As it so happened, my kiddies and I entered the lobby of the restaurant at the same time Scott and his crew were arriving. After introductions all around we made our way to the bar and ordered drinks. He seemed a bit dumbfounded at first, yet instantly polite, well versed and well mannered, even offering to buy the entire first round. He towered over me, which was great since I stand six feet tall in a pair of heels.
Scott’s brother-in-law whispered in my ear informing me Scott had been kept in the dark about meeting me that night. Thus, I understood his surprise when we followed him to the bar and joined them. We chatted. We laughed. I learned he was CFO for a very large public utility company in Chicago. Scott’s sister and I stepped outside for a quick smoke and a little bonding. Back inside, we shared funny stories, another round of drinks and one shrimp cocktail. Haley and Jack wanted to make it short and sweet since they had plans with friends later that evening so, I managed to make our excuses and we headed back home.
“Well, whadcha’ think?” I quizzed Haley and Jack for their opinions, still a little uneasy.
“Man, I really like Vegas,” Jack mumbled in his best Elvis Presley voice.
“It’s hard to tell, it’s early yet,” Haley shrugged.
She was right. It was too soon in the game to make any judgment calls. He seemed nice enough and he wasn’t bad looking either. I gave myself kudos for I had finally cracked open the door of my box.
My children’s stay flew by and once again I was driving to the airport sending them off to their perspective far away places. I was alone again. Me, and of course, Apollo, now sixty-eight pounds of puppy. Four weeks went by and I hadn’t heard a peep from Scott. I figured he wasn’t interested and chalked it up to the distance between us.Just as my winter blues set in, my phone rang and it was Scott. He was coming into town for the weekend and wanted to see me both evenings. Hot diggity! I had an ACTUAL date! Two of them even! I knew that I definitely wanted my own car with me, so I told Scott I would meet him at the restaurant. I didn’t want one of those awkward good-byes at my doorstep, you know, like you see on television, where all the neighbors are watching. I was playing it safe. A friend informed me that it wasn’t a real date unless the man came to your house and picked you up in his car, but I refused to believe her. I had a date, and I knew it! Two of them!
As the coming weekend approached, I became a little apprehensive. I phoned my sister, Lori, “What are you and David doing Friday night, I have a favor to ask,” I explained the situation.
She listened intently to my request that she and her husband, David, just “drop by” the restaurant where I was meeting Scott. She agreed, and besides, I think she was curious and wanted to get the low down firsthand. While seated by a window at the restaurant waiting for Scott to arrive I noticed it had begun to snow. Lori and David arrived well before him and we waited together. And we waited and we waited. The winter storm blew in and soon, so did Scott. He looked a bit disheveled after what was expected to be a two-hour drive had turned into a four hour, nerve-racking drive.He ordered a whisky and settled in, perhaps a little too much. By the time dinner arrived he was downing his third drink while his hand kept creeping under the table resting on my leg. Lori and David were busy grilling Scott about his youth, his kids, his job and anything else he was willing to divulge. I spent the evening gently removing his hand from my thigh. Scott was telling David all about the little retirement “shack” he just purchased in Montana. “Ten acres of bliss,” was how he described it. His home in Chicago was on the market, but he was keeping his third home on the beach in Northern Michigan for vacations. I had to admit, he sounded too good to be true.
Have you ever felt that tiny spark of electricity when things feel right? That little tingle you get inside? Well, that eluded me. It was more like our wires were crossed. I was trying to like him, I honestly was, but I just wasn’t feeling it. What was my problem? The hand thing definitely bothered me. Lori and David made their exit and instantly Scott’s body language changed.
“That was interesting, I feel like I just got out of the witness chair in a courtroom,” he sighed.
“Sorry ‘bout that,” I grinned, though I really wasn’t.
“I can be alone with you now,” he grinned from ear to ear and I got a sudden knot in my stomach.
“I have something to show you, I’ll be right back,” and off Scott sauntered, returning with a large three-ring-binder notebook full of pictures of his “shack” in Montana. It was amazing; cathedral ceilings throughout, wrap around porch, large great room concept loaded with windows on all sides to enhance the views, and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace at one end of the room.
“You’re beautiful. I really, really like you,” he began complimenting me, and I know I should have felt flattered, but again a red flag went up. Too much! Too soon! He offered to take me shopping on the Miracle Mile. He told me how glad he was that we’d met and tried holding my hand, but I was having none of it. How could he know if he liked me, we’d only just met? I questioned myself. Was I that out of touch with how dating had changed? I only knew this man was much more into this relationship than I was. I was here to scope things out, just to see if I was ready to date yet, but I was beginning to feel Scott saw me as his future. The more I looked at his pictures the more I realized that living on the side of a mountain in Montana was not at all how I envisioned my life. I wanted easy access to Saks’s and Nordstrom’s shoe departments. I liked being able to run down the street for milk and ice cream at ten o’clock at night. These are the things that are important to me, damn it!
These pictures reminded me of something, what was it? I froze. All of the sudden, it dawned on me! Paul Sheldon! Annie Wilkes! “Misery!” Kathy Bates and James Caan! Only the roles would be reversed. It would be me, the woman, who would be trapped, confined and at his mercy. A chill went up and down my spine. I had visions of being strung up to a bed with bricks at my feet. I needed to get out of there. I felt a panic attack coming on. I began making excuses and reached for my coat. Scott walked me out to my car, which was now covered with inches of snow. He immediately ran over to his vehicle, which I now saw was a huge truck, grabbed his scraper and began wiping heaps of snow off of my car windows. I stood patiently, waiting and getting ready to thank him when, before I knew what hit me, he grabbed me and was kissing my mouth. I began pushing him away, so hard that when he finally did let go, I almost fell on my keister!
“I just had to get that out of the way!” he laughed as he took off toward his truck leaving me feeling appalled. I scurried to get inside the confines of my car.
Laughing! How could he be laughing when I was in insulted? I had explained to him on the phone that this was my first time out since my divorce, baby steps, baby steps, but he was leaping! A leap I was not equipped to take. I drove home, looking in my rearview mirror all the way making sure I wasn’t being followed. I didn’t want any surprises when I reached my front door. How many bushes did I have in front of my house? Six, yes, if there were seven, I was in trouble. I pulled my car into the garage and darted across my front porch to unlock the door, counting the bushes along the way. I flew into my front hall, locking the door behind me. I immediately turned on the security system and hugged Apollo.
The next morning I was dreading another date with Scott. Why had I agreed to two evenings with this man? Maybe it was me. Had I become too comfortable living alone this past year? Perhaps I was wrong about wanting someone in my life right now. Maybe, just maybe, I would never have anyone in my life and I should just get used to living alone, enjoying grandchildren and living for family holiday get-togethers. I wanted to back out, but he had driven all the way down from Chicago in a blizzard, after all. I felt obligated. He called to confirm the time and once again, I showered and readied for another date. I arrived at the restaurant at seven-thirty, for another go around. Scott was waiting at the bar with his sister and brother-in-law. I was glad to see they were there and actually felt very relaxed not having to be alone with him, again. They were such naturals at putting people at ease and welcomed me like family.
“Hmmm, like family,” the thought gave me pause.
His sister ordered appetizers and things seemed to be going smoothly until Scott began drinking more and more. As the evening wore on, his drink changed from whiskey and water to whiskey with a splash of water. Red flag! Red flag! I longed for my box. Again, the compliments came flowing from his mouth to my ears, but I wasn’t hearing them the way he intended. Each compliment made me step back. I felt as if this man was planning our wedding. Then, he made the mistake of telling me how much he enjoyed “that kiss.” My back went rigid.
“Really? Because I thought it was a total invasion of my personal space,” I calmly retorted, looking him right in his baby blue eyes. I was wondering if he had somehow missed the sexual harassment classes at that big corporation in Chicago.
Scott’s demeanor turned immediately. His face took on the look of a hurt puppy. I realized this man was not used to people saying “no” to him. I wondered if he hadn’t been in such a high-powered job that everyone tiptoed around him.
“Yes, Scott, of course, Scott, how would you like your coffee, Scott?”
We finished dinner and he asked me for a ride to his car, which was parked at another location.
Sneaky, I thought, feeling suffocated. By the time we got to my car I was feeling edgy so, I reached down for my cigarettes, grabbed my lighter and inhaled. Ah, nicotine! It was freezing outside, but still I cracked the car window so the smoke would blow out. We continued talking and he kept his hands to himself as I drove. Finishing my cigarette, I rolled my window down even further to clear the smoke and tossed the still lit cigarette out onto the highway.
“Something just hit the back of my head!” Scott uttered.
“It did not!” I exclaimed, looking at him in disbelief and thinking, “It’s too early in the season for bugs to come flying in the car.”
“Lois, I’m telling you, something just hit the back of my head and I think it was your cigarette!”
“Let me check the back of your coat to see if there’s a burn,” I insisted. He turned around but I saw nothing.
“Nope, nothing,” I shrugged my shoulder at him, “Are you sure it was my cigarette?”
“Lois, what else could it have been?” he responded with an accusing gaze.
I just kept driving because I couldn’t believe this was happening. I had never had it happen before. I began worrying he was right and that my car was going to catch on fire and explode!
“Do you think it landed in the back seat?” I glanced back to make sure my seats weren't smoldering, didn’t see any smoke and kept driving.
“DAMN!" he screamed, "It’s down my pants! Your #&%@ cigarette is down the back of my jeans!”
He flew up and out of his car seat.You should have seen him! My jaw dropped! My eyes widened to the size of Montana! He threw off his seat belt. I was careening down the highway at sixty-five miles per hour sitting next to man with a lit cigarette down his skivvies and I wanted to laugh. I wanted to laugh so hard I could hardly contain myself. I thought I was going to pee my pants!
“Dear God, what kind of karma is this?” I implored silently.
Scott tore at his backside, grabbed the still burning cigarette butt, and tossed it out his window. If looks could kill, I’d be dead right now.
“I’m sooooo sorry!” I exclaimed in my best possible apologetic voice, “Are you ok? Did you get burned?”
“Did I get burned?” Scott gawked with astonishment.
“Of course he got burned, Dummy,” I wordlessly admonished myself.
“When you get home, you’d better wash it good with soap and put some Neosporin on it,” I tried being sympathetic.
“Lois, you burned me! I’m crushed, you burned me last night and then you literally burned me today,” he glared at me with a crazed look in his eyes.
I had no words. I knew if I opened my mouth and started talking I’d launch into laughter. Then, I realized, this wasn’t about my karma at all, this was about his karma. He was the one with the burned ass. I instantly felt relieved of any responsibility. Fate had stepped in, that’s what it was, divine intervention! He’d forced a kiss on me and tried making plans for my life, so my heavenly angels were taking care of it by retaliating and putting him in his place. I privately expressed my gratitude to them. I was thankful when we finally arrived back at his car and I could send him on his way.
Three days later his sister called, “Scott’s in the hospital up by Chicago and he’s hooked up to an IV with major antibiotics dripping into him. What did you do to my brother?”
My heart plummeted to my stomach. I was sure I was going to be sued. I didn’t know how to respond.
“Didn’t he go home and wash the burn? Did he put Neosporin on it like I told him?” I felt desperate.
Now, I could hear laughter through my phone
“Here’s Scott,” she snickered and I heard her handing the phone off.
“Hi Darling, how are ya? We’re just joking ya.”
Darling? I was not his darling! I failed to see the humor. I didn’t want this man to contact me again. It scared me. He scared me. I scared myself.
I went quietly and comfortably back into my box, but I didn’t shut the door completely. I want the door open so I can let the light shine in and I can see out. I don’t want to miss anything or anyone that may come my way. I am there with Apollo, waiting, preparing myself for my next adventure. I’m working on taking the walls down too. Many times I have longed for the old Lois; saucy, reckless and adventurous, who wasn’t afraid to go skinny-dipping down at the lake late at night, but things change and I am a different person now. I have come to terms with the fact that Haley may never come home. The world is her oyster and she is out there living her passion, who am I not to encourage her to do so. I am also aware that Jack may never come home, either. He is on his own journey and I accept that it is out of my control. I can’t even control Apollo, much less Jack and Haley. I have even come to accept my mother’s rosary as a blessing.
This experience certainly taught me a lot of things; one, I don’t want to get laid as badly as I thought I did, two, I’m not as lonely as I originally thought I was and three, money isn’t everything, but I really knew that one already. Oh, and four, be more careful with my cigarette butts! TRUE STORY, SWEAR TO GOD!!
In the Townships of Johannesburg
8 hours ago