’T KNOW WHY!
I immediately felt the “ick” and could smell the cigarettes.
Ah, maybe that’s why Bailey the puppy was so upset. Different smells bother dogs, and Bailey’s owners (normal neighbors) don’t smoke. Maybe that’s all it was. I hoped.
Feeling uncomfortable I said,
“Well, I gotta go,” and started to walk.
I was seconds from a (not completely) clean get-away when Brian asked,
“So when are we gonna get together?”
“Uh, I don’t know,” I said, while shaking my head no, and looking at the ground. I thought I was being dismissive.
“Still thinking about it, huh?” This was Brian’s response to my non-answer.
And in typical Roxanne fashion, I replied, “Yeah, I guess so.”
The voices in my head screamed, What are you saying? Shut up!
What Brian said next gave me the “ick” — again:
“Well, we live close to each other at least, so it would make it easy.”
It would make WHAT easy? The voices in my head screamed.
“Yeah, I guess.” I mumbled, this time, with an accompanying awkward laugh. “Okay, bye.”
Me to me, in my mind: Will you please just SHUT UP! NOW!!
Brian walked toward his house. I continued in the opposite direction until it was safe, then doubled back and went home.
Questions? Comments? Concerns?
What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just say, “Sorry not interested” when I need to? It’s a problem. There’s a pattern. And why did Brian touch me, why did he touch me like he was my boyfriend? Why did he hug me and why did I allow it? And most importantly, What does the dog instinctively know?
I’m never leaving the house again. Never.
Okay, I have to walk to the dog, and there’s my kids, and life . . . but shit . . .
Just Me With . . . a case of the “ICK”
Other posts when I couldn’t just say “NO!”:
I live in a strange neighborhood. I engage in running narratives about my neighbors stemming from my over-active imagination and my lack of social life coupled with my tendency to snoop and their odd behavior.
Brian, let’s call him, is the man I sometimes refer to as Creepy Neighbor Number Two. For a long time I suspected that Creepy Neighbor One might be a serial killer, but I digress . . .
Brian is more odd than creepy. I found it suspect that he and his wife, let’s call her Nancy, had a baby that we rarely saw, nor did we see evidence of said baby. On the couple of times when I saw either Brian or Nancy with the baby, they didn’t seem to know what to do with him. On one very cold day they had the baby in the stroller at the grocery store. He had on a hat and jacket, but nothing on his feet. Nothing at all. I hoped they’d get him home soon. Then other times, for weeks at a time, the couple would hold weekly yard sales, selling antiques, and though both were home, the baby was not.
When I was in the midst of exterior renovations and landscaping, Brian used to walk behind my home at least once a day, say hello and sometimes chat. He was painfully thin, with short-cropped hair, had bad knees and sometimes walked with a cane. Brian was always friendly and gregarious. I admit I’d go in the house when I saw him out and about. He made me uncomfortable.
But then, he was gone.
After Brian dropped off the face of the earth, I’d seen his wife Nancy from time to time, but not the baby. One fine afternoon she was walking a seriously drunk and belligerent friend home. On another occasion my kids witnessed her having a heated argument with a guy on a bicycle in the alley behind my house. My kids thought it was a drug deal gone wrong. Clearly, they’ve inherited their mother’s tendency to fill in the blanks. The last time I saw Nancy was at a convenience store — she didn’t acknowledge me and was very jumpy and very, very thin.
Drugs, it had to be drugs. Plus, she had no baby with her.
Then in the Spring Brian reappeared in the neighborhood after having been gone for at least a year. His appearance had changed. At first I didn’t recognize him. His hair is much longer and he’s put on a few pounds. He seemed healthier, had no cane and often was on a bicycle.
Plus, he’d taken to going shirtless — most of the time. He is not cut. I mean, on a beach or in his yard this would have been fine, but every day walking or biking around the neighborhood? No.
On Friday evening Brian knocked on my door and invited me to his home for Saturday night. He wanted to cook me dinner.
“Hi Diane. How are you?”
“Good, It’s Roxanne.”
“Oh all this time I thought it was Diane.”
“Well, I have the house fixed up and I wondered if you wanted to come over for dinner tomorrow night, I’ll cook for you.”
“Oh wow, tomorrow? I don’t think so, not tomorrow.” I was caught off guard.
Awkward silence, which I then felt compelled to fill, bad Roxanne, bad Roxanne.
“I’ve had a rough week,” and after another awkward pause, “and plus I have plans with friends that may or may not happen.”
“Oh, well, if you’d like to come another time, just let me know.”
“Okay, I’m glad you’ve got the house together.”
“Yes, well, it’s coming along.”
“Okay, well, see you later.”
Ouch, right? Why didn’t I say yes? Did I actually have plans?
Well, I had plans with old college friends I rarely see that were never confirmed so no, no real plans. It is true that I’d had a hellish week and didn’t want to have dinner with him — or anyone else.
But let me paint a picture. Three of my kids were standing or milling about behind me and heard the whole conversation. I was mortified. He saw that the kids were there and asked me out anyway. The invitation did not include the children. It was painfully awkward. Plus, the kids knew that I had been avoiding this guy and that while I don’t think he’s a bad or menacing guy, I do think he’s strange. If I’d said yes, they would know either that I was lying about not liking him all along, or that I agreed to have a date with him out of pity. Not good either way.
To be fair, I’ll admit that I knew the invitation would be forthcoming. He’d told me weeks earlier that once he got his house fixed up (his wife had trashed it) he would have me over for dinner and tell me all of the horrific things that have happened to him. In true overly polite and dating challenged Roxanne fashion, I’d said, “Sure,” thinking, hoping it would never happen.
Should it ever become a reality, I had decided that I would not accept his dinner invitation.
When Brian made a followup nonspecific dinner suggestion more recently I’d given him the classic girl response,
He had not been dissuaded, however, and he had showed up at my door.
This time, I just had to say, “No.”
Though I’m single and I need more purely social interaction with adults, I don’t have to date the guys that walk by my house, just because they ask.
Plus, he’d previously turned me off by saying stupid things, like;
“We should get together sometime. Wait, how old are you?”
Dude, no, seriously?
And repeating the same statements to me. “Did you know you can get free mulch?”
One week later: “Did you know you can get free mulch?”
Another week later: “Did you know you can get free mulch?”
And he’d stopped by to chat on one of his walks, reeking of liquor. He’d done the same with the workers at my house, reeking of liquor. Though this was before the disappearance.
More recently he knocked on the door and asked to borrow DVDs from my son, though we had never had a previous conversation about sharing movies.
Just the other day he waved at my house even though no one was outside.
He’s just not quite right.
Call me shallow, but these are red flags to me.
People can get down on their luck, I know I am. But my instincts told me to say no.
And let me add more color and texture to the picture I’ve painted. The last time I had a conversation with Brian he confirmed some of my suspicions, telling me that his estranged wife is indeed a drug addict– a coke-head actually, and she’s crazy, that his child is in foster care (hence no evidence of a baby), that he’d been in prison for the last year for trespassing on his own property. Ahhh this is why he’s been, as the lawyers at the firm used to say, “out-of-pocket.” But for trespassing? Really? Now, given my experience with my own War of The Roses situation, I know that absent physical abuse or a restraining order one cannot be arrested for being on a property that one owns jointly with a spouse. So it must have been something else, or there was indeed a restraining order against him, which opens another can of worms. Brian also told me he used to make a lot of money in computers but is now unemployed and that Nancy and her mother had scammed him out of everything he had, including his unemployment checks. He also offered that he had recently called the police to have his wife removed from the house when she showed up uninvited. This information did not make me want to pass a pleasant evening at his home.
What if his drug addict wife showed up again?
Yet, even given all that, Brian seems like an “okay” guy, and it sounds like he’s trying to get his life together. If he has an addiction of some sort, it’s always a good sign when a person puts on weight. Truthfully, I’d been worried about the baby and was relieved to hear that the child has been removed and is in a safe, temporary home. But I didn’t want to hear any more of his stories, not over dinner alone at his house.
Maybe he needs someone to talk to and is reaching out, but he has always made me uncomfortable. Plus, I just wasn’t in the mood. Thanks to some of my own problems, I probably wouldn’t have dated any of People’s Sexiest Men Alive last weekend. So the usually shirtless Ex-Con didn’t have much of a chance.
I wanted to be alone, truly.
Still, when I refused him, he looked so sad I and I felt guilty. I hadn’t meant to hurt him.
It’s okay to say, no, though. It is. I don’t have to date the guys who walk behind my house unless I really want to. This I know. This, I’ve learned. See Not Digging the Landscaper Guy – Part I, Landscaper Guy and the Female Chandler Bing, Part II, The Landscaper Guy and The Phone Smarter Than Me – Part III and The Snowman.
Just Me With . . . no date on a Saturday night. And that’s okay.
Damn, this is an unusually long post that I apparently needed to write to convince myself that it was okay to say a very short word, “No.”
I had Another Encounter With The Ex-Con which confirmed my decision. Even the dog knew something wasn’t right.