I was just iming a very good friend of mine that lives very far away. She had recently fallen in love with someone she described as a wonderful man. She was unlike any other person she’d ever met and felt like the Universe saved her for him as such a time as this. She was dizzy with love and like and lust. I was happy for her. A few years ago she divorced her husband, who was bipolar but mostly depressed, and thought she would dedicate the rest of her life to her cats.
Along comes Joseph. They meet, she agrees to move in with him. She moves herself across the country. Bad things happen. So bad she’s not ready to talk about it. He’s the kind of guy who knows just what to do to get you to do just what he wants. He’s the type of guy that hurts, habitually.
I know a little bit about that. I was working at OHS and had an aide I loved unreasonably. Let’s call him Fred. He was tall, he was black, he lived in a very rough side of town and once came to school busted up from a fight. All that didn’t impress me so much. In fact I never thought of it. We were from such different backgrounds, but none of that mattered to me. I loved him for different reasons.
He was as 1:1 aide in my class. He was a student, Armani, he worked with. Armani was very good looking and wore very nice clothes. He was also pretty darn disabled. His only speech was echolalic. He liked to walk laps around the cafeteria, his hands in the air. At one point he was violent and put Fred in to the hospital. He came back to be his aid after that. I was impressed to no end. He had other war stories about Armani and other students and I drank them up like champagne. I gushed over him to friends, telling them I thought he was the most Christ-like man I’d ever know. (Of course, my Bible study hadn’t been real consistent). I thought there are only a few exceptional people in the world and that he was one of them. I turned down dates from other men because I knew I couldn’t commit to anyone but Fred.
When school ended for the year he offered to fix my seatbelt and I offered to cook him dinner. He came, things worked out mostly how I had hoped, but the next day he promised me he’d at least call. He didn’t show up until the next day when I tried to break off the relationship, no one treats me like that, right? Wrong. He talked me out of it easily. He turned out not to be such a perfect man.
It was mostly little, bad things. He’d not answer my pages. He’d say he’d show up and then wouldn’t, leaving me waiting for hours. He’d lie about little things like where he was. He’d insult me everytime he saw me, for example, when I was ready for our trip to San Francisco he told me, “You didn’t have to dress up” instead of something reasonable like, “You look pretty/great/stacked.” He wanted what he wanted and promised if he got me pregnant he would marry me right away.
I went to Russia that summer and he pouted because he didn’t get to take me to the airport. (I figured that out, of course; he didn’t tell me why.) He planned to pick me up but I made back-up plans just in case.
My friends did not like him. But, alas, I was in love. I imagined our wedding in a little while church, him smiling and giggling while I walked down the aisle.
The straw that broke the camels back happened right after I got back from Russia. That flight, sitting next to a Russian man named Serge (his real name) fed my chocolate and brandy, I thought about a lot of things. I love unstructured time like in an airplane or a calculus class where I am free to think and decide. I decided I would leave my cult-ish church. I decided I would no longer get involved with someone who treated me the way Fred did. I needed someone who would be consistent. Someone who would wait patiently outside the movie theatre holding tickets in his hand, and when he saw me he would tell me I looked pretty.” What I did not want, was Fred.
To be fair, Fred did pick me up from the airport and got me the McDonald’s I craved. We had a nice picnic. The next day he called and I was a little snippy because I was getting ready for school, which started two days later. (I cut it a little close.) The conversation went like this, “Are you mad at me?” “No” exchange a few words, “I thought you weren’t mad at me.” “Are you mad at me?” “I could never be mad at you.”
And then he disappeared. I couldn’t reach him for three, almost four days. I, like a gracious woman, called three times with three different tactics, angry, bitter and gentle.
He showed up at school and I asked him where he’d been. “Reno” was all he said.
And that was it. I didn’t want to talk to him or even see him. I was stuck for at least a year with him as an aid. My dad said (in stronger language than this) that is why you don’t ca-ca where you eat. The problem is that so many people I I know met their soul mates at work. An equal number of people didn’t have marriage that worked out, but it’s still a 50/50 deal.
I had to see him. He made so overtures, finding reasons to be alone with me so I might explain things to him. For example, ” I know I was late and I will be written up.” Instead of, “Why won’t you talk to me about what’s going on.” He’d call me at home with some unimportant question, again, lacking the cojones to why things were not going as he planned. I didn’t play. I didn’t say anything. I sort of regret the end, because both of us deserved some sort of closure. I don’t know how he handled it or if he ever did. Not that I’m so special or anything, but because we were in the same movie theatre one day and when he saw me he got up and left with his students. I handled it on that airplane. It was so clean a break I didn’t even mention how I worked with this guy to my next boyfriend.
Speaking of the next boyfriend. The first time we went out, friends, he was standing in front of a movie theatre with the tickets in his hand. You can guess what happened after that. (Dum, dum, da dum.)
Why am I bringing this all up? Because smart women do stupid things. I did. I could tell from the beginning that this was not what I wanted but held on to him because of my strong feelings. I didn’t think, really, I was so caught up with my thoughts and emotions. But mostly emotions.
The Bible says: “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:” (Proverbs 1:5) “Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.” (Proverbs 8:33)
I had been warned by friends not to get involved. Over and over again. I called them racists, I called them classist. Fred was 13 years older than me and they took that to task as well. Did I listen? Would you be here if I had.
However, I am not a fool. I know I did something incomparably stupid, but I’m not a fool. This is why I believe this: I’ve not done it again. The Bible says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” (Proverbs 9:9) Also: “The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15)
I learned. I truly believed I loved him, and maybe I did, but I was wise enough not to make those mistakes with my husband.