Read Larry, WPITW, parts one, two and three, here... here... and here.
I sent Larry an email, revealing nothing of what had transpired between me and Bibi. I simply told him I'd be stepping back for a while. Larry took this fine, but I know it bothered him. For a guy who was decidedly NOT interested in me, he had been all over me for the better part of six months. The sucking up was constant, and while it was flattering, it was a mystery. I didn't know that he was watching me get closer and closer to everyone he was sleeping with. I did not kow the extent to which me bringing other people into the group was providing him with fresh opportunities, either. I just didn't think that way. So I backed off a bit to clear my head. I spent some time with Bibi and Sri outside "the group" and spent a good deal of time chewing over my break up with Yoyo, trying to recalibrate. During this spate of down time, I recalled a few things that, had I been prepared to find what I was not looking for, would have been Grade A warning signs.
Grade A Warning One: One the way back from Africa, Sri and I were sitting in a row of three seats. She was on one end and I was on the other. About twenty minutes after take off, Larry came ambling back and asked if he could sit between us. Of course, we said he could. It was a nine hour flight, and we slept off and on and talked. I should have noticed something strange about a man over 6'3" would voluntarily sit in a center aisle, center seat for nine hours, in a half empty plane. I should have noticed that he did that to be near Sri.
Grade A Warning Two: Several times, Sri had mentioned to me that she was seeing someone but it was no one I knew. In fact, an overwhelming number of attractive women we hung out with claimed to be "taking a break from dating" - or to be involved with someone no one had ever met.
Grade A Warning Three: That ridiculous text message.
I was scheduled to climb with Larry and about ten other people, including Bibi and Sri, on June 2nd. I backed out due to all of the above.
On the morning of June 3rd, I got a voice mail from Sri. Here is the exact transcript of the message:
Nini, it's Sri, please call me back. Right now, please. You need to know. (sob). Something (sob). Please call me back. (sob).
I tried calling her back three or four times and got a busy signal. People, this is 2007. I'll just leave you to interpret how much activity a person's phone line requires before it spits out a busy signal.
Before I go on, I should explain something.
I had been glad Ethan had dragged me out to that first volleyball game. It had given me a social life that was not fraught with intrigue and drama. Relationships were based on doing things - action, adventure, and success. We caved, we scrambled, we volleyed, we lined, we dove, we paddled, we rafted, we summited - but we did not sit around and talk about our feelings. We were cool with tying into a grigri and trusting the others to save our lives. We were cool with carrying each other's gear when someone was having a tough day. We were cool enough that we'd wait for God and ever before we cut the rope.
But we didn't do each other's hair and paint each other's nails and air kiss each other. I already had a pod for that purpose, and I didn't necessarily need it to increase.
For this reason, I had a lot to think about after that now infamous all nighter in the bathroom of the campground. The moment Bibi said, "I have been dating him for over a year," we went from partners in crime to real friends. It was instantaneous. I was not sorry that it happened, but it gave me pause.
And now, six weeks later, I had a phone call from Sri that left me pretty sure someone was dead. That was how scary her voice sounded.
So assiduously did I cling to the comfort and safety of not seeing what I was not looking for that it never occured to me, even then, that the issue might involve something personal, something to do with the girls. Even then, my biggest fear that it was Larry and that he was badly injured or dead - because otherwise it would be him calling to tell me. I thought of all those times I had seem him free solo and scare me knocked kneed.
I freaked the fuck out. I couldn't get Sri on the phone. So I texted Larry.
Nina is everything ok?
Nina:are you ok?
Larry:no. all hell has broken loose.
Nina:Larry, wtf? tell me.
Larry:Call me. Call me right now.
So I called Larry. He was in a parking lot somewhere upstate. I asked him if he or anyone else was injured, and he said no, but that he had "really fucked up."
So I said, "let me be clear: you are in one piece. So is Tess. So is ____, _____, _____, and _____. No blood, and no broken bones. Is that correct?"
He said, "Everyone is... fine. No one is... hurt. But I fucked up. I need your help."
I said, "Honey, what the hell is going on?"
Larry said, "I can't tell you. Too many people here."
I, exasperated, said, "What do you need me to do? Is it Bibi? Are you trying to save your relationship with Bee?"
Larry said, "Oh, hell no. That's totalled. Plesae just help them. Calm everybody down. Try to contain it."
I said, "Contain it?"
Larry said, "Yeah. Try to keep people from talking about it."
I said, "Larry, are you ok?"
Larry said, "No, but I have to go. Text me after to you talk to Sri."
So we got of the phone. I was thinking, "Oh, hell. What an ass hole."
Then I caught a cab to UES and met Lola and Merry for brunch, thinking Sri would call me back when she was ready to tell me what all had happened the day before.
Lola and Merry and I had heuvos rancheros and coffee and grits for breakfast. You know how I remember? Because usually, when your whole world is about to get whipped up in a whirl-i-gig blender, you remember mundane what-not like what was one your fork when you got that phone call.
Sri called at 11:09am, about three minutes before we got the check. We did not leave the table for I have no idea how long. I heard about three sentences of what Sri had to say, flipped the check over and wrote "I have to stay on phone until she is done, sorry."
Once I picked up the phone and Sri started talking, nay, shrieking, she did not come up for air for over an hour. When she was done talking, I was, reportedly, blanched white and slumped against table with my head in my hands saying, "Oh my God, Oh my God," over and over and over.
Lest you infer from all this that Larry was merely screwing a few of my friends, um, no. He was screwing damned near all of them, and if screwing had been the worst thing he'd been doing, we would probably have been over it in less than a day. People are ass holes. This is not a breaking news item.
Tune in next week (if you wish) to learn the what-all-else we had in that whirl-i-blender.
Thank you for reading.