A Kinder, Gentler Victim Post: Jenny and John McCain

Kinder and gentler for a few different reasons: This one was a good guy. I also remain on good terms with his friends who initially introduced us, and I don't want to create any hard feelings. The fact that this guy and I didn't work out has already made things a little weird between the friends and myself (to me, at least) and I don't want to do anything to completely wreck it.

That said, I will call this one John McCain. "Oh, at least she's being gentle there, huh? Because John McCain is such a stud."

Calm down. He didn't look EXACTLY like John McCain but even those closest to him would have to admit there is some resemblance.

He isn't as old as J.M., either. If I recall correctly he was a little over 10 years older than me.

I got a call one Friday night, in the fall of 2007. Kids were with Big Daddy, and Friday nights back then used to be my Costco night, followed by my wine night. This particular Friday night, my trip to Costco was already done, and the wine had started when my phone rang. It was a woman I knew from school, her two boys were the same ages as Charlie and Henry and we'd become friendly watching their football games together.

"We're having a fire...get your butt over here!" she ordered. I looked down at what I was wearing...old Levi's and a faded red track jacket from American Eagle that I had borrowed from Charlie's closet. Plus about 2 day's worth of unshowered-ness. I had already had one glass of wine and was secretly really looking forward to watching Medium with Walter, but then she said, "Ooh..and there's someone here we want you to meet."

You'd think that I would have jumped in the shower, right? Knowing that there was a potential lovah there? No. Of course I didn't. I brushed my teeth, made sure the braids in my hair were even and took off.

The evening went well. So well, in fact, that the next morning I had my very first drive of shame home in a Volvo.

Yes, of course I did it. I remember being insanely nervous when I walked into my friend's backyard. The fire was already blazing and they were all seated around it. My friend jumped up to hug me hello and did the introductions. "Jenny, this is John. John, Jenny."

He was very pleasant. He had just returned from Sweden, where he had custom ordered his brand new Volvo. I got the dirt and started making the list in my head: divorced for many many years, no kids, owned a house, had a good, steady job which he'd held for many years. Liked wine. Laughed at my stupid jokes. Did I mention he liked wine? Apparently he was an avid wine collector, and had been so kind as to bring some of his collection with him that night.

Have I mentioned that I like wine? I'd be a collector but it never lasts that long.

So the wine was flowing freely, the fire was warm and golden and beautiful and with every glass of pinot noir my nervousness diminished. At some point we decided to move closer to each other, all the better to "chat" (yeahhh....that's it. Chat.). Next thing I knew my friend and her husband had gone to bed, leaving me and John McCain all by our lonesomes.

By then it was pretty apparent that I was in no shape to drive, so John did the noble thing and gave me a lift back to his house. Madness ensued, I'm sure. I woke up around 5 in the morning, horrified to find myself clad in only my thin warm up jacket and my socks. "Damn that wine." I said to myself. But the fuzzy memories I had from the hours prior weren't so awful. They were nice, in fact. As my eyes adjusted to the light I noticed that John McCain was lying next to me, propped up on one elbow, with a bemused smile on his face. "Well, at least he's smiling" I thought. We commenced with the painfully awkward morning-after small talk, and then he drove me back to my friend's house to get my car.

To be honest, I thought that this was going to be the first and only experience with John McCain. I cursed my stupid low alcohol tolerance, cursed my stupid lack of morals and cursed the fact that I had been unable to find my underwear. I tried to remember which shameful pair of granny panties I had been wearing that night, and was relieved to remember that the ones I had been wearing that day were actually semi-nice. As nice as you can find on the Gilligan O'Malley underwear clearance rack at Target, at least.

This was back when I was still kind of thin. Well, not skinny thin but hella smaller than I am now. That was when I used to delight in wearing pretties under my everyday wear. Kind of like a little secret that was mine all mine...or mine and whomever had the awful luck to be single, male and in range of my radar while I was drinking. I shudder to think of what would happen in this situation now that I'm fat again. How hot it would be to see me in my utilitarian beige Helga bra and the tired old crime scene undies that seem to be all I have left in my "delicates" drawer.

But I digress.

I talked to my friend later that Saturday, full of regret and woe. She laughed and said that it was all good, that John McCain was keeping his mouth closed about the whole deal BUT he was interested in talking to me again. I was impressed that he hadn't told them about how the night had unfolded after they'd retired, and felt a little tingle of something upon hearing that he wanted to talk. No, the tingle wasn't chlamydia, sillies.

So we talked. And I found out that he was kind, and a gentleman, and had found my underwear. We made a date on my next free night, which happened to be the night of my Henry's football banquet. I planned on going to the banquet for a little while and then sneaking out to meet John McCain. I had a feeling about this one, there were no warning bells going off or little nagging feelings. Yet. We talked almost every night and when the big day arrived I enlisted the help of some girlfriends to make sure I looked ok. I was admonished for wearing a turtleneck (my standard uniform back then was a black ribbed t-neck, jeans and black boots) but other than that, I got a thumbs up from all my ladies.

John and I met at a terrific restaurant not far from the banquet. He was sweet, and complimentary, and funny and insisted over and over again that I needn't be ashamed of my previous slutty behavior. We had a wonderful dinner, and honestly great conversation. He seemed to be a little more "mature" than me (obviously chronologically but also lifestyle-wise... of course that's not hard to accomplish), regardless of that I found myself starting to feel the old butterflies again.

Things progressed nicely with me and John McCain. He was huge into restaurants, loved trying new ones and was thrilled that I was always up for anything. He wined and dined me like no one had done before, and no one has since. I think he let me pay for half of a dinner, once. This was unlike any other dating experience I'd had thus far. "I could get used to this" I remember thinking. It was hard for me to accept being treated so nicely, as weird as that sounds. Big Daddy had been nice, a long time ago, but that seemed like another person's life. For the last limping years of our marriage he had treated me like an embarrassment, like an annoying appendage that he was forced to put up with....someone actually treating me like a queen? That was new.

One of the nicest things he did was plan a weekend away. I was a little uneasy about it at first, things seemed to be moving forward at a breakneck pace. But I went with it...and it turned out to be an unreal weekend at a gorgeous, exclusive secret hideaway lodge in Wisconsin. Four course gourmet dinners, beautiful private cabins...it was the most romantic place I'd ever been. We had a fabulous time and when we left I was starting to think that this one might be The One.

And then my crazy started showing.

It was during the wonderful beginning months of this relationship that I found out about Big Daddy whisking Secretary off to Bermuda to get married. He didn't have the decency or the balls to let me know...just sent me an email saying that he had a business trip coming up and would I take the kids? I found out via the kids a few weeks later. They were scared to tell me.

Now, I know...I knew. I knew that he would most likely get remarried. I had prepared myself for it, the best I could, but it still hurt. It wasn't painful because I had been harboring any delusions of us getting back together (my favorite quote regarding exes trying to rekindle: "You can't unscramble an egg."). The Big Daddy I had loved in that way was dead to me. It was just like the final nail in the coffin. I think the fact that it was either on or scarily close to the date of our doomed nuptials added some salt into the wound.

I mean really, the same date? I don't know about you guys, but if I was going to marry a dude who had been married before, I'd try and get my wedding as far away from his first one as possible. Who knows...maybe he didn't tell her, maybe it would make remembering this one at anniversary time easier, whatever. Learning about this marriage-made-in-hell brought out the looney tunes in me.

Poor John. He was patient, and understanding. He let me be psycho for a while. I was horrible to him, and he put up with it.

But he was there, waiting for me, when the crazy cleared. And we picked up right where we'd left off.

Things were humming right along when the shit really hit the fan, and the plug that had been holding my life together was pulled. My descent into poverty and foreclosure and all that other fun stuff was a very gradual one, and for quite some time I believed that I would find a way out of it. I was worried, of course, but not so much at first. I kept my despair hidden from John McCain, not because I was ashamed (well ok..I was a little ashamed) but because of this:

He would have done anything, and I mean ANYTHING to help me. I'm sad to say that I thought about it, considered begging him for help when things started getting really dark for me. But I couldn't, I wouldn't, drag anyone else down into this hole I was falling into. If I was going down, it was all by my lonesome.

Of course our relationship suffered, even when things first started rotting for me. He was still treating me like royalty, giving me gifts, taking me on little weekends away, and I became more and more distant. He even put up with me during the Big Lice Catastrophe, for God's sake. How many childless, single men would do that??

But things were going from bad to worse in my life, and I found myself unable to pull off the good old 'Happy Jenny' routine any more. I was a bitch to him, and like he said to me during our last conversation, I treated him like shit. I wanted to tell him about what was happening, wanted to tell him that I was getting foreclosure notices and creditor calls day and night. I wanted so badly to confide in him, let him put his arms around me and just take care of me. But I couldn't do it. So I did what came naturally to me and closed myself off.

He didn't give up so easily, though, and tried to get through all the way up until last winter. We had one last date, a movie date. I was so touched that he was still willing to put up with my lunacy and crappy treatment. But during the movie, I started having a freak out, a little panic attack. This was during the last legs of my foreclosure fight, right before I had decided to give up. And as I sat there in the darkened theater, watching Sandra Bullock with her awful dyed blond hair be a Southern-sassy in "The Blind Side", I found myself just wanting to be with my kids. I felt like I was betraying them, being out at a movie while they were home in a house that wasn't going to be ours for long. Having a good time while my babies sat there and waited for me.

And so I said I didn't feel well. John McCain drove me home for the last time.

We exchanged a few texts here and there for a bit, but those stopped too. I haven't seen or talked to him since I officially started my life over. I feel badly about how things went with us, feel badly about being such a freak with my emotions. Sometimes I think that maybe I should have confided in him, let him see the hurricane of desperation that always seemed to be whirling around me during that time. Would he have run away screaming like I'm sure most men would have? Who knows. He was such a "nice guy" that I doubt any running or screaming would have been done where I could see it, at least.

I hope he's well, and I hope he's happy. I truly hope that he's found someone who has her shit together, someone who can reveal her true self to him and enjoy the royal treatment.

John McCain deserves that.


  1. Im sorry it didnt work out. Seems like you two probably would have made it through if it wasn't for bad timeing.

    I agree that he deserves someone who'll make him happy but so do you & if you think about it maybe you made him happy. Im an outsider but it seems like maybe it could still work out considering your getting your shit together. I dont know...maybe you should email or text him sometime & just say hello. It's never too late to start up a friendship (again).

  2. Oh Lin, I think I thoroughly blew it with J.Mc. And I don't blame him! But yes, it was a classic, textbook case of bad timing.

  3. i agree with Lin, you wont know till you try, and i soooo want u to try, heck i'lldo it for u! :) it sounds like the happy ever after, theone you sooooo deserve.

  4. Yeah, I'm going to go with everyone else. Try to contact him. Maybe send him this post in an email. Apologize. See what happens. What can it hurt? If he's moved on, then you'll know, but man, this really sounds like the one that got away, y'know? Those always niggle in the back of the brain, driving you slightly crazy.


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