As you may have expected, for most of my life I’ve pretty much said any damn thing I’ve wanted. I don’t go out of my way to hurt people’s feelings (more than necessary) but much of the time I’m time constrained or just don’t want to be having this conversation so I don’t mince words. I’m not saying that’s always worked out the best for me but it’s how I handle things.
Then there’s the point where things just come out of my mouth. I’ve got to say I’ve said some things that have made me wonder where it came from. And, truthfully, questioned my thought process. But it’s not like I blurt things out at inopportune times. Like I wouldn’t yell, “Sir! Cover that! There are ladies here!” at a bris.
But I might think it.
I know the difference between my indoor voice, my outdoor voice and my keep that one in your head voice.
I was in a store when someone called my name. I didn’t recognize the woman. I’m good with faces but if I haven’t seen you for a long time you’ve got to cut me some slack. Me, on the other hand, people seem to recognize. Which only leads me to believe I was one old looking fucking kid.
She reminds me who she was and I remembered. Sort of. Slowly a few things started coming back. She was, and from the looks of it still is, a very Irish woman. I’ve known many Irish people but this one tops them all. She even worked in an Irish store. Really? I’m part Irish but, really? There’s a need for that? How come we don’t have a German Superstore? A New Zealand Land? Seriously, how many shamrock appliques does one need?
She’s telling me about her life and I’m listening. To the song on in the store. I know I should be paying attention to the details of life but unless she says, “Oh yeah, and little Seamus looks just like you.” How interesting is it going to be for me?
Then she asked if I remembered what I said when she asked if I was ever going to be interested in marrying her. Truthfully, I didn’t. I don’t remember having a combative relationship with her so I would have guessed I left town for work and when I came back just didn’t call. I traveled back then so was gone for long periods of time. I’d often find a girl I was seeing would be seeing someone else by the time I got back.
But she reminded me and told me she alternated between crying and laughing for a couple weeks afterwards.
We’d been seeing each other for six months or so. I was always going away so it may have seemed longer to her. We’re at the tennis club and she asked if I was ever going to settle down. She was older than me so maybe it was more urgent for her. I probably gave her some flippant response and ended the conversation. From my standpoint. She wasn’t willing to change subjects as quickly.
Slowly bits of it came back. We were in the car and she was agitated. I told her we hadn’t been dating for that long and that I wasn’t willing to put anything ahead of my career. I guess she was feeling bad so there was a heavy silence in the car. Finally I broke the ice and said,
“Look at us. Look how pale we are? We could never get married. Our kids would be invisible.”
And that’s why we hadn’t seen each other in all those years.