A Roller-Coaster Ride
The first part of my ‘factual history’ started out as a more informal account, so it already has a little bit of my impressions. At first I thought she was just a fairly outgoing person. She generally started conversations, and I could usually manage to keep things limping along. The main thing that seemed odd at first was the expression of almost astonishment the first few times I showed up.
Eventually, the flirtation was too obvious for even myself to miss, from requests to try some of my food, to “If I was your girlfriend…” or “I’m glad I’m not your girlfriend…” in response to a less apitizing lunch. So, I figured any relationship has to start on one side or the other, and I might as well take the opportunity where I found it.
When she called me the first time, she sounded genuinely excited, though it may not have been for the reasons I thought. I got rather confused about where I’d been mistaken when she said “You know I just like you as a friend, right?” I got more confused when she asked not long thereafter “Do you think I’m hot?”
Once we got into scheduling, and then lunches, I started to learn more, little of it reassuring. She was rarely available, but didn’t really seem to do anything. Well, often meeting her for lunch, her news for the day was that she got really drunk the previous night. Sometimes, it was the recent death of a relative, sometimes she just seemed to be a party girl, increasingly, it seemed like a general pattern brought on by a marriage going sour and ending in divorce.
She also went out for a cigarette after lunch. When she said she was, in fact, interested in me, this became in some sense the primary conflict: smoking and drinking wouldn’t exactly be my first choices if I was filling out a request form for the perfect mate. It’s not quite right to say “beggers can’t be choosers” – I’m love-poor but not begging. Still, it’s no great secret that one can’t expect every aspect of another person to be exactly to one’s liking.
Still, I hear the cries of “WHY?!?” Remember that strengths survey a few months back? Number one was “Input”, and I figured if can’t learn something from a near total opposite then I’ve lost the path to wisdom.
The second time she came over, she immediately started coming on to me. I wont’ say I completely didn’t notice; a head on my shoulder was a little surprising, but being used to the familiar environment of C&G I didn’t read too much into it. She of course then had to make a more direct, and somewhat exasperated, statement. This put me in the rather awkward position of trying to explain that I wasn’t actively attracted, but quite willing to see what developed.
She was a very different person that day; she said she had been drinking a bit in order to overcome shyness and declare her affection. It was also the only time we talked about martial arts (the only thing we had in common) She got pretty fired up about my weak kicks, the competative attitude in general. I actually kind of liked to see this instead of her normal attitude; I’m not sure if blaze is quite the right word.
Next week she just sort of didn’t show up. Then there was the “I might be falling in love with you” e-mail. I spent two weeks of concious effort of trying to emotionally meet her part-way, and then she was like a different person again – saying “We need to find you a girlfriend.” Aroo?
By the laptop hot-potato I was starting to get a big suspicious. When the check bounced and provided an external statement on the matter, it was a little too late – I havn’t seen her since to talk about the matter, though she did respond to an e-mail, just to say that she is working two jobs (quite a change after working none for a while) so hasn’t and won’t be available.
From the Frying Pan Into the Fire (and into the volcano, en route to the sun)
First, I wondered how I mis-read the flirting. Then I was playing emotional catch-up, being a little concerned about the smoking and drinking (and driving). I was also wondering what might happen when her lease ran out. Then she was asking for help finding a job, and I didn’t really know where to start. Then she was so desperate for money, she was ready to pawn her laptop. Technically, I offered that loan, but coming over to my house to look up pawn shops in the phone books is hardly the most efficient way to handle that operation by itself. After that she was on the verge of being evicted. When I first saw her on easter I thought she was still short on money and things had fallen apart with the family; the brother in prison stretched the bounds of credibility.
In short, I could never settle on one thing to set my mind to. Deciding how I felt got sweapt away by dark shadows whispering in my ear and crisis management.
Chameleon (And What’s Up With Texas?)
When I first met her, she mentioned moving from Texas somewhat recently, and not knowing the area well. She sometimes said she had just gotten back from a trip there. At first, she seemed mostly like a party girl who went out drinking on a regular basis. She would casually mention taking me to Texas to meet her friends
I hesitate to put forward my own wild speculations, but the message “I get drunk all the time.” with all but throwing herself at me carries a certain message. If that wild speculation has any truth to it, I’m not sure she quite knew what to do with a 31 year old virgin.
So the topic moved to martial arts. While earlier she was lapsed and didn’t have time for it, apparently her family had talked her into competing in a tournement, and this required a year of hard training. In the moment, she seemed to be trying to fire up my competative spirit, and talked about taking me to the tournement in Texas. I meanwhile was trying to practice acceptance, acknowleding she probably was better at sparring (since our school doesn’t focus on that) withou belittling the accomplishment.
Next time I saw her, after the “I don’t love you yet” exchange, she was acting like just a friend, talking about how she was going to find me a girlfriend. She had also gotten her brother to take over her place in the tournement, and had dropped martial arts again.
I’m a little fuzzy on the order of events here, but at some point she said her mother wanted to meet me. “When you’re in Texas.” Or maybe here if her mother visited eventually. Of course, when said mother did visit for a week, there was faimily strief and it was an excuse not to have visit.
She also wanted to take me down to meet the family for Laotian New Year. Such plans were also, informal, indistinct, and it almost seemed forgotten much of the time.
I tried to do a little research into con artists. There isn’t much, though one book did give me a name – Sweetheart Scam – if that’s what it is. Another book, The Big Con, was a study of con games almost a hundred years ago. A common element then was the ‘big store’, frequently involving horses or stocks, where ‘marks’ were brought in from out of town to be scammed. It’s a thought.
When we were just being friendly, she would call up now and then, and wonder why I hadn’t called her. Then she lost her phone service (she had been using a relative’s family plan), not long after changing phones at that, and I couldn’t call her.
I didn’t have an address for a long time, and could never visit – after she got in the accident (in “The other car”) I offered to come down to her, since she was in pain. But the house was full of relatives, and coming to me to escape from them was the only thing for it. Then four random cousins called up from the airport; they had picked up and moved from Texas to Illinois, and were crashing at her one-bedroom apartment. In the midst of this, her mother visited, which was a reason not to come, though at one point she said mother had wanted to meet me.
Even e-mail failed one week, when her ex-husband showed up and took off with the laptop for a while. But she wouldn’t be cut of from e-mail after selling it to me, because her mother brought up the ‘other computer’ when came.
Even the bounced check isn’t finally damning; ‘obviously’ the evil ex-husband closed down the joint account, but I can only speculate since I haven’t been able to talk about it yet.
“But it’s my period.” fit the pattern rather well. It didn’t worry me too much; I rather had my doubts whether I’d see her again.
You Should Trust Your Intuition
I was a little worried from that first time she declared here interest – as she was leaving she asked for $10 for gas. It fit with her jobless situation, but the correspondence of the two events still seemed odd. If she had made a few more social visits first I might have thought nothing of it. In retrospect, I only saw her two times that didn’t involve money, and most of them were expressly for that purpose.
Even the one time she was coming on to me, I had the odd feeling that she was goading me on, but she seemed almost passive herself; like she’d let things happen but couldn’t bring herself to show genuine interest. She seemed more turned on by that last check then she ever did by me.
In The End
I was at best just starting to think it might work when things started getting weird. I got a little scared towards the end, when the bounced check had voted strongly for the less favorable interpretation of events, but meetings kept getting missed and the Texas trip was marching down on us. “Whats in Texas?” “What if she asks for more money?” In the end finally disappearing made it easy on me.
I’ve had to confront trust, acceptance, and priorities, a couple cuds that still need a lot of chewing. I charged forward crying “damn the torpedos” on the conviction that primary experience is the best teacher, and given the price of education these days, probably got a fairly good deal all things considered. I never gave more money than I could afford to give, and always realizing that I might never see it again. Perhaps someone acting less suspicious could have taken me for more.
In a sense I’m wiser and stronger for the experience. Still writting this has been like pulling teeth. The first one took a day, writing on and off. This one took a wiik, mostly being written on the last day, after getting over a few rough spots.