Thursday, September 16, 2004I was born and raised in the northeastern quadrant of Pennsylvania, moving around quite a bit. My dad was a truck-driver when I was little, and we moved every year for most of my elementary school years. I liked it though for lots of reasons.
One was if I screwed up somehow with making friends this year, here at this school, no worries, moving on next year....and so I did not have lots of friends growing up, because no one had time to really get to know each other. Besides which, as the constantly new kid, you are not quite welcome for oh! at least 20 or 30 years and then only if you marry a local and you are STILL considered a tad eccentric, cuz ya ain't from these here parts, is ya girly-gurl?
My immediate family was very close. We did lots of nature-oriented stuff, like fishing, hunting, walking, berry picking, camping, etc. I learned that if you wanted to really appreciate an area, you should become familiar with the roads, spots, fishin' holes, swim holes, and such that only the local folks used. So I usually would get to know some locals right off.
Occasionally this would back-fire on me, imagine that?
When I first moved to Valdosta, Georgia; I rented a room in an upstairs apartment from a young woman who was a corrections officer at the county prison. This woman truly had good intentions of being helpful, I firmly believe that. Really, I do.
She thought it awfully odd that my first priority was not meeting the man of my dreams and marrying him, having his children, then maybe divorcing him and such and so forth. In fact, she refused to believe it wasn't a priority at all. I had just moved from PA to GA, was in graduate school pursuing a master's degree and working my butt off as a stats instructor to the good folks over in the EDD program. So I didn't have the time or the energy to go noodling about finding me a man.
Oh don't fret so, my dears, she took it upon herself to round a few up for me. One such roundee, and he was a bit rotund, came from a family of pecan farmers. He was a little overbearing in his presence but I just chalked that up to nerves and thought, ‘Sunday morning to kill, why not?’ when he suggested a tour of some of the back-road local area.
In those days, I was pretty wiry, but solid. I mean, I was about 135 lbs but muscular. I could kick ass, having been a bouncer just before that (if you ever see a picture from then, you'll know just how funny that is). So I was not overly worried about this guy. Besides, he worked with my roommie at the prison. I don't know where the logic was in that, but it seemed to work for me just fine.
I should have known something was up, especially when I went to leave the house and my roommie stopped me with a horrified, "oh my gawd, you are not wearing that, are you?" indicating my faded blue jeans, hiking boots, and dark blue long-sleeved Henley shirt. I thought it was perfectly reasonable attire for mucking around the back roads so off I went.
I have already written about adventures with mis/directions, so suffice it to say it took me awhile to find this guy's place. It was next to a John Deere tractor retail store. You'd think he would have mentioned that as a relevant landmark, but nay nay I say. Instead he gave me lots of other landmarks that were not helpful at all, things that I would go past, and such.
When I did finally get there, half an hour late or so, he answered the door in his boxers. I obviously had woken him with the pounding on the aluminum door. He muttered something about a shower and getting dressed, coming in, watching TV or something. I decided I'd hang outside, the porch had a comfy swing and as always I brought reading material with me.
An hour and a half, numb butt, and a sore neck later, I looked up from my studies as he was locking the door to go. His hair was slicked and combed carefully. His face was freshly shaven. He was wearing a button-up dress shirt, khaki slacks, and penny-loafers with no socks. You might say, ‘uhm Debra, perhaps that was another clue’, but yours truly can be extremely slow on the uptake.
He turned and said, “I thought we'd have some lunch first.” Um, ok. This was smacking more and more of miscommunications and misconceptions. I was thinking, ‘field guide, field trip’. He was radiating, ‘date’.
But I could be wrong, I reasoned. So off to the local buffet we went. There were lots of folks there as church had just let out. In fact I was thinking I would already be back "home" studying. But I figured it was ok, because I did get some reading down while waiting for him to gussee up.
Dinner was a disaster; clear proof that we were not compatible. But why is it that some guys think that incompatibility is just a challenge, making you more irresistible? He stated that he thought it was a waste of time, my education. “I mean,” he said, “look at me, I gotta job, a damn good state job, with good pay, good benefits. I gotta good house, I'm a good guy, don't drink much, and iId be a good husband.” My ears were buzzing and my mind was reeling' in at least twelve different thought patterns, including how to escape this guy and get my vehicle, which was parked at his place.
So I tried to be as delicate as I could, lest I disturb some not so very deep waters. I did not commit to anything (which some take as commitment and agreement). After dinner, we loaded up in his truck with oversized tires (smaller than a monster truck, but definitely a wanna-be). He said, “ok now for that tour.” Aha, so he did understand why I was there....
Nay nay I say.
It was extremely humorous, his idea of a tour. We rode down a street in a very small town, and he stopped at the corner. He stuck his arm in front of my face, pointing out the tinted window. See that there tree? I did indeed see that there tree. Well, he says with great importance, there was a building there. I went to kindergarten there.
I was speechless as we continued to go back out to the highway. At this point I was really glad we did not go mucking through the back country; but I wanted to cry in frustration, or laugh hysterically one, when we pulled up in front of a strip mall and he climbed out, hitching up his drawers and said, let's go get a movie.
I protested that I really did not have the time to watch a movie, having to study. He gave me an indulgent smirk and pulled me out of the truck. In the store I could be of no assistance, because I do not make choices well unless I am in a certain frame of mind. I was most emphatically not in that certain frame of mind; right then, I desperately wanted to flee. My plan now was that as soon as we got to the house, I would make my escape.
Having selected the movie, 'Lost in Paradise' (selected because it was set in PA); he drove back to his place, asking me repeatedly about Boston. I explained once that Boston is not in PA and not all that close, really. But distances are funny to conceive; after all, Boston and PA are both fair distances from the Valdosta, Georgia.
When we pulled up into his drive; he parked behind me, although that was not his customary space, and gave me a lewd grin. I am sure he thought that he was smashingly devastatingly charming, but I really had enough of the whole lil lady routine. So, I said as I got out of the truck and reached in my pocket for my weighty keys, "well, thanks for dinner, gotta go, really..." to which he frowned, "I tried to tell you, but," I shrugged, "so if you could just move a bit, I'll be on my way"
Oh he so did not like that, "now see here" he started, advancing on me. Now, I don't like violence, and the odds were against me; but I don't deal well with threats, implied or overt. I held up my hand, raised my voice, and moved to my car, "no, it's obvious that we are not a good match, and I do value my education, so I must go study; now". With that I swung open the door of my car; right into him; throwing him off balance. I took advantage of that. I hopped into my seat, locked the door, started the car, and pulled across his yard to the highway to go "home".
When I got there, he was on the phone with my roommie and she was fit to be tied. It was then that I knew for sure that I had to get my own place. He called later that night to talk with me, saying he forgave me....imagine that?
Bet you can guess what my response might have been....