Got an email from an old boyfriend today. It seems like there are more of them than there really are, I swear! He’s coming into town, and do I want to hook up for dinner and drinks? Well, yeah, absolutely. He is such a good guy.
Went to Barnes and Noble to do some reading for a paper. I got lucky and found a cushy chair right away. Awesome. Got about halfway through the first article I had to read when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed this older man checking me out. I’m wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Hmm?
Anyway, I meet his eyes, which are right about chest level. He smiles. I give him a tight little smile back, as if to say, Yeah, I caught you. Now let me read.
A few minutes later, this man gets up and walks away, leaving his sunglasses in the chair to save it. Another man, 40-ish, comes up behind the almost empty chair, and makes noises about how he’d thought it was free.
“He’s coming back,” I say, motioning towards the sunglasses.
“Well, I’ll leave it alone, then,” 40-ish Man tells me. “You know, I was here once, and I left my bag in the chair to save it. The person who took my seat just threw my bag to the side.”
I nod consolingly, “Well, if I’d been there, I would have stopped them.” And go back to reading.
“Too bad you weren’t,” he says.
I look across the table in front of me and meet the eyes of the older man sitting in the chair opposite me. We smile at each other, as if to say, What a weirdo, and go back to what we’ve been doing.
Leering Man returns. Kind Man and I smile at each other again but say nothing, and we go back to our reading.
The sun coming through the windows is suddenly too much for Leering Man to handle, and he gets up to push his chair closer to mine. He settles in for a better look at my chest.
Kind Man has had enough quiet and solitude for one afternoon and get up to leave. I look up at him as he passes by. I give him a pleading look, and he looks back at me with Good luck in his eyes.
40-ish Man moves into the now empty chair across from me. Great. And begins talking to Leering Man, and to the room in general.
Leering Man breaks his conversation with 40-ish Man to ask if I’m ready for the holiday.
Right, because it’s still a month away.
“No,” I say. “I do things last minute.” When he gives me a questioning look, I go on. “I don’t really like Christmas. It’s gotten way too commercial. It seems as though it’s all about buying things and getting things. Thanksgiving’s okay, though.”
40-ish Man joins in. “I like Halloween. I always tell my daughter that the candy’s poisoned, so I have to sample all of the pieces before she eats it.”
I cock my head to the side and ask, “How old is your daughter?”
“Let me know how that worked out when she’s twenty-eight.”
“Oh, she never listens to me anyway. I send her to my ex whenever she needs disciplining.”
I look at him and say, “She does listen to you. She watches you, too. She pays attention. And everything you do and say will form the person she becomes.”
Leering Man agrees. “They’re like sponges.”
“Kids do remember everything,” 40-ish Man says. “My ex-girlfriend had five kids and they all hate me.”
I raise my eyebrows. Do, go on.
“I killed their dog.”
Ah. “That would do it.”
“It was an accident. We were driving home from church, and they told me to look out for Fifi, and thump, no more Fifi.”
Leering Man and I are captivated.
“That’s awful,” I say.
“I had to bury the dog. I dug, like a four-foot hole in the backyard. My girlfriend’s ex-husband had broken up a concrete deck and just buried it, so by the time I’d gotten through all the rock, it was pitch black outside.”
I’m laughing at this point, because I can’t help myself. And I’m packing up my things to leave.
He continues. “The next morning, I’m standing out back having coffee and a cigarette, and I see the dog’s paw sticking up out of the ground. I just went inside, told my girl I had to go, and left. Her ex-husband had to come over to bury Fifi again. That was the end of that relationship.”
I have tears of laughter running down my face as I stand up to leave.
Josh and I are talking tonight. He’s got women problems again. Seems he mailed one of his extra phones to his former girlfriend’s mother to replace her broken one, and he inadvertently left some text message traffic from his other former girlfriend on the phone. The sh*t has hit the fan.
“I’m a moron,” he tells me.
“Yeah, Honey, you are,” I say.
Now, his first former girlfriend, who he’s kind of gotten back with, is accusing him of cheating on her and is telling him he can’t be friends with the later former girlfriend, which does kind of make sense. The no more friends thing, not the cheating thing. Josh wouldn’t cheat at Monopoly.
“This will pass, and everything will be fine,” I tell him.
“Paige, don’t judge me, but I think I just want to move someplace new and start over.”
Judge you? That’s something I’ve elevated to an artform…