This blog post has been brewing for a few days. It wasn’t until very early this morning as I sat drinking coffee with T that I even began to attempt to put the words together.
T and I had fallen asleep on the couch as we often do on the weekends. We watched a movie all snuggled up and warm on the couch. When the movie was over, we turned on an episode of The Office. It was the one where Michael proposes to Holly. I had watched it the other night with Em. It was so sweet that I wanted T to see it, too. I loved watching it again, and I loved seeing T smile at all the right parts. Even after the show was over, we stayed in our spots on the couch. We halfheartedly talked about getting ready for bed, but it was so warm and cozy. We were so sleepy and so comfortable.
The next thing I knew, it was morning and T was in the kitchen brewing a pot of coffee. I wandered in with a smile on my face and told him that I was kind of enjoying our weird pack mentality when it came to sleeping. There is something so delicious about drifting off to sleep right where you sit compared to the formality and routine of getting ready for bed. He agreed. Falling to sleep like that is wonderful, but damn, are we ever sore in the mornings from sleeping all night in awkward positions. We laughed a little more as we both stood there trying to stretch out the kinks.
These odd sleeping arrangements have become our habit as of late on Friday and Saturday nights. We skip the bed and the bedroom. We nest and nestle in for sleep wherever we are comfortable at the time. The best thing of all are the mornings. It is just the two of us wandering around downstairs. We haven’t had the luxury of lingering over coffee and conversation in the kitchen for many years. Strangely, I am reminded of my grandparents. As a child, I can remember waking up at their house and coming into the kitchen as they both sat at the table sipping their coffee. It was a warm, peaceful feeling of contentment to see them there. Now that is T and I. It makes me feel old, yet content, all at the same time.
As we finished up in the kitchen this morning, I told T that I was going to go upstairs and write before the girls woke up. He stopped and looked at me. “What are you going to write about?” He had never, ever asked me that question before. I have been blogging for two years, but he has never asked me one question about it. I don’t hide the fact that I’m writing. Many times I have come to him to talk about a particular blog post or a comment that I have received. Until this morning, though, he has never asked me what I was going to write about. Today he asked, so I poured another cup of coffee and asked him to join me at the table.
He said, “What will you do? Start writing and see where it leads you?” I told him that sometimes I do that, but this morning, I had a particular subject in mind. Instead of writing this morning, I sat and talked to T about what had been bothering me. It was interesting, and I appreciated his input. Like most conversations, we drifted away from the subject and then back again. It was interesting to get his opinion and his perspective. Once we finished talking, I realized that I no longer had the same sense of urgency to write about this matter. So I didn’t. I still wrote, but I wrote about other things. Now, though, I want to share my story. It won’t be what I would have written this morning. Instead, it will be woven from a different fabric.
The conference began last week with an icebreaker cocktail party. This is our state conference, and I knew many people in attendance. Many communities bring along board members or other volunteers, so there were a lot of new faces, too. At some point, and I don’t even remember how, I found myself in conversation with a man from a community near Chicago. I know the director of his program and have always thought that he was one of the best, a very energetic, young guy. I love the community, too. It has gone from being an older, blue-collar suburb to a now very trendy place to live and do business. I was happily chatting away with this man and complimenting him on the great strides they have made in their community. He reminded me that we had taken a class together about three years ago. I hadn’t recognized him, but yes, I most certainly had taken the class he was referring to.
As the cocktail party wound down, a large group (around 20) of us decided to head out for dinner. Once again, I found myself in conversation with this man. While we had not walked in the same group to the restaurant, we managed to find ourselves seated next to each other. Our conversation continued. We spoke about his community, and he offered to take me on a tour of a few recent revitalization projects if I were ever up his way. I told him that I would certainly take him up on that, because my oldest son now lives in Chicago. I would always welcome a reason to visit my son.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, but this man owned a condo about two blocks from where my son lives. He and his wife use it when they are visiting the city and for weeks at a time during the summer. He told me that he would love to let me use it whenever I was in the city. Hurray! I was really excited about that! (I’m sure most of you can see where this is heading, but I didn’t! I thought he was a nice, generous guy.)
Around the time Lola would be heading to bed, I stepped outside to call home. I talked to Lola for a little while, and then I talked to T. I told him about the guy. “How cool would it be to know someone in the city?” I told T about the condo, and I suggested that it would only seem right to offer to take the guy and his wife out for dinner in exchange for their generosity. T asked me, “Now who is this guy?” I explained that he was one of D’s board members. He was a nice guy. I had taken a class with him a few years ago in Springfield. “Oh….OK.” T told me to have a nice night, and I said that I would give him a call when I got back to my room.
I still didn’t notice anything at all unusual. I saw no red flags. After dinner, my co-worker and I headed back to the hotel. I asked her to drop me off by my car so I could grab a bag before heading up to my room. As I was locking my car, I heard my name. There he was! He had driven to my hotel. I knew he wasn’t staying there. The conference hotels were across town. We had made our reservations late and had not been able to stay with the group. He had followed us. He pulled up next to where I was standing. Even at this point, I didn’t know what he wanted. I thought maybe he needed assistance. (With what??? I have no idea!)
I walked up to his window and asked him what was going on. He said, “I wondered if you would let me come up to your room?” I believe I asked him why. I was shocked! He went on to tell me that he found me attractive. He hadn’t been able to keep his eyes off of me. He would be honored if I would just let him come up and continue our conversation. OK…the light bulb finally went off at this point. Even I am not gullible enough to believe this joker wanted to “talk” to me in my hotel room! I said, “NO! What kind of person do you think I am? I don’t even know you, but I DO KNOW THAT YOU’RE MARRIED!” I was pissed off. I had actually like him. I had wanted to be his friend, for God sake. I had wanted to take him AND HIS WIFE out for dinner with MY HUSBAND. I was so f-ing offended. I walked away in a huff and inside to my room.
**Let me clarify something at this point. I am not anything spectacular to look at. I am not criticizing myself here, but I’m not the kind of woman who “drives a guy crazy.” I am 47 years old. I have four kids. You figure that one out. I’m not some young hottie!
The next day, I attended sessions in the morning and was thankful to see that he had chosen different sessions. A group of us went to lunch and within moments, there he was again. He was seated with a group across the room. Next thing you knew, my phone started buzzing. All conference attendees had been given a list with the contact information of those in attendance. (Note to myself: don’t give out your cell phone number again at registration.) It was him texting me. “You look wonderful today.” “Would you join me for a glass of wine after lunch?” On and on the texts kept coming. I ignored him.
At the end of the day’s sessions, I headed back to my hotel to shower and change for the awards dinner. Once again, my phone started blowing up. It was him. Finally I responded. I asked him to give me a call in 10 minutes. I took off my shoes, poured a drink, and waited. I made him wait 10 minutes, because I wanted to enjoy this. I wanted to get comfortable, kick back, and put up my feet for this. I sat waiting for him to call with a smile on my face. For once, a player was going to get a taste of his own medicine. For once, a player was going to be played.
My phone rang. I took a sip of my drink. I answered it calmly. “Hello.” He said, “Hi there, sexy,” in a silky-smooth voice. It made me shudder. It pissed me off. I took another sip of my drink. This asshole was going to get a piece of my mind. I was not only defending me, but I was defending his wife and any other woman this slimeball had lured into his bed.
I started out with, “Do you love your wife?” Yes, yes, he did. “Oh, but she is OK if you have sex with other women?” Of course not! He was horrified that I was talking about his wife. He said that she would never know. He was so lonely. She had a life of her own, was too busy for him. He had not kissed a woman in years. He was starving for affection. He would be happy if I would simply allow him to spend the night with me and just cuddle. “Oh, so your wife would be OK with everything if we just cuddled.” He claimed that cuddling was not cheating. (Uh huh…) He used words like “no penetration.” He said, “oral sex.” Finally, I had had enough. I called him Bill Clinton. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman!” Ha! Yes, I informed him that there are vast varieties to cheating. As far as I was concerned, he had covered most of them. ALL of them would be considered cheating by ANY spouse. I told him that I had not meant to hurt his feelings, but that I had wanted to make it perfectly clear prior to the dinner tonight that I had no interest in CHEATING with him.
As I was dressing for the dinner, I received another text from him. “I am packing my toothbrush in my pocket.” Wow, at this point I imagine he thought I must be feeling pretty special. He was perusing me and enjoying the chase. I imagine he thought I would be flattered that he would not take NO for an answer.
As we drove to the dinner, I filled my co-worker in on the phone call and subsequent text. She laughed. I had told her earlier about the night before. I asked her to please help me out and help me keep this guy away from me. When we arrived at the dinner location, I went up to order our drinks from the bar. Just as I was reaching in my purse to pay, he swooped in. He bought the drinks. (Fine by me!) As I was walking away he opened his suit jacket to show me something. There is was: the toothbrush. I just shook my head, frowned, and kept walking. I felt his eyes on me from across the room all night, but I ignored him and had a fabulous time with GOOD people.
It was a great night. My program received our National designation. It had been three years in coming, and I was so excited that this day had finally arrived. We accepted our designation, took tons of pictures, and enjoyed the honor. To top it off we received both of the awards I had submitted. When the emcee made the announcement, it felt like I was being called up to receive an Academy Award! I was thrilled to see the pictures I had submitted looming large on the big screen as I made my way to the podium. I was so happy and so proud. More smiles and lots more picture-taking ensued. After the dinner and awards ceremony, we all headed out to celebrate.
There he was again. He had been texting me all evening, but I had hit delete without even reading the texts. He stood watching me from across the room. Whenever he could wedge his way in closer, there he was. Our large group left and headed to where we had heard there would be live music. It was a great night of enjoying our success, catching up with old friends, and meeting new ones.
Then he was there again. He kept trying to catch my eye. Of course, by this point in the evening, I was full of bravado and feeling fairly loose-lipped. I leaned across the table and told my friends to “Watch This.” I had told them about the guy and all that had been taking place. By now, they thought it was funny. I walked over to the guy and said, “Let’s go.” He smiled and followed me. We stepped outside, and I said, “Stop right here.”
I looked him in the eye and told him that he was an asshole, cheating, married man and that I wanted him to leave me alone, or I would make sure his wife knew how her husband was behaving. He looked stunned. I told him not to doubt me for one moment. I said I was tired of seeing men behave as if women were put on this earth for their pleasure only to be discarded at a later date. I said, “Look, buddy. If I were to sleep with you tonight, you would never want to speak to me again. I would be all used up.” He denied that, “Oh, no, baby! We don’t live that far apart. We can see each other more than just tonight.” I said, “Oh, so you want to have an affair?” He claimed that an affair was not his intention. He wanted to be friends. He would love to come visit me. He would love to see me when I am in Chicago. OK, so tell me what about that is NOT an affair?
Then he said, “But last night you acted like you liked me.” Ha! I did! He was right. I had liked him. I had wanted to be his friend. I had wanted to meet his wife. I had wanted him to meet my husband. Yes, I had liked him. I said, “So I liked you. Does that mean that I owe you sex?” Once again, he was stunned. This egotistical, narcissistic bastard was still trying to rationalize his behavior. I was disgusted. I said, “Yes, I liked you, but you ruined that. Now I just think you’re an ass,” and I walked away.
The next morning, I received a text from him. It said, “I am deleting your number from my phone. Not to be immature, but I don’t want my wife to see it. If you need to contact me, please email, and I will call you back ASAP.”
This is the story that I told to T this morning. He sat and listened. Our conversation wove around from the main topic and off to other subjects as we sat talking. T laughed at parts of the story. Other parts, pissed him off. He told me that I had put myself in a dangerous situation by talking to this man. I looked at him, and I had to agree. Although, I reassured him that I would not have stepped outside with this guy if I hadn’t had a group of friends waiting for me to return. T reminded me that I sometimes have trouble realizing that certain people are basically NOT GOOD. He asked me why I always feel the need to educate them. “Why not just tell him to fuck off and leave it at that?” Good question. I think I need to practice saying that in the mirror.
As T and I sat talking this morning about this man who would have gladly used me, I felt so protected at home in my kitchen. I was warm and safe, but more importantly, I felt loved and accepted. I was wearing the same sweats I had fallen asleep in the previous night. I had on no makeup and was wearing my black librarian glasses. My hair was in a messy ponytail, and I had not yet brushed my teeth. Having said that, none of those things mattered. T and I sat talking quietly and gently. He wasn’t looking at who I am on the outside. He was seeing who I am on the inside. He knows me, flaws (major flaws!) and all, and he is still willing to be my friend. He is willing to sit and listen. He is willing to understand and to help me understand myself a little better.