Monday, August 24, 2015

Was He Cute? YES! Was She?

THIRTY-FOUR
IT'S TIME TO SEE A COUNSELOR
 If you want to read this story from the very beginning, please CLICK THIS.
Based on a true story
 
Mark and I decided that each of the kids needed some extra attention so we started bringing them out alone with us. It was my son's turn and we'd brought him to the Lego store because they had a deal going where kids could build their very own Lego people....
    "Okay, what about this Lego body?" my son asked Mark. "Or this head? He could be an astronaut. Or a ninja!"
    "Or you could make a cop...with an cowboy face!" Mark replied, showing us a really odd-looking face he'd found in the pile.
    And even after we walked out of the store, the two of them went on and on about the Lego people my son had built. Excited, strutting toward the big glass doors leading from the mall, my boy said, "Wait, Mama. Take a picture of me and Daddy! You go on the other side of the doors. I have an idea!"
    My boy said it so fast, he hadn't even realized he'd said "Daddy," but the word wasn't lost on Mark. He'd stopped walking, kind of blinked a few times, then tenderly reached down and patted my son on his back. "What's your idea?" he asked, his voice sounding reflective.
    Watching those two smiling at each other, I wondered how much both of them needed each other--how they'd already impacted one another's lives.
    "All right," I said, clearing my throat on the other side of the glass doors, "you still want your picture taken?" 
    That's when my boy shoved his face up against the glass and said in a mumbled way, "Come on, Mark!"
    I didn't take a picture for a second and when I finally held my phone up, Mark's face was pressed against the glass smashing his cheek and nose into a blob of flesh just like my son's.  I took some pictures, and my son started laughing so hard.  His laughter was darling, completely contagious. I began giggling. The Mark laughed, still pressed against the glass an shaking with pure happiness.  I thought it was the best moment ever, utterly cute. And of course that's when my phone vibrated in my hand--a message from The Schmuck flashed on the screen.
    It's strange, but he was my boomerang. No matter how any times I sent him away, he always swooped back in.

Every time I have a hard time I think of you.

The text said.

I miss you, Gina. I really am getting divorced now.
It's terrible.
We can really make it work now.
I want to be with you.

Mark had pulled away from the glass and noticed that something was wrong.
    "What?" he asked, sprinting toward me with my son,
    "It's the Schmuck." I handed my phone to Mark and let him see the message.
     "Why won't this guy leave you alone?" he asked.
     "I don't know," I said. "We said our goodbyes. I don't know why he keeps trying. I wish you could tell him we're dating now--that he needs to have more respect."
    "You mean that?" Mark asked.
    "Yes, actually. I do. Text him back if you want." And I insisted that he keep holding my phone.
    Moments later, the three of us sat in my car: my boy playing Lego revolution, me driving a little bit too fast, and Mark...texting The Schmuck.
    I bit my lip as I drove, a little worried about what they might be saying to each other.  But I trusted Mark; he'd take care of this, somehow.
    My house was about forty-five minutes from the Lego store, but that seemed like forever. After about twenty minutes Mark set my phone down. "Did you think The Schmuck was really handsome?" he finally asked.
    I didn't know what to say. What WAS the right answer? I decided honesty was best. "He was handsome."  I took my eyes off of the road and glanced at Mark, who looked very sad. "WAS, but then after I knew who he really was, he didn't look very handsome anymore." I went on, trying to rectify the situation. "He wasn't the person I'd expected he would be--that changed the way I'd seen him--I started noticing things I'd ignored before." 
    This seemed to pacify him, until a few more miles sped by.  I wanted to know what he was thinking and I also wanted to know what he'd said to my ex.
    But his silence slowly killed me, like a bad addiction. When I was upset, I was honest and in-your-face. How could he remain so quiet?
    "You have everything," I finally said. "You're handsome and a good guy." He didn't respond. 
    We'd arrived at my house and my son ran inside excited to see his sisters--and probably get away from Mark the Mute.
    I checked my mail while Mark stood staring at the mountains like they held the meaning of life. "Are you okay?" I asked, flipping through letters.
    "I'm just a little upset," he said. "The Schmuck seems like a dick."
    "Yeah...What gave you that idea." I said it sarcastically.
    He didn't laugh though and instead responded with, "It sucks that you dated him."
    What was that supposed to mean? "Well, it sucks that you dated people too." I smiled, but said the words in a rude tone. He glared at me. Oh it was on! "Like that one girl you dated years ago. I saw her picture on Facebook--you thought she was gorgeous!"
    "Yep." He nodded, that man of few freakin' words.
    "What? You said she was gorgeous? At least I was nice with my answer."
    "You thought that was nice?" he balked.
    Not even caring what he'd just said, my thoughts went back to the "hot chick" he'd dated. "Her picture on facebook was cute, even if she does have a huge jawline." I shut my mouth, wishing the words had never come out.
    "Big jawline, huh! I never noticed that."
    "Heck yes you did! Doesn't everyone?" What in the hell was wrong with me? I wanted to stop--at least some part of me wanted to. But I couldn't even quit while I was ahead.
    He didn't respond for a moment, just turned paler and paler.
    "You know what?" I put my hands on my hips and stepped back toward my front door.  Then I stuck my hand out behind me and felt around for the handle. "You and...JAWS, you'd make a great couple!"
    I stepped inside, then slammed the door in Mark's face.


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    It didn't feel great. There was no victory, no satisfaction. I realized momentarily that we were both being incredibly stupid. And after about a minute, I opened the door to see Mark still standing there, appearing a bit confused.
    I couldn't think of anything witty to say, and I didn't feel like apologizing, so I just blurted out the first thing that came to my mind.  "Do you want to go to counseling?" I asked.
    "Yes!" he nodded, and we booked the appointment the following day.