Tag Archives: relationships

I Am Sad

Fakename has had a bad week, for many reasons, but it started Monday morning while driving to work.  The BP station I pass daily about halfway between my house and my office was empty and shuttered.  The sign which normally says something like “Mechanic On Duty” read “Closed”.  I had a bad feeling about this, because I was pretty sure that station was owned by the same people who own the BP station downtown where Jeff the Mechanic works.  Sure enough, my worst fears were confirmed. 

Plastic bags covered the hose nozzles.  No lights in the tiny “store”, and all the shelves were empty.  Doors into the repair bays closed and padlocked. 

I most recently mentioned Jeff the Mechanic in my post Worm Grunting Part 2, Dilbert, and PSI.  I took the Baby Toyota by to introduce him to it (and to get air in the tires).  This is the guy who kept my dying Camaro alive for at least a year past its expiration date.  Who said when pronouncing its death sentence…I could fix your latest problem, but I don’t want to.  It would be like stealing your money.  You need a new car. 

He’s the guy who oohed and aahed over the vvti (variable valve timing with intelligence ) engine technology in the Baby Toyota, and tried mightily to explain it to me.  It has something to do with cams.  He probably didn’t notice my eyes rolling back in my head.  As I finally understood it, vvti has something to do with the car’s ability to exert power when needed and to save power when it isn’t needed.  Ergo, the gas mileage thing.  At least he never treated me like an idiot. even though he should have.  He did yell at me a time or two, but we got past that. 

He was also a blue-collar philosopher.  He had an opinion about everything.  He, like me, was an Obama supporter before it was cool.  One day he said, “What this country needs is protectionism!”  I refer you to the State of the Union address, where now President Obama said, “We need to reward companies who keep jobs here, rather than giving tax breaks to companies which ship jobs overseas.”  I don’t claim to know if that would work or not.  It’s a complex issue.   What I’m lauding is the fact that Jeff the Mechanic gave it some thought.

I don’t really know Jeff the Mechanic personally.  The sum total of what I know about him personally is that he’s married and his wife drives a Volvo.  I think, but don’t know, that he was an independent contractor in his position as the mechanic for this BP station.  I believe that his future is safe, since in light of the economy, people are keeping their cars longer.  Perhaps the BP station will even reopen under new ownership and he will be back.  But I’m not counting on it. 

Operating a service station, at least in Florida, is one of the riskiest things you can do besides operating a restaurant. 

The important thing is, I was seriously pained by seeing that Jeff the Mechanic was gone.  Despite not knowing him personally, he was one of those people who brightened my workday world, just knowing he was out there.  I spent many hours in his company, back in the Camaro days.  He worked, and I sat in a greasy canvas chair in the repair bay reading a book.  Occasionally it would be over lunch, which would consist for me of peanut butter and cheese crackers and a Yoohoo from the store attached.  Now and then one of us would raise our heads and say, “Did you ever think about….?”

My suspicion is that I will never see him again.  It’s not like I’m living in a city teeming with millions of people, but the odds remain great.  Tallahassee has about 190,000 people in the city proper and 250,000 or so with the city and county population combined.  Plus, I don’t need to frequent mechanics anymore.  I won’t be dropping in to some other service station where I will accidentally run into him. 

My feelings about this are a serious window into my emotional life, and reveal a lot more about me than I usually care to share.  Connections, in my opinion, are both rare and fragile.  Once I make one, I can’t bear to give it up, as the people who know me best and for the longest time can attest. 

So, Jeff the Mechanic is a broken connection.  I’m highly unlikely to run into him again unless he shops at Publix.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

So they say.  And I would say that “they” are right.  Of course the degree of difficulty depends on whether you are the breakupper or the breakuppee.  I have to assume that since you’re reading this, you’re an adult who is breathing and has a blood pressure, therefore you’ve been on both sides of this equation.  I will acknowlege that it’s marginally harder to be the breakuppee, especially if you didn’t see it coming.  Which you should have.

Fakename prefers the tried and true method of drifting apart until it is a non-issue.  The no drama, no confrontation method.  However, some people don’t get the message.  To illustrate, Fakename remembers the first time anyone ever broke up with her.  Her first boyfriend in college, whom we will call “Bob”, especially since that’s his real name, cornered her in the 4th floor snack bar of the Humanities building. 

He said, we have to talk.  Okay, I said, but I gotta be in class in like 8 minutes.  Here’s the deal, he said.  I have fallen in love with your roommate Patty.  (At this point, Fakename notices Patty  hovering nervously in the hallway.)

Dang!  I sure hate that you’re breaking up with me.  Losing you is like , virtually unbearable.  What part of, I haven’t seen you in weeks and don’t answer your phone calls do you not get?  I was amused that he thought HE was breaking up with ME. 

In the interest of preserving his ego, especially since he was trying to do what he thought was the right thing, I mustered up enough fake emotion to appear wounded.  Well!, I said.  I hope the two of you are very happy together.  Gosh, look at the time.  We could talk about this longer, but  I have like one minute to get to class.

Behold the following video, which asks “Can’t we give our love another try?”  No, actually we can’t.  By the time  you ask that question, it’s already way too late.  Damn..would you look at the time? 

You, Sir, Are a Knave and a Scoundrel!

Subitled, “A Romance.”  Sub-subtitled, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

The names in this story have been changed to protect both the guilty and the innocent. 

My friend “Barbara” and her boyfriend of four months now, “Larry”, were scheduled to go to Alabama (name changed to protect an innocent State) to spend it with her family.  (I will say that the location is somewhere in the South, and Barbara’s family is kind of like Dukes of Hazzard meet the Hell’s Angels.  Larry is originally from New York, so that alone would have made quite a tale.)  They were planning to leave on Wednesday, but Larry called her on Tuesday and said he’d been called to an emergency meeting at his regional headquarters in Orlando (its real name), and for her to go on ahead and he would get a plane from Orlando to Somewhere, Alabama on Wednesday night. 

Wednesday he called and said he was not going to be able to make it.  The meeting that day was to tell him he had to work on Friday due to a sensitive, politically involved issue at his workplace.  (Clarification:  “Larry” is the project manager for a multi-million dollar construction project in the city where he and Barbara currently reside;  Barbara permanently, Larry temporarily, at least until 2012.  His “permanent” home is in another Florida city.)   However, he said, he had changed his plane ticket and she should pick him up at the Somewhere Airport at 5:55 P.M. on Friday evening.  Then they would drive back together as planned on Sunday morning. 

She said never mind, Why didn’t he just drive to <Other Florida City>, spend Thanksgiving Day with his own family, and she would go ahead and drive back herself on Friday rather than Sunday.  That way they could spend the weekend together. 

I may not have this whole story completely straight, but in any case, Barbara drove back on Friday, and never heard from him.  On Saturday, he called to say he was on his way back and they needed to talk. 

Now let’s hear a little background info on Larry.  Larry was married for 20 or so years to “Roxanne”, who died of cancer some years ago.  As coincidence would have it, Roxanne’s best friend was also named Roxanne, and during the course of wife Roxanne’s illness, he and friend Roxanne became close, and eventually became a couple.  However, he said, they lived separately, and it was never a  romantic sort of relationship, at least on his part, more of a friendship and convenience sort of thing.  But it continued to get more complicated as now girlfriend Roxanne became close to his sister, who was also suffering health problems.  Once he and Barbara had been seeing eash other for a while, he said he was breaking it off with Roxanne.  It was early enough in the relationship that Barbara said, “Don’t do that on my account, because I’m not making any promises.” 

“No no no,” said Larry.  “I’m not really doing it because of you.  It was inevitable.  If it hadn’t been you, it would have been someone else.”

Rewind back to Saturday night when he returns, and says, Barbara, I’ve been lying to you since Day One.  Roxanne is not my girlfriend, she’s my wife.  We’ve been married four years.  But really, really, I don’t love her.  I love you madly.  This is killing me.  Barbara coolly says, “So was there ever a plan to come to Alabama?”  He said no…no plan, and no plane ticket–ever.  And Barbara said, I have to leave (they were in his apartment) and left his key on the kitchen counter. 

After telling me this story, Barbara said, “What would you do?”  She was still in shock, and unsure, because while she is hurt, she still has feelings for him.  Ha ha.  Fakename has not survived this long by answering questions like this.  Today’s villain is tomorrow’s husband, then you become the villain by having said all those bad things about him.  But to be honest, Readers, Fakename is furious. 

This is like a bad movie on Lifetime TV.  Woman Scammed by Charming Rogue.  What makes me angriest is that sociopaths exist, and they can be men or women, taking advantage of the trusting nature of ordinary people.  And by trusting, I do not mean gullible.  My friend is anything but.  She is smart and competent and loving.  I hope she makes the right decision.  “How can I ever believe anything he says after this?”, she asked.  Indeed, Fakename thought, silently. 

Had Fakename been inclined to reply, she would have asked, Is walking the plank still illegal?  We will close this post with a poll:

1.  Larry is a well-meaning guy who is under a lot of stress.  He really did mean to do the right thing by everyone concerned, but in the process of trying not to hurt anyone’s feelings, he just got caught up in a series of dilemmas he saw no way out of.  He’s trying to do the right thing now by coming clean with at least one person.  He really does love her, and hopes she will forgive him. 

2.  Larry is a scumbag, who thinks he has played this just right.  Having been involved with Barbara long enough now to be semi-comfortable with her attachment to him, he thinks he can keep her on the hook.  If not, well there are other fish in the sea.  In any case, it would be a lot more complicated to disinvolve yourself with someone to whom you were financially connected (e.g., wife).  While we’re at it, who believes there are two Roxannes?

Political Differences

It’s amazing to me how many people I know or encounter casually who think that politics don’t matter in their personal lives.  I marvel.  Now of course, we have the tea-partiers who have suddenly woken up to the fact that politics do matter, and that they have a right to speak out about things they disagree with.  No matter how stupid and uniformed they are.  They have the right to be stupid and uninformed and protest about the things they are stupid and uninformed about.  That’s actually quite fine with me.  I’m not fine at all with people carrying signs that say, “We came unarmed…this time.”

But I am really talking about the disconnect between people who are able to have relationships with others when their political and social views are completely opposed.  What does it matter?, they say.  It’s only politics.  I can’t even grasp that. 

Let’s just take for example my friend Brenda, who has recently become involved with a guy who is originally from New York state.  After a couple of months now, she’s discovered that he’s a racist.  Her solution was to say…don’t say things like that around me any more.  Problem solved, right?  As long as we don’t talk about your personal racism, we can’t have a conflict.  I cannot get that.  Even if you don’t talk about it, it’s still there. 

Now let’s take me for an example.  I’ve had a friendship with a guy for 6 months who initially described himself as a Conservative.  (Kiss of death in my book.)  The last time I saw him, he said he isn’t really a Conservative.  He’s more of a Libertarian.  He’s a Conservative with Libertarian leanings.  (Can you have a double kiss of death?)  And the time before that, he informed me that I’m not really a liberal.  I’m a Conservative with Liberal leanings.  This so amuses me.  You could practically see his mind whirring, trying to redefine me in such a way that he could accept me.  And remaking himself.  Perhaps he thought that Libertarian would be more acceptable to me.  Please!  Spare yourself! 

Maybe this is why I am so bereft of relationships.  You have to agree with me intellectually first.  Everybody else I know seems to be able to put that aside.  So I guess it’s just me, but it is for sure me.  We have to be there first, otherwise I’m totally uninterested in how handsome, sexy, and attentive you are.  Not that handsome, sexy, and attentive is much of a combination I encounter often.  I can usually get two out of three…but no more.

Women Are From Venus, Men Are….

…from some other planet, except I’m not sure it’s as close as Mars.  I never read that book, but life in general will teach you, if you’re paying attention, that men are a different species.  On rare occasions, you will suddenly and inexplicably be of one mind, then Poof!  That moment will suddenly and inexplicably disappear.  In my opinion, successful relationships depend on both parties understanding that you have formed an alliance with an alien being.  I mean, I can’t talk to my dog either, but I love him anyway. 

So consider the following scenario.  On Friday afternoon, I visited my friend Judith in the hospital, which was an exceptionally happy occasion since she was alive to be visited.  Also present was another friend of hers (female) and her two daughters, Gina and Jennifer.  Gina has for some time now, maybe a year or more, been living with Mr. Right.  Handsome.  Sensitive.  Devoted.  Smart.  Competent.  And he recently bought her an engagement ring, which she actually picked out herself.  (Her comment:  “He wanted to buy me one of those diamond solitaire things like everybody else has.  I wanted more color.  So I got one with diamonds and rubies.”)

So Gina’s sister at some point says, can we now start calling what’s his name your fiancee?

Gina:  No you may not! 

Jennifer:  Didn’t he buy you a ring?

Gina:  Yes. 

Jennifer:  So why aren’t you wearing it?

Gina:  Because he hasn’t actually proposed!  [Um, yes, Gina, he has, at least in his mind.] If I wear the ring, it would be like assuming he asked already!  I will not wear the ring until he asks me to marry him officially! 

At that point I was compelled to step in and I said, Uh, Gina does he know this?  (Giggling can be heard in the background.)  I said, you know, he may be the most sensitive man on earth, but he is still a man.  You probably are going to have to tell him what you want.  (Giggling in background turns into outright laughter.  Sister Jennifer is actually clapping her hands.  “Am I right?”, I asked.  Chorus says, you are right!)

Gina replies that that will take away from the whole experience if she has to ask him to ask her.  She wants him to puzzle it out on his own.  I get that…really I do.  It’s just that in my world we live in reality, where soap operas do not rule, and where men never puzzle anything out for themselves when it concerns women.  They can invent the wheel and the atom bomb, and they can analyze football games and the stock market to the tiniest degree, but after that…forget it.   So I said, maybe you don’t have to go that far.  But you have to give bigger hints.  Such as, I would wear this ring if you asked me to marry you.  THEN he would get it.  Maybe. 

I’m not saying I do any better job of it than Gina.  I just understand it better.  I’d still like for you to puzzle it out.  So get started.  By 2082, you might get it.

Too Much Drama

This has to do with two seemingly unrelated stories.  Story Number One:  On Monday, July 20th, I arrived at work and read the local newspaper as usual.  The top headline was about a hostage situation the previous day  in a relatively affluent neighborhood.  I say “relatively affluent”  because it’s a “planned community”.  A planned community in the best sense of the word, in my view.  The developers did a good job in this case.  They didn’t develop a gated community, where the rich are insulated from the riffraff.  There are million dollar homes there, but they exist side by side with more modest homes, townhouses, and even apartments.  It’s more “real world”. 

The hostage situation described a standoff in one of the apartments, where a woman had allowed a man she knew from the Internet to move into her apartment.  The initial report said he had hit her in the face with a shotgun, but she managed to escape and was taken to the hospital and treated for “minor injuries”, then released.  Hold up, here.  How do you get minor injuries after being hit in the face with a shotgun?  I’m thinking broken cheekbone, broken nose, broken eyesocket, missing teeth.  One of two things happened here–the newspaper got it wrong, or she exaggerated what happened.  Maybe both.  In any case, after she escaped, the guy barricaded himself in the apartment for 3 1/2 hours but was finally talked out by the police department’s tactical team. 

Story Number Two.  About 15 minutes after I finished reading this story, “Brian” walks into my office.  “Brian” is a guy I previously made famous in my Flirting With Fakename series.  He’s been out of town since June 26, and he hoped to be gone permanently, but due to a glitch in the project he was in charge of, he has had to return.  Before he left, he told me he planned to spend a week in British Columbia, which I assumed was a vacation.  In the interim, a third party informed me that it was not exactly that…”Brian” was performing a chivalrous deed by accompanying a woman of his acquaintance to British Columbia where she was getting a divorce from a Canadian citizen.  She needed moral support.  I said, “I’m having a hard time putting ‘Brian’ and ‘chivalry’ in the same sentence.”  Third party guy says,”You think?  I think he is very chivalrous.”  Let that be a lesson in trusting other men to define what is and is not chivalry. 

My first words to “Brian” were, How was British Columbia?  His eyes got all shifty.  At last he says, British Columbia was beautiful, but the trip was hell.  He explains that he went with this woman to provide moral support while she got a divorce.  And he went because he said she isn’t “wrapped too tightly” and “never could have done this on her own”  and needed help.  During the course of the story, it becomes clear that he paid for her plane ticket and hotel room for a week. 

That’s another of your Hold up, Here moments.  How do you get a man to fly with you over 3,000 miles to a different country, and pay for it, and you are only acquaintances?  And you’re crazy too? I myself am only mildly crazy, and I can’t even get a man to take me to Starbucks!

Of course, you don’t.  At the conclusion of the week in BC, she announced that he was next….that if he did not accede to her wishes, she was going to accuse him of being abusive toward her, just like she had just done with her husband during the divorce.  He handled that by never being alone with her, and by reporting to security at every airport they landed at during the long trip home.  Then he said, Did you read the article in the newspaper this morning?  It was the same woman.  He said, I don’t know all the details, but I suspect she had something to do with driving that train.   

Later in the week, more details emerged. She alleges that the man in her apartment did not hit her in the face with the shotgun, but instead stuck the barrel in her mouth and asked if she was ready to die.  They met in an online support group for cancer victims:  she is a breast cancer survivor, and his ex-wife recently died of cancer.  He was clearly depressed and maybe suicidal, as several postings on his Facebook account implied.  She was just trying to do him a favor.  According to him, the whole incident began when she asked him to help her move a table.  When he refused, she began slapping him repeatedly.  Not that there is any excuse for what he did, but it’s probably not a good idea to provoke unstable people.

So now we know why “Brian” never asked me out for a drink.  He was “busy”.  If he ever does, I will have to decline, on the grounds of not being crazy enough for him.  I think he should take up hang-gliding or bungee-jumping, or some other less dangerous sport.