A long time ago I dated a Native American man. He told me Indians didn’t really celebrate Thanksgiving. I could see his point.
I very rarely buy anything out of vending snack machines but I pretty much always take a look at what’s in them, sort of window shopping. I like to see what’s available, if there’s anything new, what things cost, all the while imagining what I’d get if I did get something. There’s a particular machine I pass by regularly inside a community building. I buy something out of this machine maybe once or twice a year and then it’s the Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies. One day last week I was just routinely walking by and what’s this? There’s something on the top of the machine!
I was pretty sure it was a snack and kind of expected it to be open and abandoned because who leaves an unopened snack on the top of a machine?? On closer inspection, it’s definitely a snack.
I had to pull it down. Not only was it a snack but it was unopened! It was one I don’t remember seeing in this machine before but the brand is not a name I’m going to forget anytime soon. Oh no, Mrs. Freshley’s, you have left your mark.
I tried to envision scenarios in which the danish had arrived on the top of the machine, unopened. Had someone ordered something else and the Mrs. Freshley’s danish had dropped down instead so, not wanting it, the potential snacker left it for somebody else to get? Had perhaps TWO treats dropped out of their slots rather than one, so again, the person decided to share the wealth? I really couldn’t picture a situation where the person had paid for their Mrs. Freshley’s danish and FORGOTTEN TO TAKE IT WITH THEM. That just sounds too implausible. You come to the machine for a treat, you’re not willfully leaving without one after your dollar gets swallowed.
I was torn. I love sweets buy rarely indulge. On the other hand, this was free. I flipped the snack over and looked at the ingredients. If I’m looking for a reason not to buy/eat/take a food, this will usually do the trick. It did now. The list was not promising. Plus I was still smarting from the Mrs. Freshley’s bait-and-switch of 2014. I’m not one to forget such an egregious honey bun scam quickly, oh no
I put the wrapped danish back on top of the machine. Our score, for the moment was tied. Mrs. Freshley’s = one, Colette = one. Until we meet again, Mrs. Freshley, until we meet again.
I spent the last three days in bed. And not in the good way either. Ahem.
So I got to thinking. Most of us, I imagine, are conceived in a bed. I’m certain I was. None of that kinky stuff for my parents, no ma’am. Most of us are born in a bed. Bed is where we go to hide, to rest, to recover. Exquisite, transcendent moments take place in a bed. When we are sick we go to bed and our world becomes very small for that time. Sometimes we feel either we will die in that bed or we will get better and go on ( sometimes that is even the case). We can be happy in bed, sad in bed, frightened in bed, anxious in bed, exuberant in bed. Bed can be our enemy or our friend. We can hope morning never comes or feel that it can’t come soon enough. We can share our bed and wish we didn’t or not share our bed and wish we did. We can have company in our bed and think it’s the best thing in the world or climb into our bed alone and think that’s the best thing in the world. We can get into bed and think & think & think or tumble into bed and not have a thought or care in the world. And in the end, many of us, I again imagine, will die in a bed, our own or not. There’s a certain cohesiveness to it all.
I’ve been thinking about apologies lately, both ones I’ve personally been offered in the past as well as those I’ve heard in the media.
You know what’s a lousy apology? “I don’t remember doing that but if I did do it or you think I did, I apologize.”
This suggests a few things to me, none promising:
a) the apologizer remembers damn good & well but was hoping it would be forgotten.
b) the apologizer doesn’t remember because they were high or drunk.
c) the apologizer doesn’t remember because it was no big deal in their mind and/or they act that way all the time.
I wasn’t yet 20. I had a short relationship, a serious one, with a guy who was a few years older. He’d previously had a reputation as a “flirt”, someone who made his interest in the opposite sex obvious. Girls liked him too; he was attractive and had an easy way about him (he’d even dated my good friend). Some years earlier, when I was both inexperienced and somewhat geeky still, he’d focused his charms on me one day at the community pool and I’d been very flattered. A few years had passed and by the time we dated, I was far more my own person and could meet him as an equal.
In those years he too had changed and in fact, had recently found religion. What this meant was that religious and philosophical discussions were in heavy rotation between us, which was fine by me since I loved spirited, intense conversations. However, I’d had it with organized religion by that point in my life so dating a born-again was a challenge. That said, I definitely cared for him. There was a warmth and sweetness to our relationship.
Part of his new beliefs meant a drastic change in his sexual activity. Prior to seeing me, he’d been sexually active but now was invested in a chaste life, believing that sex was for marriage only. Kissing was about the extent of was on the menu between us. He was so devoted to his new life that he once asked me to wait outside his house while he showered and changed clothes so that the neighbors would not think we’d gone inside to have sex. I’m not kidding.
I think he believed that eventually I’d get onboard with the born-again thing. He talked about marrying me. If only I would convert. I met the religious people he’d begun following (a friend had warned me off, saying they were like a cult), but had no intention of joining them. They tried to “court” me but they were out of their depth as I wasn’t interested in joining a new religion of any sort and was quite skeptical of them. Once that was obvious to him, that I wasn’t going to start believing what he believed, he broke it off. I was surprised because it was sudden but offered no objection. If he wanted to stop seeing me, I wasn’t going to argue it. I was plenty tired of having the Bible quoted at me (I remember asking him to at least put it in his “own words” but he preferred to quote and proselytize).
Some months passed – no more than a year – and I reached out to him (and a few other people I had lost touch with). I think at the time I probably just wanted us to be on decent terms – which was likely misguided – but as a result we took a walk one day. Once we were in each other’s company, he made it clear that he interpreted my reaching out to him as a ploy of sorts to reconnect romantically. I knew he was the same born-again and while my motives might have been fuzzy at the time, it wasn’t to get back together.
After the walk we returned to my parents’ house (remember, I’m still in my late teens) and stood in the street talking, when out of nowhere he started tussling with me. He pushed me down onto the neighbor’s lawn and held me there. This was very, very strange. We hadn’t interacted like this when we were dating and despite the fact he was acting like he was “playing” it was clearly aggressive and didn’t fit the moment whatsoever. It was daylight out. My family was home. Neighbors were home. And I’m lying in the grass with this guy on top of me in the neighbor’s yard trying to fight him off. What was his intention? To humiliate me? To work out sexual aggression never realized in our chaste relationship? I didn’t know then and I don’t know now. But I didn’t like it and I was pissed. I started kicking at him , saying “I don’t care if I hurt you.” Which was to say I wasn’t going to be sorry if one of those kicks hit him in the balls.
It probably all happened very fast (you know how time gets drawn out in certain moments, exaggerated; this was one). He let me go and I stood up and walked across the street to my house without a word. I never looked back. This tawdry little scene was the addendum to our relationship and the very last impression I had of him. It colored my feelings about the relationship we’d had, tainted it.
Fast forward decades. I reconnected with another person from my teens, one who had been friends with the guy I dated. We talked about this other guy (who’d apparently tried to push the whole religion thing onto him too all those years ago). He told me a story. Back in the day he and his girlfriend had gone to the beach with the future born-again. He had left the two alone to go do something (I don’t remember what; take a swim/use the restroom/whatever). On his return, his girlfriend confided that in his absence his friend had basically jumped on her. Nice fellow. Waited till his buddy’s back was turned and put moves on his girlfriend. It didn’t sound innocent or forgettable. It sounded, in the telling, all this time later, like an attack. I could tell it still bothered the man sharing it and at the time it happened it had affected his relationship with his friend.
Learning this, that my born-again had done the same thing, that is act physically aggressive out of nowhere with another girl, around the same time period, validated everything I’d thought about how he behaved with me on the lawn that day. I hadn’t imagined anything. It was disturbing and strange. At least at that time this repeated behavior showed something in his nature.
A couple years ago the born-again guy I’d had the relationship with so long ago had his daughter reach out to me on Facebook. He wasn’t on Facebook and was using his daughter to contact people. I didn’t know his teenage child – or until very recently anything about what he’d done with his life, including that he even had a wife and children – and she certainly didn’t know me or my history with her dad. In fact, she instead brought up an unrelated incident that had occurred with my good friend, prior to our relationship, a story my born-again apparently still found funny.
What I find funny, although not in the haha way, is what people decide, consciously or not, to remember or find significant years later. Yes, I’d been there and remembered well the incident his daughter related – one that had not been especially funny at the time nor to the main person affected. But I also remembered another one that this girl was sure never to hear, not from her father certainly. Had he really forgotten? Had it slipped his mind that the scene outside my parents’ house was the last impression he’d left with me? What if I’d said to his daughter, “Ask your dad if he remembers the knee-slapping time when he pushed me down and climbed on top of me on the neighhor’s lawn and I had to fight him off.”
I decided to answer the Facebook message because this kid, although kind of cheeky to approach an adult stranger in such a familiar way as she did, had nothing to do with my relationship with her father so long ago and wasn’t remotely responsible for his actions. After I replied briefly and light-heartedly to the daughter (who must have reported back to her father), she offered the family email so that I might receive their last “Christmas letter.” I didn’t follow up. I thought it was peculiar that the man I’d known was using his child to make contact with people from the old days and receiving the family Christmas letter sure wasn’t going to set things to rights. Her father eventually joined Facebook. He has not contacted me.
Note: Please forgive a short delay in responding to comments.
I recently went to our local Sunday farmers market on a drizzly, cool day. My sister had given me a pale yellow raincoat (free) that was a bit big on her. Yellow is not a color I reach for generally but I’ve been trying to be more open-minded about it lately. The coat had shoulder pads which made the shoulders a bit too snug on me. Also, I have shoulders; I don’t need to add any with clothes. The key to removing shoulder pads from a coat – and I speak from having done this once the hard and wrong way – is to reach up inside the coat between the outer fabric and the coat liner in order to get the pads out. They are usually just stitched down in a few spots and removing them shouldn’t affect the integrity of the coat.
Although it’s short I decided to wear the coat like a dress. I matched it with rain boots (the ones pictured are Sloggers brand and while I have purchased some from Amazon, I snagged these for $5 at the thrift store). The key to not looking like you’re wearing a short coat with nothing under it (not that there’s anything wrong with that if the occasion calls for it but the farmers market is not that occasion, ahem) is to have something, in this case, a black tank top, showing beneath. I also wore Old Navy exercise shorts which didn’t show.
The bag was a recent $3 find at the thrift store. I thought the colors would go well with and not overpower the light-colored coat. I put my hair up in a high pony tail.