Hot Tubs, Hotties, and Herpes **NSFW**

 

Hot Tub Party

“Your son has herpes,” Dr. Brian tells me.

The year is 2009 and the doctor is seeing Jack because of a problem that Jack has in his genital region.  I just stepped into the room, after waiting in the hall during the examination.

And now, I’m having a mild panic attack because of the diagnosis.

“What—you’re teasing me!  You mean herpes simplex one, cold sores,” I sputter.  15-year-old Jack sits on the exam table, watching me.  I cannot read his face.

“He has herpes simplex two, a sexually transmitted disease,” Dr. Brian says calmly.

My eyes threaten to pop out of my head and my skin feels hot—I’m sure that I’m turning red.  Maybe blue; I should breathe.  OMG my teenage son is sexually active and has an incurable disease!!  Ok, so maybe it’s a major panic attack.

Dr. Brian adds, “Just kidding.  He has razor burn from shaving.”

“DO YOU THINK YOU’RE A PORN STAR?!  WHY DO YOU NEED TO SHAVE?  Is that why you wanted a video camera—to make sex movies?!” I ask, seriously confused and with high blood pressure.

Jack shrinks back away from me, looking from me to the doctor and saying, “No…I…Mom, please!”

Dr. Brian laughs.  “No one is a porn star here.  Sometimes guys want to shave, because hair can be hot and itchy.  It’s not a big deal.”

“Dad told me to,” Jack squeaks.

I seriously have NO IDEA what to think at this point.  “So…no herpes?”

“Nope,” Dr. Brian says with a smile.

“Are doctors allowed to give their patients heart attacks?” I ask.

He laughs again.

Last Week

“Valtrex” is written on the prescription label.  I’m drunk, so my brain isn’t working well.  I’m sitting in my friend’s bathroom, peeing, so I google, “Valtrex.”  My friend Google, who knows all, tells me that Valtrex treats genital herpes.  I’m more awake now.  OMG should I be sitting on this toilet seat?!  I hurriedly finish my business and get dressed.  Time to go!

“Thanks, Jason, I had a good time,” I tell my host, suppressing my building freak out.

Jason, 30-years-old and an amateur body builder, smiles at me.  “Rushing off so soon?”

I melt as I gaze into his sparkling blue eyes.  Stay strong! I tell myself.  “Yes, it’s late.  Gotta get home before I crash,” I say.

“You can crash here,” he says, stroking my arm.

I shiver and smile.  “Not tonight,” I tell him.  Or any night, ever, I think to myself.  “Tell Sara I had a great time.”

He hugs me.   His girlfriend Sara is still in the hot tub with the other guests.  I pull away a little quickly and leave.

Freak Out

The next day comes the freak out, where I google “herpes” and “hot tub.”  What I find is that hot tubs contain chlorine (duh!) that kills microbes over time.  It’s that “over time” that really gets me.  How much time?  Seconds or days?  If I’m sitting right next to the person, will the chlorine kill the bugs before they reach me?  What if everyone in the hot tub has herpes besides me—is there enough chlorine in Jason’s hot tub to kill the germs from 8 or 10 people?

Side note: yes, at one party we were really packed in the hot tub.  With close friends and enough alcohol, it’s not “cramped,” it’s “cozy.”

Besides, it’s a big hot tub.  Jason and his girlfriend are engineers without children (DINKs), so they have disposable income to spend on things like their big house, alcohol, and a spacious hot tub.  I met them through a previous employer and we’ve been friends for years.  I just hadn’t attended any of their parties until recently.

Back to my freak out.  Googling, “herpes” wasn’t much more helpful.  It can be spread through sexual contact (duh!  It’s an STD!) and oral sex.  Wait, if it can be spread through oral sex, then can it be spread through saliva?  If Jason had tasted my drink, left his saliva on my glass, then gave it to me, would I be infected?

Enough freaking out and relying on Google for info; I needed facts from a medical professional. I scheduled a doctor’s visit for the next day; Dr. Brian will set me straight.

I get up the nerve to send a text to Jason, “Hey, I saw the prescription for Valtrex in your bathroom.  Is that for—what I think it’s for?  I think it’s only for one thing?”

“Ya, I think it’s just for one thing, too.  Listen, I’d rather have this conversation in person,” he replies.

I freak out a little harder.  I should have canceled my meetings and gone to the doctor TODAY!

Dr. Brian’s Advice

“If you like this guy, fuck the shit out of him!  Hang from the chandeliers!” Dr. Brian tells me.

“Uh…what?” I ask.

“Look, if he’s taking Valtrex daily, there should be zero chance of transmission.  And there’s only, like 1% chance of it infecting you in a hot tub if he’s not taking Valtrex—extremely rare.  So if you really like the guy, go for it!  Fuck the shit out of him!” Dr. Brian advises me.

“Ok, well, I’m not going to fuck the shit out of him, but thank you for that information,” I reply straight faced.

“Listen, you shouldn’t leave a good guy just because he has herpes.  Seriously.  I knew a woman who was married to a guy with herpes, and he took Valtrex, and she never contracted the disease.  Her labs always came back negative.  But then, she divorced him and married another man; the new husband has herpes out of the blue.  It’s like, you just never know—some people carry it and don’t know, others can be someone who has herpes and never get it,” Dr. Brian tells me.  “We can do a blood test if you want, but I’m telling you, if he’s on Valtrex, you have nothing to worry about.”

“I’m not leaving him because he has herpes.  I’m not going to date him because he has a girlfriend,” I say.

Dr. Brian gives me a sideways look.  “You’re hanging out with some guy in a hot tub, fooling around, even though he has a girlfriend?”

I roll my eyes.  “It’s not like that.  They have parties, we end up on the hot tub.  There is no fooling around,” I emphasize.  “They do have an open relationship, but we are just friends.”

“Oh, so they’re swingers and they have orgies in the hot tub when you’re not there,” Dr. Brian says, making it sound like an accusation.

“Um, I don’t know if you can call them swingers,” I said.

“If they’re in an open relationship, they’re swingers.  Did you know, there are three big swinger clubs around Dallas, and some private parties by invitation-only at private residences, where guests arrive in limos.  There is a healthy population of swingers in Dallas, alright.  Now I do want to do a blood test—you want the whole panel, the whole set of tests?” Dr. Brian says and looks at me.

“Sure,” I say, a little overwhelmed.  In five minutes, we had gone from It’s no big deal, fuck the shit out of him to Let’s see what you contracted from the hot tub and your filthy swinger friends.

“You’re probably ok,” Dr. Brian says, while looking at his computer screen.  He does not sound like he believes what he’s saying.

“Do I have an obligation to share this information with other people who attend the hot tub parties?” I ask him.

“No.  Anyone who is in the lifestyle, or who knows that your friend is in the lifestyle, knows the risks.  You aren’t obligated to warn anyone; they already know,” he tells me.

I didn’t know; I didn’t even know about Jason and Sara’s open relationship for years.  They keep it to themselves.  But then, it’s possible that everyone else at the hot tub parties know.

Trying to lighten the mood, I joke, “I feel like I just confessed something.  Do you get paid extra for therapy?”

His turn to roll his eyes.  “This is nothing.  I treat guys with STD’s and have to keep their affairs secret from their wives.  I treat wives for the same thing—that’s the worst, because it takes an act of congress to get a woman to cheat.  Seriously, men will cheat for next to no reason, but women—well, let’s just say they have to see no way out of the marriage before they’ll stray,” he shakes his head.  “I’m a hormone doctor,” he nods to the poster that advertises artificial hormone replacement treatments.  “So I see a lot of strange shit.  I had one patient who became so horny from the treatments, that she would wear a vibrator to work every day.  Can you imagine?!  She got tired of changing the batteries, so she bought a vibrator that plugged into the car’s power outlet!”

I do not know how to respond to that.  A few jokes come to mind, but they don’t seem appropriate.  Then again, this whole conversation seems inappropriate.  If I had a hot tub, I’d invite Dr. Brian over to hang out.  If he’s this much fun sober, think of the stories he’d tell while he’s drunk!

Dr. Brian continues, “My point is, your story is nothing.  I’ll forget it in 30 minutes.  Now, the lady who plugs her vibrator into the car’s power outlet?  I’ll remember that one.”  He pauses and looks at me.  “You should really get a life.”

I about die.  “My doctor is prescribing me, Get a life?!” I ask.

“Well, I guess you go to hot tub parties, so maybe not.  But you aren’t going to those any more, right?  You need to find new friends,” he says.

“Right.  Thank you, Dr. Brian, you’ve been very helpful,” I say.  “Very informative!”

Summary

Lessons Learned from this escapade:

  • If a person is on Valtrex, there is 0% chance of contracting herpes from him.
  • If a person is a swinger, there are other things that you should be worried about.
  • My doctor is has some fucking hilarious stories to tell.
  • If you like a guy, fuck the shit out of him. Doctor’s orders.
  • Hanging from the chandeliers while fucking the shit out of him is optional, but highly recommended by the doctor as well.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Chapter 8 ~ A Friend in Need

JNH_July1994_BW

July 1994

“I’ve been bleeding for two weeks,” I tell the doctor, my ob/gyn.  I hate having this conversation, and it is at least the third time I’d told the story in the past hour: once on the phone to her scheduler when I made the appointment, once to the nurse after I arrived, and now to her.  “It’s like I’ve had a heavy period for 14 days, when they usually only last for 3.  Plus, I didn’t have a period last month.  I figure it’s probably due to stress, but I’ve lost a lot of blood, so I decided to come see you so that you can make sure.  It’s stress, right?  I’m sorry to waste your time with this.”

Dr. Beverly looks very serious.  She has a last name and when I talk to her, I use that; but being a Trekkie, I like to call her Dr. Beverly in my head.  Being nervous, I like to think about anything but the reason that I am sitting in a doctor’s office in a paper gown.

“We ran a blood test and your hormone levels are high.  I’m sorry to have to tell you, but you had a miscarriage,” the doctor says.

“What?” I ask.  “I was pregnant?”  I can’t think clearly.  Her words aren’t making any sense.

“While we can’t be sure, since the fetus has probably exited your body by now, the hormone levels along with your symptoms make that the most likely scenario,” she continues calmly.  She is watching me closely, like she expects me to start screaming any moment.  Very softly, she asks, “Is there someone I could call?  The father, perhaps?”

“The father?” I say blankly.  I hadn’t had sex with Tommy since–let’s see, this is December, we split in June, so…at least six months.  If this happened within the last two months, then it had to have been…

Mike.  Mike is the only person that I’d had sex with recently.  And I hadn’t heard from since that night two months ago.  What am I supposed to do now, call him up and say, “Hey, guess what?  I was pregnant.  Now I’m not.  You’re off the hook, so you never have to talk to me again.  Oh, wait, you were already ignoring me, so just keep doing what you’ve been doing.  Bye bye!”

Uh, no.  That isn’t going to happen.

Oh.  Wow.  I had a miscarriage.  I could have had another baby.  Jack could have had a sibling.  I…

Dr. Beverly clears her throat.  I realize that I had zoned out for a few minutes.  “In cases such as these, a D&C is the typical treatment.  While we don’t know why, exactly, the D&C seems to stop the bleeding.”

“A D&C?  What’s that?  I won’t just stop bleeding on my own?” I ask, still in shock.  Trying to think is like walking through several feet of water; I can do it, only very slowly.

“It’s unlikely that you’ll stop bleeding on your own.  You may bleed for a few days or a few weeks.  D&C stands for dilation and curettage, which is a French term for a procedure where I scrape out the lining of the uterus and look for any possible issues, like fibroids.  We could schedule the procedure for next week.  You’ll need someone to drive you, because you’ll be under general anesthesia,” Dr. Beverly says.

The nurse hands me a pamphlet to read and schedules my procedure for the following week.  I have to let Brenda, my boss, know that I won’t be at work so that she can schedule someone else.  I have to tell Mom, but she already expected to keep Jack that day, so it won’t change her plans.  And I have to find someone to drive me there and back.  That is gonna be the hard part.

Let’s see, I really REALLY don’t want to call Mike, the asshole who knocked me up in the first place then refused to return my calls.  Because, as much as I hate to admit it, I had left my phone number on his answering machine a couple of times.  Ya know, just in case he’d lost it.  Damn it, if he hasn’t called me back by now, he isn’t going to; no sense wasting my time calling him a third time.  Not to mention the whole awkwardness of the conversation.

Mom can’t drive me because she’ll have Jack, and I wouldn’t want them to hang out at the hospital while I was undergoing the procedure.  Dad would be at work, of course; I don’t really feel comfortable asking him to take me.  With family excluded, that left friends.

I call Logan before I have a chance to change my mind.  “Uh, Logan, I have to have a medical procedure done, could you drive me?  It’s next Wednesday.  I’ll be under anesthesia, so I can’t drive myself,” I say, so quickly that I’m not sure he understands me.

“Sure, of course.  What kind of procedure?” he asks, concern in his voice.

“A D&C, dilation and cutting-something, I forget exactly what it means, but basically, I had a miscarriage and the doctor said I need this thing done,” I say (too quickly) and then I hold my breath.  I expect a thousand questions, because he and I haven’t slept together, so he has to be curious about who I had slept with.

“Oh, sorry to hear that, are you ok?” he asks.

I let the breath out.  “Um, well, mostly just bleeding like it’s my period, not a big deal,” I tell him, and blush.  “That really is too much information, isn’t it?”

“No, I asked, it’s ok.  And that’s good.  I mean, I’m glad you’re not in pain, or anything.  Just let me know when to pick you up, and I’ll be there,” he says.

And that’s it.  He doesn’t ask a million questions.  In fact, he doesn’t ask about the would-be father at all.  Most importantly, he is going to be there for me.  My eyes fill with tears; damn hormones!

“Thanks.  I’ll call you when I find out.  Talk to you soon,” I say, and hang up the phone.

I hadn’t cried yet, because I’d mostly just been in shock.  But saying all that out loud makes it real, and the fact that Logan is going to take care of me—even though it wasn’t his child that I’d miscarried—makes all the emotions come rushing out at once.

I’d lost a child.  A child that I didn’t know about, hadn’t planned, and couldn’t possibly take care of at this point in my life.  I feel relieved, then I feel guilty for feeling relieved.  And then I just cry.  I’m sitting in my apartment, clutching one of Jack’s teddy bears, crying.

That Day

The day of the procedure, Logan picks me up as promised and I was suddenly glad that he wasn’t a big talker.  We ride to the hospital without talking and instead listen to the radio.  At the hospital, Logan stays with me while I fill out paperwork, write a big check (there goes Jack’s college fund; I’ll freak out about that later), and talk to the nurses.  Finally a nurse tells him that he has to leave.  “I’ll be in the waiting room.  You’ll be fine,” he says.  He looks as though he might say something else; then he looks as though he might take my hand; but ultimately he turns and leaves the room.

I wake up after the procedure with him by my side.  “The doctor said that it went well,” he tells me.

A nurse walks in and smiles at me mischievously.  She has brown hair pulled into a bun, but she’s probably less than 30 years old, and pretty in a plain sort of way.  “Do you remember what you said to us while you were under?” she asks.

“Noooooo,” I say.  I have a feeling that I am not going to like the answer.

“You told us how your last doctor had stapled you shut after your c-section, and the contact points became infected.  You were adamant that you didn’t want that to happen again,” the nurse says, laughing.  “We reminded you that we were—uh—going through an existing hole, so there wouldn’t be any staples.”

I blush.  “Wow, some people can’t handle their booze – I can’t handle my anesthesia!” I say.

Logan reaches over and squeezes my hand.  “I’m pretty sure you didn’t want them stapling that part of you shut,” he says, and smiles.

I blush again, but I feel a little better.  I am going to be ok, and I have my best friend here to take me home.

“Ok, out now, she needs to get dressed so you can get her out of here,” the nurse announces, shooing Logan into the hallway.

On the way home, he tells me, “Remember, Darrell and I are having a party on Saturday.  It’s Wednesday now, so I expect you to be up and running around by then.”

I smile.  “You heard Dr. Beverly.  She said that I could go back to work tomorrow.  I will definitely be at your party, with bells on!”

Having the procedure over iss a weight off my back.  The fact that Logan is so damn cool about it makes me feel even better.  Hell ya, I’m ready to party!

I look out the window and see a woman pushing a stroller, with a toddler by her side.  Was it a boy or a girl?  Would Jack have had a brother or a sister?  For just a minute, the smile slips off my face, and I feel the emotion in my chest threaten to push out more tears.  I blink them down, and try not to think about what had happened.  Why did I have to drink so much that day?  Why did I have to be so stupid?  Why…

Damn Mike to hell.  He doesn’t have to live with the consequences of his actions; I do.

“You ok?” Logan asks softly.

“Ya,” I lie.  But I will be, I tell myself.

******************************

“How I Met Your Father” is my first attempt at a romance novel.  It is the true love story of how I met my children’s father: Sally’s biological father and the man who chose to adopt and raise my baby boy.  The next chapter is here: Party Time!

Since it is my first romance novel, please leave a comment about what you enjoyed and what could use some work.  It’s the only way that I can get better.  Who knows – I may even rewrite the chapter for you.  After all, I rewrote chapter 2 after receiving some good constructive criticism. : – )

In other news: not much going on here, aside from some sexual harassment, 911 called at work, and a nasty case of the hives.  There’s good news, too: a hottie turned down an invitation for a date with me, but he did it in such a nice way, he made me smile.  I’ll fill you in soon; after I stop itching!

Cheers!

Chapter 7 ~ The Evil Ex

 

 

C_1994 BW

Kenny, 20 months old

Two-year-old Kenny huddles in the corner of the living room in a Batman costume.  Normally, the child is adorable; but crouching fearfully in the corner, he just looks miserable.

“Kenny, do you want to come play with Jack?” I ask softly, crouching in the door to the living room.  My heart ached for this little boy who is normally so playful and energetic.

He shakes his head and sat down, curling into a ball.

I back out of the doorway and walk to the bedroom to talk to Logan, his father.  “What happened?” I asked.

Logan shrugs, shock and confusion passing over his face, “He didn’t want me to pick him up, but he’s a toddler, and sometimes he’s independent like that.  Then he came into the house and went straight to that corner.  So I called you, thinking maybe…maybe he’d come out to play with Jack.”

I realize this must have been a desperate measure.  Jack is 9 months old and crawls around after Kenny, who holds out rattles for the baby or dangles Batman action figures in front of the baby.  Other than that, there really isn’t much interaction between the two children, since Jack can’t run or talk.

Logan says, “Wait here.”  He goes to the living room and talks to Kenny while I entertain Jack.  My smiling little boy is in a great mood, oblivious to the tension in the apartment.  He teethes on a hard rubber rattle and squeals, delighted when I shake another rattle for him.  I wish that I could be that oblivious, sometimes.

Logan returns and says, “Jodi told him that you’re a mean person.  She actually called you a bitch.  She taught my two-year old the word ‘bitch!’”  There is a growl to his voice that I haven’t heard before.  Given the circumstances, I understand.

“Wow.  What can you do?  Can you call your lawyer?  I mean, she shouldn’t be teaching a child cuss words, right?” I ask, genuinely befuddled.

“Ya, I’ll call the lawyer on Monday.  I’m pretty sure this will fall under Freedom of Speech.  Did you know that she’s teaching him that his last name is Seaman,” Logan spits out.  Seriously, he doesn’t say it, so much as spits out the words.

“Wow.  As in, Benny Seaman, the guy who slept with your wife while you were in the other room?!” I ask.  “She’s brainwashing your child into thinking he’s the boy’s father?!  That’s cold!”

“Yep.  That’s exactly what she’s doing.  And so far, the lawyer says there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it, due to the first amendment.  Especially in Williamson County, Texas.  A mother has to do something egregious, like be an alcoholic or drug addict, to get a child taken away from her.  Lying is A-okay according to the courts,” Logan says, hands on his hips, lips in a tense line.

“There’s nothing you can do?  That poor child is in pain!  He’s miserable!  How could a mother do that to her own kid?!” I ask.  I hug Jack, who pushes against me, wanting to get back down to his toys.  I put him down and he happily retrieves his teddy bear, hugging it and talking baby talk into its fur.

Logan looks disgusted.  “In a court of law, it’s he-said, she-said.  And neither of us have money for that sort of thing.  I thought Benny would be more reasonable than this, after all, we used to be friends.  But he does whatever she wants him to do.”

Heartbroken, knowing that my presence is just making things worse for little Kenny, I left.  When I tell Mom about the incident the next day, I add, “The Irish have an old proverb.  They say that if everyone sat in a ring, and threw their troubles in the middle, that at the end of the day, everyone would choose to take their own troubles out.  They wouldn’t choose their neighbor’s trouble.  I certainly feel that way.  As difficult as it is to know that Tommy is out there, and legally could pick up my child for visitation, I think it would be worse to know that he’s brainwashing my child to hate me.”

Mom agrees.  “Your uncle had something similar happen.  His ex-wife told him that the two girls were acting out in school, and that it would be better for them if he quit calling.  She turned around and told the kids that their daddy didn’t love them.  When Betty Sue, the oldest, turned 18, she tracked him down and asked him why.  He explained what had happened, and Betty Sue believed him, because she knew how hateful her mother was.  Now he’s getting to know his adult daughters and they want nothing to do with their mother.”

I shudder.  “Kenny is only 2 years old.  If Logan has to deal with this for 16 years…poor Logan!”

Two weeks later

“She wouldn’t let me see him,” Logan tells me.  “That woman kept my son away from me!”

“What?  You have a divorce decree.  She has to let you see him,” I say.

“That document is useless!  We used some template that we found online.  It says that visitation is every other weekend.  I called the police, who said that it’s not enforceable.  Standard divorce documents list visitation as every 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend, which is enforceable,” he says, grinding his teeth.  “The police said that we need to get the document modified, but until then, it’s my word against hers.”

“Oh no!  That’s terrible!” I say, helplessly.  Secretly, I think, That’s what you get for trying to do a nicey-nice divorce without a lawyer.  I told you so.  But the man is so distraught, that I can’t say it.

“I stood at the door, knocking.  Benny and Jodi wouldn’t open the door, even though I could see them through the window.  They just yelled at me through the door, told me to go away.  They told me to go away!  Do you know, they’re still living in the duplex where it all happened, sleeping in my bed, and keeping my son away from me.  How could they do that to me?!” he asks.

I am speechless.  Jodi is the one who lied and cheated, and now, she holds all the cards.  “Life isn’t fair,” I say, even though the words sounded lame to my own ears.  I don’t know what else to say.

*************

c_May1997 BW

Kenny, 4.5 years old, in another Batman costume – a raincoat, really.

***********

This chapter is part of the continuing romance novel, How I Met Your Father.  I thought about skipping ahead to the Valentine’s Day chapter, but that’s chapter 16, so it would REALLY be skipping ahead.  For those of you who like to sneak a peak at the Table of Contents, like I do, there are 20 chapters in this book.  That means weeks more of entertainment, so come back next Monday for the next chapter.

And just in case this is your first time on this site, the intro is here.  Welcome!

I’ll be posting random blogs here and there, too.  I post almost daily on Facebook – follow me so that you can hear all my witty reparte.  ; – )

Cheers!

Valentine’s Day Memories

 

Josh_20160212

My Date Tonight

“Please, God, don’t let my underwear fall on the floor while I’m walking!”  I stood, smiled at my date, and turned to walk to the bathroom across the fancy restaurant.

Each step on the wooden floor moved the underwear down just a little bit.  Quarter inch here for this step, quarter inch for the next step—oh, God, would I make it to the bathroom?!  How far is it?  Another quarter inch, another step.  I turned to see if my date was looking; he wasn’t, he was checking his phone.  GREAT!  Now’s my chance!  I grabbed my underwear through my skirt and hurried the rest of the way into the bathroom.

“That’s the last time that I buy underwear on the Fredrick’s of Hollywood clearance rack!” I told myself.  “This red satin underwear with pink trim, with matching elastic garter set and bra, are not worth the stress!”

I sheepishly replied, “But it was on sale.  And it was so pretty.  How was I supposed to know that it would be half-a-size too large?”  Seeing the death glare from me in the mirror, I shut up.

“Ok, so now I need to pull this shit up, hope that it stays for the rest of the night.  Or I could take it off and stuff it in my purse.”  I looked at my purse, which was a cute little small clutch with barely enough room inside for my keys and cell phone.  Fudgesicles.

“Maybe I have a safety pin in my…purse…?” I started to say, then remembered that I only had the clutch.  In my daily, big, over-stuffed purse, I had two or three safety pins in the sewing kit.

Again, I glared at myself in the mirror.  I might have to buy myself flowers to make up for this fiasco.

I hiked up my underwear ridiculously high, held it at my waist through my skirt while trying to make it look like I just had my hand casually on my hip, and sashayed back to the table.  Smiling once more at my date, I carefully sat down, again praying that my underwear would cooperate for the rest of the date.

That was in 2008.  Thankfully, I got through the night, and was able to laugh about it later.  Much later.

Present Day

That moment when a hottie sends you a friend request on Facebook—YAY!

That moment when you realize that the hottie is just networking because he wants a job—boo!  Use LinkedIn for that, man!  Don’t get my hopes up, especially on Valentine’s weekend!

I’m playing, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” in my head.  Can you hear it?

Another song that fits well with this weekend is, “I’m a Nut.”

I’m an acorn small and round

Lying on the hard cold ground.

Someone came and stepped on me

That is why I’m cracked you see.

I’m a nut!  (knock on head and cluck tongue twice) I’m a nut! (knock knock) I’m a nut I’m a nut I’m a nut! (knock knock)

Called me up on the telephone

Just to see if I was home.

Asked me out on a little date

Picked me up at half past eight.

I’m a nut!  (knock on head and cluck tongue twice) I’m a nut! (knock knock) I’m a nut I’m a nut I’m a nut! (knock knock)

Put my arm around my waist, if I get fresh I’ll slap my face!

I’m a nut!  (knock on head and cluck tongue twice) I’m a nut! (knock knock) I’m a nut I’m a nut I’m a nut! (knock knock)

 

I asked myself what I’d most like to do this weekend.  Since my budget was seriously blown by my recent dental surgery and rodent evictions, I decided on cost efficient (read: FREE!) activities: hiking and visiting the museum.  Yesterday was hiking, today is the Dallas Museum of Art.  I spoil me!  < 3

Naughty Nadia Update

Nadia’s quote for the week, “That’s not a Chapstick in my pocket, that’s my dick.”

This gem was told to her while she was making out with her latest guy: a big bad biker man.  You don’t expect this from anyone, really, but a guy with a massive Harley and leather vest?  Well, it was a shocker.

Oh dear.

She wanted me to tell you, “May you enjoy VD while not contracting VD!”

Cheers!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

 

 

BrokeassWine_20160212

No, I did not bring Broke Ass home – this time.

 

Chapter 6 ~ Saturday Afternoon Movies

JNH_DRH

Baby Jack, age 5 months, July 1994

“I brought over the chick flicks you ordered,” Logan says.  He holds two DVDs from Blockbuster, standing in the doorway wearing blue jeans and a button-up silk shirt.  I like that he dressed up a little, even though it is just a chill Saturday afternoon at my mom’s house.

I smile and say, “Thanks, come in.”  I wear a black t-shirt and blue jean shorts.  “I’m glad you could come over to Mom’s house, because I had to get some laundry done.”

“Not a problem.  I know how expensive laundry mats can be; it’s nice of your mother to let you use her washing machine,” he answers.

“What did he bring?” Mom asks.  She sits in the rocking chair, rocking Jack to sleep; or, more accurately, simply rocking him.  He’d fallen asleep at least 10 minutes ago, but she hadn’t put him down.  Holding babies is her favorite hobby.

“Well, let’s just pop it in, and see,” I say, putting the first movie into the DVD player.

“I don’t know anything about these movies,” Logan tells us as the previews start to play.  “I walked up to the counter, said that I wanted a couple of chick flicks, and the guy suggested these two.”

I laugh.  “You sound like a lawyer giving caveats.  Employees of this radio station are not eligible to win.  Chances to win do not improve with purchase,” I tease him.

The movie starts with a couple deep in the middle of sweaty, noisy, energetic sex.

I stare for a moment.  What. The. Hell.

Logan clears his throat.

Hoping that the sex scene would be over quickly, I use humor to lighten the moment.  “No one is that noisy during sex,” I say, scoffing.

“You are if you’re doing it right.  Why do you think that I’m so glad that you moved out of the house?” Mom says.

I die and my body melts right onto the floor.  Well, that’s how I feel.  How can Mom say something so OUTRAGEOUS in front of my guy friend?!

Silently, I turn off the movie, eject it, and put in the next one.  “Somersby, with Richard Gere,” I read.  Skimming the back of the box, I add, “Civil War era…man comes back from the war…his wife doesn’t recognize him…looks good.  And since it’s Civil War era, maybe it won’t start with a sex scene!”

“I don’t know, they had to have had sex back then.  They had large families, which means lots of babies,” Mom answers.

I sit down and put a pillow over my lap, wishing for a blanket to crawl under.  Mom is just too embarrassing some days!

Two hours later, Mom and I turn angry eyes to Logan.  “HE DIED!” I say.  “How could you pick a movie that the hero died?!  And it was RICHARD GERE?!”

Logan puts his hands up.  “I told you, I asked the Blockbuster guy for two chick flicks.  This is on him, not me.”  Seeing that we are still fuming, he adds, “That’s it, I’m not bringing movies over here again!”

Mom goes back to her study to work on the church bulletin.  She isn’t the church secretary, but she is good with desktop publishing software, so she does a lot of work for the church.

Jack sits on the floor, playing with his toys.  Since he slept almost two hours, he is happy and will entertain himself for a good 30 minutes before requiring attention.

I go to the laundry room to get the clean clothes out of the dryer, put them in the laundry basket, and bring them back to the living room to fold.  I sit on the couch next to Logan and put the basket on the floor, fold a shirt, and place the folded one on the other side of me on the couch.  Logan grabs a towel and folds it.

Surprised, I say, “You don’t have to do that.  Just talk to me while I work.”

“It’s fine, I don’t mind,” he says.

Since I have two weeks of laundry to fold, I don’t argue.  I’d been too busy to get to Mom’s house the prior weekend.  “How’s the new job?” I ask.

“Good, kinda boring, but it pays the bills.  How’s your work?” he ask.

I roll my eyes.  “Boring!  I tried to get transferred to the floor—you know, one of the departments—which would be a dollar-an-hour raise.  But Brenda doesn’t want to let me go.  Says that cashiers can’t transfer, which is a bunch of bull.  So I’m looking for another job.”

“That sucks.  You work hard, show up on time, and the customers love you.  You think that management would want to make you happy, to keep you,” he says.   “Darrell said that they’re hiring where he works, in the call center.  You should talk to him and see if it’s something you might like to do.”

“Thanks, I will,” I hesitate.  There is more on my mind, but should I say my thoughts out loud?  Then I look at Logan folding Jack’s little bitty shirt in two, as delicately as he can with his big man hands, and I melt a little.  It is a darn cute sight.  Plus, his willingness to do this on a Saturday afternoon proves that we are friends.

I continue, “I’m afraid that Tommy might show up again.  I mean, he showed up last week, and even though I told him not to bother me there again, I still jump every time I see someone who looks like him.”  I shiver.  I hate being afraid.  I hate admitting that I was afraid.

“So what if he does?” Logan says.  “Just get that big girl, Stephanie, to kick him out.  From what you told me earlier, she sounded like she was ready to bounce him to the curb.”

I actually giggle at the mental image of the large blonde woman picking up the short man by the scruff of his neck and the back of his second-hand Guess jeans, and throwing him out of the grocery store.  She can do it, I have no doubt, and I suspect that she would enjoy doing it.

Then I hesitate.  How do you explain to someone that you were stupid for the past year?  How you married someone you barely knew in an impulsive move?  How you tried for months to make the relationship work, only to be beaten down, lied to, and manipulated?

“It’s hard to explain how I feel about Tommy,” I begin slowly.  “He seemed so perfect when we first met, the way that he wanted to know all about me.  He asked me a ton of questions and studied my bookshelf in my room to learn about what I liked to read.  Then he treated me like a princess and wanted to spend every waking moment with me.  We rushed to get married so that we could move in together—my parents would let us otherwise—and that’s when he changed.”

Logan listens intently, the shirt in his hands forgotten.  I hadn’t told Darrell this part of my story, so Logan must’ve been curious.  He doesn’t say a word, as though doing so might make me clam up.  And it might have; this is an unpleasant topic and it is hard for me to discuss.  More accurately, it is hard for me to admit what an idiot I’d been.

“Can you believe, he told me that he was sterile, so we didn’t need birth control?!  Ha!  How could I fall for that?  I mean, you don’t expect your husband to lie to you about something, especially something that big.  After one month of marriage, I got pregnant, but I stayed in denial for months because I believed him.  Because I believed that the man I loved couldn’t lie to me like that.  When I finally got up the nerve to get a pregnancy test, I was five months along.  Can you believe that?  I spent over half my pregnancy in denial because that bastard had me brain washed into believing every word out of his mouth.”

“That’s on him, not you,” Logan says, putting a hand on my arm.  “He shouldn’t have lied to you in the first place, and he really shouldn’t have continued to lie to you.”

I choke back some emotions.  I want Logan to hear the rest of the story, to know why I can’t be with Tommy.  “There’s more.  He couldn’t stay in one job; there was always a reason, an excuse.  One time his female boss hit on him, so he had to quit.  Another time, his boss supposedly cut his hours for no reason.  It was never his fault.  And yet, I was pregnant and working two jobs—cashier at a grocery store and a book store—with swollen feet and aching back.  When I tried to tell him that I was unhappy, he would tell me that it was the pregnancy hormones talking.  He reminded me of how much we loved each other.  Then, after I had Jack, he told me that I had post-partum depression.”

“Bastard,” Logan says.  “Even if you did have hormone issues, he should have stepped up and got a job.  What kind of man lets his pregnant wife work two jobs while he sits on his ass?!  What did he do all day?”

“His hobbies included playing Dungeons and Dragons and hanging out at IHOP,” I say, and shrug.  “He made friends with college students who were up all night and had class at odd hours, and other deadbeats that didn’t work.  I played D&D with him sometimes, but he had a whole different group for during the day.”

“You play D&D, too?!” Logan says.  “Darrell and I used to play every weekend.”

I blush.  “Yep, I’m a big ol’ nerd,” I admit.  “My brothers taught me how to play back when they were in high school and needed extra players.”

“Cool.  We’ll have to run a campaign together sometime.  But hey, doesn’t sound like you have anything to fear from Tommy.  If he can’t hold a job, then he’ll find someone else to sponge off of.  He still hasn’t tried to visit Jack, has he?” Logan asks.

“No, Tommy hasn’t tried to see Jack since I kicked him out.  That was two months ago.  Maybe you’re right, maybe he’s found another couch to sleep on.  Still, he legally can take Jack for visitation, which scares the crap out of me.  That man knows nothing about taking care of babies.”

“Legally, you’re right, and that sucks,” Logan agrees.  He hesitates, then askes, “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to—but, what made you finally leave him?  I mean, it sounds like you put up with an awful lot for over a year, so I’m wondering—what was the final straw?”

I take a deep breath.  “One night, I came home from work around 5 p.m.  I was going to take Jack over to my friend’s house; Angelique was my rock.  She listened to me, asked what I wanted, and was just—you know—there for me.  Anyway, I was barely holding myself together and was really looking forward to just chilling out for a night with my friend.  Tommy and I were staying with my parents at the time; we couldn’t afford our own place on my salary alone.  So we were paying them $200 a month rent and saving up so that we could move out.  I came home, like I said, to pick up Jack.  Tommy took my car keys and said that he had a job interview to go to.”

“Wait—he said that he had a job interview past 5 p.m.?” Logan asks.

“Yes.  He claimed that one of his college student buddies had a dad that was interviewing him that late, as a favor.  I couldn’t argue with that; if I took the car and went to see my friend, then I’d be the reason that he wasn’t working, so I had to let him go.  After he left, Dad said that Tommy had promised to move a large stack of chopped wood from the back of the yard to up against the house.  Dad was going to pay him $40.  So instead of spending time with my baby and my best friend, I picked up arms full of prickly firewood and moved it from one stack to another.  Took me nearly an hour to get it all moved,” I say.

“Let me get this straight: you worked all day, on your feet at Albertson’s, then came home and did your husband’s chores for him?” Logan asks.

I nod.  “The whole time, I was thinking about how Logan had had all day to move that wood, and hadn’t.  And I wondered where he was, really, and what the next year would be like.  If I didn’t have him using up the gas in my car and spending my money for meals at IHOP, I would have more money to take care of Jack.  I didn’t want to live with my parents forever; hell, I got married to get out of my parents’ house!”

Logan nods.  “I hear ya.  My parents are great, but I can’t imagine living with them now.”

“Ya.  So after I moved the wood and took a shower, I packed Tommy’s clothes and stuff into two trash bags.  Then I sat down by the front door and waited.  At 3 a.m., he finally came home,” I say.

“That must’ve been some job interview!” Logan says.

“Ha!  When I asked him where he’d been, he was all shifty about it.  Said that he was hanging out at IHOP after the job interview, and then a girl had a flat tire, so he had to follow her home.  I asked him for her phone number, so that I could call and confirm.  He wouldn’t even tell me her name.  I can’t be married to someone that I can’t trust, so I told him that I was done.”

“Wow.  Do you think that he was cheating on you?” Logan asks.

That comment hits me.  Coming from him, though, the question make sense.  “No,” I say honestly.  “I think he was playing D&D with his friends, and he had no reason to lie to me, except for the fact that he was supposed to go to the job interview and come right back.”  I take a deep breath.  “I put the trash bags in the car and drove him to his mother’s house.  On the way, he tried every trick in the book to manipulate me.  He threatened me.  He threatened Jack.  He threatened suicide.  He told me that I was a horrible human being.  He told me that I was the best person in the world.  But you know what?”

Logan shakes his head.

“I was numb.  I had put up with so much emotional abuse from that man that I couldn’t feel anymore.  I was just—done.  Ya know?”  I say.

Logan squeezes my arm again.  “I think I know what you’re saying, but I’ve never been through something like that.”  Though he doesn’t say much, his words convey a plethora of emotion: mostly sympathy, with some admiration mixed in.  “I think you’re really strong to see through him and leave him like that.”

The emotions well up in the back of my throat, threatening to make me cry.  I push them back down.  Ready to change the subject, I ask, “How’s it going with your ex?”

“Ok, I guess.  We signed the divorce papers without involving the lawyers,” he says.  He sounds almost optimistic.  “Jodi, my ex, is being really civil about the whole thing.  I’m glad we’re getting along; makes this whole thing easier.”

That was the last time he said something nice about his ex.

*********************************

This chapter is part of the continuing romance novel, How I Met Your Father.  The intro is here.  Chapter 7 is here.  I’ll be posting a chapter a week.  One of the reasons that I’m writing this book is to improve my writing skills.  Another is to renew my faith in love. But the best reason is this: to tell my little girl how two people, her parents, fell in love.

On the Eve of Divorce

 

“Can you meet me for a drink?  I need a woman’s perspective,” my friend Kevin Kumquat asked.

**If you don’t want to read this advice column, skip down to “Hello”**

Uh oh.  I’d already met Kevin twice for happy hour, and knew that his wife was ready to divorce him.  More importantly, I’d already given Kevin advice; I didn’t know if I had any more to offer.  But Kevin is a friend, and if I can help him at all, I will.  So I agreed to meet him at the usual bar and the usual time.

“Sure,” I said.  He’s been married over a decade and his wife is an awesome person.  In general, I’m pro-marriage, as long as the people in it are happier together than alone.  Kevin is clearly miserable since he moved out of his house and in with his parents; I’m routing for a reconciliation.

I’ve wondered in the past why people come to me for relationship advice.  After all, I’ve been divorced twice and have been through numerous breakups.  Do you ask the guy who crashed the plane how to be a better pilot?  I’m thinking, no, maybe you should ask the guy who has been flying for decades with an unblemished record.  Still, people keep coming to me for advice, so I try to tell them how to steer the plane.  How, theoretically, I should have steered my planes, so that they wouldn’t have crashed.

Note that I haven’t flown, successfully, in years.  Maybe that’s why people ask for my advice, then promptly ignore it.

“She is busting my balls that I haven’t set up a date yet,” Kevin told me.  “We just met with the counselor on Monday, then I planned my hotel for the training class I went to, and I just haven’t had time to plan anything.”

Internally, I groaned.  I’d be upset, too, if he took a week to plan travel for a training class an hour away but didn’t take 5 minutes to plan a date.  Plus, I’d given him some AWESOME date ideas the last time we had talked, and had given him MORE via a text message.

I said, “Did you go to the DMA?” He gave me a blank stare.  “The Dallas Museum of Art.  You said that your training class was in downtown Dallas, so I suggested that you visit the DMA, the Perot Museum of Natural Science, and the Dallas World Aquarium.  Your wife complains that all you ever do is sit on the couch and watch TV, so I suggested that you invite her on a date or go alone.  Since you painted that oil painting recently, I thought you might be interested in seeing the art yourself.  Even the stuff you hate can be entertaining.”

“No, I didn’t go,” he said.

In retrospect, I should have gotten up and walked out right then.  I mean, if he’s not going to take my advice, then we were both wasting our time, right?

More advice that I give to everyone contemplating a divorce:

  1. Read these books. Really study them, like you’re going to be tested on them later:
    1. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman taught me that people have different ways of showing affection, which may be very different from how they prefer to receive affection. For example, I show my love to Sally by buying her presents, everything from socks to elk heads.  I don’t want her to buy me anything, though; I’d rather she spend time (Quality Time) with me or paint me a pretty picture (Act of Service).  With Jack, I prefer that he clean the kitchen, which is an Act of Service (an action which is done to show love for another person).  With boyfriends, I prefer physical demonstrations of affection along with quality time.  Knowing this about myself helps me tell my partner what I need.  Of course, if he’s like Kevin, he may not listen…
    2. How to Win Friends and Influence People helps improve communication, which is a big deficit in most relationships. Sounds like Mrs. Kumquat was talking, but Kevin wasn’t listening, which points to a communication issue (among other issues).
    3. How to Talk so Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber is geared toward parents dealing with children, but I’ve found that it helps when talking to adults, too.  Because sometimes adults act like children: my son ignores me when I tell him to clean his room, and Kevin ignores me when I tell him to visit the museum.  Maybe I need to read the book again.
    4. Women are from Venus, Men are From Mars by John Gray. The author exaggerates the differences in the genders to make a point.  Most of us are a little of both.  Still, reading the book helped me to better understand a guy’s perspective.  My boyfriend in 2004 read the table which translates “Venusian” into “Martian” and said, “Holy smokes, is that what you’ve been saying?!  Wow, I wish I’d read this book years ago!  Whenever we get into a fight, I want you to show me this table, so that I can know what we’re really fighting about.”  When we started communicating better, I realized that he loved to fight and generally sucked as a human being.
    5. Fireproof Your Marriage is a movie and book heavy on the Christian message, so it’s not for everybody. However, I really like the fact that one person in the marriage worked on his own issues without pointing fingers at the other person.  So many marriages fail because one person is lazy and/or puts all the blame on his/her spouse.  The movie associated with this series is overly dramatic and kinda campy, so it’s easy to laugh it off, but the message is really powerful.  And ladies, the movie features Kirk Cameron, so there’s eye candy as an added incentive to watch it 😉
  2. Make a list of your wife’s complaints. This shows that you really are listening, and gives you the opportunity to identify solutions.  For example, if her gripe is that you never help in the kitchen, then you can make a note to yourself to do the dishes.  Put a reminder in your phone if you have to—if it’s important to her, than it should be important to you.  No task is too small if you want your marriage to work.
  3. Start a new hobby or take some fun classes: rock climbing or cooking classes, for example. They’ll make you more interesting, giving you something to discuss with your wife.  They’ll also get you off the couch.  Hobbies like rock climbing, cycling, running, and hiking have the added benefit of being a form of exercise which can improve your overall health and well-being.  And realistically, if you get divorced, you may end up doing this anyway to make yourself more attractive to would-be dates.  Might as well start now.
  4. If all of the above advice sounds like too much work or you’re not willing to change, cut bait and run. Pack your shit and get out.  Stop wasting time and start a new life.  Hey, sounds harsh, but it’s true!  Marriage isn’t for everybody, just like I was never meant to be a pilot.  (To be clear, I haven’t ever crashed a plane, it’s just a metaphor.)

Hello

“Kevin!  KEVIN!” someone said from the next table over.

Kevin turned around.  “Mom!  What are you doing here?”

She said, “We’re going to the hockey game, and decided to stop here for dinner.  We’d never been here before, so we thought we’d try it.  Looks like you need a date!”

“Uh, ya, Jules is in the bathroom,” he said.

So when I returned to the table, I was introduced to Kevin’s mom, sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and niece.

Well, fudgesicles.  I wasn’t expecting to meet the whole Kumquat clan.  And I REALLY didn’t want to be introduced as a married man’s date, ESPECIALLY when that married man is separated from his wife.

How do I get myself into these situations?

“Have you ordered yet?  Come join us!” Mother Kumquat said.

“No, thank you, we were just on our way out,” I said quickly.

Decision

“Which is it?” I asked Kevin as we walked out of the bar.  “Plan A: Cut Bait and Run, or Plan B: Really Work on It?”

“Well, I figure that I’ll wait to see what she says on Monday,” he said.

BUZZ!  Wrong answer!  Waiting is doing nothing, and Doing Nothing is NOT one of the options.

At times like these, I’m reminded of two old adages:

“Advice is free, and you get what you pay for.”

“Advice is like an asshole: everyone has one, and it usually stinks.”

Kevin, if you’re reading this, you’re a dumbass.  But you’re a dear friend and I wish you the best of luck.

But you’re still a dumbass.

Cheers!

 

 

Chapter 5 ~ Visitor at Work

JLH_JNS_BW

“Tommy and Lana” (my first husband and I), 1994

“Lana, you have a visitor,” Brenda tells me.

I look up from the can of green beans that I was sliding across the scanner to see her standing at the end of the register.  Behind her is Tommy, my ex-husband.

I drop the can.

“Um, can I take my break now?” I ask her.  I feel numb, as though I was dunked in ice water.  I can’t feel my lips when I talk.  My chest feels tight.

“Sure, just give me five minutes and I’ll be back to work your register,” she says.  Turning to Tommy, she said, “It’s a nice day.  Why don’t you wait outside on the bench?”

I turn back to my work.  My body checks out the groceries while my mind slowly turns over the possibilities.  He wants to take my baby.  After over two months, he’s going to insist on seeing the baby, and if he wants to take Jack, I can’t legally stop him.  What if he runs away with my baby?! 

Then there are the thoughts of self-doubt, What if he wants to get back together.  I should give it another try, shouldn’t I?  For the baby’s sake?  A child should have both their parents together.  My stomach does strange little flip flops.

Finally, Brenda comes to take over the register and I rush outside, to see Tommy smoking a cigarette and talking to a couple of people.  I don’t really see them; I have tunnel vision.  When they see my tense face, they walk away to let me talk to Tommy in relative privacy.

He looks good with his chin-length, reddish-brown hair falling in soft waves around his oval face.  With his golden brown eyes focused on me, I feel warm and flushed.  My heart beats quickly and I take deep breaths to try to remain calm.  I don’t know whether to scream or run, so I stand my ground.

“What do you want?” I ask in a polite, professional tone.

“I want to tell you that you look good.  Really good,” he says, his smile turning seductive and his eyes looking me over.

I shiver.  I lost all the pregnancy weight within two weeks of having Jack, and after that had lost more weight steadily.  Between the stress and having little time to eat, I am down 15 pounds from when we had met, about a year and a half ago.  I love that he notices.  I hate that he notices; that’s not what I want to talk about.  I feel awkward and tug at my polyester apron; my feet fidget back and forth of their own accord.

“I also want to tell you that I’m working two jobs.  I’m staying at the Y.  What you said to me really hit home and I want to be a better man.  I want to be with you,” he says.

My muscles tense even more, which I hadn’t thought was possible.  He wants me back and he has a job—no, two jobs!  One of the reasons that I left him, was that he couldn’t keep a job.  Now he has two!!  Maybe I should listen to him.

Then I force myself to say the words that I’d practiced, night after night, after my many nightmares about this day.  Although he hadn’t said or done the things that he’d said and done in my nightmares, I still know what I have to say.  I have to stay strong.  For me.  For Jack.  It’s difficult, and my numb lips don’t want to say the words, but I force them out anyway, “Do not bother me at work again.”

I turn and walk back inside the store stiffly, mechanically.  I don’t really see what’s around me; I’m focusing on taking steps to get me away from that man.  Focusing on moving away, one step at a time, moving forward, just get inside…

Once inside the doors of the store, I fall apart.  Shaking, doubled over, I crumple under the weight of self-doubt.  Had I done the right thing?  Maybe I should give him another chance.  He is Jack’s father, after all.  Maybe he’ll be different, if he has a job.  Maybe I should have given him my home number again, just in case he lost it, so that he can call me and see Jack.  Maybe…

Stephanie, a large woman of about 300 lbs and 6’ tall, stomps up to me, clenching her fists and jaws.  I can’t remember talking to her before.  She towers over me, glowering.  I am a little scared that she is going to punch me; she looks upset.  Ok, I’m freakin’ terrified!  “Don’t you dare get back with that man,” she says.  Her voice is strained; she sounds like an angry mother who is addressing an unruly child who was caught doing something very wrong and deserves a sound whooping.  “Before you came outside, he was telling me how he was crashing on his friend’s couch.  He ain’t got no job.  You’d be a fool to go back to that— that—man.”  By the way she says, “man,” it was clear that she is thinking either, “asshole” or “piece of shit,” but is too polite to say either.

Her words are like a slap to the face; I am stunned.  The other reason—the MAIN reason—that I left Tommy is his inability to tell the truth.  He would listen to me describe something that had happened to me, and an hour later would tell someone else as though it had happened to him.  After I kicked him out, friends told me about the many other lies he fabricated.  Instead of going on job interviews or submitting applications, he sat at IHOP and played Dungeons & Dragons for hours.  Instead of working as a busboy at the IHOP after a friend helped him get a job there, he called in sick, and went to Whataburger instead.  He spent my money on cigarettes and fast food while I was pregnant and working two cashiering jobs.

Then I realize the most shocking thing of all: he hadn’t asked about Jack.  What kind of father is he? How can he could be apart from his son for two months and not ask to see him or ask how he was doing?

Stephanie turns and leaves with a sneer.  I don’t know if she wants to punch me or go after Tommy.  Still numb, I struggle with these thoughts as I walk back to my register.  The rest of the day passes while I move automatically, my mind in a haze.

I work the afternoon shift, now that I quit the strip club, so Dad is home when I arrive to pick up Jack.  I tell my parents what happened, and what Stephanie said.

“I was careful to tell Tommy not to bother me at work,” I tell them.  “If he wants to see Jack, he can talk to me here.”

Dad snorts derisively.  “If that piece of shit shows up here, he’ll get a shotgun pointed in his face.”

I relax.  Strangely, Dad’s overprotective comment had reassures me.

“He didn’t ask about Jack,” I add.

“And he hasn’t tried to visit him, either.  I think the only person that Tommy cares about, is Tommy,” Mom says.

And I relax some more, because Tommy isn’t going to try to steal my baby.  He isn’t going to show up one day and demand visitation.  Well, maybe he will, but with each passing day, it is less likely.  I had faced my nightmare and told him to leave me alone.

Baby Jack and I will be ok.  Tommy isn’t going to show up and take my baby.  I tell myself that over and over again on the drive home, and as we get ready for bed.

I sleep soundly that night for the first time in months.

************************

This chapter is part of the continuing romance novel, How I Met Your Father.  The intro is here.  Chapter 6 is here.  I’ll be posting a chapter a week on.

One of the reasons that I’m writing this book is to improve my writing skills.  Another is to renew my faith in love. But the best reason is this: to tell my little girl how two people, her parents, fell in love.

Let me know what you think.