Tag Archives: relationships

A Good Neighbor, An Accidental Friend, and a Christmas Surprise

My old house is not as big or grand as this, but is similar.

My old house was not as big or grand as this, but is similar.

Before my divorce, when I still lived in the big house in the nice neighborhood —  also known as “The Marital Home,”   “The Debtor’s Prison,” or “The Money Pit” I had some really cool neighbors, many of whom were there for me when my world fell apart.

Hillary and Tom lived across the street, in a stately Tudor home.

Mary and Matthew from Downton Abbey.  Hillary and Tom are a older modern version.

Mary and Matthew from Downton Abbey. Hillary and Tom are a older modern version.

Hillary and Tom are older than I am, and well established in their careers.  Both lawyers, they had worked in the same firm I had, but had left before I started there.  My colleagues spoke so highly of them.   I earned street ‘cred at the firm just by being their neighbor.  I’m not sure where Hillary and Tom went to school, but I’m guessing there was ivy on some of the buildings. Eventually both left private practice, Tom for  high-profile government work, and Hillary took  an in-house corporate job.  The couple moved up the ranks in their positions, with Hillary becoming a major client of the firm.  Hillary was kind of a legend for younger female attorneys, she had played with the big boys and shattered the glass ceiling, or at least made a lateral move around it.

What’s more, Hillary and Tom are good people.  Tom is a talker, knows as much about music as he does about law (he’d been a drummer in a previous life). Hillary is not nearly as gregarious as  her husband, however.  She has a quiet dignity that suggests that she is not to be messed with.  She’s also very attractive, and appears to be years, even over a decade younger than her years.   They both worked long hours, so I didn’t see them often around the neighborhood, but  I always liked and admired them both.   They were a power couple, truly.

In some ways, I considered Hillary and Tom to be a bit out of my league.   They were connected, respected and wealthy.  They were happy and well-suited, though Hillary joked that this was because they didn’t spend a lot of time together.

A couple of years ago Hillary took an early retirement from her corporate job.  She was undecided as to what to do next, professionally.   In the meantime, she  had some time off — for the first time in probably twenty years.  I was surprised ( shocked) when she invited all six of us to her beach house.  We hadn’t spent much time together before this.  But I was in the midst of a divorce and renovations on the new (hoarders) house, and I don’t think I had a kitchen at the time.  I needed a break.   But,  I was in a bad way, my medications made me afraid to drive long trips alone.  I explained this to her, deciding to be honest.

Hillary listened and said,

“I’ll drive you.”

And she did.

She picked us up in her SUV and drove the kids and I to the beach where she opened her home to us, fed us, and let me sleep while she played with my kids on the beach.   I was surprisingly relaxed there.  It was nice.

Beaches, with Bette Midler and Barbra Hershey

Beaches, with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey

Hillary eventually took a new job, and we haven’t done anything together for  years now, though she sometimes drops off her daughter’s (designer)  hand-me-downs, and will buy whatever my kids are selling for school fundraisers.  We share an educational level, and some professional accomplishments, but our lives have taken drastically different turns.  I am, quite literally, on the other side of the tracks now.

Last year, Hillary and another ex-neighbor dropped off gift cards for all of us at Christmas.  I was completely surprised and thankful but I didn’t expect it to happen again.

But again this year, a few days before Christmas,  we heard a noise in the front room.  One of the girls got there just in time to see the door closing and a package sitting on a table.   Hillary had left chocolate and gift cards for all of us, including me — again.    These are not the obligatory gifts from some aunt.  Hillary is not related to us, and has no  long-standing tradition of giving gifts to my kids — or me.   This was clearly something that she just wanted to do, without fanfare.  We were obviously home when she came by,  but her stealthy elf-like drop off told me she didn’t want to talk.

So, instead of calling, I emailed her to thank her.

This was her response:

I am grateful for your friendship and especially your companionship during a time that was difficult for me.  Not much time for companionship lately, but the friendship is still there.

It made me cry.

I thought I was only on the receiving end of assistance.  I assumed that Hillary, like other friends and neighbors who witnessed or had second -hand knowledge of my break up and break down, was simply helping  a family in need —  because she had the means to do so.  I never thought that I had much to give, let alone the means to help anyone — especially someone like Hillary — who seems to have it all.

So I cried.

And I’m still not exactly sure how I  helped her — but I guess I did — and it meant so much to me that she told me so.

Just Me With . . . A Wonderful Life?

It's a Wonderful Life

Clarence The Angel: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.”
Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life”

Other stories of good neighbors:

When I Needed A Helping Hand

Riding With My Boss

Another Encounter with The Ex-Con

Michelle Pfeiffer, the nosy neighbor in "What Lies Beneath"

Michelle Pfeiffer, the nosy neighbor in “What Lies Beneath”

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.

Chandler on Friends, after he kicked his drug problem.

Chandler on Friends, after he kicked his drug problem.

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 . . .

Chance meeting with a strange man in Psycho

Chance meeting with a strange man in Psycho

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?

Brian said,

“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?

A man's hand on a woman's back can be oh so right, or oh so wrong.

A man’s hand on a woman’s back can be oh so right, or oh so wrong.

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?”

(Crap)

“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?

Conclusion

I’m never leaving the house again.  Never.

Cameron Diaz, home for the night in "The Holiday"

Cameron Diaz, home for the night in “The Holiday”

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!”:

Landscaper Guy — Not Digging Him, and

Landscaper Guy and The Female Chandler Bing, and

Landscaper Guy and a Phone Smarter Than Me, and

Where Did I Put My Fake Boyfriend?

I Turned Down A Dinner Date With An Ex-Con

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 . . .

I Feel Compelled to Include A Much More Flattering Depiction of a Nosy Neighbor
Michelle Pfeiffer, What Lies Beneath

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.

Huh.

Remember when Chandler on Friends was too skinny?

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.

Courtney Love, during skinny times

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.

Brian actually reminds me of the heavy Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), you know, after Rehab.

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.”

“No problem.”

“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 added,

“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.”

“Okay, Bye.”

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,

“We’ll see.”

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 want to be alone.” Greta Garbo

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 IIThe 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.

He Lives With His Mother?

Carrie and “Power Lad” who lived with his parents in a New York classic six apartment on the Upper East Side with a terrace overlooking the park.

 

It’s sad but true, women will put up with a lot of crap.  But it seems like one thing is very universally unacceptable — when an adult man lives with his mother.

Remember in Sex and The City when Carrie discovered that her latest guy shared a beautiful apartment with his parents?

Samantha He lives with his parents?
CarrieIt’s their apartment.
SamanthaSo not sexy honey.  Dump him immediately.  Here — use my cell phone.

Season Three, Episode 15.

Carrie didn’t dump him immediately, because she liked him, his parents were friendly and brought them food and he was a struggling business owner.

Once she realized, however, that Power Lad was still a child in the household, governed by his parents’ rules,  and that he was not saving money but actually spending it on really good pot, well it eventually ended.

Norman

I have some experience with this, the momma dwellers.  I hesitate to call these men out, even if I don’t use their real names, but I feel it’s a topic worth dancing around.  My momma dwellers are educated, well-spoken men.  I didn’t write them off immediately because  I’d known them since they lived in dorms.  Plus, there are certain category of momma dwellers that deserve a chance.
No Dumping Allowed
In my humble opinion, the following momma dwellers should not be immediately discarded:
1. Twenty Something Guy

I haven’t had one of these, but this  guy  is just out of school, has his  first real  job or is looking for one.  He’s recently discovered,  “Dude, they want first and last month’s rent and security before I move in?  That’s a lot of money.”  Yeah dude, better get a bank account.

Acceptable:  If he is saving for his own place.

Unacceptable : If his Mom still does all his laundry, cooks all his meals, he drives her car and he routinely buys rounds for everybody at the local bar.

2.  Break Up Guy

So the marriage/relationship didn’t work and he moved out of the  home, leaving the kids (if any) with their mother.  Suddenly he’s  homeless.  You can’t sleep on somebody’s couch forever and his married buddies are not taking him in long-term  . . . so . . .  he moves in with his mom.

Acceptable:  If he is providing financial support to his kids, someone has filed for divorce, and he is actively looking for his own place.

Unacceptable:  If he visits the kids at the marital home  “overnight.”

3.  Norman?    Older guy taking care of his elderly or sick mother.

A boy's best friend is his mother.

“A boy’s best friend is his mother.” Psycho

This guy still lives in his home town, and may even  have a good job and  his own place.   But his mother is getting older, or has taken ill. Maybe she’s widowed or divorced, either way she’s alone and probably should not live that way.  So he, like a champ, gives up, sublets, or keeps his place — but  he moves in with this mother.  He is probably a good guy, but depending on his mother’s condition, this could go on  indefinitely.

Acceptable:  If the mom is really sick.

Unacceptable:  If the mom goes out more often than he does.

4. Ethnic/Large family/family business guy or filthy rich blue blood guy

Moonstruck

From Moonstruck. The Italian American family kitchen in the large Brooklyn Heights home. Real estate. 

This guy works in his family business.  So does everybody else.  They all live in the large family home.  If you were to marry him, you might live there too for a bit.

Ironically, this also happens in blue blood very rich families or royalty, “Chad” (or William, or Harry) will move back to the main house while interning for “Daddy’s” company.  Except in that case Chad’s bedroom could probably accommodate most of the ethnic guy’s family and their business.

 

The heir to the family fortune and estate might still live with his mum.

The heir to the family fortune and estate might still live with his mum.

Acceptable:  If he wants to have his own family one day.

Unacceptable: If he buys a dog.  (There’s no way he’s thinking about leaving if he’s recently acquired a dog.)

If he’s a Prince, yeah, he can live with this mom.

5.  Grad school student guy. 

This is a guy getting an advanced degree, perhaps a professional degree. He studies all the time.  He lives with his parents because he can’t justify paying rent only to be conscious there only a couple of hours a day.  He reasons, “Why pay for a city apartment just to study and occasionally sleep there?”   — especially true for medical students or interns.  This arrangement is almost always  temporary, and, frankly,  worth the investment.  One day he’ll graduate — and probably get a damn good job.

derek

Acceptable:  If he is actually in school.

Unacceptable:  If he is merely planning to get back to school.  Look for that acceptance letter.

George lived with his parents before moving in with Meredith and the gang on Grey’s Anatomy

You see, a guy living with his momma should be given an opportunity to explain. It should not be a deal breaker– at least not  until you know the underlying reasons and can access the likely duration of the living “arrangement.”

Enough Red Flags for a Communist Parade

 

But here are the red flags I don’t believe anyone should ignore:

1. He has a basement “room” completely set up where he pursues his personal interests — music, computers, lifting weights.  Yeah, this dude has set up house.  He ain’t going nowhere.

2.  He works from home, yet there is no home office,  desk, or computer and he has no cell phone.

3.  He’s mentioned that he hopes to inherit the house. He’s there for life, or at least his mother’s life.

4.  He has never actually said he plans to move or has any interest in doing so.  Pay attention to the silences.  The silences are very important.

Just Me With . . .  no momma dwellers at the moment:   one is estranged,  “If I’d Married My Stalker,”  the other is a very  special friend who defies any type of categorization, “We Thought You Were Dead, Mommy — Almost F*cked to Death”  

 

See other types of dating fails:

The Perfect Man — or so I thought.

The Snowman

The Landscaper Guy: Not Digging Him — Part I

I Turned Down A Dinner Date With An Ex-Con

Facebook Mutual Friend with the Ex’s Girlfriend? – Part One

 

Coffee with The Ex-Wife of My Ex-Mother-In-Law’s Lover

RIP Kathryn Joosten from Desperate Housewives

Yesterday I saw a woman I’ve known for years, and decided to sit with her for a bit at the counter at Dunkin’ Donuts.   I see her around our small town, she lives near me.  She’s a recently retired school bus driver and has more time on her hands these days.   She’s a talker and sometimes I don’t have time to chat but yesterday I did.  I’ll call her Miss Debbie.

When I saw Miss Debbie at the counter I remembered someone’s blog post where they listed simple things we can do for others, and one of those was to listen to an elderly person talk, because sometimes they just need to.

Miss Debbie is probably in her seventies, but she’s mobile, healthy and spunky so “elderly”  doesn’t seem quite right, but I guess on paper, she is.

She is also the Ex- wife of the man my Ex-mother-in-law had a long-term affair with. 

Let me explain.   I may have to distribute a chart later.   Years ago and for a period of many years, my ex-mother-in-law was sleeping with this woman’s husband.   Everybody knew.  We live in a small town outside of a large city.  It is a bed of gossip.   The affair between my Ex-Mother-In-Law– let’s call her Shirley and Miss Debbie’s husband, who I’ll call Larry, was common knowledge.

I took the stool next to Miss Debbie and we chit-chatted for a bit. She told me about problems she was having getting work done on her house and her latest cataract surgery.   I suggested a couple of contractors I know.

As always, she eventually asked if I’d seen my Ex mother-in-law, and I said, no explaining again that  I don’t have any contact with her, or have any reason to have contact with her.  I added that I hadn’t heard anything either way so I guess she’s okay.

Then Miss Debbie said, “It was all in my face, that was the most hurtful thing.”

Yes, I nodded.   Truly that must have been horrible.

The woman who would later become my mother-in-law, Shirley, used to pull up to a nearby lot outside Miss Debbie and Larry’s house and beep her horn for him until he came out.   I repeat:   Shirley beeped her horn for all to hear —  until Larry left the home he made with his wife and two children and went off with her.   That would be a hurtin’ thing.  A country song inspiring hurtin’ thing.  A spit on your own porch and clean your gun hurtin’ thing.   I can’t imagine.

Granted, Larry was no prize, obviously.   Still, he was somebody’s husband —  and this somebody was sitting next to me having coffee.

Let the record reflect:   Some men do leave their wives for their mistresses.  It happens.   Case in point:   Larry eventually left Miss Debbie, moved in with Shirley and her children, one of them being my future- and ex-husband. (ha!  That sounds funny . . . but I digress . . . )  Still later, Larry married Shirley.  An alcoholic, he almost missed his own wedding because he’d been out drinking the night before.  Not surprisingly, perhaps, Larry and Shirley’s happy union was short-lived.  Shirley eventually kicked him out but not before an “accidental”  shooting . . . by Shirley . . . but I digress . . . again.   This was over twenty years ago.

Debbie still lives in the same home, Shirley still lives in hers.   Larry, however,  died last year, I think it was liver damage, cancer, karma, whatever.    His last days were spent living alone in a little apartment, his grown daughter providing assistance.  His home going service (funeral) was planned by ex-wife Miss Debbie and his children. I’m not sure if Shirley and Larry ever officially got divorced, but  my Ex-mother-in-law Shirley was the last wife of record.   Someone called Shirley to see if she wanted to come or contribute.  She did neither.

Sitting there with Miss Debbie, who knows my husband (Shirley’s son)  left me, and hearing the pain in her voice when she reflected on her husband’s affair, “. . . that was the most hurtful thing,”  I felt for her.   Just like labor pain for some, there is some pain that you can’t forget, even if it was long ago.

I offered just a little comment, saying,

“Well, I gotta tell you.  I’ve never had any interest in somebody else’s  husband.”     This make her break out in a good loud chuckle.

“Me neither,” she said.

Just Me With . . . a coffee break.

P.S.  If anyone knows of that blog post that inspired my coffee with Miss Debbie along with this post, please let me know.   I want to give props.

I Have An Admirer

I have an admirer. Let’s call him Rocky. There’s a reason why I’ll rename him Rocky here. First, I want to protect his privacy. And, second, he’s an ex-boxer. These days I think he works as a bouncer. Yes folks, my admirer is a bruiser with a heart of gold.

We met years ago when I was still married and working as a contract attorney for my former neighbor, see Riding With My Boss. My boss was representing Rocky and his union in some kind of complicated dispute. I was doing background legal research in a back room. One day when Rocky had to come by the office my boss introduced us. As I recall he complimented me, my smile. Thereafter, when Rocky stopped by he always had a smile and compliment for me. He also gave me his card, which I stashed in my wallet and never used. I must have given him my contact information as well, though I don’t remember doing so.

Rocky’s case went nowhere. Consequently, there was no reason for him to come to the office anymore. In fact, most of the work disappeared for my boss also and I didn’t have a reason to come to the office anymore either.

For years since then, Rocky has sent me a text on or near my birthday and about every other month saying things like, “I was just thinking of you, lovely lady.” He’s my age or probably younger, but he is always so polite, referring to me as “young lady.”

After I became separated and sought to test my new status, I tried to call in some favors. Specifically, I developed a list of guys I already knew who might go out with me. I was on a mission. See The Best Advice I Never Took. I figured Rocky must like me and I’ve got to go out with somebody so — I called Rocky. He seemed to pleased to hear from me. I invited him to come to one of my gigs. As he always works at night he could only make it if he came early and he wouldn’t be able to stay long. This was good, since I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out. Plus, this was good because I had scheduled another guy come to see me for the second shift of my one day dating frenzy. Yeah, I was a player, and I was on a mission.

So Rocky was date one for the night. At that time I hadn’t seen him in person for a couple of years.

He still looked good, bigger than I remembered, a burly Teddy bear of a guy, soft-spoken and so sweet. I found out that evening that although he is such a tough guy, he spends his free time writing poetry and songs. Who knew?

It was as close as we got to a date. We hugged good-bye and I haven’t laid eyes on him since.

By the way my second date of the evening was with the man who would become my stalker. I should have stuck with the boxer . . . but I digress . . . If I’d Married My Stalker

Since that early evening “date,” I’ve received semi-regular texts from Rocky. This has gone on for years. He tells me I’m beautiful, refers to me as a friend or wishes me and my family well. I don’t get them often enough to feel like I’m being stalked or harassed but I get them often enough to know I’m still thought of. These texts never request a date or phone call, they are just — complimentary. Recently he sent a picture of himself — just his face, and it was NOT, I repeat, NOT taken in the bathroom. He asked me to send one in return, which I did not — yet. Oh snap, what if his memory of my appearance is better than my actual looks in real life? Wait, what am I saying? Clearly, this could not be possible. heh heh heh

Last month Rocky’s text said:

“You made a positive impression on me from the time I met you. That helped me survive some very tough times. Thank u. :p lol”

I’m not really sure how the “lol” works with the rest, so I’ll just ignore that part. And I don’t know what “tough times” I helped him through, so I’ll just accept that part. All in all, it was a nice message. Sometimes we help people without even knowing how.

Just today I woke up to a text from Rocky which said,

“Good Morning to a very special young lady who is so very sweet. In case no one told u this morning. You r very unique. :p Have a great day.”

Awww. Is it strange? Maybe. Weird? Perhaps. Whatever. I don’t care. It’s nice to have an admirer. And currently there is no one to wake me up by telling me I’m very sweet, so Rocky was right on time. I’ll take it. (Plus, it doesn’t hurt to know someone who could and would kick somebody’s ass for me. Just sayin’ . . .)

Just Me With . . . an admirer, via text. Absolutely.

See also, “Another Text From My Admirer”

Six Days of Separation

Six Degrees of Separation

My husband had moved out.  It had been six days. Six days of separation.  (I had to make the picture relevant somehow. )

I was a wreck.  Truly.  I can’t  even describe it here. I’m not ready.

It was the weekend after he’d moved out and my husband stopped by the house to see the children and to tell me he’d be away for a few days. You see, the “other woman” who I’d just found out about a couple of weeks prior, see My Worst Superbowl, Remembered, lived in another city.  She planned to move to our town but that hadn’t happened yet.  So he was going to see her.   Ironically, she lived in a city where I had wanted to move, but my husband  had vetoed that, said absolutely not, he would never live there.  Now he was going there for a  long weekend– to see his girlfriend.  Huh. 

On our anniversary weekend . . .  Huh.

Regardless, the matter at hand was that:

My husband stopped by our  house on his way to catch a flight  to spend a few days with his girlfriend.

Let that sit for a minute.

My husband and I had been together since high school.

Let that sit for a minute.

We had been married for many, many years and  had five young children.

Let that sit for a minute.

But on this day,  six days after moving out, after breaking my heart, hell, after breaking me, and causing unspeakable pain to the children as well, he showed up at what used to be at our house . . . and knocked.   That was appropriate, given the situation, but it was like a kick in the kidneys.

It hit me:   He really doesn’t live here anymore . . .

Still, what sent me over the edge was . . . him . . . the sight of . . . him.

The brother looked good.

Terrence Howard

Now my husband has always been a very good-looking man, but he could be a bit of a slob sometimes.   He went too long between hair cuts and shaves.   He  had a good job, but not the kind of job that required that he be clean-shaven.  His facial hair came in spotty, he could never grow a full beard, so it wasn’t the sexy five-o’clock shadow.  It was more of a “I just don’t give a crap look.”  Still, he would  clean up semi-regularly and  when he needed to for an event.  And when he did?   He looked damn good.

On this day, six days after having moved out,  he had shaved and had a fresh hair cut.     And he was wearing, not the tee-shirt he usually sported on weekends, but a nice button down shirt and slacks.  He looked damn good — for her — for his girlfriend.

Let that sit for a minute.

I didn’t know what to do so I went to the store while he played with the kids.  Shortly after  I returned he looked  at his watch and  said he had to go.   I asked if he was going to her city (I didn’t use her name)  and he said yes, and then snapped,

Dangerous Liaisons

What am I gonna do here?” 

Ouch.  Yeah, perhaps I’m not ready to share so much, but I digress . . .

Then he left.   He left what would later be referred to as  “the marital home”  to catch his flight to get to his girlfriend’s house.

Huh

He had literally left me to go to her, and looked damn good while he did it.   I, on the other hand,  didn’t look so good — or feel so good.

He was gone and I lost it.

Dangerous Liaisons, The Breakup Was Beyond His Control

I guess it was a good-old fashioned panic attack, with an underlying dose of depression.  I hadn’t been eating or sleeping and had been crying off and on for a month.  I was already fragile.  So fragile.  And this, seeing my husband, my high school sweetheart, my first love,  looking like he was going on a date, six days after having moved out, well that was too much.  The thought of him, so coiffed and together and jetting off to stay with a woman and kiss her hello, maybe see her friends and family — like a couple — literally drove me mad.   I went  to my room.  The kids must have been watching TV or something.   I remember grabbing my address book (I didn’t have a smart phone at the time) and paging through it, trying to find someone to call, looking for someone to help me because I felt out of control.  I was shaking.   I was breathing too heavily.   But my parents didn’t even know he’d moved out, I have no siblings in the area  and my best friend who had helped me on moving day is not always available, being a physician.  My heart was racing, my breathing panicked, the tears were coming and I  had the kids to think about and take care of.

I found the name of a woman, an acquaintance, really.  I’ll call her Christina.  We’d met through our children and attended kids parties together, did the couples dinner thing at her house a couple of times (my husband and I rarely had people over, that’s another issue).  I always liked this woman —  but we hadn’t become good friends.  There were a lot of reasons, my husband and her’s had nothing in common, I had so many kids, not a lot of money, was insecure socially and my husband was a loner and I followed his lead, as I’d been conditioned to do.  Christina, a lawyer turned stay-at-home mom ,was also a professor’s wife with a manageable sized family.  They entertained, they traveled, and she spoke three languages.  This was not her home town.  I think I felt inadequate around her, though we were both lawyers, or maybe it was that I saw in her a life I’d missed out on. Huh.   But  I digress . . .

Even though we weren’t that close, I dialed Christina’s  number after my husband backed out of our driveway on his way to his girlfriend.  Christina had unwittingly won my dysfunctional lottery, got my call — and  answered.

I could barely speak yet I stammered something along the lines of:

He left.

He was here and he left.

He left to be with her.

I don’t know what to do.

I can’t handle this!

I know I’m supposed to be strong but I really can’t handle this.

I can’t.  I really can’t.

The tears were coming much harder now.   I was pacing, panting and alternately shaking and clenching  my free hand.

I was not handling this with grace and ease.  Not by a long shot.

I don’t remember what Christina said to me.  I can’t remember not because it was so long ago, but because I was really — ill.  I couldn’t have told anyone what she’d said even the very next day.

Long story short, as they say, she talked me down from my frenzy and kept me from spinning further  out of control.   I think she told me to breathe.  I needed to be told that.  I think she offered to take the kids or at least some or one of them.

I don’t know.  I don’t remember.

I do know that her answering the phone that day helped me more than she’ll ever know.  (Not to sound overly dramatic but the situation was pretty bad.  I was pretty bad.)

Christina and I  never became the kind of friends who hang out regularly.  She did take my son to play with hers a few times, but our kids were not in the same grade, and we lost touch.

Recently,  however, I ran into her at a school concert. I admit that since that whole ordeal I’ve felt a bit embarrassed by my actions, my condition and my persistent inability to bounce back.   I know she never judged me but I often feel like other women deal with this stuff so much better than I do — so I judge myself.   Still, I was glad to see her to exchange pleasantries.  Truthfully, I’ve always admired her.    But when I saw Christina  she had a bit of news.  She casually told me she’d moved out of her house and now lives alone in a nearby apartment.  I knew her oldest was away at  college,  but she told me that the other boy, a ninth grader, lives with his father in their marital home.   Huh.

I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “Um . . . what?”  ( I have such a way with words.)

She smiled, repeated herself and said,  “You never know what life brings”  and added, matter of factly,  that her husband was going to buy her out of the house and that she’d been on her own for about three months.

She seemed fine.  In fact, she seemed good, really.

Maybe we’re all Desperate Housewives . . .

We exchanged  cell phone numbers.    I don’t know if she needs help or someone to talk to . . . or whatever.   If I can help, I will.

Just Me With . . .  maybe a new (old)  friend?   

I’ll try really hard not to hyperventilate when I call her from now on.   

See Also:  “My Daddy Moved Out” — My daughters announcing the break up.

Riding With My Boss — wise words from a surprising source

When I Needed a Helping Hand  — A good friend’s assistance

My Bucket List of Men To Do

I’ve known many different types of people in my life.  But having been in a committed (ha!) relationship for most of my life, I was constrained from “knowing” in the biblical or romantic sense many different types of men.  Still, in my now single state I  think about men a lot and wonder what I missed, and whether I could still sow a few oats.

So, without further ado and in no particular order, here is my —

Bucket List of Men To Do:

1.  Rich Guy — You know on those movies and sitcoms and women meet those guys who buy them a designer dress and  fly them to Italy for dinner and crap.  Yeah, that would be nice.

Richard Gere wooing Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Only in my scenario I am not a prostitute.

2.  Too Young for Me Guy

Let me first say this.  I am not a pedophile.  The boy-man must be legal and look like a man.  That said, a boyish cutie pie would be nice.  I just want a hint of immortality.   I young man will never forget his first  quality real grown-ass woman.   Plus they have good  music and not a lot to do.

Harry Potter can bring his wand.

3.  Celebrity

a.  Actor— Preferably a screen actor so when a movie is rebroadcast on  television or a TV show is put in syndication I can casually walk by the TV and say, smugly, “Yeah, I hit that.”

Morris Chestnut

b.  Musician–  I am a musician.  I would like to be able to hang out in a larger-than-life  musician’s home studio and jam.  I want to ride in the limo to concerts, and listen from backstage.  I want him to play/sing, only for me a song that has made millions of other women swoon.  And I want to play for him.  And, Prince, if you are reading this, DM me.

Beyoncé and Prince

4.  Really smart guy — A scary smart guy.  All he’ll have to do is talk to me or debate with others  and I’ll be putty.

Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe

5.  Country Guy— Okay, I cannot explain this.  I’m black and not a southern woman. I don’t keep livestock or even go horseback riding. I don’t own a gun or a truck.  I have a toy dog.   But a good old boy would be fun for a minute.   He must not call me ma’am, though.

Zac Brown. I think he likes his Chicken Fried.

6. A delivery guy. (I don’t know.  I just don’t know.)

7.  A man who does not speak English.   I’m American.  I only know a wee bit of French — wait, excuse me, un peu bit of French.  I want to be required to communicate in other ways.  I bet I could become bi- and tri-lingual given the right teacher.  I’m a fast learner.  Maybe it’s this WordPress Views by Country that has me on this.

Rachel on Friends with Italian Paulo, who knows little English.

8.  Too Old For Me Rich Guy  – 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.   I mean Dick Van Dyke (86) just married a 40-year-old.  That’s all I have to say about that –except that I love Dick Van Dyke, so I ain’t mad at her, or him.

9.  The Dangerous Guy — “Sir, he drove off the building.”   I don’t have a death or prison wish, I just like the Bourne movies.  I could live off  the grid for a while, with my five kids, and my minivan . . .

Anyway, I reserve the right to edit the above list.   I also reserve the right to tick some of them off as —  done!!

Oh,I forgot the most important one of all —

10.  Really Nice Guy  (Perhaps one day I’ll be able to insert his picture here.)

Just Me With . . . things to do.

The Adultery Diet

Anyone remember that scene from Sex and The City where Miranda, after the birth of little Brady, discovers that she can fit into her skinny jeans?

(And by the way, for you people who don’t know, the original “skinny jeans” do not refer to a particular cut of denim pants.  They refer to those old jeans that women keep in their closet in hopes that losing enough weight to be able to wear them again.)

Well,  Miranda shows up at the club looking great in her skinny jeans and Charlotte asks how she lost the weight:

Miranda: Well, I got pregnant, became a single mother, and stopped having any time to eat.
Samantha: Oh, that’s a diet I won’t be trying.

 

There’s also another weight loss regimen that women don’t rush to try.  I call it,

The Adultery Diet

Simply put, it is when a married woman suddenly drops the pounds, without the assistance of  a gym membership or  Jenny Craig.  No, it’s none of that pesky diet and exercise stuff.   Rather, a woman is on The Adultery Diet when her husband is having an affair and it is making her sick.

There’s just something about finding out or suspecting that your man is screwing somebody else that really kills the appetite.

This revelation may or may not end in separation or divorce, that’s not really relevant to this diet, it’s just a sick, sinking feeling that suddenly makes food intolerable, hence the weight loss.

I bet we’ve all seen the signs.

In walks a female friend you haven’t seen in a while.  Her clothes are literally falling off of her.  Unfortunately, her eyes are sunken, red, swollen and downcast, and she’s unnaturally quiet.  She’ll explain, perhaps, that she’s had a bit of a cold.   In her mind, however, she’s screaming, “Oh my God, this is not happening. What am I going to do?  How could he? ”  And then, she simply doesn’t eat, while continuing her daily responsibilities. She functions, but  just knowing that there are some very uncomfortable silences, discussions and possibly life changing decisions that will have to be made in the near future  — well, it just doesn’t make her want a sandwich. In fact, the mere thought of the situation makes her food taste bland and causes nausea.

Then there’s the time alone — while it is quite possible her mate is not spending time alone — well, it can make a girl literally sick to her stomach. Pounds melt away, baby weight — gone, along with muscle.  Suddenly skinny jeans fit and she needs to tighten her belts.

He has to work late. Again.  I fed the kids; they’re good. Everybody is fine. Everything is fine, except that it’s not.  So I’m just gonna sit here in the dark on the kitchen floor while my life falls apart.  I’m not hungry.  I really don’t feel well.

And the coolness of the kitchen floor is somehow so comforting . . . but I digress.

This Adultery Diet is usually available to married or cohabitating women — because there is something about living with someone who is sleeping with someone else that is particularly offensive to the palate.

So if you are surprised by a sudden weight loss of a friend, don’t just tell her how wonderful she looks and ask about her dress size, her diet,  or whether she’s working out.  Ask about her marriage.  Ask if she needs —   anything.

Don’t ask me how I know.

Just Me With . . .  a weight loss regimen no one wants to try.

Just found this pic of Demi Moore:

Demi Moore post-divorce from a cheating husband.

Message to Demi: Give me a call.  We should talk.

See also:  On Angelina Jolie —  At Least No One Will Say She “Got Fat”

and

Confessions of a Skinny Mom

My Worst Super Bowl, Remembered

Super Bowl Weekend

It was Super Bowl weekend and I was in the beginning of some of the most painful days, weeks, months, years of my life. It was about a week and a half after my husband of many years had informed me he was leaving. He had said, simply, “I have to go.” He denied that there was anyone else, stating merely that he was not happy and was never going to be happy.

And, like Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.

He had decided to leave, but I had begged him to stay, regardless of his decision. I guess I was buying time. I was still in Stage One of trying to get him to change his mind, not accepting that the marriage was in Stage Four: non-operable, treatment resistant and terminal.

A few days before Super Bowl Sunday my husband went on a pre-planned, pre-paid SCUBA trip which had been booked about six weeks before he broke up with me — really that’s what it felt like — but I digress . . . The trip itself was not completely out of character because he belongs to a club and went on trips a couple of times a year. What was odd was that he had scheduled the trip during Super Bowl weekend. What was completely crazy was that he was still going on vacation after telling me he was leaving me and while I was a sobbing heap on the floor.

The Flu

What’s worse, my kids, who are unusually healthy, freakishly healthy — I mean I have five kids and I only remember dealing with two ear infections — ever — had come down with the flu, high fevers and all.

All five children had the flu. All five. Flu. They were too sick to even take to the store. I had to get my Dad to come over while I went grocery shopping.

I was housebound with five sick children. My husband had gone to the Bahamas.

Huh. Signs of things to come.

Although I was crying all the time (I told the kids I was sick, too) having him out of the house for a few days gave me random moments of clarity which tapped into my common sense.

Long story short: It was during Super Bowl weekend that I uncovered uncontroverted evidentiary support leading me to the conclusion that my husband was not in fact on a trip with his SCUBA Club. To the contrary, he was on a romantic island vacation with another woman.

Isn’t it romantic?

Ouch.

Like how I lawyered that up? It’s a defense mechanism of mine to deal with painful topics. But in straight talk, I found out that my husband, who had simply announced after double digits of marriage, “I have to go” was on a beach getaway with another woman, a jaunt he had booked a month before he informed me he was leaving me. He was frolicking in the sand and surf with someone new, while I was heartbroken and housebound with five children suffering from the flu. (Rhyme unintended but I kinda like it so I’m keeping it.)

Stupid Super Bowl weekend. That was a long weekend. A long game. And the daggone Super Bowl happens every year and I get a little reminder of some of my worst days.

Just Me With . . . ghosts from Super Bowl’s past.

This happened some time ago. It’s all back story, the abridged version. I have a memory too good for my own good, see The Twilight Zone — Again? Seriously?, when I reflected on the date my divorce became final and damn near wrecked the car. When I’ve gone through something difficult, especially something which coincides with a holiday or special event, it is hard to ignore, try as I might. See A Sad and Disturbing True Halloween Story.

I’m better now. I’m not crying about it, at least not about him leaving me. It took years and thousands of dollars, but my divorce is final and he has remarried. He did not marry the Bahamas woman, in case you were wondering, that relationship didn’t work out — and that’s all I have to say about that.

The pain has decreased over time, but that does not negate the fact that it was a super-duper crappy Super Bowl weekend back then, by anyone’s standards, and I still remember it — like women remember (but don’t feel) labor, like people acknowledge (but don’t celebrate) the anniversary of a death. It’s just there. And it’s okay to acknowledge it — so that I’m not so hard on myself for being where I am now, and also so that I can celebrate how far I have come. Plus, one day I might even write a book.

I know I’m better off without him. But it’s like having a huge life sucking tumor removed — in the end it’s all for the best, but would it have killed somebody to give me a little anesthesia? That mess hurt.

I’m just sayin’ . . .

A couple of weeks after that Super Bowl, one of the kids announced, My Daddy Moved Out.

See also:

A Snowy Night for a Breakup

Our Breakup — The Musical Revival