And so, after that Friday sleepover date, we had an early dinner date the following Tuesday. The kids go with Big Daddy on Tuesdays, from about 5:00 until approximately 8:30. McCain picks me up around 6:30, and we head out to another restaurant that we'd previously enjoyed.
This dinner was not nearly as indulgent as the first. For starters, only two glasses of wine were had (by me). He had margaritas.
The conversation was also flowing less freely. I was exhausted, so I certainly take most of the blame for that. I get up around 5:30 every morning, and that particular day I had subbed at the pre-school all day long. Don't get me wrong: I adore, ADORE the little ones, but it makes for a very tired hausfrau by the end of a day.
I don't recall any subjects we touched on with much clarity, but we talked a bit about our past experiences together. And I don't know if it was his intent or not, but I started to feel like shit all over again. I was reminded, again, of how mean I was. And again, I apologized. At this point, I was getting tired of the continuous admonishments over my past transgressions. I started to feel the old "fight or flight" instinct bubbling up (or maybe that was the cheese fondue?). But what can you do? Do you keep apologizing, do you suck it up or do you ignore it?
Yes, I am not the warmest person in the world. Yes, I tend to present a rather benign expression to the outside world. It's hard to tell when I'm sad, lonely, excited, mad, whatever. The only gauge I really have is my eyebrow crease, and sadly with my advancing age that sucker is pretty much set at "deep".
I take the responsibility for not properly conveying my feelings to John McCain. But, on the other hand, one shouldn't have to constantly defend themselves for things they've done in the past. Unless it's something like drowning kittens or running a Ponzi scheme. Then you may have some explaining to do. But for being a bad communicator? I don't think so.
Dinner was over, and it was nearing my curfew time. By curfew, I mean the time the kids get home from Big Daddy's.
As we walked out to McCain's car, he asked if I'd like to see pictures from his latest trips. This is something that I really like and admire about him: he has seen, and continues to see, the world. He takes off on his own and goes places. I have to admit, I'm actually jealous. I can't imagine what it's like to have that freedom, both personally and financially, to just take off and explore our planet. I think it's a very cool thing.
"Do you have to be home soon?" he asked. "I guess I can stay out a little longer" I replied. I was feeling some guilt over how soon my kids would be tumbling through the front door, greeted only by Walter and an otherwise empty house. I thought about the ensuing fight over the remotes, about the mess I was sure they'd be making while ransacking the fridge and cupboard for food, and the resentment I imagined they'd feel because mom wasn't there.
But we headed back to his house. In my head I had thought that we'd sit on a couch, and look at some photos of his vacations. We ended up sitting on the couch, but he had the pictures on a disc that played up on the aforementioned new t.v. So we settled in and the slideshow began.
Lovely pictures. Lots and lots and lots of lovely pictures. Pictures of Grecian streets, mountains, sunsets, beaches.
And several pictures of another woman.
Now, I'm not a jealous type. I used to be, back in my dating days. Crazy jealous. Like, dig through drawers and old photos kind of jealous. But that abated after my divorce. I learned that dwelling on someone's past is like trying to change who they are...you can exert lots of energy doing both, but ultimately, nothing will be different when you're done.
That said, I found myself becoming a little more uncomfortable every time the chick showed up. Were they lovers? I don't know for sure. But references to "our hotel room" and "that's where we slept" made me think they were a little more than travel buddies. I wondered if I should have brought my wedding album for us to page through...the locale was nowhere near exotic but the idea was kind of the same. "Look at pictures of a person I was involved with."
I fell asleep twice during the picture show. I couldn't help it, what with the full belly and the long day. Once I started having a dream about chasing a kid on the playground and for a second I though I had been yelling in my sleep. If I did, McCain didn't say anything. I don't even think he noticed I had dozed off.
Now, just between you and me, here's where I started realizing that he and I probably have very, very different ideas about how the times we're together should be spent.
As I've mentioned a few hundred times before, my time "off" is rare. Rarer still are the times I'm willing to leave my family alone while I am off doing something superfluous. Not to say that tending to my love life is irrelevant, but if my kids do have to fend for themselves, it had better be for something pretty important, or at the very least, something pressing.
Looking at pictures, especially pictures of some other woman? Not pressing.
Now, if we had been spending this bonus hour doing something else...oh I don't know...can you use your imagination? The guilt would have been tripled but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have nodded off. The only hitch there was, I didn't feel like doing anything else other than napping.
This night left me feeling sad. Sad, because I knew that the result of this little reunion was going to be the same as our others. Sad, because part of me, the really hopeful but not too realistic part of me, had dreamed of this being my happy ending, the one where everything just magically comes together and I ride off in the sunset next to a man who adores me and will make everything all better. Sad, because I felt like Jenny the Evil Bitch all over again.
The death blow came the following week.
Some of my friends and I had talked about having a possible group date. The friends and their husbands/dates, and me with John McCain. When he and I first hooked up a few years ago, I was in my hermit stage. Sheltering myself from the shitstorm that my life had become, I was more like a lone wolf than a pack animal. But then, I gradually started re-connecting with some of my high school friends. John McCain did not like this. In fact, he even brought that up during our more recent night out. "Your friends were a bad influence on you" he said. This stuck in my craw a little.
And now, at this point in my life, time spent with my friends is important. No...scratch that.
It's essential. I need to be with my friends. And if someone is going to be part of my life, it's imperative that they not only put up with my friends, but don't mind hanging out with them now and then.
So when I brought up a potential night out with my friends, he balked. And that's kind of what did it for me. That was essentially a big red letter X buzzing in my brain, not unlike the one that you see on Family Feud when someone gets the wrong answer.
BZZZZZZZZ. Wrong answer.
I wasn't asking him to become best friends with my friends and their husbands/boyfriends. I wasn't asking him to spend every weekend with them. I was asking for one night.
So, after that question we went back and forth once or twice, and then nothing. I ended up going out on that date with my friends. It was two of my married friends and their fabulous husbands, and my date was my friend Lorie. She and I are kindred spirits, and have been hanging out a lot. So much that her kids have started calling me Uncle Jenny. More on that later.
So back to the McCain stuff. I could have handled this one differently, that's for sure. I could have stood up during the Disney movie and said, "I don't like these kinds of movies. Let's find a Bourne movie or even an old Bruce Willis movie, anything, ANYTHING but this."
I could have turned to him during the slideshow and said, "I don't like seeing pictures of old girlfriends."
After I asked about the group date night, I could have said, "My friends are really important to me, and it would mean a lot if you could at least pretend to want to meet them."
But I didn't. I did my usual thing, which is to slam the door (the figurative door, not a real one. I'm not a slammer) and walk away. I suppose it would be good if I told him how I was feeling (ya think, Jenny?) but I sort of feel like I've done so much damage already that nothing I say or do at this point would make any difference. He was nice enough to accept my apology, but also kept rubbing my nose in the past.
I feel bad. But I don't think there was anything implied in our first night together. We talked, we drank, we fooled around. There was no mention of picking up where we left off. There were no promises made or contracts signed.
I wanted to clear the air, but I fear that I've only clouded it up even more. And that's why I feel bad. I should have left well enough alone.
But I also feel like now I have a better grasp on what I need, and what I don't need. I need my friends, I need my kids, every once in a while I need a warm body next to me in bed that isn't a dog or a child with flailing limbs.
I don't need to be reminded of the mistakes I've made. I do a fine job of flogging myself, thank you very much. I don't need someone packing my bags and sending me off on a guilt trip if I don't want to go out one night. Besides being a black-belt in self-flagellation, I'm also the queen of guilt. No need for any assistance there.
Like I said the last time I wrote about John McCain, I wish him nothing but the best. I want him to find a woman who has the time, who has the attention span and has the readability that I lack. She has to be out there somewhere, and I really hope he finds her.
As for me?
I think Uncle Jenny needs to steer clear of the boys for a while.