Lately I have been wanting to smell the roses. I think it's really time to smell the roses, if you will. I need to appreciate things more — the simple things. I tend to take things for granted. Like my hearing for instance. Because everything could be gone in an instant.
I'm tending bar at my best friend's bar one night a week. It's just a way to get out and have a little adult time, whilst also making a little cash. It's fun, but actually hard work. I think I'm good at it. I'm friendly and talkative and I enjoy people.
On Tuesday there was an American Airlines pilot having a beer at the bar — the hotel across the street from the bar sends them over. He was a nice guy and we chatted for several hours. At one point he reached across the bar and grabbed my hand and said, "Joey, you are so pleasant to be around. You have such a nice smile." At first I thought he was coming on to me, but then a stranger at the end of the bar said, "Yes, she does have a really nice smile." I blushed and giggled a bit. Then they both said, "And a cute giggle." Believe it or not, I am shy when it comes to compliments, so I sorta shrugged my shoulders and said, "Aw, that's sweet, thank you." And I was nervous until they left. Ha.
My point is, I AM a nice person. Lots of people like me, and I really think it's because I am nice. Simply nice.
However, I have my moments when I am not nice. When I am mean. I have a temper sometimes. And sometimes I talk bad about people. I don't hate people easily, but I do dislike a few. There are only a few times I have been truly mean, and I regret it every single day.
Four years ago or so I met a really nice boy. He wasn't my type necessarily (although he wore glasses, was tall and had a lot of passion). He was more blue collar than I was used to. Less academic. He owned a shop and he built custom race car engines. He drove a wicked cute little sports car, took me on fancy dates and intrigued me with the unknown. He liked me a whole lot. He told me I was pretty and smart. A lot.
On our first official date he gave me a gift. A pink Kershaw assisted opening knife like this one:
I wasn't freaked out at all. In fact, I was thrilled! What an awesome gift. He didn't like me carrying concealed (my gat) and he knew (even in the short time we'd known each other) that I loved pink.
He lived in a town about 2.5 hours away. Yet, he would drive to town just to take me to lunch. He adored me.
After a few dates I thought I'd invite him to stay the weekend. Yep, I was ready to check out his goods. What what?!?
So, we agreed on a Monday that he would come to town on Friday and spend the weekend — we would go out with friends, eat, drink, be merry and whatever else. I was interested in the whatever else. Not because I'm a jerk, but because I like whatever else.
On Wednesday he called me. He was sad. He was nervous. I could tell. He told me that he had something he wanted to discuss. Something to tell me. Was he married? A felon? A liar? What?
Although we had only gone out a few times, we had talked a lot. He mentioned his passion and excitement for racing — cars and motorcycles. I wasn't in to cars and the like, but I was interested in him, so I listened.
On that Wednesday he wanted to discuss a wreck he had talked about before. What he told me next was, in hindsight, so profound. He asked if I remembered the wreck he told me about where he was hospitalized for months. Yes, I remembered him talking about it.
Then he went on to tell me that he liked me a lot and didn't want me to be freaked out. What was it???
Then he told me that he had lost his left leg in the accident. Huh? I was confused. I'd been out with this man. He drove a standard, two seat sporty Mercedes. He was tall. Didn't look one-legged. I'd seen him walk, without impediment. What was I expecting? I was baffled.
He went on to say that he wasn't quite used to it. And didn't want it to change anything between us. But he imagined that things might get intimate that weekend (you know, the "whatever else") and he didn't want me to freak out. Then he asked if I was freaked out.
In my defense, it was a little shocking and sudden. Was I freaked out? No, not initially, believe it or not. Did I have questions? YES!
We spoke briefly about it and I told him, honestly at that moment, that I was not freaked out and to stop being foolish and that I would see him on Friday.
As soon as we got off the phone I immediately went online and the first thing that I typed into google was "sex with a one-legged man." Don't ever do that. I promise, it wasn't the search results I was necessarily looking for. I just wanted to know protocol. I wanted to know what I was supposed to do about being two-legged and dating a one-legged man. Was there protocol? Was I freaking out? Yes.
I discovered a few things during my extensive research. I found out that "peg leg" is not politically correct. And you all must know how interested I am in staying and maintaining a level of correctness. No, it's called, "residual limb."
I learned things. I learned that people missing the normal limbs that people are usually born with are sometimes unabashedly disabled. And that it's no big deal.
I freaked myself out. I psyched myself out!
(I really feel like I should take a break from this blog and continue it on another blog, but I'll lose momentum, so I am sorry if this is boring. I feel I have to tell this story. And there is a point, I swear.)
Friday came around. I was excited. He walked in, like a normal two-legged person. I had never noticed, but he did walk with a slight limp. I didn't want to mention, but because I was trying so hard to not mention it, I know I must have been glancing at his left leg more than normal.
I remember he looked so cute and was so excited to see me. I sidled up to him, tip-toed to give him a kiss. He was about 6'3". I wanted him to feel comfortable, so I was abnormally affectionate for a few hours.
We went out to dinner and drinks and then back to my place. I was so nervous. I drank a lot that night.
We found ourselves in bed. And this is when my very rare meanness started.
We made out for a bit, each minute making me more and more nervous. Surely due to my own insecurities, I decided that I was too nervous to do the "whatever else," so I told him I was too tired. I rolled over and feigned sleep — I fake snored, just to seem believable. Although I am quite a snorer without faking.
The next morning I woke up and for a split second I had forgotten. I rolled over and saw that his cute face was already awake. Just laying there, sweetly (oh my God I am going to make myself cry remembering this - and you'll know why in a few more paragraphs). He was so happy I was awake. I cuddled up to him and then he whipped the sheet off himself to cover me up. Uh oh, oh, wait, oh my god. I was startled. His "leg" wasn't on, it was off - things came into focus very quickly and a flood of reality set in. His prosthetic was leaning against the wall. It had a shoe on it (of course).
I blushed and immediately became cold. I am not proud of this. I mean, up until this point I had lots of romantic experience, but never this exact experience. It was new to me.
We spent the rest of the weekend together. I liked him, I really did.
We had a few more weekends together, and then I had a business trip. For a week out of the country.
The day I was coming back home I was stuck in the Denver airport for 10 hours. I was homesick and I missed my son. During the trip I hadn't really spoken to him. I had ignored him. He called a lot. And texted. He missed me. I didn't miss him. I missed the kindness and affection. But I didn't miss him. I had decided to break things off. I was too selfish and self-centered and STUPID to carry things any further.
But like a weak little girl, whilst trapped in the Denver airport I answered his phone call. I vented and told him that I was tired. Homesick. Missed my little boy. He sympathized and said nice things to me. I caved. I spoke with him several more times. And then when I finally got to Tulsa at 1 a.m. I called him. I guess I wanted to hear his voice again. I bitched and moaned about not going to the grocery store and not having stuff like pull ups and chocolate milk and food for Harry, and that all I wanted to do the next day was lay around in my jammies and cuddle with Harry and didn't want to have to go to the grocery store. I had been working 16 hour days for 7 days. I was exhausted to say the least. I fell asleep whilst talking to him.
At 7 a.m. Mark (Harry's dad - back when Harry's dad actually saw his son) called and said he was bringing Harrison home. I was elated. I couldn't wait to have mommy and son time.
Here is where things get really mean ... this is where I change from being the sweet, kind, loving brain tumor girl you all love, into the mean, rotten, shit-head, jerky, self-centered, pompous asshole you've never seen.
If you know me well, you know that I hate being blindsided. I hate being interrupted. I hate having my plans changed. I hate unexpected things. Don't really care much for surprises.
So, just after I got off the phone with Mark my doorbell rang. I thought to myself, wow, that was fast!
I went to the door in panties and a t-shirt and when I opened it I discovered that it wasn't Mark and Harrison at all, but it was J. What the FUCK!?!?! He was all smiley and excited to see me. I must have looked like the devil. He was standing on my porch with bags of groceries, my favorite coffee in one hand and a mini pumpkin for Harry in the other. He had driven all night from his home just to bring me the things I needed, as well as some surprises.
Now, if this were a romantic comedy, the girl would have been all "Oh my god, you are so sweet!" And she would have jumped into his arms and they would have kissed and then gotten married. But this wasn't a movie. I was tired. And my ankles and feet were swollen and I was wearing great big giant white granny panties.
All I wanted to do was see my son.
I must have screamed. I must have said some horrible things in that split second after seeing him.
His smile went to a sad frown, with his eyes turning instantly to tears.
He said, "Can't I just bring in the groceries? I bought pull ups for Harry. And chocolate milk. I was going to make pancakes and bacon for breakfast and chicken fried steak for lunch so you and Harry could cuddle all day and you wouldn't have to lift a finger or get out."
"J&(#^(," I yelled! "You can't be here. My son will be here any minute! You have to leave."
"But I drove all night."
"I don't care! You have to leave."
He brought in the groceries and surprises (I won't go into all the things he brought, but there was foot lotion, if that's any inclination to what an amazing man he was.).
And just before I made him leave he looked at me. I looked at him. I gave him a hug and put my ear against his chest. His heart was beating so fast. He was so sad. I was so mean. I remember listening to his fast heart for a few seconds before I pulled away. Then I pushed him away. And he left. That was the last time I ever saw him.
Over the years I thought about him. During break ups with other guys I would think about J. I mean, I really have thought a lot about the situation. What was my hang up, really? I don't know. He was a really good boyfriend. So thoughtful. So considerate. So amazing. I thought about that over the years. I tried e-mailing. I tried searching for him. I think he used to call and hang up at first. But for the past year I hadn't really tried looking for him.
Until last week.
That's when I found out.
He got married a few years ago. To a really beautiful woman.
And on November 2, 2010 he died.