#49 Online Dating Or: Have You Ever Been Kidnapped In The Middle Of The Night?

Here’s a final Eharmony story about that summer when I opened myself to “possibilities.” I had already experienced plenty of peculiar. My capacity for more was fading, but not done.

Another man from a western state seemed interested and interesting enough to correspond. He lived in a city I love. So we followed the same procedures already described in About Online Dating posted 6/12/13. By this time the rules were exhausting so we talked on our mobile phones. But the annoying delayed cell echo made it tough to have a conversation. When we switched to land lines, it turned out it wasn’t the cell towers delaying his voice. It was the way he talked. He was less interesting on the phone than in writing, but I wasn’t judging too much, yet.

He was raised in Pennsylvania and planned a trip back, with one stop in my city for dinner. He was staying at a downtown hotel so I made reservations at a downtown restaurant.

He had a rental car and could have met me there; instead I picked him up in front of his hotel. Sometimes there’s little difference between polite and in my case stupid. He got into my car carrying a golf umbrella. Was he expecting a monsoon or was it for self-defense? He asked if he looked like his picture. I said that he was recognizable. He admitted to shaving off a few years in his profile. Why you ask, would anyone do that? The man I had lived with for almost eight years told me when he was dating before he met me, he only admitted to three of his seven children!

I drove the few blocks to the restaurant, which was quiet that night. He was startled that the town had an Indian restaurant, much less a good one. Got it! Snob. Worse. He assumed that I was a snob.

Over dinner we volunteered information. I volunteered that I don’t like Sushi. He volunteered that he didn’t practice safe sex. Oh!

Right after that bulletin he went to the men’s room. Either he was deathly ill, went out a back door, or was on a very long phone call. I considered asking the waiter to check. I considered leaving. He returned saying something about trouble with his house sitter. I considered that that wasn’t the truth.

When I took him back to the hotel he asked me to drive him down a street where he used to visit relatives as a boy. But he didn’t recognize the house. By that time we were near my building, so the idiot inside me asked if he’d like to come up for a cup of tea.

We sat across from one another in my living room still awkwardly finding out if there was a shred of “possibilities” since he was leaving the next day. I took my shoes off which he assumed was more than, I like to take my shoes off. He came over to give me a foot rub, which turned into a kiss. (Far from the rules.) Fine. I drove him back to his hotel.

I was at lunch out in the country the next day with a friend when my cell phone rang. I left the table to take the call and it was the guy. I told him I’d call him after lunch. Later when we spoke he was miffed to have to wait for my call but was inviting me to the Four Seasons in Washington D.C. for a couple of days. I had never stayed at the Four Seasons and love Georgetown. Of course two more days with an awkward man might make him less awkward?

It was late but I threw a few things together and drove to D.C. He wanted to take me to his favorite restaurant. So by the time I got there he met me out front and navigated to, get this, a Sushi restaurant. He was both selfish and slightly deaf. The place was about to close and the AC was freezing. I shivered my way through a bite or two and couldn’t wait to get outside in the sweltering D.C. heat to avoid hypothermia.

When I got us back to Georgetown, he didn’t want to go to any jazz clubs. He disappeared that night and much of the next day supposedly for some investment deal. I walked around Georgetown all day. When we met up we scrambled to the Holocaust Museum but it was closing. He wanted to walk back so we stopped for a drink at the Willard where my feet got a rest. When we arrived at the hotel he disappeared.  

We did have breakfast at the hotel in the morning. He read a paper and didn’t acknowledge my existence, except to help himself to my exquisitely peeled grapefruit sections, my one luxury. We were going to try the Holocaust museum again before we both left town. I went to the desk to ask them to have my car out when I returned and said that we were both checking out. They informed me that they knew I was, but he was not. Oh?

The hotel car took us to the museum where he wandered off on his own. When we returned to the hotel, my car was waiting. Relieved and confused I drove home.

On my way north he called to say he was on the road too but might just go back to the Four Seasons. Are you kidding me? He didn’t know that I knew he hadn’t left! As a friend of mine would say, “There’s two days I’ll never get back.”

A couple of days later he called and spoke as if we had had a lovely time. I told him he had completely ignored me and I saw no reason for any more contact.

He called back to say why he had been a jerk as if it was a temporary condition. I’ll try to write what he said word for word.

“Have you ever had men with guns pound on your door at 3 in the morning, break it off the hinges, blindfold you, drag you half naked to a car and take you out to the desert to kill you?” he said.

It was a question, so I said that I couldn’t say that I had.

He went on to say that it was his ex-girlfriend who hired people to have him kidnapped and killed. I could understand her impulse. He said that’s what made him behave so “insecure” with me.

I asked sincerely if he had tried therapy.

This was when I went to my computer and searched him. A little late you say? I found his name connected with a case in his city. A famous investment firm was sued because someone with his name essentially stole the life savings of an old woman. Might not be the same guy? It wasn’t a common name. It was the guy.

A year later I was surprised by another call from him. He had traveled to the west coast town where he knew I wanted to move, expecting to find me. I got off the phone.

Turns out, he thought I had money.

I cancelled my subscription and all it’s possibilities.

 

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#48 Well, No One Was Hurt

Because of a late summer birth date, I was one of the last of our class to get my drivers license. Since I learned to drive in our little red family Volkswagen, it was ironic that the only thing I didn’t ace was parallel parking.

As in most towns, it was the teen custom on Saturday nights to “cruise the ville.” The only places to cruise in the ville were the A&W, a hamburger joint, or the Y. I hadn’t yet earned clearance to venture out to a lake or beach. So what. There were still a couple of weeks of summer. Hallelujah! I could finally drive.

On a Saturday night with a couple of friends and my newly minted license, I did the “cruising” behind the wheel. Nothing much going on at our first stop so I was backing out (I can hear reverse grinding now) as I ever so gently tapped into the green Volkswagen of a neighbor/classmate pulling in behind us. No damage was done.

I found forward gear and continued on chattering away with my friends. Radio blasting. But not much going on at the next stop, so I reversed again, only there was another tap. Unbelievable. It was the same kid in the same green Volkswagen with his buddies. They weren’t following us. There just weren’t that many places to go. We inspected the fenders in the dark but luckily, and again, we both squeaked by with no noticeable damage.

My friends and I buzzed out to another hang out. Our friends who had dates were on their dates, so there really weren’t that many kids to find. This time when we left, there was a metal crunch. And yes the same green Volkswagen. But now there was an unavoidable dent. I drove my friends home, very carefully, heart pounding, to face my father. Or maybe they went with me for moral support.

When I got home the news of an accident was delivered immediately to my father who was relaxing in a bath. He levitated out of the tub. Dripping in his Pendleton bathrobe and slippers, he ran outside. To my happy surprise the kid in the green Volkswagen arrived to take whatever was coming right along with me.

My father’s red face was enough to make my knees weak. But the boy (initials G.O.) took equal responsibility for our not one, not two but three dings in one night. (We may not have volunteered the first two.) By now there was a small crowd in the street by our front yard, which meant witnesses for me. My father was a man who commanded complete respect whether he was wearing a dress suit or dripping wet in a robe and slippers. You could hear the group exhale for blocks when he proclaimed, “Well, no one was hurt.”

 


#47 Paradise And Vacation From Honesty

One year our family had a Christmas adventure staying with friends in Hawaii. The best part was that we had permission to take a longer than usual holiday: Extra days out of school. Nothing makes an eighth grader happier. I had one exam to study for so packed that book with my bathing suit.

We made the long drive to Seattle to catch a Pan Am flight (remember them?) to Honolulu. It was a particularly foggy drive, a condition that did not improve in Seattle that night. I don’t remember where we stayed but we were notified that our flight was cancelled. A lot of very tired people climbed onto busses in Seattle. Many hours after our scheduled departure we boarded a replacement plane in Portland, Oregon.

Unfortunately they hadn’t loaded food onto the new plane. All they had were decks of cards, slippers, cases of champagne and a small supply of peanuts. Adults got the champagne. We got the peanuts.

It was a much longer flight to Hawaii back then. I don’t think it was a jet. It was a big propeller champagne party in the sky. So by the time we landed in Honolulu our friends met us with leis for all of us, and my father and most of the adults stumbled off the plane.

Christmas in Hawaii feels a little strange, like 80 degrees instead of snow and putting a tree in a bucket of sand from the beach. We did the usual things, which were far from usual for us like buying muumuus. My father and brother surfed. We picked up coconuts off the ground, went to the astonishing Punch Bowl, and a luau at a hotel on the beach.

But then I got violently ill and so dehydrated that they took me to the emergency room. Both families sat on long wooden benches in the hall of the waiting area. I was embarrassed about being sick and probably a little about the puce muumuu.  It was the easiest thing to wear every time I had to scram for the loo. My mother was angry about my ruining “her” trip. She didn’t speak to me, she didn’t look at me. My father held me on his lap that night at the hospital since I was so weak.

On 2/10/2012 I posted Straddling The Bumper about my mother leaving me in a Seattle Hospital alone for two weeks. She didn’t even stay for my surgery. And 56 years later we’ve finally figured out that she probably told friends I was away at camp. That night in the emergency room in Hawaii, she was internally fuming.

At the house all the kids had been camping out on the den floor. But the parents gave up their bedroom for me to recuperate, further infuriating my mother. She barely contained her anger toward me in front of others but it was always always there.

It was time to fly home to reality. My reality was the exam for which I had not studied. It would never occur in my life to tell the teacher that I had been sick and I was a wreck about being unprepared. So just moments before class a friend who had studied, quickly hatched a generous plan to get me through the test. In other words cheat.

My friend happened to sit across the aisle from me. It was a true or false exam so we had to go through each question at exactly the same time. She gave hand signals, a fist for false, and her hand flat on her desk for true, or the other way around. Surely others saw this, but no one said a word.

I never confessed. I’d like to think it was because I’d have to reveal the identity of my co-conspirator who was just trying to help a friend.  But the smack of truth was being terrified of my father or ever ever doing anything wrong.

Over fifty years later I still remember most of The Gettysburg Address from the teacher of that class.

I also remember the knuckle headed stunt and how I mastered that exam.

 


#46 About Online Dating

Once upon a time people read New York Magazine’s personal ads for fun. One guy in our office entertained us by reading them and explaining the underground language. Like “professional woman” probably didn’t mean lady lawyer. But generally that magazine section was the granddaddy resource in the NE for dating.

In the late 80’s after I’d been on my own for a while I tried those ads. It was a clumsy experience of renting a PO box, scurrying to check it every day.  I don’t think I ever advanced to talking to anyone on the phone.

Jump ahead decades after being on my own yet again. I took the technological leap that so many had done before me. It was advertised as the more common way to meet. So I researched which online service would be oh so right for me. For this unattached writer, region of the country wasn’t a priority. I was pretty close (I thought) to selling a screenplay that I was told would buy me that little house on the beach in Oregon. So either coast was preferred, but not necessary.

I looked at the two major dating sites. Just seemed that there might be some sort of logic behind one. Okay EHarmony.

Here’s the drill. First there was a personality test, supposedly for that perfect match. Then I picked my favorite activities. That’s a tough one because at a certain age, it seems to be mostly what you used to do.

Then I had to describe myself. What adjectives would I use? What came to mind was “loyal as a bird dog” but it’s a Katharine Hepburn line. I would have liked a man who knew that. I don’t remember what I put but I’m dead certain I didn’t do much to sell myself and was resenting having to do any of this.

Then there were pictures. I’ve run from cameras since I was able to move without falling down. As a toddler there are mostly pictures of the back of my head. As an adult, and I’m not proud of this, I seriously threatened to break cameras if they were aimed at me. There are so many evil things I could hate in this world and don’t. But I do hate pictures of me.

I found some from the 80’s. This was about oh mid 2,000’s. How much could I have changed? I was playing golf with a friend and he agreed to take an up to date snapshot. I had my hair doing close to what I wanted it to do. Only he waited until after the 18th hole on a hot day and my hair was doing nothing anyone would want it to do. My expression was anguish, pain and the rosy glow was sweat. At least it was recent. I also found a super cute picture of me at about three in a snowsuit. But they rejected that. They had standards. I did put up one photo of me from my one and only skydive. That’ll show them who I am. Then I clicked enter.

Have you ever seen the movie War Games, when they’re in the war room and the computer is out of control and about to blow up the world? Well that’s how fast the email activity happened. There’s a whole lingo attached. The activity has words like winks or nods. I guess that means they’re sort of interested if you’re sort of interested, but only if you’re sort of interested at exactly the same time that they’re sort of interested. Like how men try to find out if you’d go out with them, but they want to know first if you would go out with them before they ask you to go out with them, so they never ask you and then consider you an unapproachable bitch.

All this winking, blinking and twitching goes through the EHarmony dating site.  And that leads to emailing through the site. Assuming you’ve winked or twitched at the same time.

I read all the warnings. Some of the excellent rules include never give your actual email. Never give your name until absolutely ready. And if you want to email outside the service, get an additional email account for only this purpose. Never give your home phone number. If you progress to talking on the phone, and frankly voice is important, then use a mobile phone, which you could, if necessary, cut off contact with a weirdo by smashing it with a sledgehammer or throwing it into the river. If you progress toward meeting, meet in a public place. And never meet for more than one hour the first time.  Also buy a wig and a mask. No, I added that.

So it started. Winking began, I replied. I think that for the first round there were a few required questions back and forth. Now say you get 20 or 30 or 40 of these a day. It becomes your life. And I was determined to be polite. I wouldn’t dare just ignore someone.  I was sleep deprived.

A lawyer in Florida did his required questions of me, which were absurd. Not funny ironic absurd. He asked if I were a sandwich what kind would I be? I wrote something sarcastic back and he wrote that I was without a doubt the stupidest woman he’d ever known.

There was someone near here who was eager to meet. And when I tried to follow the rules, he was more eager and downright scary.

I emailed a guy for a while from Montana. A musician/construction worker.  I think he mostly did construction. He seemed laid back, a free spirit. So laid back he was slurring his words on the screen if that’s possible.

There was a guy in Baltimore, about an hour and 15 minutes from here who said I was out of my mind if I thought he’d travel that far to meet me. He went to the trouble to write that.

There was a nice guy from D.C.. We wrote back and forth for a while, then progressed to the phone. He was smart and had a great job and was approaching retirement. And was a teensy hard of hearing. We agreed to meet halfway in Gettysburg. Though we didn’t have the chemistry required, we kept in touch and shared our stories. I encouraged him to write his down, because he’d been at this for a long time.

I borrowed part of one of his stories for a screenplay. He had advanced to talking with one woman he kept inviting for jazz concerts. Finally she wanted to meet for a last minute dinner. He agreed. But it turned out to be a big family gathering. He was seated across from her at a long table. And after a few drinks she stood up at about 6 feet (He was about 5’7”). She, covered in snake tattoos from neck to toe, reached over the table and planted a sloppy kiss on the guy. Then she ignored him. Turned out her ex-husband was there and she just wanted to piss him off. Men have stories too.  He was a nice man and some women were really mean. He moved to Florida. We exchanged Christmas cards for a while.

Back to my search. At first it’s kind of fun, in spite of the snarky guys. There’s that little attention thing that goes on. Tiny possibilities.

For a while I wrote back and forth with a man who was a sheriff in Colorado, or something official. He was sweet. And if there’s one quality I finally need in a man it’s kindness and he seemed capable of that first of all. I don’t remember if we advanced to the phone. It doesn’t take long to fall off the rule list and use your own email because remembering to check another account gets to be a drag. Then you forget, and you piss people off because you haven’t responded. Colorado was going to be in New York, which is an easy trip for me. But he never made that happen. He was very shy about his appearance. Maybe he was just doing this for some sort of pretend dating. Many do. Maybe he was in jail. Some are.

I was out in California and Washington that summer so arranged to meet a pilot on my way north. He showed up in dirty shorts and some race track t-shirt. Now I wasn’t dressed like Princess Grace but I made a tidy effort. He talked about all his campers (I’m fine with that) and his machine shop (fine with that too, my father was a machinist). I was driving up to Port Angeles, and he offered to fly his plane up there and take me to the San Juan Islands for lunch. I had never done that and was tempted. But being in a small plane at 10,000 feet with a total stranger didn’t seem so smart. Of course I never heard from him again.

On that trip I talked with the humorous German contractor who lived on Vancouver Island. It’s just a ferry ride to Port Angeles to meet. He made no effort.

Then there were two others from out west. One had homes in both Nevada and California, a retired pilot. There is a pilot theme because I never quite got my own license. His emails were delightful, self-deprecating and glib. Qualities I appreciate. He made me chuckle. But the pictures he posted were all from a distance. He looked trim compared to his giant van, but what did he look like? I asked for more of a close up.

All my friends married for 30 or a hundred years, were fascinated by this process. So one friend was with me when his new picture arrived. It was one of those giant photos that fills the screen with anticipation from the top down, and when it got to his face we both gasped. He was trim and not bad looking at all, but he had what we could only describe as a snaggle tooth. I was not deterred. His emails were so delightful.

He and I advanced to talking and he, the former pilot, arranged to fly out and meet me and visit his childhood home in New Jersey. (Reading this you should be seeing red flags right now. Remember the rules?)

So he flew into Newark where we would meet. He reserved separate rooms at a hotel that I had a miserable time finding. We had dinner where he brought a bottle of wine all the way from California. It’s possible I may have asked if he thought they didn’t sell wine in New Jersey.  

The next day I was driving him to his childhood home and to the graves of his parents. We were meeting for breakfast in the morning. But instead he wanted to get on the road. He was annoyed when I stopped at a drug store for a cookie.

When I was about 23 I learned to drive in New York in rush hour traffic. It’s second nature. But his knuckles were white and he kept fake braking and holding on to the overhead handle.

After many mishaps we found his childhood home and I urged him to knock on the door. Most of the time people are thrilled to meet anyone who grew up in their house. Ridiculous he said and nearly ran back to the car. I remained cheerful.

I drove him to the cemetery, more mishaps finding it. Then we drove past his prep school. He had not warned me that none of this held happy memories. This was a drive down nightmare lane. His was a “conflicted “childhood. The humorous guy I had corresponded with was still out west and he sent Mr. Cranky Pants instead.

Then I was driving us into Manhattan. It was a different way into town than I knew but I managed. You just point toward the really tall buildings. When I changed lanes he screamed (I’m not kidding) that I was trying to kill him. I remained cheerful.

He had reserved rooms in a downtown hotel so I maneuvered us in that direction. He wanted to see Ellis Island and I knew where to park. I grabbed my purse, locked the car and led us quickly to the ferry. He was pissy. Could it be over my parking in a garage? Security men went through all purses and it took 10 seconds for me to put everything back. That pissed him off too. He never spoke to me again for the rest of the afternoon. I wasn’t sure if he was still annoyed over my trying to kill him, or the parking garage or security opening my purse.

He walked away from me on the ferry. He either walked ten feet in front of me or ten feet in back of me on the island. He had wanted to find his family name, which fortunately I don’t remember. First there’s the wonderful wall with names, and many different registries, and people there to help. He would do none of these things. He wanted to catch the ferry back. Okie Dokie. I remained cheerful.

I drove to Ground Zero and let him out to take pictures. No longer cheerful I was half hoping a semi would veer in his direction.

I got us to the hotel. He took the one decent room. I took the odd one. We were to meet in the bar later to go to dinner. While I was changing I got a call from someone in L.A. about a screenplay of mine and it was good news. I was floating. So I scurried downstairs to Cranky Pants. He was furious that I was a few minutes late. He had already had a couple of drinks and had no idea where to eat. I suggested a place nearby which has my favorite food in the world. It’s a crab joint that serves Dungeness crab and if ever I needed something nice it was then. I was in my favorite dress feeling great. I told him I had just gotten good news. He said nothing! At the restaurant everyone we came into contact with was kind and joyful. Maybe they just all seemed so nice compared to Old Cranky Pants.

It was an awkward dinner, but nothing and I mean nothing was going to keep me from my favorite food or feeling good about my news. I think he had more to drink and was again annoyed that I didn’t.

What I haven’t mentioned is that this was planned to go on for another couple of days: A tour of New York. I’m the only person I know stupid enough to be in this spot. Over dinner I said it didn’t seem to me that I was quite his type and he reiterated loudly that I had tried to kill him. So after that exchange, here’s exactly what you would not expect. In the cab on the way back, he tried to give me a neck rub.

I think I skipped the elevator and ran up the stairs to my oddly shaped room trying to figure out how to get out of the rest of this dream date.

My phone rang early in the morning. It was Mr. Cranky Pants informing me that there was a bad weather system coming in from New Zealand or Madagascar or somewhere and his daughter was worried about him in bad weather so he was flying out that afternoon. Is it possible? Could it be? I did a happy dance on the bed.

We were meeting downstairs for brunch. Apparently knowing that he too was escaping put him in a better mood. He actually said something resembling a compliment. We cabbed to Central Park. And sitting there, once again my frank mouth opened. I said that I could picture him with a very different type of woman, making sure he knew that I knew he wasn’t having a good time. And here’s the really really odd part. He was shocked.

We cabbed back to the hotel. I paid my bill. He was pleasant, wanted to pay part of the parking. I demurred. Damned if I was going to let him share the cost of a lousy time. We actually had some ice cream. Now that the pressure was off he was pleasant again. And thinking back, I’m pretty sure he had been married 4 times. FLAG! I then dashed across the street for my car and my drive back to Pennsylvania. We never communicated again. No, knowing me I probably sent an email appreciating his making the arrangements and thanking him for screaming at me in the car.

There’s more.

A couple of weeks later I got a piece of mail with no return address. But it was either Nevada or California.  Inside was a blank sheet of copy paper with a little soft leather pouch stuck to it. I didn’t know what it was, but it sort of resembled a creepy teeny scalp. No note. No signature. I wrote and said that it was thoughtful but asked what was it? And the meanest answer flashed back. It was a pouch for fold-up glasses. Apparently I asked about it when he was here, so he sent me one.  But I swear without glasses in it, possible scalp. He called me an idiot.

Today when I see the EHarmony guy on TV, it’s like Mr. Whipple commercials back in the 70’s and 80’s. Those commercials grated on me so much I never bought Charmin.

 

 

 


#45 Your Cat Is Dead

Back to that strange summer of 1959, when my mother got rich and my brother and I traveled with her out east to see her ex-lover, maybe not so ex, or the man we thought of as a grand-father. (Mentioned in Back Again, North Carolina posted 4/29/13) Then we went to see our father who had been training all summer in New Jersey for the National Rifle Championship. Oh did I mention the photo? Since Dad was away, my mother had my 14 year old brother take a picture of her leaning over a padded footstool with her breasts spilling out? It was a very thoughtful picture of a wife to send, I’m guessing to my father. Yes, she had her 14 year old son take that photo.

Anyway it wasn’t a fun summer until we got to New Jersey. For the first few weeks I had horrible non-fiction boils on my leg, which my mother refused to let me cover with bandages. And in sweltering St. Louis I was brilliantly wearing skirts with scratchy fully starched layers of netting or tulle or crinoline underneath. That slip could have walked by itself. It scratched against the painful boils on my leg. I was just, adorable.

And then we visited the grandfather like man, actually her boyfriend, Wade, for a while in North Carolina. I don’t know how long we were there. My leg had scarred by then and I was wearing civilized shorts.

Finally we got to Cape May and the ocean and my father and the boardwalk and Wildwood. Then we all drove west for the rifle competition in Ohio. We stayed in old Army barracks left over from World War I. There were wooden walls with a canvas roof that flooded. Fortunately we had our luggage on air mattresses. They were floating one morning in a foot of muck. I think that was the year my father won the national championship. He stood even taller then. Oh and my bother and I rowed in a lake and snakes kept getting caught on the oars. Since we were in the boat my brother couldn’t get rid of me as usual. Nobody was going in the water with the snakes.

We stopped in Detroit where my father, ordinarily a Buick man, picked up the new big white Pontiac he had ordered, with fins.  Then we drove it west back to Washington State. We always stopped at quirky roadside displays. If you’ve ever been to Walls Drugs somewhere on the way to Mt. Rushmore, you know what I mean. I’m not sure if that was the place with the trained pigs and the chicken that played baseball. Not all our summer adventures were quite that educational.

And so on through big Montana, the slip of Idaho, and across wide and varied Washington State. For some reason I remember a song on the radio, a guy hangs his head or he just hangs. Tom Dooley? Maybe not.

Then through the Cascade Mountains, around Hood Canal, closer and closer to home, Port Angeles. After 3,000 miles when we were about five miles from our house Dad stopped the car and my mother got in the back with me. That NEVER happened. Our seating arrangement was permanent. Something not very good was about to happen.

She told me what apparently my father and brother had known all summer. My beloved cat Gus, named after our neighbor Gustav, had gotten into a fight or maybe run over by a car. Details were vague. Anyway he was dead. Gus, the cat, had been dead all summer. There was this plan, probably kind, to wait to tell me closer to home, so it wouldn’t ruin my summer. As if the boils on my leg hadn’t done that job already. But by the time she got the words out we were turning on to our street where I expected to see my fuzzy and fully trained Manx cat greeting me. What was it she was telling me?

So here’s how she broke it. She told me that Gus had died. But that she, my mother, had gone through something much much, oh so much worse. Her father died. What? Did she say my cat died? Her father? I never knew him. She said to try to imagine how terrible it was for her. So I was not to be upset. It was much worse for her to lose a father (twelve years earlier) than for me to lose a cat, ever.

So I didn’t cry. I couldn’t feel. She did say my cat died right? All my mind could do was try to figure out how terrible it would be to lose my father, who by that time had pulled us into the driveway of our house. But it wasn’t that either. Her father died, not mine. Don’t cry about the cat. And I didn’t. I never did. And it’s not accurate that I didn’t know what to do. I did know. I consoled my mother about her long dead father and asked if there was anything I could do.

But Gus, he was one great cat.