A few years ago my mom was dating the most gawd awful man.
He was socially awkward, but not in that endearing way some people are, when everyone around knows that they simply can’t help themselves. Those people are accepted into the fold and embraced for their awkwardness. “Oh, that’s just John! He’s a few cards short of a full deck, but very nice once you get to know him.” No, not like that at all. He was socially awkward in a Fatal Attraction meets Law and Order sort of way. “...and these are their stories! DUN DUN!”
They were introduced by my godmother and her (now) ex husband, going out on a few double dates with them and such. I wasn’t terribly concerned with their relationship; in fact I pretty much ignored it...until he started spending more time at our house.
In the beginning the only opinion I had about him was that he was ugly as homemade sin – short, oddly shaped, with coarse black hair in a V that stuck out over his forehead, and a pair of beautiful blue eyes ruined by the fact that they were covered with a thick black almost unibrow and so close together, you often had to look twice to make sure they weren’t crossed. And then there was the rather large tattoo of SpongeBob Square Pants on the side of one calf. I kid you not.
But eating dinner with him at the same table and sitting on the couch opposite his Hunchback of Notre Dame frame, I became uneasy. He never said much of anything and when he did, it was strange and had a tinge of faux cheerfulness. And the way he looked at and touched mom made my stomach turn.
I’ll admit I tested him – ignoring him, being rude - if looks could kill he’d be six feet under. I had suspicions. And when, after barely a few weeks of seeing each other, he was showering her with expensive gifts and sending flowers to work every day, I knew I was on the right track to psycho town.
I was sitting alone on the porch one evening reading when mom came out to ask my opinion on an outfit. I looked her up and down, nodded my approval, and went back to my book. Still she stood there until I looked again, a thoughtful expression on her face. “So”, she leaned across the back of the chair in front of me, “what do you think about SpongeBob?” (It’s what we called him behind his back. Still do, in fact.)
I looked at her with exasperation. She already knew what I thought of him as I’d said so loudly and more than once. I believe the most often used phrase was “fucking creepy”. But mom is one of those people that will continue to periodically ask the same question, always hoping for a different, more satisfying answer. I sighed, wondering just what I needed to say this time to prevent her from ever asking again.
“I don’t like him”, I said seriously. “Every time I look at him I think to myself ‘it puts the lotion on it’s skin, or else it gets the hose again!’”
She immediately burst out laughing. I’m admittedly an amusing impressionist, but I meant every word. And I couldn’t help chuckling a bit at her reaction, but I followed it with a sobering “just you wait” in case she doubted my sincerity.
I needn’t have bothered. Mom happens to think 95% of people are insincere, hence the repetitive question asking I suppose. My answer became a running joke, repeated often at the family gatherings that he didn’t manage to weasel his way into, and yet she still continued to date him.
The more time he spent around her friends and family, the more insistent the clamor became – “There’s something wrong with that guy. (Dun Dun!)” And though he was not an intelligent man, as evidenced from our previous stilted and juvenile conversations, he was street wise. He recognized the signs of unease and he made changes to his routine. Rather than sending her flowers every day, he took it down to once a week. Rather than just giving her an expensive present, he also gave them to my sister and me. Rather than just sitting on the couch and staring off into the distance at Sunday dinner, (I’m assuming it was the distance... Like I said, his eyes were almost crossed) he painted the outside of my grandmother’s house.
I wasn’t very happy about the situation, but I was also being bought. Which is nice, terrible as that may sound? (Especially when you’re a single parent whose baby’s daddy is a man whore that fathers more children than a Polygamist cult leader and your kid is last on the child support totem pole.) And as an added bonus, there was talk of them moving in together and mom giving me the lake house outright. Creepy fucker with a SpongeBob tattoo or not – a free house is nothing to sniff at.
But after they’d been dating for several months, mom had to have major surgery. I took the day off and planned to stay at the hospital with her overnight, but that morning he joined grandma and I in the waiting room and he never left. I couldn’t get rid of him to save my life and being close to him for that long was making my skin crawl. The minute they informed us she was out of surgery and in a room where we could go in, he was off like a shot. I was livid.
He sat beside her the entire afternoon and into the evening, leaning over the space between the couch and the bed, and rubbing her right hand raw while her left repeatedly jabbed the little red Morphine button. To make matters worse, when she had visitors he refused to move – just sat there with his ass crack hanging out of his stupid shorts, chafing her hand like a lunatic.
I left. I couldn’t help it. Grandma took one for the team and said she’d stay the night because if I had to sit in the same room with him for one second longer, they’d have had to do emergency surgery and remove my foot from his ass.
A few weeks went by, with mom laid up in the bed at home. He continued to drop by and call, but miraculously she seemed to be coming around. She started avoiding him and making excuses. I thought his behavior at the hospital had finally pushed her through the veil.
Then she showed me the ring.
Apparently he’d proposed to her some weeks before and she’d kept it to herself. She told me that she wouldn’t give him an answer, so he just gave her the ring and said to wear it and think about it, or something of the sort. I was horrified.
Lucky for me (and probably her skin), when she started to distance herself a little, he shot himself in the foot. Stepping up the psycho routine, he sent nutty text messages and had his mother call my grandmother and cuss her out for no apparent reason. Adios, SpongeBob. You don’t fuck with my grandma.
And though he was everything but a gracious ex, he did refuse to take the ring back.
Now mom has a relatively normal boyfriend who we love and the ring is snug in her jewelry box. We even laugh about SpongeBob sometimes, even though he’s done and said disgusting things since their breakup, some of it pertaining to me (which I wrote about here).
Sadly, the ring is quite gorgeous. So much so that occasionally, when I rifle through mom’s jewelry box for something and see it sitting there, I can’t help but slip it on and wonder.
How many women have accepted a shiny, expensive rock from a broke down prince? How many are desperate enough for that fairytale that they’ll brush aside their real wants and needs? How can anyone ever be that lonely?
And you know what fucking sucks?
I think I might be on my way to figuring it out.
1 week ago